Claiming essentially that it is a wretched hive of scum and villainy, the State of Texas and Harris County are attempting to force a Southwest Houston condominium complex to clean up its act or shut down -- and each and every unit owner is listed as a defendant.
According to the suit filed April 24 by Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, Le Promenade condos at 7400 Bissonnet "are causing a common nuisance by habitually harboring criminal activity" and "causing a public nuisance by maintaining a place that is habitually used for engaging in gang activity.
"Le Promenade is where some members of a notorious Houston gang, La Primera, live and where they recruit members from adjacent Sharpstown High School," the suit continues. "Le Promenade is where gang fights between La Primera and a rival gang, the Southwest Cholos, occur."
To bolster their argument, Ryan contended that many La Primera members are tattooed with the complex's address (7400) and also linked to this video:
Among the defendants: Huali Investments, the 205-unit complex's majority owner; Le Promenade Council of Co-Owners, Inc.; and approximately 50 individual owners. The suit contends that all are equally responsible for the alleged nuisance that Le Promenade has become.
The suit claims that there were more than 100 calls for police assistance to the complex between May of 2010 and this February. Among those: five aggravated robberies, seven aggravated assaults, one incident of cocaine delivery and one discharge of a gun in public. Le Promenade owners are alleged to have knowingly tolerated such activity to occur habitually on the property.
Therefore, the State wants each and every Le Promenade owner to fork over a bond of between $5,000 and $10,000. Should the mayhem continue, the bonds would become forfeit to the state and the complex would be ordered shut down for one year. If it wins in court, the State can also collect actual damages, civil penalties and attorney's fees.
So far, only one of the owners has responded with a general denial.
Writer Eyder Peralta and photographer Jessica Kourkonis put together an excellent photo essay on the cheerier side of life in Le Promenade a couple of years back. View it here.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.