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Cleaning Up Steubenville

“Do as I say, not as I do” is never an effective way to lead. But it appears that is the message being sent in Steubenville concerning how renters will be asked to upkeep the properties they occupy.

Steubenville City Council passed a zoning change earlier this month that includes language that now makes tenants and owners equally responsible for keeping the grass cut at a property. Previously, the code allowed the city to only go after a landlord for enforcement when the grass was not cut.

“It allows us to do owner or occupant,” Law Director Costa Mastros said. “It was just the owner, now we’ve included occupant as well because we were running into that problem.”

That’s a fair and agreeable change, as we all should expect our neighbors to keep their property tidy. But what happens when the city itself doesn’t abide by its own rules?

That’s a point Councilman Royal Mayo was quick to make, noting the grass on city lots often is higher than the 8 inches allowed by code.

“… Now we’re going to prosecute individuals and hold them (to higher standards) than we (hold) ourselves? I don’t get that,” Mayo said.

Councilwoman Kimberly Hahn told Mayo the city “absolutely needs to be held accountable” and that the streets and maintenance department have added new positions to help combat blight.

Whatever the issue, Steubenville needs to ensure its own house is in order if it’s going to crack down on others who may be violating the code.


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