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Lawrence’s rental licensing ordinance at center of legislative dispute

March 6, 2012

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— The city of Lawrence and a neighborhood advocate on Tuesday urged legislators to help the city enforce its ordinance that aims to restrict the number of college students who can live in a rent house.

From left to right, Arly Allen, with the Centennial Neighborhood Association, state Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, and Ed Jaskinia, with the Associated Landlords of Kansas, speak Tuesday after a hearing in the Capitol on Senate Bill 400, which the city of Lawrence says it needs to help enforce an ordinance that seeks to cap the number of unrelated people who can live in a rent house.

From left to right, Arly Allen, with the Centennial Neighborhood Association, state Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, and Ed Jaskinia, with the Associated Landlords of Kansas, speak Tuesday after a hearing in the Capitol on Senate Bill 400, which the city of Lawrence says it needs to help enforce an ordinance that seeks to cap the number of unrelated people who can live in a rent house.

Related document

Senate Bill 400 ( .PDF )

"Quiet family homes have become weekend party palaces," Arly Allen with the Centennial Neighborhood Association told the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee.

Allen said absentee landlords are packing in KU students into homes at $500 per room in violation of the city ordinance that caps at three the number of unrelated people who can live in a single-family dwelling.

The inability to enforce the city ordinance has chased away families, reduced the number of children in the area and led to elementary school closures, he said.

"Our neighborhoods deteriorate and the schools are suffering and all the families are suffering," he said. "Our neighborhoods are being converted into businesses," he said adding that the house next door to him recently had five students living there.

State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, introduced Senate Bill 400 on behalf of the city of Lawrence. The bill would allow cities to require landlords to provide lists of their tenants if a city had adopted an ordinance requiring owners of single family dwellings to obtain residential rental licensing permits prior to renting.

Lawrence has adopted such an ordinance, but almost immediately after it did so in 2000, the Legislature passed a bill that prohibited it from enforcing the requirement to provide a list of names of any tenants of a landlord.

SB 400 would provide an exception to that law. City Attorney Toni Wheeler said the city would also support a blanket repeal of the statute.

Wheeler said currently it is extremely difficult to enforce the ordinance. If the city receives a complaint that there are more than three unrelated people living in a rented single-family house, the city tries to contact the owner. If the owner doesn't cooperate, she said, the city must have inspectors monitor activity at the dwelling to determine if there is a violation.

"If we were able to get a list of tenants, it would save time," she said.

But the Kansas Association of Realtors and Associated Landlords of Kansas opposed the bill.

Luke Bell, vice president of governmental affairs of the realtors group, said cities have zoning, safety and health ordinances that they can enforce if there is a problem.

He said if the Legislature allowed unnecessary restrictions on private property that could increase rental costs.

Ed Jaskinia, president of the Associated Landlords of Kansas, said the Lawrence ordinance violated the privacy rights of tenants and landlords.

Several members of the committee seemed hesitant to support the bill.

State Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, said single-family homes can become party houses regardless of the number of students living in the house.

"You have my genuine sympathy," he told Allen, but added, "I don't know that having a list of occupants is really going to get at the problem."

Chairman Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, said he would let the bill "simmer" for a while so that committee members could hear from others about the proposal.

Comments

Few_Watts_Dim_Bulb 2 years, 1 month ago

Some peoples interests are so interesting.

Does Alceste really want transparency and honesty?

I don't think he does.

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JayhawkFan1985 2 years, 1 month ago

I live in a house that I own in a single family neighborhood on the west side of town. I appreciate what this ordinance is trying to accomplish as town-gown relationships are often difficult. However, there are several houses on my street that are rentals. This ordinance didn't help our neighborhoods situation. One rental house had 17 people living in the house at one point and nearly all were related. It was two brothers, their two wives, their kids (one couple had 3, the other 5). Later a third brother and his pregnant wife moved. After that, the grandparents moved in too. Eventually, one unrelated man moved in. Nine people with nine cars. Four cars parked in the driveway, five on the street blocking the flow of traffic. The garage was being used as living space illegally. The other families had a rule banning their kids from playing with these kids as they weren't well behaved. Did I mention there were only 5 bedrooms in this house? They lived on the street for 3 years but finally were evicted for failing to pay rent. Can you imagine that many adults couldn't scrape together their rent? Nobody in this house attended KU. Before them and since them we've had students as neighbors. The KU students haven't been anywhere near the problem this extended family posed. Btw, this was a white family with ties to Manhattan, KS, Florida and Texas.

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LJ Whirled 2 years, 1 month ago

I'd like to see some inspections done of these licensed properties. My son has rented some pretty shaky living quarters. Currently living in one that has asbestos covered pipes in the entire basement. I realize their properties take a beating most of the time, but seriously, who checks the electrical situations, etc in these places? I can't sleep at night worrying about the safety of my children at the hands of some of these slumlords, how do THEY sleep at night?

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Alceste 2 years, 1 month ago

The way Schumm manipulated the property tax "laws" and "rules", what with changing a vacant, blighted lot in the downtown area and "donating" it as a "community garden" was so magnanamous. I'm sure it had nothing to do with, essentially, negating any property tax obligation. That lot is like obligated to pay $20.00 per year. Meanwhile, Schumm sits out the "great recession" waiting for the next "opportunity".: Alceste's money says as soon as an opportunity rises, no more "community garden".

Look how a "civic leader" fleeces the tax payer....just as another "civic leader" Lance Johnson has done: (Is ex Commissioner Johnson current on all his property tax obligations NOW? Too much work to find out: http://www2.ljworld.com/propertyvalues/?q=Lance+Johnson )

0800 Blk #02 Vermont Lawrence $20 Robert J Schumm http://www2.ljworld.com/propertyvalues/?q=schumm

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nugget 2 years, 1 month ago

No matter what the laws, Bonita "the slumlord" Yoder will find a way to abuse the system.

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lcchain 2 years, 1 month ago

Our society is very built around instant gratification. More behavior that is far from good for raising a family is the only thing to come until somethings change.

Students probably don't have too, but they want to pack into a house. Makes all the chaos that much easier.

Party kids you have my love and respect but I won't see you at a party anytime soon. I'll be watching the miracles like the sun that goes across the blue sky everyday. I'll probably even learn something in the process!

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 1 month ago

Think of the children. They are poor students that cannot afford the basics of life. They need to bunk up as many as possible to a house to cut rent for daily needs like "food" and "birth control pills". Fluke stressed only a few days ago how expensive it is for "birth control".

Not only "food" and the "pill" The "children" need to save money else the impending "education bubble" will destroy their emotional makeup.

*The higher education bubble is this much closer to bursting this morning, according to no less illustrious an authority at the New York Federal Reserve.

It finds 27% of student loan borrowers are at least 30 days in arrears.

And that doesn’t count the borrowers who are still in school... or who’ve arranged to postpone payments because of financial hardship (allowing penalties and fees to pile up, but that’s another story).

We’re talking strictly people who are being billed monthly right now — 27% delinquent at least 30 days.*

(from a source)

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oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 1 month ago

Narrow minded folks have petty ideas and goals. Lawrence is filled with them.

Sadly, we have a city commission that is exhibiting a lack of leadership.

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Darrell Lea 2 years, 1 month ago

I want to tell you all a story 'bout a Harper Valley widowed wife Who had a teenage daughter who attended Harper Valley Junior High Well her daughter came home one afternoon and didn't even stop to play She said, "Mom, I got a note here from the Harper Valley P.T.A."

The note said, "Mrs. Johnson, you're wearing your dresses way too high It's reported you've been drinking and a-runnin' 'round with men and going wild And we don't believe you ought to be bringing up your little girl this way" It was signed by the secretary, Harper Valley P.T.A.

Well, it happened that the P.T.A. was gonna meet that very afternoon They were sure surprised when Mrs. Johnson wore her mini-skirt into the room And as she walked up to the blackboard, I still recall the words she had to say She said, "I'd like to address this meeting of the Harper Valley P.T.A."

Well, there's Bobby Taylor sittin' there and seven times he's asked me for a date Mrs. Taylor sure seems to use a lot of ice whenever he's away And Mr. Baker, can you tell us why your secretary had to leave this town? And shouldn't widow Jones be told to keep her window shades all pulled completely down?

Well, Mr. Harper couldn't be here 'cause he stayed too long at Kelly's Bar again And if you smell Shirley Thompson's breath, you'll find she's had a little nip of gin Then you have the nerve to tell me you think that as a mother I'm not fit Well, this is just a little Peyton Place and you're all Harper Valley hypocrites

No I wouldn't put you on because it really did, it happened just this way The day my Mama socked it to the Harper Valley P.T.A. The day my Mama socked it to the Harper Valley P.T.A.

"Harper Valley P.T.A." by Tom T. Hall

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oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 1 month ago

"not_holroyd" is as delusional as Arly Allen and francisco, who by the way was not kicked out of anything. She just didn't have the votes. pity , pity,pity.

As for taxes someone is concerned about, who cares, really? It's all legal, just as is Commissioner Schumm's zoning a lot downtown into agricultural and paying a pittance of less than $2.00 a year. So where is the outcry about zoning.

Arly Allen is a nobody, in fact, didn't even graduate from Lawrence High but seems to be the spokesperson for Centennial.

I was hoping that Ms. Wheeler when she became City Attorney would exhibit the same thought process before, but now, sadly she seems to have had the personality change that comes with being promoted.

Mr. McCullough cannot even get cars removed from being parked in front yards. That's how effective his department is. Lawrence is sadly, a dump. And it is because of the likes of Arly Allen. I can just imagine, some retired couple wanting to move to Centennial and rent a house and be told they have to be registered. Wonder what Hank Booth who is encouraging retirees to move to this dump of the city thinks about that.

Arly's buddie just recently died and all that fretting he did, didn't to no good. Another woman in Arly's special neighborhood just moved to Sprague Apartments and her house sold, and she fretted and fretted but most likely moved because she didn't have enough money to stay in her house.

Who at the City Commission asked ms. francisco to take the bill to Topeka? She might well be better to restore her own properties that are not in that good of repair and in Oread no less. One would think that a senator that who fleeced the public trough some years ago with loans at 3% would have showplaces of properties, aint' so.

Arly is feeling important, and hardly an advocate for neighborhoods. Heck with his spread where he lives, he cannot even see Centennial.

I am glad my parents spent time with each other before they died, something Arly might consider with someone close to him.

Think about this: All of the past senators and legislators from Lawrence that went to Topeka, what does anyone recall being of substance that they passed?

Again, Lawrence is a dump. Even Schumm who wants the homeless out of downtown, cannot even figure out how to clean the trash from the parking lots downtown and the dumpster areas,. That area , lot that is, behind Marks Jewelers and the businesses on the west side of Mass is a disgrace for a city commission that touts downtown as "special" Its about as special as Hamm's landfill. Check it out.

McCullough knows how to create real rental legislation patterned after real cities. But he, like the commissioners are amateurs, no better than high school students leading the Student Council.

Put that under your pillow tonite and sleep on it "not_holroyd' The person you are worrying about is not paying anything but what is legal. Kinda like Mr. Schumm!

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uglyrumor 2 years, 1 month ago

The problem is the type of renter. When I was in school I lived in several houses in single family neighborhoods. We were constantly courteous to our neighbors with fear of reprimand from our landlord if we weren't. We were also raised with the value of being good citizens and neighbors, something that has long been forgotten.

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Liberty275 2 years, 1 month ago

This is plainly an invasion of privacy and severely open to abuse. While it is fair for the landlord to know the names of all renters, it really none of the government's business unless you are under probation or have some other unrelated business with the government.

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melott 2 years, 1 month ago

No. Centennial is zoned single family. So the comparison to to other areas is irrelevant.

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pablo94 2 years, 1 month ago

I grew up in the Centennial neighborhood until I was 13 (late sixties to early 80s). It has always had a close relationship to the campus and always had a mixture of families and students like most of Lawrence.

Frankly, those old neighborhoods should really feel lucky they were never redeveloped to allow apartment buildings to go into the neighbhorhood, which is how Lawrence "leaders" ruined many other parts of town over the years. ie, build a bunch of homes and then allow mulitplexes and apartment buildings around them to drive down property value, which is what happened to my parents property off Kasold and Clinton Parkway once the apartments started in the mid-eighties. Or worse be allowed to be take some architecturally significant home/artifact (say the house at the corner of 21st and Alabama) and chop it up into 12 rooms with no chance for ever restoring the property similiar to the Oread scenario.

Anyway, It is a simple solution if they must have an ordinance at all. A single family home is designed and built with X # of bedrooms. So if the house has 3 bedrooms it should allow 3 tennnants, 4 bedrooms, 4 tennants, etc. Of course, this logic assumes all renters are of the age of 18 and considered adults. Dens are per the building code and would not be allowed as bedrooms and would not qualify as another bedroom.

Then you just have the usual headaches...enough parking, loud music and laughter--god forbide!

And really if you are going to close down the grade school, yes I was a Cardinal, not offer any parks or recreation nearby, not improve your access and city streets, then you really haven't maintained a desireable neighbhorhood environment that encourages young mid-income couples to come in purchase homes and start a family and stay for generations to come.

So the neighborhood dies, gets rented, or worse torn down and one of the big three puts up a massive apartment complex on Naismith that ruins the neighborhood altogether.

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streetman 2 years, 1 month ago

Has this ordnance ever been challenged in court? Doesn't seem that it would stand a chance. Four students in a house is illegal, but if two of them are sisters, no problem?? Four unrelated people in a house is illegal, but 12 in the house next door is OK if they are a family?? Sounds like the definition of "arbitrary and capricious."

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headdoctor 2 years, 1 month ago

I would take a wild guess and bet that most of these houses that are being complained about are located in a multifamily zone or are part of the large chunk of houses that became exempt from City licensing when the City rezoned the areas from RS to PUD and didn't bother to update their licensing laws to cover that. I would think that some of those houses in the PUD would be in areas that would certainly draw complaints if they were turned into a college house.

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Alceste 2 years, 1 month ago

http://www2.ljworld.com/crime-map/2011/ is the "crime map" for Lawrence. Notice how much/most of the crime is centered in a couple of specific areas? What's that? No crime in Arly Allen's neighborhood? What's ole Arly doing to help the rest of us out? Is he only worried about his own sorry backside? What a wonderful community minded boy ole Arly Allen is.....

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Alceste 2 years, 1 month ago

This nonsense is just....well....so much nonsense: We got us this Arly Allen character, coupled with Francisco who was tossed out of the Oread Neighborhood Association because she and her cronies weren't looking after the neighborhood in general: They were foxes in the henhouse taking care of their own personal properties and peddling influence wherever they could. Still do, too: Francisco is a co-organizer of "new" and rather clandestine "neighborhood group" The Oread Residents Association which calls itself a "club" and screens its members prior to allowing a resident or owner within the Oread neighborhood to "join" and "participate". What's even more amusing is dopes like Margene Swarts, city of Lawrence, entrenched big wig and who controls much of the planning dept., along with her boss, Scott McCullough give this "club" a wide berth and actually listen to what this secret organization has to say relative to the Oread Neighborhood! Incredible....only in Lawrence.

Some of us people here in Lawrence already live in ghettofied areas, filled with wannabe thugs, Greek hoodlums, and drunks who criminally destroy property, litter, and just generally take up space. These laws and restrictive city codes silliness essentially seal our collective lots/fate. Let the market place rule: Let's "share" some of these wonderful renters with the rest of Lawrence so they're not all so concentrated in one or two areas, please.

By the way....the houses/apartments/rooms filled with reefer smoking would be 1970's hippy types never seem to be the ones making any trouble. Nope, it's the "organized groups" and their sense of self-entitlement with their Daddy's SUV and thumping ghetto rap crud who seem to always be in the limelight.

I'm always thrilled to death when I see people like Arly Allen get to contend with such irresponsible behavior as those of us in the core inner city of Lawrence are subjected to. "We" don't need no legislation or city codes. "We" need to let the market place dictate where these sterling citizens live, reside, whatever. Let their criminal actions move further west out over where the gentry own stuff....and let Arly Allen and Francisco and her cronies sit on tacks.

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melott 2 years, 1 month ago

These people all get their mail in one box. A rental house is a business, even if it's rentals to help pay for Johnny's housing, and as such can and should be regulated.

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muddfoot55 2 years, 1 month ago

A dead give away should be the number of mailboxes on the house. If that doesn't work, can you ask the Postal Service?

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onceajhawkalwaysajhawk 2 years, 1 month ago

Arly needs to find a new hobby.. He has no idea what he is talking about!

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optimist 2 years, 1 month ago

I for one don't like the ordinance as it is written. It's invasive to demand a list of names and for the city to involve itself in a private business transaction provided no harm comes to others. It shouldn't matter who or how many live there only that they are good neighbors. One way to regulate it without overstepping property owner's right to fair use of their property or the tenant’s privacy is to require off street parking. Prohibit parking along these streets during the hours of 2am and 6am. If people can't park they won't live there. Parties and other issues can be addressed with existing noise and nuisance ordinances. If a property becomes a problem then fine the property owner and/or tenants.

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fudgystuff 2 years, 1 month ago

Maybe the CIty shouldn't have rezoned all the houses along Tennessee & Ohio as multi family. Those houses used to have families in them yrs ago. Now they are split into 5-6 rooms per house sharing 1 or 2 bathrooms. The city makes decisions and then they complain about it later. hummmm? What did they think was going to happen? I doubt if those particular owners are paying $25 per tenant, they are probably paying only $25 for one house with 6-7 students living under one roof. I know one house that has up to 10 students living there........

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kernal 2 years, 1 month ago

Didn't there used to be a problem for landlords getting insurance on single family detached dwellings that were used as rental properties if the number of tenants exceeded a certain number? Did that clause go away?

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2 years, 1 month ago

If you're implying she doesn't comply with current ordinances, why don't you come right out and say it.

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Matthew Herbert 2 years, 1 month ago

Umm.....isn't State senator Marci Francisco a Lawrence landlord? Somewhere here there is a saying about rocks and glass houses.

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