In 15 years of living in his Prairie Village home, city councilor Ted Odell says he’s noticed a marked decline in the way residents have kept up their properties. The issue was serious enough, he says, that it’s one of the top reasons he decided to run for city council in 2012.
Top code enforcement issues in Prairie Village
- Weeds and grass trimmed to less than 8″ high
- Remove dead plants, leaves and limb debris
- Remove trash and worthless items accumulating outside
- Yard tools, lumber and other items must be inside or screened in back yard
- No inoperable or unlicensed vehicles outside
- No recreational vehicles stored in front yard
- All exterior surfaces (such as walls, fences, etc…) free of damage, decaying paint, rust, etc…
- All sidewalks, walkways, and driveways should be in good repair
- Roof and flashing should be sound and tight
- No broken windows, doors or gutters.
After two years of working on the issue behind the scenes, Odell is likely to see some positive action on the front. This month, the Prairie Village city council approved the addition of a part-time codes enforcement officer to assist the full-time officer. The new officer, Greg Hudson, is a retired member of the Prairie Village Police Department. The addition of Hudson to the staff is a move Odell hopes will give the city the bandwidth to address codes enforcement on a more proactive basis.
“You don’t want a situation where lack of upkeep could impact the property values of other homes in the area,” he said. “It’s a major potential problem.”
Danielle Dulin, assistant to the city administrator, oversees the city’s codes enforcement department and said the new staff member will allow the city to get away from a situation where only codes violations that neighbors call in get addressed.
“In the past, the city generally waited until someone called in a complaint,” she said. “But a lot of people didn’t want to call in to report their neighbors, and so some things went unaddressed.”
Dulin said the city’s codes enforcement staff will now be contacting homeowners if they notice codes violations as they drive through a neighborhood. The codes officer will contact the homeowner in person if they are home, or leave a letter if they are not. The city will work with homeowners to establish a reasonable timeframe for addressing potential violations before issuing tickets, Dulin said.
“We’re here to work with people,” she said. “We understand that a lot of times, these issues are being dealt with because there are roadblocks. Painting a house has a significant cost, and that can pose a problem. So we’ll also be letting people know about resources available to help.”
Odell said he wants people to understand the new codes enforcement push isn’t a hunt to punish anyone.
“We aren’t out to pick on anybody,” he said. “We just want to foster what Prairie Village is all about, which is a community where you’re proud to live.”