Kansas City Policy Police Chief Darryl Forté has an idea. According to The Star
, Forté has suggested “reallocating some money earmarked for hiring extra police officers toward demolishing abandoned properties in crime-ridden neighborhoods.” Large scale demolition is not a new or controversial idea. The same day the Star
reported this, Bloomberg Business
published a piece about other cities that are spending money to tear things down. In it, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said he would spend $75 million to tear down 4,000 vacant houses. “Fixing what is broken in Baltimore requires that we address the sea of abandoned, dilapidated buildings that are infecting entire neighborhoods,” he said.
Back in Kansas City, Councilwoman Alissia Canady agrees,
“That is a great indication of [Forté’s] understanding of what the real underlying issues are with crime, and to the extent he can minimize the areas where criminals like to take over,” said Canady, who is chairwoman of the council’s Neighborhoods and Public Safety Committee. “Most of the violent crimes occur in these blighted areas.”
The blight isn’t due to absentee landlords, either. If you visit the website for the Kansas City Land Bank
, you will see that the owner of the most blighted land in Kansas City is… Kansas City. The City does a poor job of maintaining the properties, from cutting the grass to removing trash and eventually tearing them down. As a result, the neighbors suffer the consequences of City neglect, which include not just crime and declining home values, but also health. City Manager Troy Schulte says, “the city had 875 dangerous buildings on its list and estimated it would take $10 million to eliminate them.”
It would be a shame if this money came from the police department amidst a spike in Kansas City murders. Where else could we find the money?
- Perhaps the city could sell the land it is considering using for the convention hotel. After all, that is city-owned land that is also blighted. And according to The Star, it’s worth $13 million. The Pitch says $4.5 million. Either way its a good start. And the city likely owns all sorts of valuable land that it is doing nothing with.
- The city could halt its awful idea to spend $12 million in taxpayer funds to tear down and rebuild a grocery store within 3 miles of at least two other grocery stores.
- Schulte is under order from the Council to find $18 million for the so-called Jazz District. Maybe tearing down “dangerous” buildings is more important.
- We could stop the streetcar project altogether on the grounds that protecting the health and well-being of thousands of families on the east side is more important than a 2.2 mile streetcar to nowhere.