Archive for Wednesday, August 30, 2006

City to fight Census Bureau count

August 30, 2006


It seems unlikely that the city is growing as slowly as the U.S. Census Bureau estimates, Lawrence planners told city commissioners Tuesday night.

City commissioners unanimously agreed to formally challenge the Census Bureau's 2005 population estimate that showed the city's population declined by 26 people. If correct, that would be the first time since at least 1900 the city had lost residents.

"I think the financial implications to not challenging this could be huge," City Commissioner Sue Hack said, noting that the census figures are used to determine grant amounts to the city. "I think it would be irresponsible to not push this to the limit."

Planning staff members said the city had good data to support the contention that Lawrence has grown much quicker than the Census Bureau estimated. The city pegs Lawrence's population at 89,643 at the end of 2005, while the Census Bureau believes it was 81,816 on July 1, 2005.

Dan Warner and Amy Miller, both long-range planners for the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department, presented a report that showed Lawrence had issued building permits for slightly more than 3,700 new residential living units since the 2000 census. Using the Census Bureau's own number of 2.3 people per living unit, that should mean the city's population has grown by more than 8,000 people. The Census Bureau, though, estimates the city has grown by about 1,700.

Planning staff members also pointed to city utility records. The number of city water bills issued increased by about 3,600 during the five-year period following the last census. Staff members said that data also show the city is growing.

Not everyone is convinced. James Dunn, a longtime Lawrence landlord, said the utility bill method was an outdated way of estimating population. He said many landlords don't shut off water service to vacant units because of the city's fee to reconnect.

Dunn also questioned one of the key assumptions made by city planners. The planners said they were using a citywide vacancy rate of 4.2 percent, which is the number used in the 2000 census. Dunn said the city has seen a significant increase in rental vacancy rates since 2000, following a period when home mortgage rates reached historic lows. About 20,000 - or 55 percent - of the city's living units are rentals.

"I think we have slowed down growthwise," Dunn said. "Look at the school district. They say their numbers are down. I don't think we have the underlying economy to support as much growth as we once did. We're a community that is based a lot on commuters."

The city will ask Douglas County commissioners to join it in challenging the numbers. By getting the county to join the challenge, the city will be able to request that Douglas County's total population be adjusted upward.

If the county doesn't join the challenge, any change in Lawrence's population would require a reduction in the population of other Douglas County communities.

"We don't want to do anything that will hurt Douglas County as a whole," said interim City Manager David Corliss.

Staff members said several other communities - including Ottawa and Manhattan in 2003 - have successfully challenged census estimates.

Sewer plant site gets commission's OK

City commissioners unanimously agreed Tuesday night that a site southeast of Lawrence is the best location for a new $80 million sewer plant.

Commissioners told staff members to proceed with negotiations to buy 530 acres of the property, which is south of the Wakarusa River and near East 1600 Road.

Engineers and planners recommended the site as the best of seven that were evaluated. The property does not include any homes that will have to be relocated, and provides for a significant amount of buffer ground between the plant and other homes in the area.

Commissioners did not agree on a price for the property, which currently is owned by about five landowners. Negotiations to purchase the property could be completed by this summer, Assistant City Manager Debbie Van Saun said. The plant is scheduled to open in 2010.

Dog owner objects to city ordinance

Commissioners heard from Lawrence resident Kathy Gragg, who said the city's dangerous dog ordinance was seriously flawed.

Gragg was cited under the ordinance last year after her 4-month-old bull terrier escaped from its yard on two occasions. Once it went to a nearby school, and another time it jumped its fence and went into a neighbor's backyard where a young child was playing.

The dog has been sentenced to be put to sleep by Municipal Court. Gragg said the dog is not dangerous and noted that it did not bite anyone in either case.

She said the Lawrence Humane Society does not properly test dogs to determine whether they are a threat to public safety. She also said animal control officers are not required to have enough training in animal sciences.

City commissioners took no action but did ask staff members to more closely review Gragg's concerns.

City to help fund homecoming party

City commissioners are on board with a proposed downtown party that would take place the day before Kansas University's homecoming game.

Commissioners agreed to provide $5,000 to the Get Downtown event that is being sponsored by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, the KU Alumni Association and area businesses.

The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 6. in the one-block area of Eighth Street between New Hampshire and Massachusetts streets.


lunacydetector 11 years, 8 months ago

i go with the US Census. they've been in the business and have the experience over the city of lawrence.

after all, the city of lawrence required the developer to pay for the roundabout on clinton parkway out towards clinton lake with the full intent of making it difficult for vehicles pulling boats. THAT is poor planning, so i question their population numbers and their overall logic.

isn't it the goal of our city commission to reduce the number of lawrence residents anyway? isn't that the platform the 'progressives' ran on what with the 'growth never pays' fallacy and if you don't like us and our agenda, move?

why yes, it was.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 8 months ago

Considering gasoline prices and the fact that existing homes put on the market are not selling as quickly there is a real possibility that population growth has slowed. As Mr. Dunn noted we have become home to thousands of commuters. I am sure some have yet realize the joy in paying $3.00 a gallon for gasoline.

Dave McClain 11 years, 8 months ago

You are so right lunacydetector! As far as our commision is concerned, if we have negative growth and return to the population of the 70's, isn't that what they want?
Perhaps we should roll back their salaries to match!

Richard Heckler 11 years, 8 months ago


What you seem to have forgotten is that the "Growth Machine" of 15 years prior to the PLC FORGOT to include thousands of jobs on their agenda during their uncontrollable rush to build homes(some crappy constructed).

Disciplined,practical and frugal planning was put aside and a few became wealthy. Our bedroom community is now plagued with inflated values thus inflated property taxes and nowhere for so many to work. Now that gas prices are doing what was predicted those who do not enjoy spending lots of money on gasoline must make rational decisons about their own economic futures.

A slower,disciplined,practical and genuinely planned growth would likely have produced a healthier sustained growth perhaps without the level of inflation we now experience.

The PLC has been dealt the clean up and has been trying to get matters back on track but there is so much resistance. It also appears that the growth machine wants to return to the days of old...not a good idea. Lawrence is not going to die however a very different direction might be in order.

prioress 11 years, 8 months ago

Get off the roundabouts people! These are efficient, fuel-saving traffic "calming" devices that work when people drive properly and remember the "YIELD" sign does not mean bushels of wheat per acre. If I were on the commission, I'd ban drive through windows in new construction as another fuel-saver. And, people could get off their fat butts and actually walk a few steps every-now-and-then.

gphawk89 11 years, 8 months ago

Maybe people are reading some of these discussions and deciding that they don't want to move to Lawrence.

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

I can't believe the dog was sentenced to death. It's so wrong! That sucks I'm so sorry.

Godot 11 years, 8 months ago

"No, what the city commission wants is a balance between old and new. And it certainly doesn't want the old subsidizing the new."

Then the new should not subsidize the old, either. Split Lawrence in two! Let East of Iowa support itself.

lawrencephilosopher 11 years, 8 months ago

Last thing I remember, I was Running for the door I had to find the passage back To the Lawrence I was before 'Relax,'said the night man, We are programmed to receive. You can checkout any time you like, but you can never leave! Welcome to the Hotel Lawrence Kansas Such a lovely place Such a lovely face

gerbilsniper 11 years, 8 months ago

I for one recently moved AWAY from lawrence this past month after living there four years.As a KU grad was unable to find a decent job, the traffic sucked, the police were ignorant, and to be honest with you...if there wasn't KU ...that town would be just another sprawl of ready built cookie cutter houses.

gerbilsniper 11 years, 8 months ago

Oh yah, and prioress, the roundabouts only work when the other drivers know how to use them...which i'm very sorry to say...most dont.

Rhoen 11 years, 8 months ago

"Fighting" the census report based on the number of building permits issued is not sound logic, given the Rise of the Land Speculator in this area.

Looking at all the "for sale" signs that have morphed into "for lease" signs in the Lawrence area should demonstrate that "if you build it, they will not necessarily come." How many of those thousands of building permits resulted in additional people taking up residence in Lawrence? Could you come up with a way to count that?

More and more, this is a bedroom community, a transient student community, and a community that hosts a seemingly permanent homeless and/or mentally ill population.

Tax and other breaks are given to the good old boys who have been here long enough to know all the other good old boys. And low-paid KU wage-slaves and others who don't choose to commute to KC or Topeka to earn their living are paying the bulk of the costs to maintain these high-end and low-end life-styles.

Among the few people who seem to give a "whatever" - 12% turnout in this month's primary elections! - far too many buy in to the polarizing "liberal" ("progressive") vs. "conservative" divide. And very little community "progress" seems to ever be made.

The low involvement and the opting-out of participation in the process lets the people who are responsible for both creating the community's ills AND curing them have free rein to pursue their private agendas while on the public payroll.

... but whatever ...

From what I hear, Gerbilsniper is not alone in being pleased that Douglas County is now just a memory for him or her.

KsTwister 11 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence, as stupid is challenging the Census. You are going to lose again and probably with fewer people than before. "Planning staff members also pointed to city utility records. The number of city water bills issued increased by about 3,600 during the five-year period following the last census. Staff members said that data also show the city is growing."

How in the world can you have a five year period following the last Census when I filled out Census papers last year??? Lies and more Stupidity. I have to distance myself from stupid. Water bills held by landlords may have included me until I saw the light and sold at the right time and turned it off.

City Hall- your lights are on but nobody's home either.

Evan Ridenour 11 years, 8 months ago

"Regards the whiners and complainers, their argument that big box retail will somehow provide the high paying jobs they hunger for is a complete lie. McWalMart does not pay high wages!"

Okay, so what? Any new jobs that are brought into Lawrence are better then ZERO new jobs being brought into Lawrence which is what most of the whiners on this forum appear to want.

As for the census issue, in my opinion, I think that challenging the Census annual determination of Lawrence's population is a waste of time and money. All of the information that has been printed has pointed to the Census being correct. Not to mention the fact that the City of Lawrence never complained about how horridly out of date the Census method of calculating population was when it told them what they wanted to hear. The Census hasn't changed the formula they use in many years from what I have been told so if they are so wrong this year wouldn't they have been completely off every other year? The school district has been losing children, vacancies are high, and homes aren't selling well... maybe the City should just accept the Census Bureaus determination and stop wasting money.

If they want Lawrence to gain population they should start maintaining the infrastructure, stop wasting money on every pet project any citizen feels like the city needs, stop continually raising property taxes (Yes I know why you do this, it doesn't require a vote which makes it the only way you can continually gouge us each and every year HAR HAR), and stop enacting procedures that hamper the ability of new business to enter the city.

KsTwister 11 years, 8 months ago

Taxpayers just got tired of being asked over and over to fill in shortages in Lawrence, well they moved. No jobs even low paying has been developed and frivolous spending made them move..........and they are still leaving. I would like it that no studies could be done without taxpayer approval it is just more of our dollars gone. Although, its probably being funneled into another pet project.

oldvet 11 years, 8 months ago

$5000 from the city to help host a party... Friday nights must be really slow downtown... it's amazing how $5K here and $5K there starts to add up to a 1% sales tax increase or property tax increases... wouldn't it be nice if they spent the city money like it was their own money... whoops, that could be the problem, they think that my money IS their money...

GOPConservative 11 years, 8 months ago

Oh, listen to the freeloading commuters whine and complain. I love it.

Go back to where you came from. That's fine with me.

Your biggest contribution to our community has been to cause our taxes to rise to pay for all your new roads, schools, sewer plants, etc. You add nothing to our community but a bunch more traffic.

Then, you whine on and on that we should subsidize you even more by spending $200 million for a stupid road so you can save five minutes driving back and forth to where you shouldn't have left in the first place.

Face it, you don't like our City anyway. You guys constantly complain about our Commissioners, our downtown, etc. All you want is a place to sleep and to figure out more ways make the rest of us to have to pay more taxes to subsidize you. You are the welfare queens of the 21st Century.

You don't care about our amenities, parks and greenspaces. Your loyalty is to Johnson County. Your only concern is finding a faster way to get back and forth to your JOCO World.

You and your tax sucking developers have even created urban sprawl West of Iowa that looks like the habitat you came from. For most of us who have been subsiding all that crap over there the last 20 years, the miniature JOCO World your tax-sucking developer friends have created for you is ugly as sin.

Go back home, commuters and save some money on gasoline.

guppypunkhead 11 years, 8 months ago

all I know is that this is an ugly, ugly picture of lawrence.

dviper 11 years, 8 months ago

Plumberscrack wrote:

Wrong Luny! I happen to know the developer ASKED for this roundabout to market his development and offered to pay for it, if they allow the development!

WRONG plumberscrack! The developer was told that the development would NOT be approved without providing traffic calming (aka. Traffic hindrance devices) meaning a roundabout. So instead of fighting it, the developer just gave in and raised the prices of all the building lots to cover the cost, therefore further increasing the price of new homes, thanks to the city of Lawrence. This is the common method (legalized extortion) used by the PLC controlled city commission and planning commission to get what they want. The exact same legalized extortion has happened to all developments since the PLC commissioners and their cronies have infested city hall.

I find it rather ironic that the PLC and their radical supporters whine and complain about all the new west Lawrence neighborhoods, yet do close to nothing to improve their east Lawrence neighborhoods which are frequently called, blight, student gettos, and neglected properties by their own postings.

lunacydetector 11 years, 8 months ago

lawrence is the MOST restrictive community towards business in the state of kansas. net result: higher taxes.

how many jobs have been created in lawrence since the progressives took power? this isn't something that can be lumped on the powers that USED to be in power. the progressives have had ample time to 'turn our city around.' they have failed miserably because they do not understand basic economics.

progressives, please stop complaining that your failures are the result of the previous commissions. you are the ones who spend money like it is going out of style.

our taxes certainly are a lot higher than when the 'others' were in power. this is a reflection on your failed policies and your actions of failure.

lunacydetector 11 years, 8 months ago

....and dviper, thanks for backing me up. the 'do gooders' sure do lie about everything ALL THE FREAKING TIME!

conservative 11 years, 8 months ago

Log, your logic escapes me. Even if you give a 90% tax abatement, then the 10% the city does get is money they wouldn't have received if the business didn't locate there. Not to mention the benefits to the community because of the additional employment.

I really can't believe how many people out there act like a tax abatement is actually taking money out of the pocket of the community.

Bad_Brad 11 years, 8 months ago

conservative - but the business locating there strains the city's infrastructure and causes the city to incur incremental costs - schooling, roads, sewers, electrical grid, etc. Yes, there are clear benefits to giving abatements and bringing businesses in - employment brings additional property owners = more property tax, employment also brings additional consumers to the local economy = more sales tax, etc. and even the strains on infrastructure create jobs - new teachers, new work for contractors, etc.

A good abatement is one that has considered the impact that the new business will have on the community, both positive and negative, in the short-term and long-term. I won't go so far as to say that abatements should never be given to large scale employers (i.e. WalMart) who have a large pool of low wage jobs, however, it is a bad thing (in my opinion) if communities only bring in employers such as this. Communities that are wise bring in a wide variety of industries that require a wide variety of skill sets / education levels and have a variety of pay scales. Something for everyone, so to speak.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that abatements can be beneficial if they are done right, but they are not a panacea.

bugmenot 11 years, 8 months ago

Logrithmic! Finally a voice of reason and intelligence on this board. Thank you.

gphawk89 11 years, 8 months ago

Agreed. I've never figured out why towns feel like they're a failure if they don't constantly grow. Growth = more cheap labor, more traffic congestion, more crime, more noise, more light pollution... Maybe some people like these things. I don't.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 8 months ago

A lot of new retail has been approved including another Wal-Mart. The most practical new retail project approved to date is in Old East Lawrence. However retail does not produce big numbers of upper level incomes.

Lawrence may shrink and demand for new housing may slow but Lawrence will not die. However a very different direction might be in order. There are many ways to produce additional economic growth with existing resources in spite of a shrinking population.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 8 months ago

Overland Park/KCMO metro has over a million in population to serve. KCMO is the draw. We are not the same. Lawrence like all other small towns are in competition with Topeka and KCMO/JOCO.

Lawrence does not have the same retail capacity in dollars and cents.

We realized when moving to Lawrence that there was not a shopping center at every intersection which was part of our attraction to Lawrence. We also made a decison surrounding that knowledge and that is traveling to KC or Topeka would be necessary from time to time which we decided would not be an inconvenience.

Instead of constantly wanting more retail why not scream out for two or three thousand light industrial higher paying positions to employ our commuters for it is those jobs that will increase economic growth due to spending impact. That means to me a smaller well paid population maintains a stronger economy than a larger under paid population thus less traffic and air pollution.

davisnin 11 years, 8 months ago

Downtown party? Weird, did all those people complaining about the smokey bars never actually start frequenting downtown once the ban went into effect? Who would have imagined? Logrithmic, I'm a GOPer myself, but I agree with what you're saying (state's rights are moot at the city level) I think we should require alternative energy built into every bit of new construction (solar shingles are a viable option now), esp. in the City of West Lawrence, and a City of East Lawrence source would be great. Its strange that as many people as there are that waste votes on the green party and wanted to stab me for voting for Bush twice, there isn't much initiative for environmental policy locally. As far as the sewer plant, can anyone tell me if they looked at constructed wetland treatment options? It would probably be a 10th of the cost.

lunacydetector 11 years, 8 months ago

it is so sad that the Progressives who write on here are so divisive, mean-spirited and spread so much misinformation.

glad to see you back marion. i hope you're feeling better!

KsTwister 11 years, 8 months ago

Who commutes?? I doubt fewer than GOP would have you believe for whatever void that fills for him. Most I know live and work here while being sucked in for extra taxes constantly even most of those who post here. Those who do commute still are barely keeping Lawrence out of the red. You cannot blame people for going where the jobs are, soon enough more will move to those communities to save more of their money with less folly.

GOPConservative 11 years, 8 months ago


The divisiveness in our community was created when tax-and-spend liberals, who used to be the majority on our City Commissions, made deals with developers to use our taxes to build roads, schools and expand services for all that sprawl west of Iowa.

You say you've been here 12 years. If you bought an existing home and fixed it up, good for you. If you bought a new home out in "Commuterland," you may have paid back some of it, but it will take decades to pay the costs of all that expansion.

My problem is not so much with commuters in general but with the greedy, bratty, whiney ones who came here just to buy a cheaper house (subsidized by us taxpayers).

They are often the ones who could care less about our community. All they want is to create an illusion of "escape," but still they still want their shiny new schools and nearby Walmarts just like the habitat they "escaped" from and to which they drive back and forth each day.

Those who created the divisiveness in our community deserve having it thrown right back at them.

They want their $200 million road so much that they make racist slurs against HINU and try to humiliate any others who don't want the taxpayers to be further ripped off by a $200 million four-lane highway right through the middle of one of the last remaining examples of the ecosystem that used to be here.

When conservatives in Lawrence finally got the tax-and-spend, sprawl-loving majority off the City Commission, these divisive people jumped right to the defense of the developers and labeled the new conservative majority on the City Commission as leftists, socialists, hippies, etc.

The divisive people who put out this crap are tax-and-spend liberals with regard to City politics, but pretend to be conservatives. They want to raise our taxes to satisfy their selfish needs such as saving five minutes in their daily commute and building more sewer plants for their excrement.

When Lawrence joined with other American cities and neighboring States in a "smoking ban," all the good these new Commissioners were doing to make development fiscally responsible were drowned out by stupid accusations that our Commissioners were liberals, socialists, Nazis, or worse.

Talk about liberals! Talk about tax-and-spenders! Before the fiscal conservatives became the majority on the City Commission, we saw our taxes increase more than tenfold in 20 years. They are still increasing as a result of the decisions made by the tax-and-spend liberals who used to be the majority.

leavemealone 11 years, 8 months ago

I hate to rain on people's parade...but houses over here are not subsidized. If you compare similar houses here in Lawrence to JOCO and even Eudora, they average anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 more. Is housing affordable? It can be. You just have to watch for what you want, but paying over $135,000 for a side of a duplex is quite ridiculous.

KsTwister 11 years, 8 months ago

"My problem is not so much with commuters in general but with the greedy, bratty, whiney ones who came here just to buy a cheaper house (subsidized by us taxpayers)."

Hmmm.... could not just be our own children who born and raised here may wish to remain????

mom_of_three 11 years, 8 months ago

If the Humane Society doesn't know how to properly test dogs, than who does??

GOPConservative 11 years, 8 months ago


Yes, you are correct. The current commissioners are doing a much job of making development pay for itself so that the price of new homes more accurately reflects costs.

That was not true in the past. Homes have been cheaper here because no one worried about all the costs the City would have to assume as a result of sprawl.


Yes, that's another problem with greedy, bratty, whiney people. They breed. However, from what I've seen of your posts, you don't fit that description.

lunacydetector 11 years, 8 months ago

Jobs in Lawrence grew just 1.56% from 2000 to 2005, of which the majority of years were controlled by the "Progressives."

GOPConservative 11 years, 8 months ago

Meanwhile, from your same source, job growth in Topeka was -2.35% (that is a NEGATIVE two point three five percent) In Kansas City, Kansas, it was -3.97% (that is a NEGATIVE three point nine seven percent).

But in good news, Kansas City, Missouri was 1.63%, a full 0.07% better than Lawrence!

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