Following the contentious legislative session of Kansas City’s City Council January 26, 2019, that saw the passage of ordinance 180828, changing the name of the Paseo to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, grass roots community activists have been working quietly behind the scenes to have the controversial name change put in front of voters city-wide.
Thursday evening, March 14, at the Byers Mansion in Historic Northeast Kansas City, that movement was made official when initiative petitions approved by the City Clerk officially were distributed to volunteers that will fan out across the city, garnering signatures to change the name of the iconic 9-mile boulevard back to The Paseo.
“From the very beginning, this process was all about back room deals and shoving the name change down the throats of an un-wanting public,” said Diane Faelber, one of the petition drive organizers.
During a legislative session, testimony by Mayor Sly James as well as Councilmembers Heather Hall and Alissia Canady revealed the level of formal opposition to the ordinance at 80 percent or higher.
An un-official Northeast News poll showed a scant 3 percent approval for the change with 97 percent of respondents in opposition to the name change.
Northeast resident Tien Le heard about the petition and showed up Thursday evening to offer his support.
“I like the name as it is, there’s historical significance to the name Paseo,” said Le. “I’m ok with changing a street to honor Dr. King, but not that street or any named street.”
The ordinance was also drafted with an “accelerated effective date” and waived the 75 percent property owner consent approval clause normally required with any street name changing legislation.
The first sign to be changed was at 34th & The Paseo on Monday, February 25.
The group will be gathering signatures through the month of April and hopes to deliver the required 1,708 signatures on notarized petitions to the City Clerk’s office in early May.
The clerk’s office will then have 40 days to certify the petitions. If the petitions are approved, the initiative will then head to the full council who will then vote to have the measure put on a city-wide ballot during the next municipal election cycle.