Councilman who owns dilapidated trailer park allowed to operate business without permit

McCartney's Mobile Home Park allowed to operate without permit

BAYTOWN, Texas – A Baytown city councilman who owns a dilapidated trailer park in the district he represents is allowed to operate the business without a city permit, Channel 2 Investigates has learned.

"I was told I didn't have to have a license. The ramifications were, I was told, I could put no more trailers in there," said David McCartney, a Baytown city council member since 2008.

Local ordinance prohibits operation of any business without proper permitting, and Channel 2 Investigates reviewed a series of notices drafted as early as 2014, warning McCartney he was in violation.

Other issues investigated by inspectors over the same time period note problems with setbacks, water service, electrical issues, unsafe structures, potholed roads, vagrants and fire safety.

Some of those issues have been corrected. Many have not. Some reoccur.

"How do you continue to let someone operate a business if it's posing a threat at that point to public safety?" Channel 2 Investigator Joel Eisenbaum asked Baytown's city manager, Rick Davis.

"We have no intention of continuing any condition that presents a danger to health and safety," Davis said.

Davis cited several reasons why McCartney's Mobile Home Park is allowed to continue to operate without a permit, including there are more pressing issues with the property, property owners are afforded certain rights of due process and families will have no place to go if the park is shut down.

"We're taking it seriously, you've seen the flow of notices and other communications," Davis said.

The nearly 3-acre parcel at 1306 N. Alexander has been operating as a mobile home park for at least three decades, although McCartney said he has owned and operated the park for about 15 years. He emphasized he is now winding down the operation, albeit slowly.

He said he can't just shut the park down because he owns some, but not all, of the mobile homes at his park, so there is a legal process. And he said he is also concerned about the residents, who he claims pay negligible rents.

"Maybe I'm a little too compassionate with people. I have a hard time throwing a long-term resident out on the street," McCartney said.

"Um, it's a slum, and it basically works off the exploitation of poor people. And the conditions are horrendous," said Alexandra Hunter, who lives nearby.

McCartney said there will be three or fewer trailers remaining on the property come November, and he said he recently contracted with a national retail firm to sell and redevelopment almost half of the land.

"I just want people to know we're trying to do everything we can with that property so it fits in with the community, so that in the long run, they'll be glad I did what I did," McCartney said.