In 2010, a task force (assembled by District C councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer and headed by the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates) organized to "study ways in which Jackson Square and its environs could be enhanced and protected for the benefit of residents, businesses, and visitors."
A resulting report proposed 15 recommendations for the French Quarter landmark, from security to preserving the "artist colony" around the Square to cleaning and maintaining flagstones and pedestrian malls. All points addressed a variety of concerns from community meetings. Not mentioned in the report was a curfew for the area.
Richard Webster reported that Mayor Mitch Landrieu introduced an order to close the Square from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. daily — stopping or standing in the area between those hours could result in a $500 fine. The mayor's proposed law aims to prevent late-night loitering and people camping out and address serious public health and safety issues, according to Landrieu's spokesman Ryan Berni.
Lance Vargas, an artist who sells his pieces at the Square and blogs at TheChicory.com, applauded the city's efforts to clean up the square (where "puke, feces, urine, fights, drunks, people passed out, assaults, trash, yelling, drug use" are commonplace), but asked:
Jackson Square in particular is an area where people can sit in an open space without being in a bar. With the Square (and the Moonwalk) being closed in the early morning, and with very few restaurants or cafes open at that time, the message seems to be, "Be in a bar drinking or go back to your hotel." I understand that’s not what the message is but, with no open spaces, where else are people to go?
Mayor Landrieu and City Council, is this really the best that you can do? Please focus on providing much-needed services (sanitation, maintenance, and security) that will improve the quality of visiting our city’s historic heart instead of proposing ordinances predestined for (wholly avoidable) legal challenges.