Transforming KCK: A bold plan for improving the look of our city

I am proud to announce that the UG is rolling out an aggressive new plan to improve the city’s appearance. In the process, we will make KCK not only a more attractive city, but a safer, healthier and more desirable place to live.

Earlier this month, UG staff from more than a dozen departments launched an initiative that will allow us to make more strategic decisions about how, when and where to best eliminate the city’s blighted structures and properties. Called SOAR (Stabilization, Occupation, and Revitalization), the goal of the initiative is to improve 10,000 properties by 2021.

At the January 5 Commission meeting, staff reviewed the plans for this makeover. You can watch it here. As you’ll see, the steps we will take to make KCK more attractive go well beyond simply finding a blighted structure and tearing it down. They involve reducing the backlog of delinquent taxpayers, whose properties are often blighted, vacant, or unfit for habitation. They involve educating property owners about our codes, creating a database to track and manage vacant properties, and establishing a committee to prioritize unfit structures for demolition.

Of course, reaching that goal will take time, just as it took time for this large number of properties to fall into disrepair. From 1970 to 2000 we had a net loss in population of 30,000 people, which equates to about 10,000 empty homes, which has led to 6,000 vacant lots and thousands of distressed properties. The good news is that since 2010, we have had the first net gain in population in 50 years! We must build upon this positive momentum to improve the remaining blighted structures and lots.

As long as we keep our eyes fixed on the goals set forth by the SOAR initiative, I am confident that our efforts will bear fruit and give all of our residents a reason to feel proud about where they live.

- Mark Holland