Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Toledo needs to get lead out

A proposal to hit the brakes on Toledo’s modest lead-safe ordinance is a bad idea — one that would put Toledo children in peril.

Six months after Toledo City Council approved the ordinance requiring inspections and swipe tests, only 17 properties have been inspected and issued lead-safe certificates. Just 50 local lead inspectors have been registered. There is no good reason for this slow start. Landlords have until Sept. 17 to comply.

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A lead hazard sign is posted on a home on Putnam Street in Toledo.

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The ordinance requires single-family, duplex, and rental properties with one to four units built before 1978, along with day care centers, to get a “lead-safe certificate” from the health department before tenants can move in.

It also requires inspectors to visually check for lead hazards such as chipping or peeling paint, and to swab surfaces with dust wipes, which will then be tested for lead. If a unit passes the visual and dust wipe test, the landlord will get a certificate good for six years. If a unit fails, the property owner must take temporary measures to reduce lead risk in the home including painting, cleaning, and repairs.

Complaints about the expense and confusion about language in the ordinance have prompted its opponents to demand Toledo City Council delay the deadline from September to Dec. 31, March 31, or May 30.

Also under consideration is a proposal to stagger compliance deadlines over three years, prioritizing the oldest, and likely riskiest, properties. Buildings built before 1940 could be required to comply by the first year, properties built 1940-1960 by the second year, and properties from 1961-1978 by the third year.

We do need to implement the law, but Toledo’s children cannot wait forever. An Ohio State study estimates more than 3,400 Toledo children 6 or younger have high lead levels.

It’s important to remember that ordinances such as this are a burden on rental-property owners. They have a right to make a profit on their properties, but they also have a responsibility to rent safe units that don’t poison children.

City council should determine what resources are necessary to get this law fully on line. We need to get it right and moving.

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