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Kansas City, Missouri, Will Soon Have Tougher Laws For Scrap Yards

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

After months of tense negotiations behind closed doors, the Kansas City Council passed a series of changes Thursday that it hopes will cut into bad scrap yard behavior. 

Several times in the past months, a deal was said to be close but it ultimately fell part.

“The first hearing we hadon this it was like the North versus the South," Councilwoman Katheryn Shields said. "It appeared there was no opportunity for any kind of agreement between the industry people and the neighborhood people.”

The ordinance was filed in August “in response to the growing concern of neighborhood leaders in the Northeast about scrapping, houses being gutted, the economic impact it has caused the community, houses being set on fire to burn rubber off copper,”  Councilwoman Alissia Canady said.

Both sides ceded ground, according to people who were at the negotiation table.

Neighbors wanted scrap yards to stop making cash payments and make sellers wait three days for their money. Pam Breckinridge of Wabash Iron and Metal asked in that August meeting: “Who makes somebody wait three days when they have sold a piece of equipment?"

Neighborhood groups relented on those demand,   but in return the industry agreed to stop buying from people who walk in. Sellers must arrive with a car.

In addition, scrap yards will no longer buy "burned copper wire." Thieves will strip electrical wire from unoccupied homes and burn off the insulation before selling it.

"I think this is a wonderful first step," said lawyer Gregg Lombardi, who represented Northeast neighbors. He added that the city's Regulated Industries Division must now vigorously enforce the new regulations.

The other major change that the council passed Thursday involves purchases of old cars.

Auto thefts in Kansas City soared20 percent in the last year, and police blame a 2012 Missouri law that allows people to sell 10-year-old cars for scrap without a title.

The amount of stolen cars are up all across the state, with Missouri Highway Patrol Cpl. Nate Bradley saying that, “Missouri is a leader, unfortunately in the nation in terms of auto theft."

The new ordinance forces scrap yards to collect a lot more information on the car and the seller. Councilman Scott Wagner, who was council's lead negotiator, said this should help investigators.

“We hope this will help law enforcement deal with that particular issue,” he said.

Sam Zeffis KCUR's metro reporter. You can follow Sam on Twitter: @samzeff.

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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