April 11, 2022prev: April 04, 2022 next: April 18, 2022
Public Commenters (26 min)
Sam Pruitt Jacob VanSickle David Patterson Marva Patterson Margaret Mahoney Danielle Laska Robert Render Ashley Shaw Akin Affrica Michelle B. Jackson
Councilmember comments during Miscellaneous (10 min)
Kerry McCormack (Ward 3) Deborah A. Gray (Ward 4) Michael D. Polensek (Ward 8)
VanSickle: Thank you Council President Griffin and all city council members for the opportunity to speak today in support of an updated Complete and Green Streets ordinance. My name is Jacob VanSickle. I'm executive director of Bike Cleveland. We are the region's bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization, representing thousands of members, donors, volunteers, and supporters who value safe streets.
The complete streets ordinance will solve many problems I know yourself and your constituents are concerned about; street safety, health, transparency, and quality of life in our neighborhoods. Passing this legislation is a critical part of accomplishing Vision Zero, a strategy to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injury.
Since the passing of the city's original Complete and Green Streets ordinance in 2011, many streets have been reconstructed without complete streets elements or traffic calming measures. Examples include Harvard Avenue and Slavic Village which was repaved in 2016 and since then six people have been seriously injured in crashes. East 55th Street was repaved in 2016 as well and 11 people were seriously injured and three people were killed in traffic crashes. Since East 9th Street downtown was repaved in 2013, eight people have been seriously injured and two people have died in traffic crashes. These crashes should not have happened. They represent empty seats at dinner tables and lives that are forever altered.
This ordinance is one action that Cleveland city council can take to address racism as a public health crisis. People living in parts of Cleveland that have higher proportions of black residents, as well as the lowest rate of car ownership, are exposed to more traffic crashes and their resulting lifelong trauma according to Vision Zero data. In Cleveland and across the country access to safe transportation is an equity issue.
Improving our infrastructure can benefit the health of Clevelanders in many ways. It will reduce traffic related injuries and fatalities, improve mobility for people who need to get to their work, doctor's appointments, or school, and will offer active mobility options to encourage physical activity and improved health, As Sam Pruitt mentioned prior. Having been involved with dozens of infrastructure projects throughout the city, I know that transparency and communication is an issue. We have all been in public meetings where residents are speaking up about traffic safety issues in their neighborhoods but because the streets, because the residents aren't engaged earlier in the process their concerns cannot be addressed.
Through a transparent Complete and Green Streets ordinance, you and your constituents will have more opportunities to engage in the planning and design process to ensure that our streets are more closely aligned with the with the residents wants and needs. I encourage you to support updating the city's Complete and Green Streets ordinance and thank you for your time.
Patterson: Good evening everyone. A white paper released by Vapec in March features a graph on page four showing the number of businesses acquiring one to three family properties in Cuyahoga County nearly tripled, from 18 in 2012 to a whopping 46 percent in 2020, primarily on the east side of Cleveland. Incidentally this dramatic rise correlates almost exactly with the underhanded 2012 8th district court ruling which abruptly replaced the homeowner friendly legal precedent of Wells Fargo vs Jordan with a precedent more to the bank's liking.
Given the fact African-Americans comprise the majority of residents on the east side, the report suggests this will result in significantly less black home ownership opportunities, while it simultaneously puts area renters in peril due to skyrocketing rents and landowner irresponsibility. Couple these issues with banks historically being unwilling to loan to prospective black buyers particularly at market rates and the situation is tenuous at best. An investor quoted on page five of the Vapec report said the streets in Cleveland are paved in platinum because the houses are so cheap and the rents have never declined. They then magnify the problem raising rents to a thousand dollars or more pricing renters out.
At least 10 percent of the over 500 million in ARPA funds should be utilized in the following manner: 25 million to create better oversight regarding rent caps and rental policies, ensuring expeditious repairs and other related landowner obligations. And another 25 million to provide grant funding for local prospective black buyers on the east side, via set-asides and other like-minded initiatives. This would help reverse decades of documented racist banking practices designed to limit black home ownership opportunities
Many such as ourselves were the victims of fraudulent foreclosure and were never compensated for property stolen through robo-signed documents, perjury, and judicial collusion with the banking industry. These funds could right some of those wrongs, while also giving renters leverage against ill-intentioned property owners determined to skirt their legal responsibilities. I thank you.
Patterson: My sincere thanks to city council for giving me the opportunity to discuss fraudulent foreclosures in our city, which have which have and continue to rip apart families, cause economic harm and hardship. As a Christian community activist and person of deep faith, I am committed to give support to those in need.
Foreclosures in Cleveland resulted in the loss of property tax value and revenue for the city, creating vacant and abandoned properties by just displacing families who often times become homeless. When the foreclosure and subprime lending crisis occurred, many of our federal, state, city, and county entities agreed to assist homeowners in need.
49 state attorney generals agreed in a landmark decision with mortgage servicers to address mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure abuses of which the state of Ohio is a part. This agreement provided substantial relief and new protections for homeowners and are outlined in the Department of Justice document dated Thursday February 9, 2012. And the United States of America Department of the Treasury comptroller of the currency consent order dated April 13, 2011, as well as the amendment to the 2011 consent order dated February 28, 2013, collectively the consent order.
The order identified certain deficiencies and unsafe or unsound practices and residential mortgages and this cease and desist order was created to remedy them. These orders were transmitted to our prosecutor's office as well as to our courts. Additionally the OCC has identified deficiencies in the bank's practices that resulted in a violation of the consent orders dated April 13, 2011, as amended by the amendment to the consent order dated February 28, 2013, and the amendment to the consent order dated June 16, 2015, collectively referred to as a consent order, and violations of bankruptcy rules pertaining to payment change notices. The comptroller's orders prescribed procedures for all state courts to follow. Our courts failed to do so. Our local government must ensure citizens receive fair and equitable justice.
The Finance, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee is responsible for policies that impact our city's financial stability and operations. They are to review all matters relating to courts. Currently the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas issued a third revised residential mortgage foreclosure affidavit policy stating questions have arisen about truthfulness of mortgage foreclosure affidavits filed by several large servicers and lending institutions.
The east side of Cleveland has been severely impacted by foreclosures and many homeowners complained they did not receive fair adjudications and filed complaints about unfair treatment in our courts. Our courts placed homeowners at substantial risk, many of whom own their property. We expect to meet with our mayor on these issues. I now yield the floor. Thank you.
Council President Griffin: Thank you
Mahoney: Hello I'm Margaret Mahoney. I'm a resident of Ward 3 in Cleveland and I'm here to speak about decriminalizing fare evasion.
If you get on a bus or train without paying the $2.50 for a ticket you risk a fine of $250 or 30 days in jail. While I'm a frequent transit user, I also own a car. I've never been worried that a parking ticket would land me in jail. I've been able to successfully contest parking tickets from the city online without ever having to show up for a hearing. The punishment for not showing a ticket on a bus should not be a hundred times that of parking illegally, as the last time I got a parking ticket in the city, which again was easily contested and thrown out, was $25.
About two months ago I went to buy a bus pass at the red line stop at West 25th. Both fare machines were out of order. This is not an uncommon occurrence. If someone didn't have exact change or a phone or if their phone was dead, they wouldn't even be able to buy a pass until they got off the train. No one should potentially go to jail for stepping onto the next bus or train when they fully expected to pay but weren't able to. Really no one should go to jail for a $2.50 ticket.
RTA has now decided to use civilians as transit ambassadors to check tickets instead of transit police. This comes after a 2017 ruling from a Cleveland judge stating that using police to enforce fares was unconstitutional. This ruling shows that fare evasion is not a crime worthy of police enforcement.
An ordinance to decriminalize fare evasion has been ready since 2019 and I urge the council to help make Cleveland a more just place for any and all transit riders by passing this ordinance. Thank you for your time. [Applause]
Laska: Good evening Council President Griffin and Mayor Bibb. My name is Danielle Laska I am a public health worker and a nurse in the city of Cleveland Department of Public Health. I'm representing the Ohio Nurses Association which is my collective bargaining unit as well as Jobs with Justice.
We are here tonight to ask council and the mayor to correct an injustice. We ask the city to credit the city of Cleveland employees who are essential workers backed heroes pay for working in front lines during COVID 19 response. Since we've been delivering COVID 19 response since Christmas Eve of 2020. We know that the city is receiving $512 million dollars in ARPA funds, some of which must be used to fund heroes pay. We feel it unnecessary to list the evidence-based facts related to the support of this injustice simply because the resolution entitled to our heroes is obvious.
We are aware that when the city submitted the plan for recovery in 2021, contributions of the premium pay for public sector employees as well as grants and other employers of private sector was in fact a documented expenditure category on the interim performance report. We since then have been unable to allocate or unable and unaware of the status of this categorical allocation. We have faced many challenges and equitable attainment of the work in the work that we have provided and with many professional, medical, and essential personnel being called to actively respond to the pandemic.
We feel the due diligence is in that of our government to provide us with the framework of rights to cohesively deliver to our community, through a centralized infrastructure of protection and preservation of human life by the passage of an essential workers bill of rights we presented here tonight. Thank you
Council President Griffin: Thank you. [Applause]
Render: Thank you good evening Council President Blaine A Griffin and members of Cleveland city council and to Mayor Justin D Bibb and members of your cabinet. I bring you greetings from East 128th Street block club association and Ward 6 precinct...
By no means am I a stranger to the ups and downs and challenges that has confronted Shaker Square over the past three decades. Various members of East 128th Street block club work with Randy Rudenberg and Adam Fishman as minority owners of Shaker Square. Then we work closely with Peter Rubin on a regular basis as our residents were impacted for good and bad depending on what was going on in the Dave's parking lot from one day to the next.
As a member of the Shaker Square Alliance and the East 130th working group and the North and South Moreland working group, Chip Bromley, Jay Westbrook, Meg Weinhardt, Mary Boyle and I and the rest of the team have learned firsthand about the devastation and horror stories being experienced by tenants throughout Shaker the Shaker Square area. Councilwoman Deborah Gray was spot on when she demanded that there cannot be a healthy vibrant Shaker Square without a vibrant and safe residential living environment without significant investments being made to both commercial and residential areas.
Today I stand before you and the members of Cleveland city council as a 30-year resident and homeowner on East 128th Street and as a precinct committeeman, seeking your collective support for the pending legislation before you this evening, which would represent a public-private partnership between the city of Cleveland, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and Burten Bell Carr in the in the purchase of Shaker Square the retail district. I'd like to also give a special shout out to former Mayor Frank G Jackson and former Council President Kevin Kelley for supporting this project initially. Thank you.
Shaw: Good evening my name is Ashley Shaw. I am here to support the Complete and Green Streets ordinance.
I spent nearly 10 years of my life living in Cleveland without a car, where I primarily walked biked and used public transit to get around. In 2017, I was biking home when a driver turned into me in an intersection, causing me to sustain a subdural hematoma, which is a brain bleed. The intersection where my crash occurred was one block from my house at the intersection of Lorain Avenue and Fulton Road, where two high crash corridors come together in one poorly designed intersection. I spent years recovering from my brain bleed recovering from physical mental and cognitive side effects, managing symptoms daily that won't go away, and had to relearn how to communicate.
Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries. Every 11 seconds, someone sustains a traumatic brain injury in our country. Traumatic brain injuries make up 30 percent of all injury-related deaths in our country and the mortality rate for a subdural hematoma is 64 percent, meaning more people die from what happened to me than don't. Every day of the rest of my life will be impacted by my brain injury
I encourage you to make this a priority so that not even one more person has to share this experience with me. I wanted to thank you all and especially Councilman McCormack for all of your work on this ordinance.
Affrica: Good evening um city council members. My name is Akin Affrica like you said and I'm here in support. I've been a merchant on Shaker Square for over 10 years now, going on 10 and a half years. And the personal experience that I've had with having local ownership has been really uh good, very well. And it's a difference over the last year and a half that has been um you know the change in ownership you can see the difference.
For me I've been a tenant at other properties around the city of Cleveland, those owned by local investors, and it's a huge difference compared to ones that's owned by outside investors. Being able to, I remember you know, walking on Shaker square daily and running into Peter Rubin and being able to have a conversation with him about different things dealing with the business, ownership, the community, what you know, positive things, negative things, how can we change. And again I've been a tenant in other properties around the city of cleveland and obviously you you know you you don't get that experience and it is a difference.
I definitely support the purchase of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and Burten Bell Carr. I think is needed. It was needed yesterday, it was needed last year, and is needed now. Pretty much that's it, all in support and I'm here representing all of the merchants that couldn't be here that I talk to daily and see daily and this in full support of this initiative.
Michelle B. Jackson
Jackson: President Blaine Griffin I've been waiting to say that thank you for having me. Thank you to the council. I have notes but after watching your day-long committee meeting, I'm throwing them away and I really want to just speak to you and not read to you.
The issue with Shaker Square is that that is a primary hub for commercial and transportation. It is historic. Even if you don't care about that, it is the anchor, the connector between Buckeye commercial district and the Larchmere commercial district. One of the things that was not has not been discussed in that meeting or that I've heard is, and Mr. Affrica so great to hear him, is the concentration of black-owned businesses at Shaker Square and on Larchmere. I would venture to say that that is the largest concentration in Cleveland, certainly on the east side, and that is important to be taking into consideration. And these are entrepreneurs who are paying taxes they're not not-for-profit businesses.
So a very strong voice at Shaker Square is a not-for-profit business, who would see the square become a not-for-profit center. We need taxes in Ward 4 and on the east side of Cleveland. We need entrepreneurs on the east side of Cleveland. They need to be supported. And what I loved from today's meeting Councilman Polensek was where is the strategic plan for the whole city.
Too often we're in our little silos and this is what's good for me or the people who voted for me. And look at our voter turnout, 12 people voted for me so you know. We need to start looking at things as a city. What's good for Shaker Square is good for Collinwood. What's good for Shaker Square is good for Slavic Village and I loved hearing that today because that is the approach that we need to take to move into the 21st century.
How did we go and go from being one of the fifth most prosperous cities in the nation decades ago to being the poorest big city in the nation today? Part of it is the system that we have of one person can stop the show. And it might not be in the best interest of the other 99 percent and we need to really kind of take a look at that.
So Shaker Square is an important asset it is a community. Yes work needs to be done all the way around but defunding Shaker Square is not going to solve those problems that came up today in the in the committee meeting. Yes absentee landlord is a huge problem. Thank you, Mr. Patterson I think spoke to that. These are big issues. But Blaine Griffin taught me do not confuse real estate and economic development deals with social services. He's been trying to tell me this for three years and I finally got it. So thank you all for listening. Let's pass this 10 38 21 today and move this forward so we can start addressing other issues in Cleveland.
Councilmember Kerry McCormack (Ward 3)
Councilmember Deborah A. Gray (Ward 4)
Councilmember Michael D. Polensek (Ward 8)
Pruitt: Council President Griffin, council members. My name is Sam Pruitt and I live in the Ohio City area and work in Midtown.
I'm here tonight to speak in support of city council adopting strong Complete Streets and Green Streets ordinance. The Complete and Green Streets ordinance is needed to improve the process on how city selects, designs, and executes street and sidewalk projects. The complete streets policy it's just not about one project. It does not mean putting a bike lane on every street or a bus in every corridor. Instead a complete streets approach means thinking ahead and thinking smart and ensure decision makers considers the needs, health, and safety of everyone who uses the transportation system including those who walk, bike, use a wheelchair, use public transportation, and drive. In addition, it adds much-needed transparency, community engagement, equity considerations into the process. Many complete streets improvements are modest in size and low cost so the policy can be achieved within existing budgets.
Why is this important to me? Well I'm a heart attack survivor and I'm a proud member of the American Heart Association. I've experienced firsthand the importance of having streets and sidewalks that encourage and make it easier to be active because for me it's essential to my survival. When I was 29, I suffered a massive heart attack. I was told by my doctor if I wasn't as active as I was, I wouldn't have survived. Since then working out has been even more of a priority with biking being one of the primary sources of my exercise.
Also this is important to me because I realize complete streets is a health equity issue. As I bike through some of the areas of town, I realize many low-income communities lack well-maintained routes to parks, schools, roads, bike lanes, and sidewalks. In many cases they simply do not have transportation options at all. It's no coincidence. These same neighborhoods often black and Hispanic neighborhoods experience higher rates of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. The complete streets policy must include provisions, equitable implementation, and prioritize communities that have been historically under invested in and have the greatest need.
My colleagues at the American Heart Association and I strongly support complete streets by supporting children and families to be more active, whether by walking, jogging, riding, complete streets helps prevent diabetes and heart disease and strokes. I would never want anybody to go through what I went through. Again thank you for your time and I look forward to a safe and complete Cleveland for everyone.