NEW ORLEANS, LA—In keeping with Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s commitment to reduce the blight count in New Orleans by 10,000 properties by 2014, this week, the administration introduced new ordinances to the City Council that strengthen current code enforcement law for residential and commercial blight, including establishing a set of minimum property maintenance standards for all properties in New Orleans.
The first ordinance extends Chapter 28 of the City Code. The City adopted Chapter 28 in 2008 to address unoccupied blighted properties related to damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Because Chapter 28 automatically expires at the end of March 2013, the City recommends extending Chapter 28 through August 31, 2013, and moving forward with the proposed, stronger revisions to Chapters 6 & 26 of the City Code, which will have an effective date of September 1, 2013.
“Now is the time to upgrade code enforcement regulations to reflect the post-Katrina world we live in," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “Our aggressive fight on unoccupied blighted structures throughout the city has proven effective, and now we’re ready to expand our target. These revisions will allow us to increase efficiency and create stronger, more flexible enforcement options for all properties, including substandard living conditions.”
Councilmembers Stacy Head, Kristin Gisleson Palmer, and LaToya Cantrell are co-authoring the ordinances on behalf of the Landrieu Administration.
City Council President Stacy Head said, “I look forward to working with the Administration on the changes that they have drafted with regard to standards of occupied properties. Clear, equitable and enforceable laws will continue the efforts of blight reduction.”
District C Councilmember Palmer said, "These ordinances are key legal tools for our city in our continued fight against blight. They are the culmination of a great deal of work and coordination between the Mayor's office, City Attorney, NORA and the Council and represent our collective commitment to ensuring that every property in New Orleans meets minimum standards. Every resident of the city deserves to live in a healthy, safe environment and these ordinances are an important step in making that a reality."
Chapter 26 provides the minimum property maintenance standards and Chapter 6 provides the hearing procedure whereby compiance is determined. The proposed revisions to Chapters 26 & 6 offer a complete rewrite and restructuring of current code enforcement law. The strengthened revisions include:
Augmenting the ability to bring code violations that impact the health, safety and welfare of the community to adjudication;
Requiring all properties (commercial and residential, occupied and unoccupied) to comply with Minimum Property Maintenance Standards;
Streamlining the demolition process/procedure of substandard properties by allowing a hearing officer to order the demolition of structures at the initial hearing;
Creating the ability for an inspector to enter a structure in order to inspect the interior of a property;
Creating standards for boarding properties; and
Giving the City the ability to abate any threat to public health/safety in emergency situations.
Additionally, under the proposed revisions, all properties will have to comply with general requirements, such as sanitary and maintained yards and structurally sound, secure buildings. If a property is occupied, additional standards will be required, such as, ensuring that properties supply adequate ventilation, plumbing, and electricity. These requirements will safeguard basic quality of life needs for all residents.
Nearly two years ago, Mayor Landrieu announced a new, aggressive blight strategy aimed at reducing the blight count in New Orleans by 10,000 properties by 2014. A recent study released by The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center showed that blighted properties have been reduced by approximately 8,000 addresses since 2010. The study attributed the reduction in part to the focused efforts of City agencies to bring properties into compliance by prioritizing aggressive code enforcement and code lien foreclosure sales.