Thursday, February 11, 2010

Not Cool: The Art House is being shut down completely, residents to be made homeless

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 8:58 PM

Be sure to check out all the updates for a complete rundown on the day's coverage.

-

Photograph by Jonathan Bachman

-

click to enlarge Help these people!!

-

Chalk this up as one of the absolute worst decisions made by a city government in, well, ever. Per the NOLA Art Houses' Facebook page:

-

The city of NOLA just took a big bite out of its own culture: They're shutting us down completely, and trying to move us into homeless shelters. Our electricity is minutes from being pulled. We're gonna be fighting, we're homeless and we don't have much by way of resources, but we're gonna fight this thing all the goddamn way. We're gonna make sure the GOOD parts of NOLA keep rising! We Love y'all! Goodbye, for now

-

As for the city's reasoning? The Art House had this to say (NOTE: We have yet to get an official word from the City Government):

-

they're citing a bunch of bureaucratic bullshit (like, if we have a shared kitchen, apparently every room has to have a private sink....) and some fire code violations that every house in NOLA is guilty of (stuff under the stairs, outlets without covers, &c). so basically it seems like they're pulling at any straw they can to shut us down

-

UPDATE: Click here to see the Esplanade Ridge/Treme Civic Association has responded to the situation.

Say what you will about the Art House and their parties and whether or not the city acted fairly in canceling their three-day Mardi Gras festival. But there is a difference between shutting down a party and shutting down a house. Most of the Art House residents don't have much in the way of money and many depended on the house's parties for revenue. That's the reason they all lived together in this co-op and why it was such a creative hot bed for any artist looking for inspiration in the Crescent City.

-

Red Cotton brought up a fair point in the comment to my initial post about the cease and desist letter the city sent to the Art House. Large parties can be a neighborhood problem and, in a richly historic and proud neighborhood like Treme, it is possible that the Art House residents' ambitions exceeded what their neighbors would deem acceptable. But, in all fairness, of all the houses in the Treme, this shouldn't be on the top of the city's list of places to shut down and force its residents into the street. How much urban plight still litters this city? How many empty houses have turned to crack dens? The Art House contributed something to the city and its culture, to destroy it would be to destroy a part of New Orleans in the realest sense. And all in the middle of Mardi Gras, no less.

-

Go to 1614esplanade.com for contact info to help keep these residents from being made homeless.

-

HIT THE JUMP FOR UPDATES:

-

UPDATE: We've found out that the Treme neighborhood association has been so mad at the Art House recently that they sent out this letter to association members:

-

Important Notice to All Members

Re: 1614 Esplanade Ave.

Please call N.O.P.D. (non-emergency - 821-2222, emergency - 911, or the 1st District 658-6010 to report an infraction, i.e. loud music, open fights, excessive trash thrown on street and/or neutral ground, damage to property of residences or vehicles in neighborhood. We can only proceed with legal action if reports are specific.

Thanks for your help.

Michele

ERTCA

-

Clearly the Art House residents need help in dealing with both the city government and working things out with their neighbors. Maybe people should log on to the Esplanade Ridge/Treme Civic Association Web site and tell Michelle (email: mbbraden@aol.com) how they feel about the whole situation. Oh, and let's see if we can't come to a civil agreement about all this, eh? No name calling, that shit is not productive.

-

SECOND UPDATE:

-

Apparently a slew of TV vans from every local station has caught wind of this incident and they're at the Tree House right now. There are rumors that the residents may protest the city by locking themselves in the house. I'm sure anyone willing to show their support will be appreciated (and maybe even let in the house and out of the rain). As always, be safe out there, people.

-

THIRD UPDATE:

-

The residents have been giving until 4 p.m. CST to evacuate the home and have been told by the NOPD that if they don't vacate, they will be considered squatters (an arrestable offense). The Louisiana SPCA is also there because of the dogs owned by some of the residents. Doug McCash of the Times-Pic tried to get in for a story but the NOPD stone-walled him.

-

FOURTH UPDATE:

-

Check out the NewOrleans.com story to check up on how the Art House residents were pretty much ambushed this morning by the NOPD and Fire Marshall.

-

FIFTH UPDATE

The Art House's Twitter is pretty much blowing up right now. OffBeat Magazine has picked up the story on their twitter and their Facebook. TV crews are still on the scene.

-

SIXTH UPDATE:

-

Art House resident Tess Kisner has sent out word that a lawyer friend of the house has talked the police down and given the residents more time. Their power is still on but they are expecting it to be shut off and for city officials to return shortly with an eviction timeline.

-

SEVENTH UPDATE:

-

Calls to City Hall have mostly led to nowhere but we've reached out to the Esplanade Ridge/Treme Civic Association and are waiting for a reply.

-

EIGHTH UPDATE:

-

Power's been cut off at the Art House. Still no word from City Officials or the Treme Civic Association. It's 5:40 p.m. and currently 40 degrees and raining in New Orleans.

-

NINTH UPDATE:

-

Just got off the phone with Scott Pterodactyl, the guy who began construction on the tree house which has put the Art House in this predicament. According to him, though they were told they would received a cease and desist letter from the City they have not been given a physical copy of it. The police today claimed to hold a copy of the letter but refused to give the Art House residents a copy for their records. As Scott tells it, the NOPD were basically trying to scare the residents out of the house until the lawyer stepped in and prevented anything substantial from taking place.

-

As for the power, Scott said that he and the other residents witnessed an Entergy truck pull up to 1614 Esplanade and cut out the power. Despite asking for some sort of explanation or documentation, Scott says that Entergy did not provide them with any reason for cutting out the power before the truck pulled away.

-

I've reached out to everyone on the Treme Civic Association and a few contacts at City Hall but have yet to hear back from them. Will post a new blog post with the official word as soon (or even if) we get it. If anyone's interested, you can go and check out OffBeat's take on the whole issue. It doesn't look like City Hall talked to them, either.

-

FINAL UPDATE: WWL discovered the tree house. No one from the city talked to them, either.

-

And then came Doug McCash from NOLA.com with the quotes no one else could get. His story is a must and includes quotes from the house owner and the police and fire departments. As far as the city officials McCash talked to, they mostly went with the "just following orders" route and citing the code violations within the residence. There is no talk about codes, permits or zoning in regards to the tree house structure and the fire department spokesperson said there were no threats made to evict the residence. There also seems to be a lot of confusion as to why the power at 1614 Esplanade remains off.

-

McCash's story both answers questions and brings up many more. Through his reporting, we're informed that the cease and desist order came through the fire department and was solely in regards to the Art House itself. We still have no idea why the power was shut off in the house or why the police showed up telling the residents that they had to leave the premises. There is also the community factor. Clearly the tree house has ruffled feathers in the Treme and, as we saw above, community leaders encouraged residents to voice their complaints. How their reaction may or may not have affected the city government's actions is still a bit of a mystery.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pin It
Favorite

Comments (23)

Showing 1-23 of 23

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-23 of 23

Add a comment

Submit an event Jump to date

Latest in The Latest

Top Topics in The Latest

Music & Nightlife (53)


Film/DVD (44)


Food & Drink (43)


Events & Festivals (40)


New Orleans Life (24)


More by Alejandro de los Rios

© 2016 Gambit
Powered by Foundation