Prairie Village beefs up code enforcement after complaints rise - KCTV5 News

Prairie Village beefs up code enforcement in response to complaints

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The city known jokingly as Perfect Village is beefing up its code enforcement after complaints about unkempt homes and junky yards.

Due to the recession, the Prairie Village Council cut its code enforcement staffing from two to one.

In response to problems piling up, Councilman Ted Odell recently successfully pushed for adding a part-time codes enforcement officer.

Annie Ashel is glad. She grew up in Prairie Village.

It's where she and her husband lived when their marriage began. It's a place she's so fond of that it became a running joke.

"My friends always teased me," said Ashel, "because I called it my beautiful village."

But that beautiful village was overshadowed by ugly right on her block.

"Their yard was unkept," she said, rattling off a list of annoyances. "They had a ton of things in the yard. They had old broken-down cars. They were blaring loud music."

To be fair, Prairie Village is hardly going to the dogs. A KCTV5 crew had to hunt diligently to find codes violations, and few of the residents they stopped considered the current codes situation troubling. But they also seemed happy that the city was getting out in front of any further decline.

"Before, we really relied on neighbors or people driving by properties to call in if they noticed any type of code violations," said Kate Gunja, the assistant city administrator. "This will allow us to take a more pro-active approach and actually send an officer out to drive around to look for those violations."

Odell said homeowners simply aren't maintaining their homes they way they used to.

So what's to blame?

City Administrator Quinn Bennion said the demographics haven't changed much. He suggested it could be the cumulative effect of cutting the code position.

Bennion said property maintenance complaints aren't coming in more frequently than before but they're stacking up because they aren't being resolved as quickly, a result of essentially running on half staff for nearly five years.

In the past three years, they've seen a rise in revenue from property and sales taxes.

This week they mailed residents with a list of common violations. Grass and weeds must be cut below eight inches. The exterior can't have any paint peeling or rust showing. Yard tools, lumber and other items need to be stored inside or in a screened in area in the back.

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