NEW ORLEANS, LA—Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu commended the New Orleans City Council for adopting ordinances proposed by the Administration to significantly strengthen the City’s enforcement capabilities on residential and commercial blight. The reforms build on Mayor Landrieu’s on-going and aggressive commitment to reducing blight throughout the city.
“These revisions are long overdue and will allow us to increase efficiency and create stronger, more flexible enforcement options for all properties, including substandard living conditions in occupied properties,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “My priority is to provide a strong quality of life for all New Orleanians as we continue to make progress toward reducing the number of blighted properties in the city.”
The reforms represent a complete restructuring of existing code enforcement law by the Landrieu Administration to Chapters 6 and 26 of the City Code. Chapter 6 governs the hearing process for violations of ordinances and Chapter 26 provides minimum property maintenance standards for all properties. The revisions will:
Ensure compliance with State law;
Continue and improve the City’s aggressive blight strategy;
Increase efficiency throughout the Code Enforcement hearing process; and
Create stronger and more flexible enforcement options for all properties
Deputy Mayor and CAO Andy Kopplin said, “With these revisions in place, we will now be able to more effectively target commercial blight where larger fines are necessary to get commercial property owners to comply with the law and remediate blight.”
Councilmember-at-Large Stacy Head said, "While there is more work to be done, this series of ordinances is a comprehensive and welcome first step toward amending the code to provide more reasonable and effective tools to combat blight. As a next step, the Council will convene a meeting on September 18 to examine the City's comprehensive blight strategy and gather public input on effective blight eradication."
District A Councilmember Susan Guidry said, “We welcomed the passionate public participation on the issue and believe these ordinances represent a fair and responsible balance of all the interests involved and will help us ramp up our fight against blight in our neighborhoods. My amendment was designed to encourage our citizens to use storm water management systems to better manage storm water to combat soil subsidence throughout our city.”
District C Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer said, “Today marks a great step forward for the city in how we continue to combat blight and ensure that every citizen has housing that is safe and structurally sound. These ordinances are an example of true collaboration between the Council, the Mayor and the public. I commend the many constituents we worked with through a very deliberate, transparent and open process to improve these ordinances. We should all be proud of the result.”
The strengthened revisions include:
Expanding the ability to bring code violations that impact the health, safety and welfare of the community to a hearing;
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 a Code Enforcement inspector to enter vacant and open structures in order to inspect the interior of a property; and
Giving the City the ability to abate any threat to public health/safety in emergency situations.
Additionally, under the revisions, all properties will have to comply with general requirements, such as sanitary and maintained yards and structurally sound, secure buildings. Previously, this was only enforced on unoccupied properties. If a property is occupied, additional standards will be required, such as, ensuring that properties supply sufficient ventilation, plumbing, and electricity. These new requirements will protect 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.