© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

To stop illegal dumping, Kansas City Council considers increasing surveillance and penalties

A photo shows Biology student Joseph Kempinger gathering illegally dumped trash along the Blue River last April.
Celia Llopis-Jepsen
Kansas News Service
Biology student Joseph Kempinger gathers illegally dumped trash along the Blue River last April.

Kansas City Council member Crispin Rea is sponsoring an ordinance to increase penalties for illegal dumping, which regularly affects vacant lots and the city's Land Bank properties.

The Kansas City Council this week will debate legislation aimed at stopping a persistent annoyance: illegal trash dumping.

People frequentlyleave garbage and large items like mattresses in the city’s vacant lots, which are more common in lower-income areas.

“You know, these are neighborhoods with kids and families and folks that work hard, and a lot of pride, and they’ve been dealing with this for years," says Council member Crispin Rea, who represents the 4th District At-Large.

Rea told KCUR's Up To Date that Public Works staff recently cleaned up eight tons of trash over just a few blocks.

“A lot of these cases are someone who owns, say, a mechanic’s shop that has a dozen tires that they want to get rid of, and they go find a neighborhood that they think no one cares about and dump their tires there,” Rea said. “And these often are neighborhoods of Black and brown and low-income folks, and so they go in and they say, ‘Well, no one cares about this neighborhood, I’ll just dump it here,’ which couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Rea’s plan for stopping illegal dumping includes more cameras in high-risk zones, and hiring five additional case investigators. Kansas City is spending money to buy an additional garbage truck, and increase the amount of bulky item pickup days.

Rea also wants a public information campaign about the city’s efforts and increased penalties for violating city law. The current penalty for illegal dumping is anywhere between $1 and $1,000 in fines, and/or six months in city jail.

Rea's proposed ordinance would raise the floor of the fine to $500, and/or six months in jail for first-time violators. The changes specifically target illegal dumping in unimproved or vacant lots or the city’s Land Bank properties.

Repeat offenders could face fines of $750 and an additional 48 hours in jail.

The ordinance will be discussed in a council committee Tuesday, May 21, and Rea expects it to move to a full council vote on Thursday, May 23.

  • Crispin Rea, City Councilman for Kansas City’s 4th District At-Large

Have questions or show ideas? Text with Up To Date!

Sign up for texts from the Up To Date team to suggest show ideas and weigh in on important issues facing Kansas City. Text UTD to 816-601-4777 to join the conversation. Get more information here.

KCUR's Celisa Calacal contributed to this story.

Stay Connected
When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.