New Orleans City Hall

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

New Orleans City Council moves short-term rental vote to Oct. 20

Posted By on Tue, Oct 4, 2016 at 6:00 PM

City Councilmember caricatures on the steps of City Hall during a protest on Sept. 27.
  • City Councilmember caricatures on the steps of City Hall during a protest on Sept. 27.

Following years of debate and several studies, the New Orleans City Council was set to vote on a framework for regulating short-term rentals advertised through platforms like Airbnb. The vote was scheduled for Oct. 6. Today, the City Council announced it's moving the matter to Oct. 20.

But if the Council misses its Oct. 20 deadline, that could table the issue for good, at least until the next administration steps in.

The City Council is looking at a lengthy report and recommendations from the City Planning Commission (CPC) outlining four potential types of short-term rentals, a practice that currently is illegal but rarely if ever enforced. The CPC voted to prohibit whole-home rentals in residential areas, which account for nearly three-quarters of all short-term rentals in New Orleans and 2 percent of the city's entire housing stock.

Only a few City Councilmembers have spoken out against whole-home rentals — District A Councilmember Susan Guidry told Gambit in July that they're "the biggest threat to the quality of life of our long-term residents." District D Councilmember Jared Brossett said he's concerned about the "commercialization of residential neighborhoods as a result of whole-house short-term rentals." At-Large Councilmember Stacy Head said they would likely be "heavily regulated" if they're approved.

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Four-story Hampton Inn hotel planned for Elysian Fields Avenue in Faubourg Marigny

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2016 at 1:25 PM

One of Banksy's New Orleans works included this piece at 501 Elysian Fields Ave. - INFROGMATION OF NEW ORLEANS / CREATIVE COMMONS
  • One of Banksy's New Orleans works included this piece at 501 Elysian Fields Ave.

Developers plan to construct a Hilton Hampton Inn hotel in the Marigny at the corner of Elysian Fields Avenue and Decatur Street. A Sept. 29 letter sent to residents outlines plans for a four-story hotel with 119 rooms, front pedestrian entrances on Elysian Fields and onsite parking accessed by driveways opening on Decatur Street, with landscaping to provide a "visual barrier." Francisco Alecha of Alecha Architecture writes that it would take about 18 months to construct after plans are approved.

Developers will host a community meeting at 7:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17 at St. Paul Lutheran Church (2614 Burgundy St., at Franklin Avenue), where residents "are invited to ask questions or pose concerns about our project," according to the letter. The building requires a conditional use permit for construction, which must be approved by the City Planning Commission and the New Orleans City Council.

Developer Amit Patel — through his group 501 EFA Hotel, which has developed several hotels in the New Orleans area — bought the building for $3.5 million last month. The building previously was held by developer Sean Cummings, who bought it for $1.1 million in 2007 with plans for the "Elysio Lofts," a $20 million, six-story condo project that opened a debate with neighbors and the city over its high-rise future, potentially opening the doors for similar developments downtown. In 2012, the City Council effectively killed the plans.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"RIP affordable neighborhoods": New Orleans residents stage protest and "funeral" as the City Council prepares for short-term rental vote

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 1:30 PM

A political theater protest against whole-home short-term rentals in New Orleans included coffins for "affordable housing" and "actual neighbors."
  • A political theater protest against whole-home short-term rentals in New Orleans included coffins for "affordable housing" and "actual neighbors."

From the steps of City Hall, the Treme Brass Band provided the soundtrack for a funeral march following the deaths of "affordable neighborhoods" and "actual neighbors," casualties of the proliferation of short-term rentals in New Orleans. At least that's the future to come, according to several neighborhood groups, if whole-home rentals through companies like Airbnb are allowed to operate in New Orleans.

Staging a political theater protest and march Sept. 27, artists and neighborhood groups (including Neighbors First for Bywater, the Faubourg St. Roch Improvement Association and Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association) carried two caskets, placards illustrating short-term rental listings, and signs representing each New Orleans neighborhood saying "no" to whole-home rentals. The march turned into a dirge as the band played "A Closer Walk with Thee" before disbanding at City Hall, where caricatures of New Orleans City Councilmembers lay on the steps.

In August, the New Orleans City Planning Commission (CPC) agreed to prohibit short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods, but commercially zoned areas don't fall under the same restrictions. The City Council will have final say on new short-term rental rules when it votes on the CPC's recommendations on Oct. 6,

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

New Orleans City Planning Commission votes to ban whole home short-term rentals

Posted By on Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 10:15 PM

Whole home rentals in residential neighborhoods are off the table in the short-term rental debate — for now — following the New Orleans City Planning Commission's (CPC) vote unanimously agreeing they should remain illegal. Following months of debate and years of discussion, the CPC approved a framework for short-term rental listings like Airbnb on Aug. 9. The recommendations from the CPC's staff now head to the New Orleans City Council, which could change up the new rules before a final vote — those recommendations are just that.

Following five hours of public comment and an hour of discussion among commissioners, the CPC approved its staff recommendations for three types of short-term rentals and voted to ban the controversial practice of renting out entire homes in residential areas. The CPC rejected those types of rentals earlier this year, but they were put back in play by Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration.

Several New Orleans City Council members have been critical of whole home rentals — District A Councilmember Susan Guidry told Gambit last month they pose "the biggest threat to the quality of life of our long-term residents." Councilmembers Jared Brossett and Stacy Head also expressed concerns about homes used as short-term rentals year-round in residential neighborhoods.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mayor Landrieu unveils five-year affordable housing plan

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


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
  • 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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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Canal Street sinkhole driving map, take two

Posted By on Tue, May 3, 2016 at 3:44 PM

Remember the fun we had yesterday trying to make heads or tails of that map issued by the city of New Orleans — the one designed to help drivers navigate around the Canal Street sinkhole regular hole? 

They've got a better one now that answers most of the questions we had:


You are now free to move about the foot of Canal Street again. 

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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
  • 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


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
  • 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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