CH's tolerance of deteriorated properties is misguided
To the Editor:
The survey results from the Cleveland Heights Branding Initiative bring to mind the adage that "your greatest strength begets your greatest weakness." The survey found that diversity is the city's most valued characteristic, and that the most cherished traits are openness, welcoming, inclusive and tolerance.
Those qualities are indeed city strengths. But the weakness comes about when they are applied inappropriately and result in community harm. I'm speaking of the civil version of "Love the sinner; hate the sin." Yes, be open, welcoming, inclusive and tolerant of people as people—but not of behavior, particularly as it affects the condition of homes and apartments. Cleveland Heights (led by City Hall) has for decades been overly tolerant of behavior that has resulted in deterioration, shoddy repairs, seriously unattractive streets. That is the root cause of all the city's current challenges.
What started 50 years ago as a minor and correctable situation was allowed to grow into a community-threatening condition. Thousands of properties are in poor condition, many owed by people who can hardly afford to make them look decent, let alone upgrade them. A new "brand" for the city cannot change that. It's up to City Hall to end the era of misguided tolerance. The heart of the matter is property standards and code enforcement. If that is not made the dominant—the dominant—issue in City Hall, there will be no reason to expect a future of anything other than more-of-the-same.