Kansas City Council

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After several months of collecting signatures, area marijuana reformers have submitted enough petition signatures to bring a decriminalization ordinance to the April ballot in Kansas City, Missouri. 

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws' Kansas City branch submitted more than 4,200 signatures to the city clerk's office on Tuesday. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

To cheers from an enthusiastic crowd, the full Kansas City council unanimously approved a resolution in opposition to the construction of the planned Dakota Access Pipeline.

Various groups in Kansas City have joined protests across the country in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has led a movement against the construction of the pipeline on native lands. 

INTERCONTINENTAL KANSAS CITY AT THE PLAZA

A busy day for Kansas City councilmembers ended months of debate by cutting back the city’s economic development incentives while awarding money to two hotel projects.

Just two weeks ago, the council had deadlocked on the incentives measure and decided to delay a vote. On Thursday, the tide had shifted. The council voted 9-4 to approve the plan.

The ordinance caps tax incentives at 75 percent of a projects cost in most case. The exceptions include distressed areas and projects that do well on the AdvanceKC scorecard, providing things like high-paying jobs.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

More than 50 Kansas City residents and community advocates showed up Saturday morning at the Mohart Multipupose Center near Linwood Boulevard and The Paseo to voice their ideas about how the city should prioritize its spending over the next five years. 

The hearing was a departure from the usual format in which residents testify individually in front of a panel of city officials. 

The morning began with a 'Pick Your Priorities' exercise where attendees voted live between sets of established priorities using electronic clickers. 

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Earlier this month, it was revealed that the Plaza’s InterContinental would seek blight status from Kansas City so it could establish a special sales tax to help pay for hotel renovations.

During that city council meeting, Brett Ellison, general manager of the Marriott Country Club Plaza, issued a warning:

Courtesy Kansas City Missouri City Hall

Mayor Sly James asked a Kansas City Council committee on Wednesday to recommend spending $250,000 to begin planning for a three-day arts festival to take place in Swope Park next September.

Those funds would go toward hiring of a project manager who would spend the next year developing the festival, which would include visual, performing, and digital arts, as well as an educational component, all taking advantage of the assets in Swope Park: Starlight Theatre, the park's pavilion, and the Southeast Community Center.

Rendering courtesy of BNIM

After weeks of public hearings, the Kansas City Council was expected to vote Thursday on a tax incentive reform package

But debate on the floor, which lasted nearly two hours, resulted in a hold on the vote. 

InterContinental Kansas City At The Plaza

The InterContinental — the iconic hotel on the corner of the Country Club plaza — wants to be designated as blighted. 

The hotel went before a Kansas City Council committee Wednesday to ask for the designation so it can establish a community improvement district, which would allow the hotel to create 1 percent a sales tax to help pay for renovations.

courtesy Helix Architecture and Design, Inc.

Updated: On Thursday, the Kansas City Council approved $7 million in funding for the University of Missouri-Kansas City's downtown campus for the arts. This brings the fundraising total to $48 million, and UMKC will be eligible to seek matching state funds for the $96 million project. 

Courtesy Amy Greene Vines

Two cars cruise into Kansas City. In one, a man and woman battling poverty and bad luck try to outrun their past. The other is a battered old Jeep Wrangler, in which two estranged sisters attempt to reconnect after a wedding catastrophe.

The stories seem as different as can be but share a key factor: They are the first two feature films to be shot in Kansas City after the establishment of the Film and Media rebate incentive.

Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons

In May, the Kansas City Council abandoned plans for a new airport — at least, for the time being.

So for now, airport officials are making small changes to improve travelers' experiences, though they still face challenges with the current design.

Pat Klein, director of the Kansas City Aviation department, says the improvements will be worth the investment, even if the city does move forward with a new terminal in the next few years. 

Rendering courtesy of BNIM

Over the last year, the debate over how much of a tax break the city should give developers for local projects has been heated. 

On Wednesday, the Kansas City Council for the first time heard public comment on an ordinance to reform tax incentive development policy that's been in the works for months. 

Anna Sturla / KCUR 89.3

Leeds Cemetery doesn’t look like a typical cemetery. A couple of miles from the Truman Sports Complex in Kansas City, Missouri, it has no headstones and no green lawns. It's just an empty field filled with dry grass and Queen Anne’s lace.

 

For more than half of the 20th century, though, this was Kansas City’s "potter’s field," or final resting place for the city’s unclaimed bodies — those too poor for a proper burial.

 

Michael Bentley / Flickr-CC

A debate has been raging in the Crossroads and West Bottoms over a liquor licensing ordinance passed by the Kansas City council in April.

On Thursday, the council unanimously approved a compromise they hope will keep businesses and residents happy. 

The ordinance limited the influence some property owners had over approval of liquor licenses. It had the support of many small businesses, who said it gave them more of a voice in the process.

SWARE. / Flickr-CC

Organizers are moving forward to decriminalize marijuana in Kansas City, Missouri.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws' Kansas City branch is collecting signatures to get an initiative added to the November ballot.

The KCMO City Council is debating a $27 million improvement package for the historic Jazz District at 18th and Vine. We look at the ongoing effort to revitalize and enhance the area — and hear why it has special meaning for some Kansas Citians.

Tonight's town hall meeting about the future of 18th and Vine starts at 6 p.m. at Centennial United Methodist Church.

Guests:

KC Aviation Department

For two years, KCI Airport officials have leaned heavily on promoting the idea of a new single-terminal concept when reporting aviation details to City Council committees.

Not this time.

New Aviation Director Patrick Klein reported to the Airport Committee on Wednesday and focused entirely on ideas for improving the existing terminals.

In May, Mayor Sly James said the city was putting discussions on a new single-terminal for KCI on hold after research suggested an overwhelming lack of public support.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The biggest priority on Kansas City's $27.6 million proposal for tuning up the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District has nothing to do with bricks and mortar.

It’s about assuming ownership of most of the properties in the six-block district and forging a common approach to marketing and managing the area, according to City Manager Troy Schulte.

Kansas City Fire Department

The omnipresence of cell phones makes it easier and often quicker for people to report emergency situations.  But the cellular devices are a significant factor in ambulance response times that miss Kansas City's response time goal.

Actually, the city's ambulance service, operated by the Fire Department, performed well in April, according to a report submitted to the City Council Neighborhoods and Public Safety Committee.

Of nearly 6,500 calls for emergency service, 65 turned out to be classified as life-threatening emergencies.

HDR, City of Kansas City

Northland council members were most skeptical, but all members of a joint City Council Committee seemed to agree  Thursday that a proposed city-wide transit-oriented development plan still needs more work.

First District Councilwoman Heather Hall seemed to sum up the concerns of her colleagues.

“First of all, it's too big to be effectively run by all the different components that we need to do; and it doesn't meet the needs of  every part of the city, but in fact the whole city will be responsible for all of it,” Hall told the group.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The historic district at 18th and Vine in Kansas City, Missouri , a half mile east of the flourishing Crossroads Arts District , is itself at a crossroads.    

Again. 

The city will soon hold hearings on a $28 million dollar package of renovations. Projects include improvements for the Negro Leagues and American Jazz Museums, the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey and beautification projects.

Creative Commons

The building is historic, and the story familiar. 

Developers seeking to renovate the old Federal Reserve Building at 925 Grand told the 95-year-old tower's tale of woe to the City Council Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday.

They described and showed photos of disrepair and water damage in a structure now eight years vacant, lacking a fire sprinkler system and with only one working elevator for which repair parts must be custom-fabricated.

Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons

The airlines that use Kansas City International Airport want to take their plan for a single terminal to voters in August.

Steve Sisneros with Southwest Airlines says waiting any longer could drive up costs on the proposed $964 million project.

“The airlines have agreed to new terminal concept,” Sisneros told the Airport Committee Tuesday. “The airlines have agreed to take financial risk for the project. The airlines have agreed to back the debt.”

Neerav Bhatt / Flickr--CC

Google got permission from the Kansas City Council Thursday to venture into high-speed wireless, building on the success of its Kansas City, Missouri, fiber optic network.

The Internet giant asked council members for permission to mount antennas on city-owned light poles to see if it could bounce connectivity off of them.

Though the ordinance ultimately passed, there was heated discussion about whether Google has kept its promises so far in Kansas City.

Councilman Dan Fowler doesn’t think so.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Before the Kansas City Council sat down for its second public hearing for the 2016-2017 budget Saturday, 3rd District Councilman Jermaine Reed predicted that blighted housing would be a key topic for the day.

"There's a bit of excitement, but also a bit of caution," Reed said. "People don't necessarily want to see these buildings and homes torn down, they want to see people repopulate the urban core."

Updated January 7, 2016

A Kansas City Council committee took a first step Wednesday to preserve the one percent earnings tax that supporters say pays for vital city services.

In what will likely be the first of many presentations about the earnings tax, finance director Randy Landes told the Council’s finance and governance committee there have been many bills prefiled to modify or eliminate the earnings tax, which brings in more than $200 million annually.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Kansas City's Planning & Zoning Committee held its first community listening session Saturday to connect city officials with residents who had questions and concerns about issues in their neighborhoods.

Around a dozen residents from the area, mostly from the Marlborough neighborhood, showed up at the Trailside Center in South Kansas City to speak with council members and city employees from a variety of departments.

Kansas City leaders face a big decision when it comes to the new downtown convention hotel. A group of petitioners challenging Kansas City’s plan for a the hotel has sufficient signatures to seek a public vote, and new members of city council are questioning the process of the deal. 

Guests:

  • Dan Coffey is with Citizens for Responsible Government, the organization behind the petition. 
  • Quinton Lucas is the at-large councilman for Kansas City's 3rd District.
City of Kansas City, Missouri

An effort to put a downtown convention hotel up for a public vote took another official step forward Thursday.

But where it goes from here remains unclear. 

Officials with the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners say they have counted and validated signatures on a petition filed this week by a group seeking to challenge a recently inked deal to develop an 800-room Hyatt Hotel next to Bartle Hall

GM Media -- Creative Commons

Kansas City, Missouri could soon be home to a new auto parts manufacturer and 375 new jobs.

The Kansas City Council's Planning and Zoning Committee Wednesday advanced plans for Challenge Manufacturing Co., a contractor for General Motors, to move into a space near Kansas City International Airport.

The company requested $56 million in bonds and 75 percent tax abatement for 10 years from the city. 

Planning and Zoning Chair Scott Taylor says the company had considered several different sites, including Kansas City, Kansas, but its first pick was near KCI.

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