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3500 St. Claude Avenue (near the intersection of St. Claude Ave & Gallier Street) New Orleans, LA  70117

Issues

During our meetings and correspondence with council members on our key issues, they have asked us not only to tell them what we don't like about the CZO, but to suggest changes that reflect what we do want to see in this document.

We've done so. Here are our in-depth requests for critical changes to the Draft CZO before it is ratified:

 

1. Reinsert section 8.1 in its entirety

Section 8.1 contains longstanding French Quarter protections that are specified and enshrined in the State's Constitution. The Draft CZO would eliminate these protections, leaving our most treasured historic neighborhood vulnerable.

Enshrined in the Louisiana Constitution in 1936, the Vieux Carré Commission has had the power to protect the tout ensemble of New Orleans' oldest neighborhood.  For the past six-plus decades, the city's zoning ordinance has obligated the Vieux Carré Commission to ensure that new developments respect the unique interest and character and the French Quarter.  The Supreme Court, in a 1941 decision, stated that "the preservation of the Vieux Carré as it was originally is a benefit to the inhabitants of New Orleans generally."  Inexplicably, and despite clear public input to the contrary, the draft CZO deletes this vital protection for the Vieux Carré.

 

2. Riverfront Overlay

No blocks of towers along the riverfront in historic neighborhoods.

The Mississippi River and its "riverscape" is one of the most treasured and unique aspects of our great city. It is an asset not only enjoyed by residents, but it is a singular aspect of our international identity as a destination for travelers.

Our vision is to retain the unique character of our riverscape by requiring developments along the riverfront to be in keeping with the scale of the existing warehouses and surrounding homes that reflect the working class aspects of the river's history.

We do not want to see a corridor of modern towers that block the sky and the breeze from neighboring homes, or developments that dwarf and overshadow our historic neighborhoods. We do not want a riverscape that looks like Anywhere, USA when seen from the upriver, downriver and opposite banks of the Mississippi.

For more details about how developments can remain in keeping with this vision, click HERE for an excellent report by Neighbors First for Bywater.

 

3. Restaurant regulations

Each neighborhood is different and cannot be regulated under a "one size fits all" approach; the city should not change the hours or nature of neighborhood restaurants without public citizen input via a Conditional Use Process in every case.

We propose that any standard or specialty restaurant in a historic neighborhood that seeks to offer liquor, live musical performances of any kind (amplified or unamplified), other kinds of live entertainment or extended operating hours be required to go through the Conditional Use Process which includes public notice and gives residents a chance to participate in the City's consideration of the business' application.

This Conditional Use Process has worked for years to provide a critical check-and-balance system to help prevent quality of life conflicts between residents and businesses. We believe that removing this important step does a disservice to both the residents who live and work in our historic neighborhoods and the businesses who want to locate in those neighborhoods. It would be wrong to eliminate this essential step.

 

4. Eliminate "Article 5"

We propose eliminating this section -- called the "Trojan Horse in the Draft CZO" – until the longstanding concerns of the Bureau of Governmental Research are addressed. The BGR has identified this section as containing language that undermines many aspects throughout the entire CZO. It is deeply flawed, and we would like to see it be fixed and re-inserted at a later date.

  • Article 5 has the potential of undermining the entire CZO.
  • Article 5 would allow developments as small as 10,000 square feet to be exempted from restrictions on such elements as use, density, parking, floor area ratio, signage, and more.
  • Article 5 also removes neighborhood participation processes and zoning requirements and gives the City Planning Commission unbridled decision-making powers.