Citizens want better property maintenance, codes enforcement

untitled-(18-of-27)When it comes to clean and maintained neighborhoods, citizens say Kansas City has work to do.

Only 28 percent of those in a citizen survey are satisfied with the enforcement of litter and debris cleanup, city staff reported Tuesday to the mayor and city manager.

That is about the same as last year and well below the 42 percent national average, they said.

The highest dissatisfaction rates are in the 3rd and 5th districts, where abandoned property and high weeds are common, said John Wood, director of neighborhoods and housing services.

City Manager Troy Schulte said the city is clean and well maintained compared to others but the perception is otherwise.

The 3rd and 5th districts also have the greatest dissatisfaction levels with code enforcement.

City code inspectors all handle a caseload of 315 cases, which is 65 too many, officials reported.

That overwork slows second inspections to determine if problems have been fixed, which lowers success rates.

But Schulte noted that seven out of 10 people who get notice of code violations fix them quickly on their own.

He suggested neighborhood volunteers could handle follow ups to determine if things like grass and weeds were cut, freeing code inspectors of the work.

Another big problem with maintenance, weeds and grass comes from private property. The city mows that grass once a year and bills the owners, if it can find them.

Many are from out of state and hide unreported in  LLC companies. The city only collects $1 out of $10 it bills the private owners, Schulte said.

“You pull your hair out working through this stuff,” he said.

The city tried but failed to get a state law passed this year to get names of the LLC company principles.

It has only one inspector to track down such people.

Officials said some other cities take over those properties with receiverships, which may be possible under existing state laws.

There are also about 790 dangerous abandoned buildings on a list for demolition and the city can afford to only demolish about 150 a year, officials said.

Schulte said they are considering taking out a $8.5  million bond issue to demolish all the buildings in three or four years.

Charts, graphs and more from the Tuesday kcstat report session can be found at


  1. aryn roth says:

    1- According to this article city tried to get state law passed to get names of LLC co. principals; to track absentee landlords. How do we get this law passed, or @very least help track these individuals?
    2- City has 790 dangerous buildings to demolish – only has $ to clear 150/year. Is there a way to contract out by area, so the hired demolition crew has a more efficient route to lower their costs? At this rate more problem properties will be added (per year)faster than tear downs happen. Bond issue?
    3- Having neighborhood pre-selected volunteers report back to codes inspectors on nuisance property progress would benefit all involved. How do we proceed?

  2. Diane Capps says:

    I like Troy Shulte’s suggestion of having neighborhood volunteers–perhaps through their neighborhood associations–take responsibility for overgrown weeds, etc. I’ve actually been meaning to suggest this to the city–KCMO should start a campaign directed to neighborhood associations.

    One of the easy-to-solve problems is trees in the parkway between the street and sidewalk that have low-hanging branches which “grab” pedestrians. Also, suckers (small branches on the trunks of trees) which are considered to be “second-hand growth which take energy away from the main tree”, according to Dennis Patton of KU? KCU extension.

    I always keep the low branches cut on the tree in front of my house and sometimes other trees, also.

  3. Dan says:

    What one neighbor may consider doing a good deed for the neighborhood/city by reporting code violations might not be so well received by the person being cited because of a neighbor. Have to watch out for creating bad blood. Also, overzelous volunteers can make for a bad situation. Does that person have an “agenda” and “my way is the only right view.”

    I may consider something perfectly fine and not be a codes violation but the volunteer group could go overboard – seen it too many times with various things. Where does doing good cross over to harrassment?

    I’m not totally discounting the idea but just saying it can be wrought with potential problems. Go slow or it could backfire badly.

  4. Kerry says:

    I live by 6 houses owned by land bank or the city None of them are maintained and when they do cut the grass they throw it back in the yard Hard to be proud of your property when the Land Bank and City don’t maintain theirs…In fact DA said they cant maintain them they don’t have the money however citizens don’t have the right to claim that or they end up in housing court

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