Archive for Friday, January 14, 2011

Town Talk: Home sales down in 2010; home construction up in 2010; sidewalk shoveling complaints start to roll in

January 14, 2011


News and notes from around town.

• Consider Lawrence’s real estate industry only partially stimulated. The federal stimulus program that offered homebuyers several financial tax credits did produce healthy months for Lawrence real estate sales early in 2010. But for the entire year, new numbers show that real estate sales fell by 1.1 percent. The Lawrence Board of Realtors reports 1,239 sales were made by its members in 2010, down from 1,253 in 2009. The numbers also are down from 2008 totals when 1,286 homes were sold.

Although sales were a tad weaker, prices were a tad higher in 2010. The median sale price in 2010 was $158,000, up from $155,000 in 2009. The median price is down from 2008 totals, when it was $159,900. The number of days it took to sell a home in 2010 also declined slightly. The median days on the market was 44 days in 2010, down from 47 in 2009 and well below the 61 days in 2008. The number of days that new homes sat on the market also went down to 73 days compared to 110 in 2009 and 156 in 2008.

But perhaps the most interesting statistic is that sales of newly built homes did increase in 2010. Builders sold 115 new homes, up from 96 in 2009. That’s an increase of 19.7 percent. That won’t qualify 2010 for a hall-of-fame type of year, but it is not bad considering that sales of new homes plummeted in 2009. They dropped by 26.7 percent in 2009. The median selling price of new homes also increased slightly in 2010. The median was $229,822, up from 225,725 in 2009.

• Signs of cautious optimism by contractors also showed up in the city’s building permit totals. The city issued 152 building permits for single family and duplexes in 2010. That’s up 23 percent from 2009’s total of 126. It also is up from the total of 114 in 2008. Apartment construction also was up. The city added 220 apartment units in 2010, up from 172 in 2009.

Overall, the city issued building permits for $101.8 million worth of projects. That was up from $75.3 million in 2009, but down from $146.5 million in 2008.

Here’s a look at the 10 largest construction projects of 2010:

• $9.45 million for a new Lawrence retirement center at Sixth and Folks Road;

• $7.99 million for a new seven-story apartment, office and retail building at Ninth and New Hampshire.

• $5.5 million for a first-floor remodel of Lawrence Memorial Hospital;

• $4.86 million for the first phase to rebuild the former Boardwalk Apartments at 546 Frontier Road;

• $2.9 million for a city and Kansas University transit facility at 1260 Timberedge Road;

• $2.34 million for a new city pump station at 3820 Greenway Circle;

• $1.6 million for a new Orscheln’s store at 1541 E. 23rd St.;

• $1.48 million for Deciphera Pharmaceuticals' new office and laboratory space on the upper floors of 643-647 Mass.

• $1.44 million city pump station expansion at 3613 Brush Creek Drive;

• $1.43 million for the city’s Carnegie Library expansion at Ninth and Vermont;

• The jury is still out on whether Lawrence residents have become better sidewalk snow shovelers. The city last winter issued about 200 tickets to people who failed to clear their portion of public sidewalks in a timely manner. It was the city’s first big enforcement push for the ordinance.

Well, Part II has arrived. Under the ordinance, which gives property owners 48 hours following the end of a snowstorm to clear sidewalks, snow should have been removed by 8 a.m. Thursday. Brian Jimenez, the city employee who oversees the program, said complaints have started to come in. He estimated Friday morning that inspectors now have a list of about 100 addresses where people have complained that snow has not been removed. How that compares to last winter is a little tough to say because last winter we were inundated with snow.

“Last year was really just a blur,” said Jimenez, who is the city’s codes enforcement manager. “We just had such a steady number of complaints coming in last year.

In total, the city received about 790 complaints last year. Jimenez said inspectors are now out checking out properties that have been called in. If the city determines the sidewalk hasn’t been shoveled, a citation will be sent to the property owner via the mail. (In case you are wondering, the city does make exceptions for sidewalks that have been covered up by their snow plows.) The fine is $20 per day, plus courts costs.


Judgesmails 7 years, 4 months ago

"Jimenez said inspectors are now out checking out properties that have been called in."

What a waste.

Anyone that complains to the city about someone's sidewalk not being shoveled is a complete loser.

Seriously, a loser.

kernal 7 years, 4 months ago

I guess what you're saying is if a person's only mode of transportation to the bus stop is their feet, then they are a looser.

There are a lot of sidewalks in my neighborhood that have not been shoveled and the residents of those properties are young and able bodied. Guess it's too cold for them. And, no, I am not turning them in.

kernal 7 years, 4 months ago

okay, you made your point. I'm not perfect every day of the week like you are.

bluerose 7 years, 4 months ago

obviously you have never had to get around on foot, despite the weather.

obviously you have never slid on a lumpy icy sidewalk and cracked your coccyx and damaged a tooth, resulting in abscess and rootcanal/crown.

and trust me, walking in the street in lawrence on icy/snowy days is terrifying.

bluerose 7 years, 4 months ago

um yeah. it's pretty terrifying to watch people texting and calling, eating fast food and putting on makeup while driving cars on slick (or even dry) streets. makes the walker feel rather vulnerable. no counseling needed.

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

who needs counseling, someone is is worried about falling or someone who obviously has a need to disrespect people? I was grateful my mom in law was careful, she was right to worry about falling and was thoughtful and careful to avoid it.

ksarmychick 7 years, 4 months ago

"If the city determines the sidewalk hasn’t been shoveled — or covered up by a city snow plow — a citation will be sent to the property owner via the mail. The fine is $20 per day, plus courts costs."

So let me get this straight, if I took the time to shovel my sidewalk and then the city plow comes throught and piles 2X as much snow on my already shoveled sidewalk, the city is going to still ticket me?

ksarmychick 7 years, 4 months ago

I don't need to read it again. The quote was a direct quote from the article. The LJWorld choose to edit thier story after my comment had been made.

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

no, read it again. No, you should read it again. I suggest just shoveling your sidewalk to clear it of snow, Don't worry about the justice, just shovel it or get it shovelsed. It doesn't have to be a legal quandary.

LA_Ex 7 years, 4 months ago

So if I shovel my sidewalk and then a plow comes by and throws snow back on my sidewalk, who gets the ticket? Me, or the plow driver for covering up all my hard work?

deec 7 years, 4 months ago

Will they need to go back out every day to make sure the sidewalk's been cleared? Or do they just wait until another complaint on the same sidewalk comes in?

loveroflarry 7 years, 4 months ago

My understanding of the ordinance was that if it was determined that the plow covered a shoveled walk, the property owner would NOT receive a ticket? The way this sentence is written now makes me wonder....

LJW: I would also like to see a story about the Safe Seniors Walkways (or Safe Winter Walkways) program. I think people should just help their neighbors in need, but this group is great for coordination purposes!

And old story:

Chad Lawhorn 7 years, 4 months ago

No, that's poorly worded on my part. I meant to say unless it was covered up by a city snow plow. In other words, if your sidewalk gets covered up by a snow plow, you won't get ticketed. I'll change it. Thanks. Chad Lawhorn Journal-World

oliveoyl 7 years, 4 months ago

How is being liberal relevant to this topic? Can't wait to hear this. I'm sure it's a sweeping generalization. I classify myself as liberal and I cleared my sidewalk.

BTW, grammar and punctuation are your friends.

parrothead8 7 years, 4 months ago

You want to stomp people's newspapers, set dog turds on fire on people's doorsteps, and ring-and-run like an 8-year-old...and you're asking what's wrong with US?

CHKNLTL 7 years, 4 months ago

this city has a poor concept of supply and demand. Increasing the amount of houses when home sales are down? AND the cost goes up? wtf

somedude20 7 years, 4 months ago

The city has had ample time to clear the roads. The street that connects 17th and Kentucky to 17th and Mass was still a mess as I left for work at 7:30 this morning. Their 24 hours expired yesterday at 8am (the same timeline I had to have my sidewalk cleared, which it was/is) but yet the streets can still snow packed. I would ask for the city to be fined but that would only come from tax money so I would like one of the commissioners who created this rule (do not care which one) to preform the truffle shuffle on that snow covered road

grimpeur 7 years, 4 months ago

Back in Soviet Russia, sidewalk shovels you.

Gene Wallace 7 years, 4 months ago

The City should not be allowed to Ticket residents until the City has cleaned it's public sidewalks. The bus stops are cleared, but, the sidewalks leading to the stops are not. Example: City sidewalks on Iowa from 23rd to 31st.

SoundMind 7 years, 4 months ago

This is probably the sanest thing I think I've seen anyone post, ever. Well done.

irvan moore 7 years, 4 months ago

it would be interesting to know if the city takes the name and address of the complaining party so they could also check to see if they cleared their own sidewalk. i don't mind doing my walks and drives and a few of the neighbors but i'm retired so have the time to spend. be happy you have a sidewalk and a home, everyone is not so fortunate. and yes, i hate snow.

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

Are drive ways included in the ordinance? I thought it was the sidewalk.

dogsandcats 7 years, 4 months ago

Are people required to clear the ice off their sidewalks too? Or just shovel. Because I'd rather walk through snow than slip and fall on ice.

lgreen17 7 years, 4 months ago

They didn't shovel the sidewalks on the bridge, and they want to issue tickets to home owners?

jayhawkgirl3 7 years, 4 months ago

Just a note to all, I throw newspapers and I don't think people realize how much a cleared sidewalk helps all of us. We do our best to put your paper where you want it everyday. And if you can't help us in return, then don't call and complain saying your paper isn't where it should be. We get charged a lot of money for complaints and if you don't clear your sidewalk, then can we call and say your sidewalk isn't clear? I say yes, I have about 10 addresses I could do that to.

Chris Bell 7 years, 4 months ago

As Circulation Manager of the Journal-World, the carrier's delivery expectations rarely change due to weather. If you are having an issue with delivery, please contact me. Thank you. Chris Bell Circulation Manager Lawrence Journal-World 785-832-7137

TheShaman 7 years, 4 months ago

Since this is like the 18th thread I've read here with people grumbling about having to shovel off their sidewalks...

I'd just like to say that Lawrence is now the fourth city I've called home in my adult life. In the previous three (one in Maine, two in Massachusetts) I was also required by law to keep my sidewalks clear of ice and snow. Not only is this is the first time in my life I've ever actually heard anyone complain about having to do so, but the $20 ticket is a far lighter fine than I've encountered in the past, and I never got to wait 48 hours to do it either (which is silly since the longer you wait the harder the job will be).

I guess I just don't see what the big deal is, why can't we all just be good neighbors to each other and get it done?

oliveoyl 7 years, 4 months ago

"I guess I just don't see what the big deal is, why can't we all just be good neighbors to each other and get it done?"

This. Thank you.

SnakeFist 7 years, 4 months ago

I might feel better about shoveling snow for my neighbors if they occassionally said "hello", waved, or, in any small way, acknowledged my existence. Until then, I don't feel so neighborly.

kernal 7 years, 4 months ago

Sometimes we have to make the first move, SnakeFist.

Laura Wilson 7 years, 4 months ago

Is there a number we can call to report city owned sidewalks that still have snow? Because just in driving to work yesterday I saw two, one at the firestation at 19th and Mass, and all along Lawrence Ave. and Holcomb Park. They'd had an initial snow removal but that inch that fell Monday night is still there. I cleared mine on Monday afternoon and then that last one inch in the bitter cold Wednesday night, but I guess the city decided not to come back and finish their own.

Until the city clears all their sidewalks they shouldn't be fining anyone.

And my street is still a snowpacked sheet of ice due to the plowing Tuesday night that didn't get all of it up since it had been packed down with nearly 48 hours of people driving on it. The snow pack of five inches was MUCH safer than what it is now which is ice.

Years ago an attorney told me that if you didn't do anything to remove snow from your sidewalk and someone fell, it was an act of god. If you removed what you could and someone fell, you were liable. We were lucky that this snow didn't have freezing rain involved but we can't always count on that. I'd rather walk through six inches of snow than slide on the ice that's left after shoveling because no one ever gets up every single bit.

littlexav 7 years, 4 months ago

The street where my office is located wasn't plowed until this morning - let me tell you, the unplowed "snow pack" gets pretty bad when it is this cold outside, and is much more slippery than a thin layer of packed snow. The thin layer can also melt when the sun shines (which it has been doing on and off) but the thick stuff self-insulates.

In my experience, plowed is definitely better than unplowed (twss).

George Lippencott 7 years, 4 months ago

Facinating. Five of the top ten construction projects are being paid for with tax money and one to two of the others are being paid fror indirectly with city/county pump priming money.

tir 7 years, 4 months ago

I shoveled mine several times during the storm, and afterwards, so they are clean. But from what I have seen while walking around, some people are making more of an effort to actually clear their walks, and others are making only token efforts, such as shoveling a narrow path down the middle of a 4-foot wide walk, or only taking off a few inches of snow to prove they got out there and did something, but still leaving several inches of snowpack which the freeze-thaw cycle will soon turn into a treacherous sheet of ice. Does the city consider token efforts to be enough to avoid a ticket if someone reported them?

gudpoynt 7 years, 4 months ago

what about uneven brick sidewalks impossible to shovel cleanly? That is my case, and all I can do is create a flat path the best I can. Hope it suffices. Remember pedestrians, slow down on snow and ice. Gravity is your greatest ally when it comes to friction. Or metal golf spikes.

George Lippencott 7 years, 4 months ago

One thing this statistic does not show is that the homes on the west side are not selling and the few that are selling are at about 70% of appraised.

I guess I can look forward to an increase in my appraised value based on sales subsidized with federal stimulus dollars applied to less costly properties. Standard Douglas County methodology. Maybe we should all challenge the appraisals on properties above the average.

been_there 7 years, 4 months ago

As of 8 am this morning the street in front of Cordley school had not been touched by a snow plow with hundred of cars needing to drop off and pick up kids. Disgraceful of the city to put schools on the bottom of the list.

ClaroAtaxia 7 years, 4 months ago

I refuse to shovel my sidewalks until the city clears my road. They came through WHILE it was snowing, but NEVER bothered to come back after another 3 inches fell. Our neighborhood streets still have tons of snow on them. I'll shovel when they clear the road.

irvan moore 7 years, 4 months ago

i live in the centennial neighborhood and it appears we did a pretty good job of clearing the snow, most areas i have been in the last couple of days looked like the residents made a serious effort.

Kris_H 7 years, 4 months ago

In Topeka the worst things I've encountered after the snows were the curb cuts down into the street from sidewalks. These quickly filled with stuff pushed aside from the streets by the city plows and then when it froze, there were ridges, deep footprints, all kinds of obstacles.

Never mind anyone in a wheelchair being able to use them (obviously not), if you weren't able to nimbly leap over mountains of ice and land on ice like a mountain goat, you weren't going to be able to use them either.

Who should be responsible for clearing these out, the same people who have to clear the sidewalks, or the city who shoved the snow up into them?

Richard Heckler 7 years, 4 months ago

"$2.9 million for a city and Kansas University transit facility at 1260 Timberedge Road"

Where did the money come from?

The T sales tax and KU most likely. KU probably laid out the most money I'm guessing. KU and the T bus service are some of THE best paying jobs in Lawrence,Kansas hands down.

Seem to me taxpayers don't take the same interest in the money that spent on new water and sewer lines that play a huge role in expanding our tax bills.

There is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned by the local media,city hall and elected officials - local profiteers are draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes. This constant stream of increases puts the cost of public transportation to shame.

How we subsidize local profiteers:

  • building new and wider roads
  • building schools on the fringe
  • extending sewer and water lines to not necessary development
  • extending emergency services to the fringe
  • direct pay-outs to developers
  • special sales and other taxes

George Lippencott 7 years, 4 months ago


Well, let us see. Could the property owner be sick? Tending to a sick friend elsewhere or countless other reasonable reasons for not shoveling. If this is so important to you, how about you go shovel those walks. Do you good. Spirit of community. Do you have walks?

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