Mitch Landrieu

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mayor Landrieu unveils five-year affordable housing plan

Posted By on Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 7:30 PM

CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's annual "State of the City" speeches chart the city's post-Hurricane Katrina gains and, more importantly, glimpse where his administration is headed to address its shortcomings. Crime, poverty and a crumbling infrastructure always are at the top of that list. In his 2016 address, delivered on the roof of the Broad Street Whole Foods on June 21, Landrieu unveiled two reports: a progress report on the criminal justice program NOLA for Life, and — amid contentious debates over the future of Airbnb, the increasing creep of property developers, gentrification fast tracks, rising rents and deplorable housing conditions, all wrapped in stagnant wages and dwindling jobs — Landrieu teased a five-year plan for more affordable housing in New Orleans.

According to the plan, the city will "build or preserve" 7,500 affordable housing units by 2021 — with 4,000 units available by 2018, followed by an additional 3,500 units.

"People are flocking here, but rising demand and job growth means that housing costs have risen by 50 percent since 2000," Landrieu said in a statement. "Now, due to a broader loss of income-affordable rental units along with low-wage jobs and inadequate public transit, many New Orleanians pay more than 50 percent of their income just on housing costs. That is unacceptable and unsustainable. ... We must ensure that working people do not get priced out of New Orleans — they are the backbone of our City."

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The "hotelization" of New Orleans: city planners question Airbnb

Posted By on Wed, Jun 15, 2016 at 7:45 PM

Caroline Thomas' Coney Island-style satirical signs in 2015. - PHOTO COURTESY CAROLINE THOMAS
  • PHOTO COURTESY CAROLINE THOMAS
  • Caroline Thomas' Coney Island-style satirical signs in 2015.

Sometime this year, New Orleans will likely begin legalizing short-term rentals, creating some kind of framework for permitting and taxing properties on websites like Airbnb. It's been a long, drawn-out debate among residents feeling the squeeze from increasingly tourist-filled neighborhoods, Airbnb operators trying to make a buck, indecisive city officials and departments, and now hotel operators, who fear not only losing business but the hospitality industry itself, pushed further from the heart of the city, unable to afford it.

And despite continued objections from many residents, the City Planning Commission (CPC) and members of the New Orleans City Council, the city planning staff keeps floating the legalization of renting out entire homes — "principal" residential short-term rentals — per the request of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration. The CPC's June 14 meeting was set to vote on those staff recommendations for changes to the city's Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, but the Landrieu administration requested moving the vote. The CPC agreed to move it to Aug. 9, which could mean a vote could come from the City Council, who has the final say on policy, as early as Aug. 11.

A packed crowd inside City Council Chambers on June 14 stuck through several hours of comments, mostly coming from residents from the Garden District and French Quarter and representatives from the city's hotel and tourism industry. Commissioners largely agreed Airbnb's creep could deal a crushing blow to the city if not legislated, enforced or regulated properly. "This is an emotional and complicated issue," said CPC Chair Kyle Wedberg, "This is a hyper-local issue. It happens house by house, block by block, neighbor by neighbor. ... An issue that's not only vital for us to solve but vital for us to get right."

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

‘Drunk on violence’: Landrieu gives emotional address on New Orleans’ murder problem

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 10:33 PM

In this file photo, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and NOPD Chief Michael Harrison address the media at a press conference. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • ALEX WOODWARD
  • In this file photo, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and NOPD Chief Michael Harrison address the media at a press conference.
As New Orleanians and football fans around the country still reel from the shooting death of Saints defensive end Will Smith, Mayor Mitch Landrieu made an emotional plea to residents to help curb a local murder problem that he said has become “baked in” to the city’s culture.

“We are a city, we are a country that is drunk on violence,” Landrieu told a packed audience at a Tulane University auditorium for his address on violence in New Orleans. “And we need to wake up to this fact.”

Landrieu’s address was given two weeks after Smith was gunned in a car near his wife after being involved in a minor car accident, police said.

The incident prompted widespread reaction from city residents, antiviolence groups and fans near and far. During a second line held in Smith’s honor, several residents called the murder “senseless.”

But Landrieu reminded the crowd that it wasn’t occasional celebrity killings like Smith’s that prompted Louisiana to have the number one homicide rate in the nation.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

New Orleans parking tickets are going up

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 3:06 PM

click image New Orleans parking ticket fines are being raised from $20 to $30, then $60 after 30 days, then $90 after 60. - DEREK BRIDGES/FLICKR
  • DEREK BRIDGES/FLICKR
  • New Orleans parking ticket fines are being raised from $20 to $30, then $60 after 30 days, then $90 after 60.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration compromised on its plan to increase downtown parking meter fees by shortening the time — the meters were originally set to expire at 10 p.m., but after debate among service workers and the New Orleans City Council, the city agreed to end enforcement at 7 p.m. But to make up for that lost time, the city proposed hiking parking ticket fees from $20 to $30.

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Now what for the Confederate monuments?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2016 at 12:18 PM

now-what.jpg

That the City of New Orleans has the legal authority to remove Confederate-era monuments from prominent public spaces was never really in doubt. Now that U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has affirmed City Hall’s dominion over city property, the real fighting can begin: What do we do with them now?

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Judge denies request to halt Confederate monument removal

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 4:15 PM

The Jefferson Davis monument in 2004. - BART EVERSON/FLICKR
  • BART EVERSON/FLICKR
  • The Jefferson Davis monument in 2004.
The City of New Orleans is now free to begin removing four controversial Confederate landmarks. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has denied a request from several parties that filed suit after the New Orleans City Council approved Mayor Mitch Landrieu's plans to begin removing the four monuments — Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis and a monument to the Battle of Liberty Place.

Barbier's pending denial was forecasted during a Jan. 14 hearing in which he verbally swatted down nearly every argument from the plaintiffs, which include the Louisiana Landmark Society, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, the Monumental Task Committee and Beauregard Camp No. 130, a local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans,

The suit challenged Mayor Mitch Landrieu and federal agencies by arguing that “the city intentionally discriminated against defenders of these four monuments,” among a dozen other challenges — including that moving them would damage them, and that the federally funded streetcar lines should protect the two monuments near them. The suit also alleges that the city violated due process and equal protection. Barbier dismissed all of the above.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New Orleans opens new coroner's and EMS facility

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 4:50 PM

City officials cut the ribbon marking the opening of a nearly $15 million joint office for EMS and the coroner — the first permanent home for both agencies in more than 10 years. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • ALEX WOODWARD
  • City officials cut the ribbon marking the opening of a nearly $15 million joint office for EMS and the coroner — the first permanent home for both agencies in more than 10 years.

City officials cut the blue ribbon on a joint coroner's office and Emergency Medical Service facility on Earhart Boulevard and Claiborne Avenue, bringing both offices into a permanent home after years of trailers and other temporary digs.

"I know y'all like it better than that trailer," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

After Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods, the Orleans Parish Coroner's office moved from its damaged headquarters to refrigerated trucks. EMS left its flooded headquarters on Moss Street to a string of makeshift spaces, from parking lots to trailers. Coroner Jeffrey Rouse, who was elected in 2014, said the office was operating in "difficult and quasi-adequate conditions."

Landrieu said the offices made due with "literally working in trailers" to ensure "the city recovered first." Rouse said the new joint facility and its design — a years-in-the-making $14.8 million project — "reflects the professionalism" of the staffs and will be "the envy of coroners around the country."

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Parking meter rate hikes begin Jan. 11, with some changes

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2015 at 4:47 PM

KEVIN ALLMAN
  • KEVIN ALLMAN

Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s plan to raise rates and extend hours for downtown parking meters begins Monday, Jan. 11 2016.

Landrieu's original plan — to double rates from $1.50 an hour to $3 hour and expand cutoff times from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. — changes only slightly, despite pleas from downtown workers, musicians and service and tourism industry groups. The rates will remain, but the extended hours will only go to 7 p.m.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Y@ Speak: the end of sports and monuments

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 12:38 PM

A bronze Tom Benson remains while a playoff-forbidden Saints soldier on and Confederate monuments do not. Drew Brees' biggest problem last week involved a Star Wars drone and Elf on the Shelf, while the city rallies around removing four controversial monuments, Royal Street is a restaurant-designated terror target, and, as per tradition, a mysteriously lonely Bunny Bread bunny signals the beginning of Christmas. 

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

New Orleans City Council votes to remove four Confederate statues

Posted By on Thu, Dec 17, 2015 at 4:05 PM

Members of Take 'Em Down NOLA and Stand With Dignity appeared at New Orleans City Council Dec. 17 supporting an ordinance to remove four Confederate monuments.
  • Members of Take 'Em Down NOLA and Stand With Dignity appeared at New Orleans City Council Dec. 17 supporting an ordinance to remove four Confederate monuments.

Monuments depicting Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis as well as a memorial marker to the Battle of Liberty Place are coming down.

"We have the power and the right to correct these historical wrongs," Mayor Mitch Landrieu told members of New Orleans City Council. "The monuments do not now nor did they ever reflect the history, strength, richness, diversity and soul" of New Orleans. The decision is among the most sweeping efforts in the U.S. to remove or replace Confederate iconography.

The City Council voted 6-1 to remove the four monuments under a "nuisance" ordinance that applies to any public display that "honors, praises, or fosters ideologies which are in conflict with the requirements of equal protection for citizens" or "suggests the supremacy of one ethnic, religious, or racial group over any other, or gives honor or praise to any violent actions taken wrongfully against citizens of the city to promote ethnic, religious, or racial supremacy of any group over another." Landrieu – who signed the ordinance this afternoon — called for the monuments to be moved to a park or museum or a "proper place of remembrance, not reverence."

The vote followed months of focused, fiery debate and passionate reflection on what the history of those symbols mean to New Orleanians today — and today's hearing was no exception. Several people were escorted out of the City Council Chambers by police and public speakers and elected officials were booed and roasted. But that kind of loud introspection — from the council and the public — promised an opportunity to face the truths of the past while, Landrieu and councilmembers hope, embracing our neighbors.

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