Cleveland not regularly inspecting parking garages: What that means for your safety
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Big crowds downtown bring concern over the safety of parking garages in Northeast Ohio.
Are the older ones just an eyesore? Or is there danger behind the falling concrete, rusted rails and support beams you see in several structures?
In a 19 News investigation, we uncovered that all three of Ohio’s biggest cities do not regularly inspect parking garages.
Sean Martin says he walks by the Laz garage on Huron Road nearly every day and says he finally got mad enough about the conditions of it to speak up.
“There’s like the wood beams with the metal poles that you probably use like basement each floor,” he said. “You can see they patched it up in areas.”
Knowing thousands of visitors are coming into the city in October for playoff baseball, the start of Cavs season and more, Martin recently fired off a tweet to get our attention and tagged the city of Cleveland.
The Laz garage is right across from Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse and a straight shot down West Sixth Street to Progressive field.
An open records request revealed that someone filed a complaint titled “collapsing structure” regarding the garage in 2021.
That triggered the city to send an inspector out.
The city told 19 Investigates their inspectors have the ability to order a structure vacated if it poses immanent danger. As far as we know, that did not happen at the Laz garage.
But, the city did determine major repairs are needed inside and sent a violation notification to the owner of the Laz garage.
Which begs the question, what would have happened had no one gone to the city about the conditions there?
In our investigation, we uncovered something everyone should know when it comes down to your safety in any parking garage.
Cleveland’s the director of the city’s building and housing department told 19 Investigates that the city does not regularly inspect parking garages.
In fact, we discovered all three major cities in Ohio say they depend on the public to point out problems.
Only when a complaint is filed does an inspector come out and make sure it’s safe to drive up and park in a garage.
“Maybe there should be some regulation for the city just to make sure everybody’s playing by the rules, especially a public structure where you know, you have thousands of people,” Martin said.
The city says it’s the owner’s responsibility to maintain the safety of a structure.
The city says after the inspector sent the violation notification, a contractor cleaned the garage and put up the supports inside.
According to documents 19 Investigates obtained, an inspector wrote that last year’s complaint was “resolved” in February.
However, when we reached out to the city this month, a spokesperson told us major structural work still needs to be done inside the Laz garage. And, the owner has yet to even submit plans to “[replace] and [repair] all concrete ceilings and columns.”
We reached out to the company in charge of the Laz garage, asking when was the last time they had an engineer look at their garage. We’ve not gotten a reply.
According to the city, it’s the owner’s responsibility to maintain the safety of a structure.
“When you leave maintenance up to the owners, the owners are gonna wait and until it’s absolutely necessary to make these improvements,” Martin said. “It’s probably not a good idea on the city, because that’s how you have catastrophes happen where structures collapse.”
Not only is Martin concerned about safety in the garage, but he’s mad that the fee to park there is often more than others.
You can see in a picture Martin took a few weeks ago that the garage is listed at $40, while the one across the street is asking just $15.
“I thought that was wrong that they’re charging $40 to park in this garage that’s falling apart,” Martin said.
Now that he knows what it takes to get city inspectors out here, he says he might take additional steps to elevate his concerns.
“I should probably follow through instead of just tweeting it. I should go and file a complaint with the city Buildings Department,” Martin said. “I want the city to make sure that we have safe parking structures not just for the people of Cleveland, but all the visitors coming in and out of town all the time. We have a lot of sporting events conventions and things. I just want the city to look good.”
If you feel the city needs to take a look into the safety of a certain garage, the city lists information on it’s website on how to file a formal complaint.
Cleveland’s city website directs people to email complaints to email@example.com.
The city’s Chief Building Official can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You should include the address of the structure and a description of your concern.
Copyright 2022 WOIO. All rights reserved.