Shift in priorities for Kennewick code enforcement

Shift in priorities for Kennewick code enforcement
KENNEWICK, Wash. - Neighbors in Kennewick are tired of seeing rundown parts of their community. So much, that when the city asked for input on a citizen's survey, code enforcement was named a service people couldn't live without.

Neighbor James Kepinger, "I don't like to see a bunch of crap, whatever's laying around, junk."

He lives near Kennewick Avenue. He's says he's noticed more code enforcement and police officers writing tickets, getting neighbors to comply with city standards.

"We keep a clean ship. I'm always on the lookout. I'm always out here raking and keeping an eye on people out here. Keeping the neighborhood clean," said James.

So have many others in Kennewick. Last year there were close to 1300 code violations reported by citizens. So far this year, there have been just under a thousand. A small decrease but a reflection of Kennewick's new approach to code enforcement.

Noise or cluttered driveways aren't cited immediately. People would be asked to fix the problem before starting a case. This frees up resources for bigger problems. City leaders hope to keep this up by targeting budget money for stronger code enforcement efforts.

By making room in the budget and shifting around a few code enforcement priorities, the city will redirect their focus to areas of the community where buildings like this exist. Hoping to give the area a bit of a make over.

Reducing the amount of crime in the process. Kennewick sees the connection between rundown parts of town and spikes in criminal activity.

James says it makes him glad to live where he does.

"Put it this way, I'd rather be here in Kennewick than Yakima," he said.

Kennewick hopes to get more money for a proactive code enforcement out of the way it handles prisoners. The city contracts jail services with Benton County to keep that cost to a minimum and free up extra funds.