Putting It in Black and White

Back in November there was a meeting in Council’s chambers, hosted by Bill Desvari, where the discussion of the condition of the city, residential and commercial, was discussed. It was a who’s who of what I refer to as “Lorain Admin” in my email box folders: Gary Fischer, Bill Desvari (of course), Louis Czapp, Dennis Flores, David and Larry Wargo, then-Mayor Romoser, Jan Mackert, Mitch Fallus, Anne Molnar, Brian Hazelett, and two hands-ful of others.

Bill did his best Rodney Dangerfield-get-no-respect bit (thanks you-know-who),  and then laid out a plan for a sweep for code violations throughout downtown, brought up the need for a rewrite of zoning codes, expansion of the Design Review Board review area to include ALL commercial property in Lorain and the necessity to have laws that can and will have strict enforcement. The need for a housing court was discussed, also.

The part of the discussion that caused me to speak up was when Louis mentioned that people have gone so far as to hire a lawyer to get out of the most mundane violations. Not only does the violator get out of the charge, but often, the violation doesn’t get addressed.

I used to own property in Cleveland. Without going into too much detail, I trusted some people to take care of things for me, and they didn’t. I then found myself in housing court. Judge Pianka does not take any crap. He is stern and he is fair, though his housing inspector lied to me, but that’s another story.

But, back to the rewrite thing. After watching people get sentenced to fines and community service and even jail time by Judge Pianka because they had no wiggle room, I realized that his court is so efficient because people have been given the opportunity to fix the violation, and that ample time to do this has been alotted, and that the inspector, who suggested the required repairs, knows what they’re asking of the violator. In short, it’s all in black and white.

It was argued that it’s not that simple, and that’s when I spoke out. It is that simple. If you put, in black and white, the code violation and what needs to happen and the consequences if it doesn’t, you’re done. No lawyer, as far as I can see, can get you off if it’s spelled out like that. Are railing spindles missing on your porch? You have a month to replace them. 30 days later, and they’re not fixed? Give you one more chance. Four weeks later, and still not done? We’ll see you in court. Now, you can fix the spindles and pay this fine, or you can go to jail. And when you get out, THEN you can fix the spindles, along with paying the fine and court costs.

Nuclear physics? Nope. Quantum theory? Hell no. Black and white, plain and simple, problem and solution. You have a problem. Provide the solution, and the code violation is no more. If you do don’t, then these are the consequences. 

Are you listening, Downtown? WE HAVE A PROBLEM, AND YOU ARE FULLY AWARE OF IT. Tony, you missed the meeting, but you now have a brief synopsis of what happened there, and you have the cast of characters. If we are going to work on relocating the treatment plant, and developing our downtown, and making folks proud, we need to start with the building blocks, the bricks and mortar, the very simple stuff!

Get the zoning codes rewritten. Mr. Desvari is on paid administrative leave, and there’s a chance he probably won’t be back. You have new people with fresh eyes and (I’m hoping) a let’s-tackle-the-problems attitude. This is a HUGE problem, and you know it.

Get the foundation for the rebuild of the city taken care of.

Get the zoning codes rewritten.

Without a firm foundation, the whole place crumbles.

Get the zoning codes rewritten.

It’s cold out, get everyone together, put on some hot coffee and someone spring for donuts. Or I can bring muffins.

Get the codes rewritten. Now.


3 thoughts on “Putting It in Black and White

  1. ……is it possible that the codes, as written, are sufficient? Just the enforcement is lacking? I recall a short time ago about the conversation we had about the old Spitzer hotel: http://thewomblog.com/?p=1092
    and Bill Desvari gave us the info that the building owners were cited according to the codes (comment#8), and that the long court process was now in place. Not knowing what our codes are, This leads me to believe that it’s the enforcement end of the codes that are most troubling, not the codes themselves. That would lie somewhere in between the law dept. and the administration, if I’m correct.
    also, we, you in particular, we’re able to get the old house on Levitt Rd razed by bringing it to the attention of a few city leaders during an election year http://thewomblog.com/?p=713
    …..so, to me anyway, the codes seem to be in place, and there are people in place to enforce the codes could it be that the courts are at fault for the lack of enforcement?. To me, it makes much more sense to have a building code court as to a parking violations bureau.

  2. They’re not sufficient, Muley, at least not according to Louis Czapp, Desvari, and the rest of the folks at this meeting. Not when the codes provide the wiggle room for someone to get a lawyer for a piddly code violation (fixing the problem would’ve cost less than retaining a lawyer) and get off.

    When I said you need to put it in black and white, Louis turned to me and said it’s not that easy. And I countered that it was. Cleveland does it. You get cited, you call the inspector and they tell you exactly what they need to see happen, as THEY were the one that saw the infraction in the first place. You make the inspector happy, and repair the problem to their liking, and you don’t have to see the judge.

    Lorain needs to take the wiggle room out of the codes, lay everything out in their favor, and then start getting this city fixed up.

    And kick the wiggle room to the curb.

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