(HUTCHINSON, Kan.) — A fresh coat of paint can go a long way to improving the look of your home. And now if you live in Hutchinson, the city can make you get out the paint brush. The city council approved an updated property maintenance ordinance, giving the city authority to write citations if your house isn't painted properly.
When paint chips, Lucinda Ward does her best to scrape away the problem. But she says keeping up can be tough. So she's not happy Hutchinson is cracking down on property maintenance rules, especially paint and siding. "I don't think they're fair to the homeowner," Ward said. She says if a home looks run down, it's usually not done on purpose. "I think they don't have the money or aren't able to do the work themselves," she said.
Hutchinson's city manager John Deardoff says the new ordinance is just one more tool to clean up extreme blight in town. "It's pretty obvious when a house needs to be repainted," he said. He says he expects most of the issues to happen with rental properties. Deardoff also says they don't plan to drive around looking for violations. He says they didn't hire any more inspectors when this ordinance passed, so violations will still be handled on a complaint only basis. But he says if the inspector is in a neighborhood, they may notice other problem homes.
Ward believes violations will only happen because of complaints, but she says it's going to create tension in neighborhoods. "People are going to look for things to complain about or I don't like my neighbor, I'm going to turn them in to paint their house," she said.
Sarah Cox has already turned in a house. She lives next to a vacant home that has no siding or windows. "I don't like it, people who come to visit say why don't they do anything about that house," Cox said. She hopes the news rules help clean up the house and improve her neighborhood. The city manager says the changes give them more authority to get that done.
If your house is out of compliance and needs a coat of paint, there is a program to get free supplies. It's based on income eligibility, but you can apply for free paint and help to get your home painted.