CH is becoming a city of dandelions
Cleveland Heights soon may cease to be a City of Trees and instead become a City of Dandelions. That would be unfortunate.
Mayor Seren unilaterally declared a “No Mow May” earlier this year. This allowed dandelions to grow unhindered for an extra month in the early part of the growing season. He issued an “executive order” to suspend the traditional city code enforcement of tall grass violations. He restricted mowing on such city properties as parks, empty lots, and boulevards. And he encouraged homeowners to follow this example. The result was an increase in visible blight throughout the city.
The mayor calls his program a “resounding success.” He received a lot of personal publicity.
Mayor Seren claims he provided more food and shelter for essential pollinators like bees and butterflies. But critics suggest that if such pollinators locate in higher grass, the first mowing will likely shred them up. Grass shaded by tall weeds also could lead to fungal diseases. And that could result in an increased use of chemical pesticides that will wash into sewers. One expert at the Cornell Cooperative Extension recently called “No Mow May” a nice slogan but a terrible idea. She observed that creating merely “temporary housing” for pollinators will be confusing and therefore harmful to them.
Unhindered dandelions will go to seed. Those seeds then will blow all over Cleveland Heights. They will infect nicely manicured lawns and weed-free landscaping. Lawns poorly maintained will create areas of ugliness that long-established laws were designed to prevent. This negatively will affect whole neighborhoods.
Mayor Seren ordered selective enforcement of laws. This violated his mandatory duty under the city's charter to “see that all laws and ordinances are enforced.” There was no prior public discussion. There was no city council authorization. What Seren now describes as a “starting point” is a very bad precedent.
Severance Town Center remains a mess. And, for too many periods of time, there has been no city administrator.
There were matters more important than “No Mow May” which required mayoral attention.
Mayor Seren created as many virtue-signaling dandelions as he could. Some may praise him for that. But he instead deserves blame for lowering community standards while neglecting important community issues.
Alan Rapoport, a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights, served on CH City Council (1980–87) and as council president/mayor (1982–87).