SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — In a yearly review of the city’s property nuisances, Springfield city council members are warning repeat offenders could face some harsh penalties if they refuse to clean up their properties.

Building Development Services (BDS) Director Dwayne Shmel says there is a growing problem of nuisance properties in the city. BDS discovered 18.2 percent of properties were in violation of the city’s nuisance ordinances. Shmel says this shows the city’s struggle in enforcing nuisance ordinances.

There are different ways to handle nuisances, in other words, trash. Shmel says the ideal solution is for the owners to clean up the property themselves.

“We want the owner of the property to clean it up themselves, right? We want them to take responsibility for their property,” said Shmel.

In 2020, the BDS received a total of 2,460 service requests and that number increased in 2021 to 3,380. BDS struggles with dealing with repeat offenders because city ordinances require their department to look at each case individually.

BDS also spends a lot of time cleaning nuisance properties used as homeless encampments. BDS discovered 38 homeless encampments in the city and Shmel says the whole focus of one BDS employee is on code enforcement in these encampments.

“If you solve the homeless problem we have, then you reduced the number of nuisance trash complaints, said Shmel.

City council members agreed the city has struggled with dealing with repeat offenders and support in changing the code.

Councilman Richard Ollis suggested the city could create “escalating penalties” for these violations.