New Orleans City Hall

Thursday, April 19, 2018

New Orleans City Council defers vote on Bywater hotel

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 4:40 PM

Plans for the Sun Yard hotel on St. Claude Avenue.
  • Plans for the Sun Yard hotel on St. Claude Avenue.

Less than a week before the inauguration of its new members, the New Orleans City Council will decide whether to approve zoning changes that allow a 37-room hotel on St. Claude Avenue in Bywater.

Following some debate after initially requesting a vote in favor of the project during the Council’s April 19 meeting, District C Councilmember Nadine Ramsey — whose district encompasses Bywater — pushed to defer voting on the plan until May 3, the last meeting of the current City Council before the administration’s inauguration on May 7. (It’ll be one of Ramsey’s last votes in office — voters elected former District C Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer to replace Ramsey in 2017 elections.)

In March, the New Orleans City Planning Commission unanimously sent a recommendation to the City Council to deny the project its zoning request, a decision that followed several City Hall hearings and neighborhood meetings over concerns over the project’s scale, potential impact to nearby residents and housing costs, and an overall debate over the changing character of downtown New Orleans and how policy impacting housing and development has contributed to a recent wave of gentrification and cultural concerns.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Without surveillance requirement, new ordinance for bars and restaurants aims to 'simplify' permits, licenses

Posted By on Tue, Apr 3, 2018 at 6:00 PM

PHOTO BY ALEXANDER RIST
  • PHOTO BY ALEXANDER RIST

A proposal requiring every liquor license-holding business in New Orleans to install a surveillance camera to be shared with law enforcement is dead, for now. Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office says its future is up to the incoming administrations, though Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell says she doesn't plan to revive it.

A replacement ordinance not only removes the controversial camera requirement but also sections that give the mayor and chief of police and nearby residents more power to revoke or suspend liquor licenses.

At-Large Councilmember Stacy Head introduced a replacement bill that focuses on streamlining the issuance of liquor licenses from under the wing of the Finance Department and into the city's OneStop shop program with the Department of Safety and Permits, which comprised the bulk of the previous draft.

The measure was approved by the City Council's Governmental Affairs Committee March 29. It'll likely be up for a vote this month.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Housing group report: New Orleans short-term rental laws enabled 'hotelization of residential housing'

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2018 at 2:30 PM

JPNSI released an extensive report measuring short-term rentals' impact in New Orleans.
  • JPNSI released an extensive report measuring short-term rentals' impact in New Orleans.

A lengthy report from housing advocacy group the Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative (JPNSI) says that nearly 20 percent of short-term rental operators in New Orleans control nearly half of all listings.

The report from the housing justice and community land trust organization offers a detailed look at how large companies and developers, including locally based real estate investors, have leveraged the city’s short-term rental (STR) laws to turn potential housing stock into a sprawling enterprise of de facto hotels.

"Short Term Rentals, Long Term Impacts: The Corrosion of Housing Access & Affordability in New Orleans" follows extensive media reporting and debate over the impact of STRs in New Orleans, which spiked in the wake of a package of city laws that provide a legal framework to allow them to operate — city officials hailed it as a model compromise with the industry while extracting tax revenue from an already-existing practice. But JPNSI — which has led community meetings to share its data over the last several months — says the laws have merely provided companies and developers with an economic incentive to prioritize visitors at the expense of residents.

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

New Orleans students march against gun violence in a March for Our Lives through French Quarter

Posted By on Sat, Mar 24, 2018 at 6:00 PM

New Orleans-area students joined a nationwide March for Our Lives March 24.
  • New Orleans-area students joined a nationwide March for Our Lives March 24.

New Orleans-area students, their teachers, parents and others calling for stronger gun control measures and an end to gun violence rallied through downtown New Orleans March 24, joining a national March for Our Lives movement organized in the wake of the killings of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Hundreds of people spanning at least eight blocks marched from the Marigny through the French Quarter, past Jackson Square and into the CBD, then ending with a rally where students and elected officials called on legislators to adopt a platform promoting stronger gun control measures.

The movement is calling for universal background checks, a ban or age restrictions on so-called assault weapons, the repeal of the National Rifle Association-backed Dickey Amendment preventing the Centers for Disease Control from work that promotes gun control, and an end to the NRA and other lobbying groups' influence in politics.

The banner of "Enough" has waved throughout the last several weeks leading up to the march, following February's Parkland murders and more than 130 deaths in schools since the 2012 killings of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

"Until today I have been silenced," said Olivia Keefe, a 17-year-old Benjamin Franklin High School student and co-organizer of the New Orleans march. "I'm silenced by the words 'you kids don't know what you're talking about.' I'm silenced by the words 'you're too young to understand why these policies will never be changed.' ... How many school shootings has the average member of your generation been a survivor of? ... You're not the one who grew up with active shooter drills."

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

New Orleans City Council kills cap on Bourbon Street strip clubs

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2018 at 5:05 PM

Strip club workers protested club raids in the French Quarter earlier this year. - PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • Strip club workers protested club raids in the French Quarter earlier this year.

A proposal to cap the number of strip clubs on Bourbon Street’s seven-block entertainment strip has failed, a victory for dancers who have been squeezed out of jobs following recent raids and another blow to Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s sweeping public safety plan.

The New Orleans City Council failed to pass the cap by a vote of 4 to 3 on March 22, following years of study and debate at City Hall and several raids of Bourbon Street clubs.

Several dancers and club workers spoke against the measure, which they argued further criminalizes an already-marginalized work and will limit job availability, pushing dancers into potentially unsafe clubs across parish and state lines that don’t share Bourbon’s regulatory efforts. Speakers also argued that the City Council’s expression of solidarity with women construction workers in the morning part of the meeting should also apply to other women workers.

“We too are women, we too are valid members of the community,” said Liz Collins, an organizer with Bourbon Alliance of Responsible Entertainers (BARE). “We too are workers and want to provide for our families, and we want to do it safely.”

At-Large Councilmember Stacy Head proposed limiting the number of strip clubs on Bourbon Street’s Vieux Carre Entertainment (VCE) District to 12, which followed the City Planning Commission’s rejection of a “hard cap” on the number of clubs on the street in favor of a “soft cap” of 14 clubs. The CPC’s “soft cap” called for a maximum of 14 clubs to operate on the street; operators would have to apply for a conditional use to open a club if the cap has been met. That cap would kick in after clubs close through “attrition.”

Head’s measure aimed to cap the number of clubs at 12, the current number of clubs in the VCE after recent law enforcement raids forced closures and suspensions of several venues.

Head said her motion is “merely a land use matter” to reduce congestion of an “intense use” in the district; City Council President Jason Williams said despite the legitimate efforts of creating legislation “in a vacuum” over the last several years, those raids (“a complete waste of time”) are now inextricably linked to the issue of a club cap. “You didn’t do that,” he told Head. “But that is part of all of this now.”

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

New Orleans City Council to withdraw surveillance camera ordinance

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2018 at 5:38 PM

Opponents of a proposed expansion of surveillance cameras hit camera-shaped pinatas outside City Hall in February. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Opponents of a proposed expansion of surveillance cameras hit camera-shaped pinatas outside City Hall in February.

After months of debate over a requirement for businesses that sell alcohol to install a surveillance camera that streams into a law enforcement monitoring center, the New Orleans City Council is expected to drop the proposal at its March 22 meeting. Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration has requested that the City Council withdraw the ordinance.

The 22-page ordinance came at the request of the Landrieu administration, which proposed a series of changes to how businesses apply for liquor licenses. A few sentences within that proposed ordinance were requirements for alcohol beverage outlets (ABOs) to install a street-facing camera to pipe into a recently opened Real Time Crime Monitoring Center, under the watch of the city's office of Homeland Security and shared with the New Orleans Police Department, FBI and other "law enforcement partners."

"The Landrieu Administration has moved aggressively to tackle violent crime in our neighborhoods," Landrieu's Press Secretary Craig Belden said in a statement to Gambit. "A key part of this effort has been providing the tools and resources law enforcement needs to be more effective. In the last year alone, we have invested in new crime cameras and license plate readers that are already helping the NOPD prevent and solve crimes. The proposed ordinance that expands the number of cameras outside of ABO’s will require more discussion and careful consideration by the next Council and Administration. Therefore, we have requested the Council withdraw this item."

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

City Planning Commission rejects Bywater hotel plans

Posted By on Tue, Mar 13, 2018 at 5:25 PM

Plans for a hotel on St. Claude Avenue were denied by the City Planning Commission March 13.
  • Plans for a hotel on St. Claude Avenue were denied by the City Planning Commission March 13.

Bywater residents in City Hall breathed a muted sigh of relief March 13 after the New Orleans City Planning Commission (CPC) denied a proposal for a hotel development in their neighborhood.

The CPC voted to deny approval for a zoning change and conditional use permit allowing construction of a hotel on a large lot on St. Claude Avenue in Bywater, a site that formerly housed the events space The Truck Farm and several residences. Developers also withdrew a plan to add a parking lot on the opposite side of St. Claude.

The CPC's recommendation for denial now heads to the New Orleans City Council which will determine whether the development gets the green light.

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

New Orleans City Council approves Entergy's gas-fired plant in New Orleans East

Posted By on Thu, Mar 8, 2018 at 6:20 PM

New Orleans East residents appeared in City Hall to oppose construction of an Entergy plant. - PHOTO BY ALEX WOODWARD
  • PHOTO BY ALEX WOODWARD
  • New Orleans East residents appeared in City Hall to oppose construction of an Entergy plant.

Dozens of New Orleans East residents filled New Orleans City Council’s newly opened chambers in City Hall to challenge Entergy’s plans to build a 128-megawatt, gas-fired power plant in Michoud.

After six hours of public comments and contentious exchanges, the New Orleans City Council approved those plans by a vote of 6-1.

Councilmembers hoped to address immediate concerns about the city’s inability to generate power after routine power outages have underscored a need for local power, particularly when demand is high. But opponents said construction of a new plant is not guaranteed to solve ongoing issues with outages, while residents foot the bill for its construction and fear pollution and other environmental impacts.

Guidry was the only “no” vote against the resolution at the Council’s Feb. 21 Utilities Committee meeting; she also was the councilmember to vote against it among the seven City Councilmembers at today’s meeting.

“I have watched Entergy drag their feet over and over again,” said Guidry, illustrating an energy monopoly that refuses to invest in anything but “traditional power” and has put the City Council into a corner when it doesn’t agree to the Council’s regulatory demands. “We have been given one option by Entergy: a fossil fuel plant.”

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Mayor Landrieu announces plans for Confederate monument sites

Posted By on Wed, Mar 7, 2018 at 5:45 PM

PHOTO BY ALEX WOODWARD
  • PHOTO BY ALEX WOODWARD

Nearly a year after removing four Confederate monuments in 2017, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration has announced the "public process" to determine what should replace the statue of Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle.

For now, the city will "perform beautification work" at the sites of the P.G.T. Beauregard and Lee statues. The pedestal that held Beauregard will be removed, and the column on which Lee's statue stood will remain at the site.

The city also will plant an American flag at the site of the Jefferson Davis statue in Mid-City. The space behind the Canal Place parking garage that housed the statue honoring the so-called Battle of Liberty Place will remain empty.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Cantrell plans 'reorganization' at City Hall, transition team working on details and agenda

Posted By on Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 6:10 PM

Cantrell's transition advisory board co-chairs Kathleen Kennedy and Matt Wisdom.
  • Cantrell's transition advisory board co-chairs Kathleen Kennedy and Matt Wisdom.

The transition team helping build out the agenda for New Orleans Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell is halfway through its meeting schedule, but details about what those recommendations look like and who will head up the new administration are still coming into shape. Recommendations from the team's 22 subcommittees are due May 3.

Cantrell plans to eliminate the deputy mayor system implemented by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, but a replacement system hasn't been set. Speaking at an update from Cantrell's transition team Forward Together New Orleans Feb. 28, advisory board co-chair Matt Wisdom said Cantrell has begun a "reorganization of the municipal government."

"There are a lot of ways to structure the ways senior staff will report to the mayor-elect," Wisdom said. "I don't think we're able to explain more until we actually are ready to release what that structure is."

Landrieu's deputy mayor system installed several high-ranking staffers to oversee public safety, the city's finance department, external affairs and other arms of the mayor's office.

Cantrell's administration will begin national searches for the CAO and CFO, but Cantrell will wait for a recommendation on a new police chief before she decides whether to begin a national search for that position, according to transition communications director Mason Harrison. Cantrell hasn't set a timeline for filling roughly 100 positions for her City Hall, but the team says it has received about 250 resumes to fill them.

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