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Neighbors say abandoned motel attracting squatters

SAN ANTONIO - The new year begins with an old problem on the Austin Highway: crime.

As neighbors work hard to revitalize the area, an abandoned motel is now a magnet for squatters.

“No Trespassing” signs are posted everywhere, but word on the street is the Skyline Motel is pretty full.

"They've got a lot of vagrants and bums coming in and out of there,” says neighbor Thomas Gregorie as he waits at the bus stop in front of the property.

The windows and doors are wide open. Food bags are scattered in the parking lot.

"They just kick the boards out,” Gregorie says. “They've been putting chain link around it, trying to keep them out, but it doesn't work."

Complaints are pouring in to the Terrell Heights Neighborhood Association.

"I've also got confirmation from SAPD that there are people that they've had to go out there and clear it out and kick people out of that hotel,” says the group’s president Jenny Heymann.

Last year, officers were called to the motel more than 80 times. Neighbors worry the problems will escalate because the area is currently without a designated SAFFE officer.

"We need a SAFFE officer,” Heymann says. “We do not have a point of contact for the crime that's been going on in the neighborhood."

SAPD promises it’s in the process of filling the position.

The property owners are concerned too. A representative tells News 4 that starting immediately, the company has hired overnight security. Demolition equipment is on standby.

"We've learned that the owners are taking it upon themselves to demolish the property and will be a building a self-storage unit in that location,” Heymann says.

Until then, neighbors vow to push for more police presence on the Austin Highway’s road to revitalization.

"You can revise it all you want, but unless you maintain it, it's not going to do no good,” Gregorie says.

If you spot suspicious activity at an abandoned property in your neighborhood, you’re urged to call police.

By EMILY BAUCUM

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