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Cleveland City Council Final Meeting Highlights (6/6/22)

Jun 06, 2022

Cleveland (June 6, 2022) - Council held its final meeting tonight before summer recess.  As practiced, Council will have two summer council meetings on July 13 and August 10.  Here are tonight’s highlights:

Federal Funds for Demolitions: Council last year passed funding for demolitions. Council repealed that legislation tonight and approved new legislation authorizing using $15 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding towards demolitions throughout the city of Cleveland. (The change and amendment allows the Building and Housing Department to authorize demolitions without having to come back for council approval when the demo cost is under $100,000.) Millions have been spent eliminating blight in neighborhoods over the past decade. On many of the empty lots new housing construction is going up. The funds must be “encumbered” which means contracts must be made by no later than December 31, 2024 and funds to be expended (spent) by December 31, 2026. Ord. No.  492-2022

Parklets to Rise Again in Streets, Sidewalks and Parking Spaces:  At the height of the first wave of the pandemic, Council quickly passed legislation to allow restaurants, bars and others to use portions of private and public parking lots, streets and other parking areas to establish parklets for outdoor seating. Council reauthorized the legislation last year. Tonight, council again passed legislation allowing the directors of Capital Projects and City Planning to develop guidelines and to issue permits for temporary parklets. Ord. No. 510-2022

Tree Commission Reestablished: Two years after Councilmen Brian Kazy and Kerry McCormack introduced legislation to resurrect the city’s Tree Commission, council passed the amended legislation.

Legislation establishing a 15-member Urban Forestry Commission, with eight appointed by the mayor and seven appointed by council, brings back a similar commission that existed in the 1990s but stopped operating in the early 2000s.

Membership would include representatives of city departments that affect the tree canopy, including Urban Forestry, the Division of Engineering and Construction, the Department of Public Utilities, and City Planning. Other members would be a council member, a certified arborist, representatives of an electric company and an environmental justice group, a developer who’s worked in Cleveland, non-profits like the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, and community members, including one youth.

The Urban Forestry Commission would make policy recommendations to the mayor and council to better maintain and grow the tree canopy. It would work with city departments to reduce tree loss and damage, help educate residents about proper care, and foster more tree-related collaboration among city departments.

The commission would also solicit money for the city’s Tree Preservation Fund, which was established in 2018 but hasn’t been funded. Some of the money would come through grants or donations, but other money would come through fines. The commission would help the Urban Forestry section determine how to start collecting such penalties, which range up to $1,000. Council members and the mayor could also ask the commission to examine any pressing tree-related issues and offer policy solutions or best practices the city could employ. Ord. No. 702-2020


Commission on Black Women and Girls: Council approved legislation to create the Cleveland Commission on Black Women and Girls.

The 15-member commission – appointed by the mayor and council – will recommend programs, policies and legislation aimed at improving the quality of life for Black women and girls.

The creation of the commission is in response to a 2020 Bloomberg report showing black women living in Cleveland ranked last in the nation regarding equity access to social, health, economic and education opportunities.

The legislation reads in part -- “black women and girls deserve a venue where they may express their concerns, experiences and challenges and where recommendations may be developed for programs that will improved their quality of life. . . which will also strengthen families and neighborhoods in our city.”

Commission appointees will come from different backgrounds and experiences, representing faith, education, organized labor, health care, social work and more. Councilwomen Stephanie Howse and Deborah Gray sponsored the legislation.

The commission will conduct research and public hearings and issue reports on the status of black women and girls. It will advise the mayor and council on these matters. Ord. No. 373-2022


Complete and Green Streets: Council tonight passed the Complete and Green Streets ordinance, which updates the city’s 2011 ordinance to create a new process to incorporate design elements in roadway projects that expand opportunities for travel, including walking, biking, and transit and minimizing environmental harm.

The legislation establishes a 10-person Transportation Infrastructure Advisory Committee (TIAC). The committee will meet regularly to review upcoming city-sponsored transportation projects and make recommendations for Complete & Green Streets project elements. Councilman Kerry McCormack sponsored the legislation.

To help advance a connected multimodal infrastructure network, the Complete and Green Streets ordinance also requires the Cleveland City Planning Commission to undertake an Active Transportation Plan process to update the 2007 Bikeway Master Plan and the 2014 Bikeway Implementation Plan. Ord. No. 370-2022


First Energy Urged to Remove its Name from Stadium: Council passed legislation calling on FirstEnergy Corp. to relinquish its naming rights to the city’s publicly owned pro-football stadium, citing the company’s role in a bribery scheme currently under federal investigation.

In 2013, the naming rights to the stadium were sold to FirstEnergy for a reported $107 million. A federal investigation uncovered that First Energy spent nearly $61 million to conspire with and bribe public officials in an effort to secure the state subsidies provided by HB 6, a $1.3 billion bailout by ratepayers of two nuclear power plants.

“Council believes,” the resolution reads, “that FirstEnergy applied pressure using phony citizen groups and paid out significant dollars to restrict or destroy our publicly owned Cleveland Public Power.” The stadium receives its electricity from Cleveland Public Power.  

Councilman Brian Kazy, a sponsor of the resolution, commented, “I don’t believe that the municipally owned stadium that the Cleveland Browns play in should bear the name of this tainted company.” First Energy has agreed to pay a $230 million fine for its central role in a bribery scheme. A corruption trial on the issue is scheduled for early next year. Res. No. 541-2022.