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Kansas City neighborhood associations hope new law helps them battle unsightly properties

Posted at 5:20 PM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-23 23:49:17-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — A new law dubbed the Good Neighbor Law was created to help give neighborhood associations a new tool to clean up abandoned properties.

Under the law, neighborhood associations would be able to go onto the private property of abandoned houses and clean up trash, mow grass and board up windows if need be.

It's a law many east Kansas City, Missouri neighborhood leaders have been wanting for a while.

"Now we're able to actually help our community I feel like," Patricia Hernandez, administrative vice president of the Indian Mound neighborhood, said.

Hernandez said this new law is a game changer for them to tidy up the neighborhood.

"It will be extremely useful for neighborhoods such as ours," Hernandez said. "Before, our hands were a little bit more tied and now we are able to attract people who wouldn't be able to afford a home."

Dianne Cleaver, president and CEO of the Urban Neighborhoods Initiative, believes the abandoned houses cause eyesores that attract more problems to the neighborhoods.

"We have some of our vacancies where the weeds are so tall and trees people get back and set up a little squatter camp, you know that's actually happened on some properties and is happening," Cleaver said.

City spokesperson John Baccala says while the law is well-intentioned, there are some concerns.

"We're dealing with private property - someone else's property - and when you're dealing with private property, there are a lot of hidden prat falls that are there and some that are obviously very prevalent," Baccala said.

When this new law takes effect, Baccala pointed to someone suffering from an injury if a person mows a yard and a lawsuit can be filed, even though under this law, it prevents lawsuits from happening.

"We're not so sure that even though that prevision is in the law that it's going to hold up," Baccala said.

While it's a battle over property rights and being a good neighbor, everybody has the same goal of fixing up abandoned properties.

"Hopefully we can hit a lot more of those problem homes now that we're going to have a little bit more legality not holding us back," Hernandez said.

The law, which goes into effect on Aug. 28, only pertains to Kansas City, Independence, St. Louis and St. Louis County.