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Council Highlights (8/10/22)

Aug 10, 2022

Cleveland (Aug. 10, 2022) - Council held the second of its two summer meetings today during summer recess.  Regular council meetings will resume Monday, Sept. 12th.  Here are today’s highlights:

Eviction Defense by Paying Back Rent and Fees – Council passed legislation that “codifies” what is already available to renters as an “existing equitable defense to eviction” under Ohio case law. The tenant (or someone on the tenant’s behalf) pays all past due rent with late fees and court costs to the landlord prior to an (eviction) judgment, and if the landlord refuses to accept the payment … it is an affirmative defense to the eviction action filed for nonpayment of rent. 

Two amendments were adopted before the legislation was passed. The first would allow the tenant to provide a rental assistance voucher guaranteeing payment of past due rent, reasonable rent fees, and court costs. This means that a tenant’s “tender” of a rental assistance voucher guaranteeing payment to the landlord would be an affirmative defense to eviction. The second amendment defines “reasonable late fees” that limit the total amount of late fees that can be charged in a rental agreement. (Ord. No. 484-2022) 

In 2019, Council established the Right to Counsel. This is an important tool for Cleveland renters that Council has passed to assist those in need. Right to Counsel provides free legal assistance to renters facing eviction who have at least one child. Since the program began in July 2020, Right to Counsel has helped many renters, from preventing eviction judgments to securing time to move and mitigating other damages. Council has also approved millions in federal funding for rental assistance through CHN Housing Partners to provide to Cleveland renters.  

Body and Dash Camera Release Required in 7 Days: Council passed legislation sponsored by chair Councilman Mike Polensek that requires the Director of Public Safety to release within seven days video taken by bodycams or dash cams of incidents involving a police officer’s use of deadly force. That includes videos from incidents where the force caused serious physical harm.

“I’ve been advocating for this a long time,” said Councilman Polensek, who sponsored the legislation about a year ago. “I pushed for body cams years ago. They are an insurance policy for the men and women who serve our city.  They are an insurance policy for our residents as well.  The camera doesn’t lie.”

The legislation states that the “released footage shall be from at least three City recording devices or, if the incident is recorded by fewer than three…, the released footage shall be from all City recording devices that recorded the incident. The released footage shall begin at least 60 seconds prior to the incident or at the beginning of the recording, whichever is shorter.”

The footage is released by making it publicly available on the City website. Any additional remaining footage of the incident, redacted as consistent with applicable state and federal laws, shall be released within 30 days.

The Director of Public Safety, the Chief of Police, and the Director of Law are not required to release footage of an incident if prohibited by a court order or some other legal prohibition. (Ord. No. 694-2021) 

Clean Energy and Efficiency: Council approved a Property Assessed Clean Energy financing (PACE) for SNAP Gourmet Foods, a small business located on East 55th Street in ward 5. PACE financing is a way of financing energy-efficient upgrades to businesses. With the financing, SNAP Gourmet Foods will keep 70 jobs in Cleveland and create 50 additional jobs, adding to the city’s income tax base. (Ord. No. 397-2022)

Ensuring Clear Water: Council approved spending $2 million to install a steel ring, approximately 8 feet tall by 75 feet in diameter, on top of the existing Nottingham crib structure that takes Lake Erie water into the Nottingham Water Treatment Plant. This will make the crib farther off the lake floor – from 10 feet currently, up to 18 feet.

Decomposing algae at the bottom of Lake Erie has led to recurring problems with discolored, manganese-tainted water reaching some water department customers. The algae settles on the lake floor. As the algae decomposes, it consumes much of the oxygen available, resulting in hypoxic – or low-oxygen – water. The Nottingham plant supplies water to the east side and several eastern suburbs.  (Ord. No. 611-2022)


Paid Safe Leave: An ordinance was introduced to establish a paid leave policy for non-union City employees experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault and/or stalking or is a parent of a child victim. If Safe Leave passes, Council plans to encourage the Mayor’s administration to work with union leadership to extend the policy to them.

Council members Jasmin Santana, Stephanie Howse and Charles Slife sponsored the legislation.

The legislation will enable City of Cleveland employees experiencing domestic violence or sexual assault will be able to take paid time off to receive medical care, take care of legal matters, seek safe shelter, and attend to other needs that ensure their physical and mental well-being. This 60 hours of paid time off is specific to Safe Leave and will not be deducted from other forms of leave.  Council is directing the Department of Human Resources to build privacy into every step of the process and accept a broad variety of supporting documentation. The legislation will go to Directors of Human Resources, Finance, Law; and then to Council Committees on Workforce Education Training and Youth Development; Finance Diversity Equity and Inclusion. (Ord. 756-2022)