Advertisement

Archive for Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Town Talk: Advocate for the homeless worries about stricter enforcement of occupancy code; Kaw bridge project to make 2012 encore; welcoming roundabouts

October 4, 2011

Advertisement

News and notes from around town:

• Beer-swilling students with stereo speakers roughly the size of Fraser Hall are usually the people who come to mind when neighbors complain about the city’s lax enforcement of a code that says no more than three unrelated people can live in a single-family home. City commissioners will hear plenty about that when they consider creating a new enforcement policy at tonight’s meeting. But that’s not the only group that will be affected. Joe Reitz, one of the founders of the local Family Promise organization, said there will be plenty of down-on-their-luck folks who are going to face major problems, if the city really does start cracking down on enforcement of the code. He told me he’s not sure the city understands how many people are “precariously housed” currently in Lawrence. That means they may be sleeping on the couch of a friend or they may be renting a spare room from an acquaintance. That situation very well could put a property out of compliance with the code, depending on how many other people are living at the house. Reitz told me he’s worried about the law of unintended consequences coming into play here.

“We sure don’t need anymore clients,” Reitz said of his organization that seeks to provide housing for homeless families. “We have plenty.”

It is a fair issue to consider, but it is important to remember that even with a new enforcement policy, the city likely is going to deal with this code on a complaint basis. My sense is: The city is not going to spend a lot of time looking for problems but rather will respond to complaints. If there are people who are precariously housed who don’t have speakers the size of Fraser Hall, who don’t party into the wee hours of the morning and don’t create all sorts of parking problems for a neighborhood, I suspect they’ll continue to go undetected by city code enforcers. But who knows. I could be wrong. After all, I was a beer-swilling student once.

• One thing I don’t think I’m wrong about is that everybody loves road construction. Based on the comments I hear, its popularity trails only Kansas basketball in this community. So, you’ll love this: The Kansas River bridge project will be making an encore performance in 2012. Crews hired by the state (this isn’t a city project) in late July started what they expected to be a 60-day project to resurface the two Kaw River bridges in downtown. Well, as of last week, it became apparent that 60 days was not going to be enough. The original plan was for crews to keep one lane of traffic open on each bridge during the course of the project. When crews repaired and resurfaced one lane, they would switch over to the other. But now there is a new plan. What I hear is that the amount of patching that was required on the bridge was more than expected. So, city leaders said they’ve been notified that KDOT has decided to put the project on hold for the winter once they complete the work that is underway. My understanding is that crews will be able to finish three of the four lanes by the end of this month. That will leave one lane to be done in 2012. What I’ve been told is that city officials asked the state to consider halting the project because there was concern that the bridge could be torn up and the weather would turn cold and make it difficult for crews to pour concrete for the project. City officials were nervous about the prospect of the bridge being torn up for long periods of time over the winter.

• So, what says Welcome to Lawrence better than road construction? How about a roundabout? How about a roundabout with a “Welcome to Lawrence” sign in the middle of it? How about two roundabouts with such signs? (See, I really am the Ron Popeil of the Lawrence Internet scene. Just when you think the deal can’t get any better, it does. Oh, my wife just heard the name Ron Popeil. She is reaching for a credit card.) Well, city commissioners are set to put just such a deal in motion at their meeting tonight. Commissioners are scheduled to approve an agreement with the Kansas Turnpike Authority that will allow the city to install and maintain welcome signs in the two roundabouts that are part of the new turnpike interchanges leading into town. (West Lawrence and East Lawrence, which of course is in North Lawrence.) The agreement gives the city the right to install and maintain the signs, but it doesn’t create a firm timeline for the signs to be built. Instead, it estimates the projects would be completed over the next two years as funding and staffing allows. The city estimates each sign will cost $20,000 to $25,000 to install. (But wait, if you order now, we can throw in a 30-day supply of roundabout jokes for free. Shipping and handling not included.)

Comments

somebodynew 3 years, 2 months ago

Chad, A couple of things:

You obviously do not pay close enough attention to the infomercials. It is not "shipping and handling not included" it is "just pay for SEPARATE shipping and handling for the 'extras' they throw in for "free".

And I am sorry, but I am not impressed with trying to bring up “precariously housed” in this situation. What a scare tatic to throw at the city when they are just trying to enforce rules that are already in place. I agree with you that unless someone complains there probably won't be much to this. Plus, I thought (maybe I am wrong) that this organization went through the City and followed the rules for their places, or that people didn't stay long at one place ??? Maybe they have something to hide?? Just wondering.....

Chad Lawhorn 3 years, 2 months ago

You're right about the shipping and handling thing. I try to keep those infomercials off my T.V. as much as possible. They seem to cost me money every time they're on. As for Family Promise, I don't think Mr. Reitz was concerned about the impact it would have on where his organization houses people. (It uses churches, and there are a whole different set of rules for those organizations.) I think his concern was about the number of people who don't currently use his organization, but might need his organization's help if the city increases enforcement of the no more than three unrelated provision. Thanks, Chad

naturalist 3 years, 2 months ago

Bridge construction: If there would be people out there working on both sides on a daily basis, or even after 3-4 o'clock, it might have gotten done on time. I don't recall seeing a local road project move so slowly. Or the subsequent lines of traffic.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 2 months ago

Speaking of bridge construction; I lived in San Francisco for many years. The Bay Bridge suffered extensive damage during the 1989 earthquake. It was just about this time of year, the World Series was on. Anyway, it was determined that the eastern span of the bridge would need to be replaced. Here we are, 22 years later and it still isn't completed. Billions in cost overruns. Years in the making. The deal is this. I know only government would undertake such a project. If given the opportunity to do a project like this, only a large private company could do it and they would need to have a guarantee of a large profit, so it's unlikely they would even try. So government does it, with all the cost overruns, all the time lost, all the bureaucratic B.S. that comes with it. And make no mistake about it, B.S. is just what has happened. Perhaps the only people who are happy are the union construction workers who have had a job during these lean times.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

Taxpayers have a right to know what taxpayer funded high dollar signs look like. Why is this necessary? Drivers have been finding their way to Lawrence off the turnpike for 50 years or more. Perhaps some in city hall are of the opinion senior citizens will be drawn to Lawrence by over priced signage.

Fix sidewalks instead! If the city has no money to fix sidewalks where does the sign money come from?

IF multiple tenants were respectful of their neighbors no matter what neighborhood this unrelated people ordinance would not be discussed. It is not enforced to any great degree as we speak. Never has been by way of never funding enough inspectors by always claiming the city cannot afford more inspectors. In spite of the many tax and fee increases over the years.

Too many big name movers and shakers are rental property owners and in some cases major slumlords. Don't expect any major change only lip service as in business as usual.

Lip service is the order of the day.

bearded_gnome 3 years, 2 months ago

whew! Chad, your headline had me frightened that more roundabouts were rarring their ugly heads soon.
the city to install and maintain welcome signs in the two roundabouts that are part of the new turnpike interchanges leading into town. (West Lawrence and East Lawrence, which of course is in North Lawrence.) The agreement gives the city the right to install and maintain the signs, but it doesn’t create a firm timeline for the signs to be built. Instead, it estimates the projects would be completed over the next two years as funding and staffing allows.

glad not so.

bearded_gnome 3 years, 2 months ago

Speaking of bridge construction; I lived in San Francisco for many years. The Bay Bridge suffered extensive damage during the 1989 earthquake. It was just about this time of year, the World Series was on. Anyway, it was determined that the eastern span of the bridge would need to be replaced. Here we are, 22 years later and it still isn't completed. Billions in cost overruns. Years in the making. The deal is this. I know only government would undertake such a project. If given the opportunity to do a project like this, only a large private company

---top deck of the 880 fell down onto the bottom deck if memory serves, crushing many in cars. ... creating a 'traffic jam' ... yes, very bad pun.

the 880 was actually not the bay bridge I think I remember right, was a bridge branching off to the south near oakland.

bearded_gnome 3 years, 2 months ago

did merrill post something other than spam: Taxpayers have a right to know what taxpayer funded high dollar signs look like. Why is this necessary? Drivers have been finding their way to Lawrence off the turnpike for 50 years or more. Perhaps some in city hall are of the opinion senior citizens will be drawn to Lawrence by over priced signage.

Fix sidewalks instead! If the city has no money to fix sidewalks where does the sign money come from?

---this is so hypocritical from the man who hasn't seen a roundabout he didn't love. Merrill has wasted dare I say millions on them and speed cushions, speed pillows, etc., that could have been used to actually fix lawrence streets over the years.
lol!

is Merrill the advanced party of the Zombie invasion?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.