WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

City leaders grateful for changes Markus made at City Hall, begin to consider next city manager

Though Lawrence city commissioners said they were sorry to hear City Manager Tom Markus’ announcement that he plans to resign, all said they are grateful for the changes he’s brought to City Hall. Markus, 67, announced Tuesday that he plans to resign in the spring of 2019, which will mark approximately three years since he began his position as the city’s top administrator. When Markus was interviewed, ...

City to require licenses, inspections of Airbnb, other short-term rentals; special permits required in some cases

The Lawrence City Commission voted to begin regulating Airbnb properties and other short-term rentals, including a process that would require commission approval before a property owner who resides elsewhere could operate such a business. At their meeting Tuesday, commissioners voted, 3-2, with commissioners Matthew Herbert and Jennifer Ananda against, to approve licensing and inspection requirements for ...

City Manager Tom Markus announces plans to resign in spring 2019

Story updated 10:57 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018: City Manager Tom Markus has announced that he plans to resign in spring 2019. Markus, 67, made the announcement at the end of the Lawrence City Commission’s meeting Tuesday evening. In a letter to the commission, which he read aloud, Markus said that he was clear during the hiring process that he would not likely be a long-term city manager in Lawrence. ...

Lawrence considers requiring licenses, inspections for Airbnb, other short-term rentals

The City of Lawrence could soon begin regulating the fast-growing short-term rental business in Lawrence. Following direction from city commissioners last year, city staff has drafted regulations that would allow short-term rentals in all residential areas, but would require them to be licensed, to be inspected annually, to be insured to a certain level and to follow occupancy limits and other restrictions. ...

After nearly a quarter of renters rate housing conditions as poor, city leaders question rental inspection program

For every 20 rental units in Lawrence today, only one was inspected by city staff in the past year. After a survey found a significant number of Lawrence residents describe their housing condition as poor, some city leaders are asking whether the city is doing enough inspections. The resident survey, conducted as part of the city's recent housing market analysis, indicated that 24 percent of renters rate their ...

Lawrence's new community police review board to hold first meeting

Two years after the local chapter of the NAACP pushed for a more powerful public board to review complaints against police, the city’s Community Police Review Board will have its first meeting. Board members have been appointed and the board’s first meeting will take place Monday. The board is scheduled to undergo training and sign confidentiality agreements, according to the board’s agenda. The ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider $67,500 settlement related to police chase injuries

At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider approving a settlement related to a high-speed police chase that ended in a car accident. William and Sandra Gibson, of Talmage, which is near Abilene, were injured in the accident and filed a lawsuit against members of the Lawrence Police Department earlier this year. The city attorney's office is recommending the commission approve a $67,500 ...

Gas leak causes evacuation of school, homes near 19th and Kentucky

Story last updated at 7 p.m. Sept. 13. A significant gas leak Thursday morning in the area of 19th and Kentucky streets caused emergency crews to temporarily close roads and evacuate residents. The leak was reported shortly after 10:30 a.m. Thursday, according to emergency radio traffic, and a strong smell of gas was present in the neighborhood. Traffic was blocked for about 90 minutes along 19th Street ...

Immigrants asked to share their stories in bilingual writing workshop this weekend

When José Faus was 9 years old, he took what he thought would be a temporary trip from his native Colombia to Kansas City to visit his mother, who had been living in the U.S. for a few years. Decades later, he is still here, and he wants to help other immigrants record their immigration stories. Faus said he arrived in winter, and that the move for him was a “severe shock to the system” in many regards. ...

Police body camera policy to go to Lawrence City Commission for comment

Lawrence city commissioners will be reviewing the Lawrence Police Department's policy for body cameras, but city officials advised that some aspects would be outside commissioners' authority. At the City Commission's meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Leslie Soden again asked about the review of the body camera policy and what kind of input the commission wanted to have. “It seems like I’m the one that’s ...

City leaders review affordable housing recommendations; plan to address issues coming soon

Now that the city has more details about its shortage of affordable housing — and will soon have about $1 million per year to address it — the conversation has begun regarding what aspects of the problem the city should focus on. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission reviewed the recently completed housing market analysis and resident survey that details housing issues for different ...

Affordable housing study indicates Lawrence residents are open to smaller home options

When it comes to addressing Lawrence’s shortage of affordable homes, recently compiled survey results indicate that Lawrence residents are open to smaller options. Last year, the city hired BBC Research & Consulting to complete a housing market analysis, which also included a survey of residents about their housing circumstances and what kinds of housing they would like to see. BBC Managing Director ...

Lawrence City Commission to review affordable housing study

As part of its meeting Tuesday, city leaders will review the recently completed housing study that details housing issues for different income and demographic groups. The study, completed by BBC Research & Consulting, includes an analysis of the housing and rental market in Lawrence. It was presented to the Affordable Housing Advisory Board on Monday. One finding was that lower-priced starter homes are in ...

Is illegal immigration a problem in Kansas? Despite small numbers, Kobach says yes

Republican gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach’s vision for undocumented immigrants in Kansas includes databases, higher tuition costs and punishments for “sanctuary” cities that don’t help with deportations. But some say Kobach’s tactics to discourage illegal immigration are not only unnecessary, but potentially harmful. Kobach, who has been endorsed by President Donald Trump, has made illegal ...

East Ninth Street reconstruction unearths hundreds of thousands of historic bricks

As construction crews work to reconstruct several blocks of East Ninth Street, relics of the city’s past are being unearthed. The city began reconstruction of the road, sidewalks and storm sewer lines on East Ninth Street in July, and so far crews have uncovered approximately 400,000 historic bricks that used to make up the roadway, Project Engineer Jonathan Marburger said in an email to the Journal-World. ...

In wake of indictment, City of Lawrence seeks to strip contractor license from developer Thomas Fritzel

Story updated at 2:45 p.m., Sept. 6 The City of Lawrence is seeking to strip the construction company of Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel of its local license because of pending federal charges of improperly disposing of asbestos and repeatedly violating the city’s contractor licensing regulations. The city recently filed a complaint with the Lawrence Contractor Licensing Board against DFC Company, Fritzel ...

Soden says Lawrence City Commission should have say on police body camera policy

Lawrence city commissioners briefly discussed whether they should have any input on the Lawrence police department policy for body cameras, but whether they will remains unclear. During the Lawrence City Commission meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Leslie Soden questioned why the governing body was not scheduled to review the policy for the police department’s use of body cameras. Soden noted that the commission ...

New draft cemetery rules would allow for additional decorations at Lawrence gravesites

City officials presented the first draft of new rules for grave decorations at the city’s cemeteries, which would allow plot owners more decoration options, including limited borders and ground cover. The Parks and Recreation Department oversees three cemeteries — Oak Hill, Maple Grove and Memorial Park — and already has rules regarding decorations, but those rules have not been strictly enforced. The ...

KU journalism project tells stories of historic downtown buildings

Downtown Lawrence’s old brick and stone buildings, some marked with names and dates from centuries past, are a call to the curious. And now, those wanting to know more about the storefronts, people and events that populated downtown’s historic buildings have an easy way to find out. A University of Kansas journalism class, with the assistance of historical researchers, has been compiling timelines of ...

City leaders approve new trash rates for downtown, opt not to take action on over- and undercharged amounts

Close to 150 downtown businesses have been charged incorrect trash rates, some for several years, but city leaders decided they would not retroactively bill or credit those customers, saying that even if the errors had not taken place, the rate structure would still have been flawed. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission received a report from MSW Consultants about the billing errors and ...