An Overland Park front yard has become a battleground.
Furniture, microwave ovens, a stereo system, a propane grill, three refrigerators, and a Kitchen Aid were among the dozens of items blanketing the grass in front of the split-level home, which sits near 95th Street and Switzer Road.
Drivers slowed down on the street to stare at the spectacle. Neighbors called the police. Numerous violation warnings were posted.
Recently, police and city workers spent a morning removing the items from the yard.
And now the property owner is facing three citations from the city: unlawful outdoor storage at a one- or two-family dwelling, unlawful placing/allowing to remain solid waste, and improper storage of solid waste and/or recycling containers.
“The city received complaints from a few residents this month and last month, so the codes department got involved,” said Sean Reilly, the city’s communications manager. “The city was being responsive to residents’ concerns.”
David Hass, who lives in the home, said the scene he created was simply a protest against what he feels is an intrusive city government.
“I love Overland Park, but I hate code compliance,” he said. “Some of these rules are so absurd and it’s getting out of control. I don’t believe there is a single home in my neighborhood that doesn’t have a code violation, even if it’s for something minor, like not bringing in trash cans on time.”
His fight against the city’s codes department stemmed from a storm drainage project occurring in his neighborhood.
To work on the renovations, Hass said, the city required his shed to be moved and his driveway torn up. As a result, Hass removed all the items from his shed several months ago and kept them in his yard, until he could store them properly again.
A few months ago, Hass placed furniture on his front lawn, so his friends could come over to watch his driveway get demolished. He says he had no intention of keeping the furniture in his lawn.
But on the day of the demolition, a code compliance officer arrived at his home after a neighbor complained about the lawn equipment sitting in his backyard.
Annoyed by the officer, he not only kept the furniture in his front lawn, but added more stuff each day.
Citations were mailed to him and notices posted on his front door. But Hass said he ignored them because they were addressed to his father, Frank, who owns the property.
“I think the cops are worried I’m having a manic break with reality, but I’m really just an odd dude,” Hass said. “I’m not weird or off-the-wall, I’m eccentric.”
Hass recently created a public Facebook page, The Switzer Code-Compliance War of ’15, to publicize his tirade with photos of his property.
But most Facebook readers were appalled rather than inspired.
One Facebook commenter, appearing to be a neighbor, said Hass’ actions were making neighbors feel unsafe.
“You have no empathy or consideration for the people around you,” the person wrote. “You are a narcissist. You are driving down the value of all the houses on the street … and for what? So you can throw a temper tantrum because the city doesn’t like your god-awful mess? Don’t be foolish. You won’t win your battle against the city.”
Another commenter expressed a sentiment echoed by many: “Glad you are not in my neighborhood.”
There were, however, a couple of supporters.
One commenter wrote admonished people to mind their own business: “If you don’t like it then don’t look at it.”
Another wrote in Hass’ defense, “Says something about the construct of society when you can’t do what you want with your own yard.”
Now that Hass’ yard is practically empty, he said he plans to start all over. But this time, everything he puts in his yard will be attorney-approved until his next court appearance in September.
Until then, he hopes his situation will inspire other residents to stand up if they feel violated by city government. He also hopes it will encourage residents to interact in person, rather than anonymously report each other by calling the police.
“Communication between neighbors should be face-to-face,” he said. “Instead, everyone just drives their car into the garage and sits at home watching Netflix. We’re not getting to know each other, so we can’t solve these problems in person.”