Santiago asks TWDC to take over Clark Metro's plan (Priceless)


  Please see this PD article for more names to add to the cast of characters. Here is an excerpt:

"The crisis we face now is there is no money to
demolish these houses. There's a little bit here and
little bit there, but the amount of money you need to tear
down the properties in Cleveland is probably in excess of
$100 million. There are suburban demands to do demolition,
too, but they don't have the money, either."

Rokakis has proposed a solution with State Rep. Tom Patton,
R-18, State Sen. Bob Spada, R-24, and a former member of
Cleveland City Council, Gus Frangos. The proposed bill would
create a public authority that has the ability to take
property and hold it on behalf of the public.

"Many of the banks are ready to give us the foreclosed
properties," Rokakis said. "The cities don't
want them. Where are the cities going to come up with the
money to maintain those properties? Where are they going to
come up with the money to do demolition? What is the city
going to do with them?"

The land authority -- the Community Improvement Corp., as
it would be called -- would be able to take land with houses
or buildings on it that the banks would give away.


Giving away houses?

are you straight up against any demolition?

Laura, Catch me up here... are you just flat out against demolition or can you understand that some houses need to come down? Are you saying that certain particular houses are indeed ready for renovation and move in, but will be demolished? I know that many of the homes that have been demolished and are still on the list have major problems such as no plumbing, no wiring and getting the plumbing and wiring out of them does not leave much of the interior intact. Many have lost their windows and leaking roofs have allowed water to infiltrate. Sometimes it is best to just let them go.

I have seen the model for Rokakis' land bank program looks like and apparently it's doing a world of good for Genesee County, Michigan. I don't think it is all about demolition. The bill would also take pressure off school districts and shift the burden of collection to the landbank after schools have been fronted their budget allocations. Collecting the penalties and interest on the taxes owed by these landlords/property owners (often banks) would create a pool.

Is the landbank issue a bad one because Rokakis moved out of Cleveland or is there another reason we shouldn't want to demo blighted properties? Maybe we don't have enough vacant property in Cleveland to house all the local folks who need a "room of their own". I know many people would like to live the American Dream of homeownership and Cleveland probably has a house for every one of them, but the question remains - even if we gave the houses away and tax abated them, could owners afford to fix them? The next question would be - how would the tax paying next door neighbor feel about the home next door being given to a new owner with no taxes due for a period of years?

I'm sure that, as a homeowner, you've heard that huge sucking sound - the sound of cash going out to fix the roof, driveway, window, gutter, electricity, plumbing, etc.

I heard over and over again from the guy I know who worked with Habitat for Humanity that it is as much about supplying a home that can be cared for by a low income family as it is about getting their heads under a roof. I think Cameron Sinclair would agree.

I guess my question is - how many almost falling down houses do we need to resurrect and how many can we clear away?

demolition costs more than a give-away

demolition costs in many ways

one is financial, now--somebody has to pay--usually, it's the government

if an owner is giving away or losing a property, and foisting off the cost onto the public, a better solution is to give the property to somebody who can fix it

we have neighbors on Archwood who just acquired a house next door from DWS for a nominal fee, under $2000

they can now afford to fix it, because of the low acquisition cost

demolished, it would have cost us as the public about $15-20,000 and a vacant lot.

I see no reason for demolition until all give-away attempts have failed.

straight up

Please read--my last rant. And, yes--for now, freeze the demolitions--afterall, are the banks giving away houses? If so, then let's line folks up for those houses. Let's NOT form some contrived "land bank." Put people in those homes, residents who will generate tax revenue to fix our city. Susan, these demolitions are not beneficial to any one except the contractors who have the contracts and the developers waiting in the wings.
This is an orchestrated sell-out. We'll talk. Right now, I am hoping that the county/city shake-down leaves us with a few real representatives willing to roll up their sleeves and fix things in the city. Ask Judge Pianka. He still lives here.

a land trust, not a land bank

please look at what a land trust is--the Lincoln Institute is a proponent--it's a new idea that protects us all--see and try not to confuse the idea with land banks



what's your plan?

I just want to be sure I know what you mean here - (I agree and so does Rokakis that we should freeze the foreclosures) do you mean no purchases, no sales, no demolitions?

How do you advocate we "fix things"? Can only people who live in Cleveland work on this? What's your plan? How does it work and how is it funded? Just curious...

I don't have all the answers

Especially, on Monday morning before the election...and three class visits scheduled this week...I can multitask, but I am not superhuman...could you give me a couple of days:)

Why do you speak for Rokakis?

Have him spell it out here, Tim. Land authority, land bank, land trust...
Land Trusts aren't necessarily administered by some higher purpose.
Afterall, the Nature Conservancy got in trouble a while back for their misuse of the land trust program...Also, could you have him explain the Merle Gordon, Emily Lipovan/Joe Santiago, and Sheryl Hoffman/Abe Bruckman web of intrigue? Afterall, he left us with this mess and I, for one, am not going to champion his latest effort, after living with his "legacy."

Tim, you don't have to cover for Jim Rokakis. Let him cover for himself and spell out his real agenda here. I can read and the PD article on his efforts, along with a suspicious pair up with Gus Frangos, do not inspire my confidence. The first red flag was Rokakis' shameless performance in Washington, begging for more federal dollars to bull doze foreclosed properties.

I'm speaking for myself

Laura, I'm speaking for myself and for what I perceive the interests of the community to be. A while ago, we introduced Jim to the boys at The Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, when they were in town. They had parallel interests.  I have my own take on the topic. Jim's still forming his, as well. His wife has hers. Gloria has yet another perspective. This is not a contest; it is a collaboration. It's not good to set up a morality-play scenario when you don't have to. Among all of us, we'll get it figured out about as well as it can be figured, I hope. We don't have time for all this sparring over nothing. This is not big-time wrestling, or a Chinese martial-arts movie.


Tim is not going to like this effect, but the more you edit your comments (I am so guilty of this one), the more they stay at the top of the comments listing (more ways to infuriate Tim--I like it! )

 Henry spells out some of the shenanigans we live with on the near west side at Tremonter--Susan--please read Jerleen's comments, too.   Makes you wonder??

kind of like farting in an elevator

Laura, all that diddling with your own comments and posts merely has the effect of driving away the less obsessed. Like farting in an enclosed area, it has the effect of clearing the room, and there you are, left with the self-created essence of yourself.


Such elegant words... and from our own Benjamin Franklin, no less...BTW, I am glad that you and Gloria got plugged on WKYC. Shows the younger things, a thing or two.

I get the martial arts reference, but I think that is not appropriate. Morality play, indeed.

First things first

Have a plan. From the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission blog:

The City of Euclid will receive roughly $1 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funding in 2009, the same amount it received this year.

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Tremont demolition



If the banks (OR HUD) are giving away properties, then identify those properties.  Then, identify an employer, say Metrohealth or the Clinic, within walking distance of the vacant property...through the employer, who can guarantee that the employee has a good track record, GIVE the home (one home) to the employee with the following conditions:

The employer wins  by having an employee who walks to work, the employee wins by investing in his community and getting a home for "FREE," the city benefits because we have a vested resident paying taxes to provide the services we need in the community. 

Funny You Should Say That, Laura

Your idea of giving houses away to people who work for corporations within the city limits was one suggestion posited by Jim Rokakis at our Midtown Brews conversation with him. Another was giving houses to graduating college students therefore, adding an incentive for them to remain in the area after graduation.

To come on the other side of this crisis with positive outcomes, we are going to need to think differently. We will also need to rethink our obsession with winners and losers. We need to understand that when one person moves forward, we all win. There are no losers.

Not so funny that we aren't hearing that PLAN

Out loud.  I'll give Rokakis the credit, when I see houses occupied by doctors, nurses, police officers, attorneys, machinists...who live in our neighborhood, Gloria.  I think Mr. Rokakis will need to promote this PLAN in Washington, not demolitions. 


But, if he is on board with the idea, then by all means, let's see it happen.  

land authority

Gloria, I understand that to stem the wholesale unloading of foreclosed/vacant properties in Cuyahoga County that the banks have to be able to unload the properties to a land authority.

What I don't understand is how those properties will be distributed through the land authority and why the treasurer (and Gus Frangos, Patton, Spada?!) is doing this and not the county commissioners? Also, I would like to see an accounting of the properties that have been demo'd to date and how many of those demo liens have been forgiven.

There are too many unanswered questions Gloria. If Rokakis and others should be applauded for seeing the writing on the wall, then why did they not have a land authority in place BEFORE the great market killings?


Why didn't our senators (Voinovich/DeWine at the time, now Sherrod Brown) and house representatives (Kucinich?) introduce legislation that would prevent the banks from the wholesale dumping of houses on the market?

Mike White

I also don't understand how, if under Mike White's administration, houses were taken into receivership, rehabbed by police and fire officers and then returned to the community, then why we can't do the same with bank-owned properties? 


No one likes to give Mike White credit for anything, but I lived here and I saw a full out assault on the drug culture, which in turn, allowed communities to reclaim housing that had been abandoned to crime. 
What's the difference here?  To me, the banks showed criminal negligence of properties in the City of Cleveland, warranting receivership.  But, there is still a dime to be made on the "poor" and Frank Jackson has shown no leadership on addressing this cancer.
There is a house on my street, a perfect candidate for a Mike White rescue operation (or a DEMO). A suburban slumlord (we have a number of them), house was rented out as Section 8, ATF (ATF!) closed the house down, the kids used to come down and beg me for apples and bananas, because the drug-addled "parents" fed the kids a steady diet of pizza.  The house has stood empty since the raid in 2006, the roof has a hole in it, the grass goes uncut, the house is frequently in non-payment for taxes and he goes unpenalized until he catches up with it--the councilman will say that there has been no action on this house, because we have no code enforcer in Brooklyn Centre.

Susan, I would like to see THIS house demo'd and the full lien applied to this scumlord. Brian Cummins can have the house condemned, but it is not on the priority demo list and we haven't seen that list for some time. Also, the City of Cleveland has demo'd properties in Ward 15, theoretically without his approval or knowledge.

And so it the CITY.

Setting the record straight on Mike White

My impression of Mike White is very mixed - but I'm not in the know. I know lots of good people who worked with him from the beginning and were inspired and put on the right track by him, so I know he was an excellent person and leader in many ways. But I am not a fan of many of the well known outcomes of the late White administation, which appeared to include too tight relations with Jacobs that led to public spending on private projects, and corrupt contracts, and much waste and misdirection of energy and resources that continue today.

Where is Mike White today and what does he do? Word on the street in my part of town is he got a $30 million golden parachute and he lives in Hawaii. 

Even if true... he hasn't been charged with any crimes so how is that any different from the CEOs who get big rewards for doing their jobs. Depending on what you consider was White's job, and how you view his legacy, history may see White many ways. I'd love other perspectives on this... Roldo, I'm sure you have some serious opinions... 

Disrupt IT

Take the idea

I don't defend Mike White (but he is a LEO :), just the idea.  The IDEA of taking back properties, when a crime has occurred at those properties.  Just forget the Mike White part, if it bothers you.  Just look at the IDEA.

The root of the property problem has been lack of enforcement

My parents live in Shaker and every two years, I believe, they get a long list of violations from the city building inspectors and they must repair them - so they do - and so their 1912 home is still in excellent near mint original condition, with very low annual maintenance and operating costs and rare major costs... largely gutters being pulled down by ice.

Shaker does not go far enough - they should do lead testing and require interior lead remediation... which would blow residents minds but provide the right level of public service.

 Now, in the inner ring and city of Cleveland there is not the same level of inspection and enforcement and there has not been for so long a huge proportion of the property has been allowed to turn to garbage... toxic lead contaminated garbage. If none of these communities had allowed property owners to turn their property to garbage, it would not be garbage. All municipalities have the right to create building codes and enforce them - the courts and prisons can make sure they are enforced.

So, we must move to a much higher level of property code enforcement against present property owners, which will cost the property owners $ billions in actual remediation expenses and fines and time in jail - 100,000s of properties are right now in serious violation and their owners should be required to fix those violations orgive up their property or go to jail.

We have no choice about this, as this is the only way to actually eradicate lead... and the level of enforcement must be expanded to proactively address lead contamination, which means property owners in the outer suburbs need to invest in eradicating lead in their homes, which will be expensive... especially as EPA codes on renovations have been revised to require all renovation contractors are qualified with lead, which few really are today (note, workforce opportunity).

As you can see, the prolem is far more serious than the few thoudans properties being dumped today - there will be 10,000s more that just aren't worth owning, considering the expense to make them safe by modern standards. They will be dumped as well.

Workforce opportunity - urban farming opportunity - but first must eliminate slumlord opportunity through real code enforcement. 

Disrupt IT

Code enforcement

We can go around and around Norm and the red herring of code enforcement is one of the tactics meant to keep the conversation from going nowhere. 

Frank Giglio in Tremont is the poster child against selective and aggressive code enforcement.  He is not a threat to a community and in many ways he enhances Tremont, despite his idiosyncrisies. 

We can also help these "unique" residents and the development corporation SHOULD TRY to find ways to help these residents.  Throwing them out on the streets does not accomplish positive community development. 

We need to focus on the properties that are VACANT now and how those properties can become OCCUPIED by vested, tax-paying residents.

After four years with GCLAC I can tell you you are wrong

I'd say you may allow people to turn their personal environments into a dump if there is no lead contamination, and no residents within a certain distance object to any harm that a dump, however artistic or idealistiic it may be, causes property owners. Otherwise, the world is full of lazy and crazy and cheap and heartless people - largely from lead poisoning -  and they will turn the world into a dump... as they have.

Not allowed. any more. We are going to deal with lead poisoning - we are changing the codes and getting inspection and enforcement up to world class - and people had better get used to being decent citizens, or move to a place that likes shitholes. 


Disrupt IT

For Sale: House Next To Shithole

Who in their right mind would move next to a shithole, even if their house is free. Crazy people... that's who. 

I rest my case. 

Disrupt IT

Crazy people

Now, Norm, crazy people are some of my best yourself!  Some people have called you crazy for your housing decision, but not me :)

common denominators