WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

City Commission candidate Sands wants a comprehensive fix for affordable housing

As a planning commissioner, Rob Sands understands that there will be disagreements at City Hall and that sometimes emotions will run high. Sands said what makes those situations easier was reminding himself what everyone agreed on. “We all love Lawrence and we want it to stay the way it was when we fell in love with it, and we want to improve where we can,” Sands said. “And so sometimes we just have ...

City Commission candidate Hentzler wants the city to live up to its progressive roots

Though Joey Hentzler has an active interest in politics, he didn’t necessarily plan to run for office. However, as he was trying to motivate others to run, many suggested that he would make a good candidate himself. “I had been searching for candidates who I thought would be committed to progressive policy issues and to communities that don’t often have their voices considered at City Hall,” Hentzler ...

City Commission candidate Finkeldei wants the city to better support social services

As a longtime volunteer with local social service organizations, Brad Finkeldei has seen the struggles of Lawrence residents firsthand, and he doesn’t think he’s alone in wanting the city to do more to help. “Certainly the city has to fund its core services, but, beyond that, where does this city fall in helping those in need and raising people up?” Finkeldei said. “And I think when you look at the ...

Lawrence City Commission approves incentives for manufacturing plant with 80 jobs

City leaders have approved an incentive package for a manufacturing plant that wants to bring 80 jobs to Lawrence. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted 4-0 to approve Kansas City, Mo.-based U.S. Engineering Metalworks' request for a property tax abatement, a sales tax exemption and free land for the project. Vice Mayor Jennifer Ananda was absent. U.S. Engineering Metalworks plans ...

City Commission candidate Easthouse wants more comprehensive debates at City Hall

Having grown up in Lawrence, Ken Easthouse said he did not shy away from a healthy debate when it came to local issues. “We have a spirit in Lawrence that loves to debate, and everyone has their own pet issue that they love to talk about, and that’s one of the things that makes Lawrence great,” Easthouse said. “And we need people who understand that spirit in our leadership, because we have to have that ...

Reduction in homeless shelter capacity raises question: Where can people legally sleep?

For Lawrence’s homeless with nowhere to go at night, their new beds consist of a park gazebo, the dry concrete next to a building or a patch of ground along the Kansas River. Others opt not to sleep at all. “Some walk the streets to stay awake, for safety, because they don’t want to lie down to go to sleep,” said Loring Henderson, director of a downtown drop-in center for the homeless at 10th and ...

City Commission candidate Boley wants city to focus on core services

For Stuart Boley, some of the best conversations about local politics happen not behind the microphone at City Hall, but over a cup of coffee. Boley, the lone incumbent candidate in the upcoming City Commission election, said that he goes to a monthly coffee meetup, hosted by Community Village Lawrence, and also has one-on-one conversations with residents — both scheduled and impromptu — at local coffee ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider incentives for manufacturing plant with 80 jobs

City leaders will soon decide whether to provide tax breaks to a manufacturing plant that wants to bring 80 jobs to Lawrence. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider an incentive package application from the Kansas City, Mo.-based company U.S. Engineering Metalworks. The company has filed plans with the city to build a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on an ...

Lawrence City Commission candidates share views on growth policies, incentives, other issues

At a forum Wednesday, Lawrence City Commission candidates discussed several issues affecting the city, including proposed growth policies, economic incentives and what the city should do with excess savings in the future. The Lawrence chamber of commerce hosted the forum at Maceli's Banquet Hall, and Chamber Vice President Hugh Carter moderated. He asked the six candidates several questions, and each candidate ...

Lawrence City Commission agrees with changes to sidewalk policy, but asks for additional improvements

Lawrence city commissioners said they were generally pleased with changes city staff proposed for its sidewalk repair policy, but some still said they wanted to see additional improvements and data. As part of its work session Tuesday, commissioners provided feedback to city staff regarding the administrative policy, which garnered strong opposition when initiated this spring in northwest Lawrence. Mayor Lisa ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider changes to how city manages sidewalk repair requirements

City leaders will soon discuss changes to its sidewalk repair policy, which garnered strong opposition when initiated this spring in northwest Lawrence. As part of its work session Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will provide feedback to city staff on the administrative policy regarding sidewalk repairs, which are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner under city ordinance. The ordinance has ...

Affordable Housing Advisory Board votes to recommend allowing 2 houses per lot with certain restrictions

The city’s Affordable Housing Advisory Board has approved a proposal that would allow two houses to be built on one lot if both homes are affordable, supporting recent changes restricting use of the so-called density bonus in some neighborhoods. At its meeting Monday, AHAB voted unanimously, with two abstentions, to recommend the proposal, which would allow lots of a certain size to be divided in two as long ...

New comprehensive plan calls for reintroducing businesses into Lawrence neighborhoods

Lawrence residents could soon find that their newest next-door neighbor is a business. Instead of being relegated to strip malls and the city’s commercial districts, small businesses such as coffee shops, restaurants and professional offices could soon be able to locate within the neighborhoods they hope to serve. Integrating businesses into neighborhoods — mostly a relic of the past seen in the city’s ...

City asks residents to make utility payments online as it prepares new billing system

The City of Lawrence is asking residents to use its website for utility payments and transfers as it prepares to upgrade to a new utility billing system. Though residents can still call the city to make utility transactions, the city has advised residents in social media posts this week that preparations to launch the new utility billing system are causing longer-than-normal wait times. Payments and changes ...

About 25 people forced to leave homeless shelter had nowhere to go; some expected to camp

When David Miller found out he would soon be forced to leave the local homeless shelter, he said a lot of other things in his life seemed to go wrong. “The bottom fell out and I’ve just been really screwed up,” Miller said. “Like, you know, from that point on, I started having health problems and dental issues.” Miller is one of about 25 people recently forced to leave the Lawrence Community ...

Lawrence City Commission defers action on new comprehensive plan that includes controversial growth policy

City leaders have deferred action on the proposed Lawrence-Douglas County comprehensive plan in order to further discuss a new growth policy that some think could increase the cost of housing. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously to defer the adoption of Plan 2040 on second reading. The plan has a new growth policy that prioritizes infill development and adds ...

Concept plan for East 23rd Street includes safety, pedestrian and aesthetic improvements

A draft concept plan for a redesign of East 23rd Street includes narrower driving lanes with lower speed limits, 10-foot-wide pedestrian paths with lighting, as well as additions such as native plants and monuments to beautify the corridor. The Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Organization has been working with a consultant to conduct a study and create a new transportation plan for East 23rd ...

How the city found itself with millions more than it needed in savings; why none was returned to taxpayers

Over the past two years, the City of Lawrence has found itself with a problem many of its taxpayers would love to have: too much money piling up. The past two summers, as the city updated its current year budget and worked on its budget for the upcoming year, the city has had to transfer a total of $5.4 million into other reserve funds because more money was accumulating in its savings than policy calls for. ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider adopting new comprehensive plan

City leaders will soon consider adopting the new Lawrence-Douglas County comprehensive plan that will help shape the area’s growth for the next 20 years. As part of its consent agenda for its Tuesday meeting, the Lawrence City Commission will consider adopting Plan 2040 on second reading. Commissioners already gave initial approval to the plan, which has a new growth policy that prioritizes infill ...

Swell of donations helps find housing for some, but homeless shelter still expects to force about 25 people to leave Friday

While a recent swell of community support has helped find housing for some people who will soon be forced to leave the local homeless shelter, shelter leaders still expect at least 25 people will have no place to sleep come Friday night. On Friday afternoon, the Lawrence Community Shelter, which also provides guests three daily meals, will reduce its capacity by about half, from 125 to 65 people. The shelter ...