HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The Hutchinson City Council will be meeting in a special session Friday afternoon to take a step toward finding common ground when it comes to code enforcement within the city. It’s an issue that has created much conversation and some controversy over how city codes are enforced.
“Basically what it’s going to be is a discussion about the code enforcement policy within the city,” Planning Director Ryan Hvitlok said. “We have been getting some complaints . . . so the council is looking into it and asked the housing commission to look into it.”
Most of the complaints center around code enforcement connected to rental property. The three-year-long battle between landlords and the city eventually led to any type of rental inspection or licensing program being eliminated. So where does it start from here?
“We’re not going to be reinventing the wheel,” Mayor Jade Piros de Carvalho said. “I think when you talk about balance there is always going to be those people who push the edges. I don’t think you can design your policy for those exceptions because you’re always going to end up penalizing that vast majority of people, which is exactly what we’re doing.”
But there are those who want to have stricter enforcement, especially when it comes to property value issues.
“We certainly are trying to improve property values,” Hvitlok said. “Because the quiet voice that’s not before the City Council but we hear a lot is from the neighbors who say, 'hey, when are you going to have my neighbor clean up his property.' Those are the voices we’re not hearing at the City Council.”
The issue of code enforcement is being met from several sides although Piros de Carvalho says she’s confident all sides are looking for a common goal.
“It comes across like we’re on two different sides . . . three different sides and I don’t think that’s the case,” Piros de Carvalho said. “I think we all have the same overarching goal it’s just we need to talk about how we can meet that goal that feels right to all parties involved.”
Hvitlok hopes the dealings over the past three years with the rental registration program will give some push to coming up with new ideas.
“We’ve learned from the rental registration conversation and we really want everybody to be on the same page,” Hvitlok said.
Friday's meeting begins at 3 p.m. in the Hutchinson city offices.