A lead-safety ordinance is good, actually

I am writing in response to Alan Rapoport's opinion [in the December Heights Observer] regarding the lead-safety ordinance that was recently enacted in Cleveland Heights. In it, Rapoport stated, "Children are not busily eating paint chips." As someone who works with children on the autism spectrum, I am sorry to report that this is not always the case.

Many of my clients are diagnosed with pica, a disorder in which people eat objects such as clay, dirt, paper, and yes, even paint. Even neurotypical toddlers are known to put pretty much anything in their mouths, not hesitating to determine whether it is lead-based paint.

And children are not the only ones who might end up ingesting lead paint, as I'm sure pet owners are well aware.

The lead-safety ordinance is a measure that was enacted to ensure the safety of Cleveland Heights residents. While landlords may be paying for the inspections, surely it is a small price to pay for the safety of their tenants.

Landlords are accustomed to maintenance fees. That is part of owning and renting units and comes with the privilege of receiving a passive income. If landlords cannot afford the inspections required to maintain a safe environment on their properties, they may have to look into acquiring another source of income, such as a job.

Rapoport stated that that the new law "declares [landlords] guilty as a group until they each prove their innocence," but I don't think the law is about the landlords at all. Rather, it's about protecting tenants from being poisoned by lead present in 45-plus-year-old buildings.

Rapoport also expressed concern that there may not be enough licensed inspectors for all of the rental properties in the Heights to be inspected. City council foresaw that possibility and has stated that "the enforcement date [of June] could be pushed back a year if the necessary staffing and funding is not yet in place." Additionally, the Ohio Department of Health will perhaps devote resources to accrediting more lead inspectors, leading to job creation.

Moshe Koval

Moshe Koval is a student who lives in Cleveland Heights. 

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Volume 16, Issue 1, Posted 10:24 AM, 01.02.2023