Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cleveland's residency law struck down

Expect a new exodus from Cleveland with the Ohio Supreme Court's ruling today. It struck down all residency requirements for city employees, including Cleveland's 27-year-old law.

Cops were high-fiving each other in the Justice Center this morning as the news spread, according to Henry Gomez's report on

Mayor Frank Jackson, who had fought to uphold Cleveland's residency law, admitted defeat. "Cleveland will survive," he said. "We've been through difficult times before."

Expect hundreds of cops and firefighters to move to the suburbs as soon as this summer, further shrinking Cleveland's tax base and housing values -- that is, if they can find buyers for their houses. (The ruling allows all city employees to move out of town, including civil servants, but the safety forces' unions led the 20-year fight against Cleveland's residency law.)

Jacqueline Marino contemplated what a ruling like this could cost the city in "It's Wonderful Living in West Park," her essay in the October 2005 issue of Cleveland Magazine.

Politically, the ruling could defang other legislation passed by Cleveland and other cities. It's a new precedent about conflicts between city and state laws and the "home rule" provision of Ohio's Constitution, which gives cities "all powers of local self-government." The state legislature banned residency requirements in 2006. Today, the court upheld the ban on the grounds that the Constitution gives the legislature the power to “provid[e] for the comfort, health, safety and general welfare of all employe[e]s."

Here is the Supreme Court's summary of the ruling, which links to the full opinion. Here's the story on the ruling from the Toledo Blade.


Henry Gomez said...

I have to give your recent profile subject, Mark Puente, credit for the high-five anecdote.

It was a team effort today, with me at City Hall, Puente at the Justice Center, Trevor Hunnicutt in the community and others pitching in at the office. A big story that we will watch unfold for months and years to come.

Mark Puente said...

It's all about teamwork, and we are all team players at the Plain Dealer.