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Lakeway to 'review and revise' training after code enforcer enters home without permission

Thursday, the City of Lakeway concluded a two-week investigation into claims of city code enforcers entering homes without permission. (CBS Austin)

Thursday, the City of Lakeway concluded a two-week investigation into claims of city code enforcers entering homes without permission.

Last week, CBS Austin spoke to three home owners who have complained to the city about the issue.

Each claims a city code enforcer walked into their home while they weren't there, without permission, and took pictures of construction projects in an effort to check for proper permits.

City Manager Steve Jones responded:

"The City of Lakeway's investigation of a code enforcement issue is complete, and it determined that a city employee did enter a private residence without permission of the owner or anyone else having charge or responsibility for the property.
The property owner did not press charges; however, the city has taken disciplinary action with respect to the employee.
"It has become apparent to me that the city needs to review and revise its training regarding city employees and city officials entering private property, and we have initiated a process to do that," Lakeway City Manager Steve Jones said. "The City of Lakeway is committed to following the law and treating our residents with respect. We will take action to be sure that is always the case."

CBS Austin spoke to Dan Hess, the homeowner Jones is referring to in the first part of the statement.

Hess says reprimanding the worker and improving training is just scratching the surface to a much bigger problem.

"At the end of the day, someone knew of what was going on or should have known what was going on- that these city employees were breaking into people's homes taking pictures basically evidencing themselves that they were there and sending it to the homeowner showing they were illegally entering their house. Yet it's being blamed on one individual, and that's not right," says Hess.

Dan Hess says the first he's heard from the city about his investigation, was a voicemail left by City Manager Jones Thursday.

When Hess called back, Jones did not answer.

Still, Hess doesn't know the name of the worker that went into his house two weeks ago, or if that worker has a criminal background. "I have a real big problem with that… I want those answers and they're not giving them to me," says Hess.

Julianne Autry tells CBS Austin she hasn't heard back either. "I had a complaint in March 2017… no one has contacted me about that," says Autry.

Autry received the police report filed last year. In it, the Lakeway Police Officer writes that he called the director of Building Development Services who asked that Autry contact him directly.

With that, the investigation was labeled "closed, unfounded."

"I'm discounted as a Lakeway citizen and I'm discounted as a homeowner," says Autry.

Both Autry and Hess say they aren't confident things will change until the city provides answers to each homeowner about each investigation.

CBS Austin reached out to City Manager Jones about the other investigations, he provided this statement:

"I have received two additional complaints, and I have responded to both complainants. I incorporated their complaints into my conversations with city staff."
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