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Notice the Catch 22 of gutting.

Imminent Health Threat Ordinance
Fact Sheet

BACKGROUND

On February 1, the New Orleans City Council passed Ordinance number 22499 M.C.S. The Ordinance, authored by Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, amended and reordained Chapter 26 of the Code of the City of New Orleans, to add a new Section designated as Section 26-264, Condemnation of Public Safety and Welfare.

The Ordinance allows the City to demolish or remediate property deemed an imminent health threat 30 business days after the posting of the notice.

DEFINITION OF IMMINENT HEALTH THREAT

According to City Council Ordinance No. 22499, following an inspection of the structure the determination is made on whether or not the property is a “serious and imminent threat to public health, safety and welfare…by reason of being unremediated, ungutted, open to the public, unsafe, unsanitary or conducive to ill health.”

ELIGIBILTY

“Any building structure damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and/or Rita or rendered uninhabitable by any Act of God which, upon inspection by the Director of Code Enforcement, or his duly appointed representative, is deemed by him” to meet the definition of Imminent Health Threat.

PROCESS

Following an inspection of the structure during which a determination of a serious and imminent threat to public health, safety and welfare is made, a notice will be provided to the registered owner of the property advising that the structure may be demolished or remediated by the City of New Orleans 30 business days from the date of the posted notice.

The property owner will be notified by:

* Regular mail to the last known address of the registered owner of the property as reflected in the Office of the Registrar of Conveyances for the Parish of Orleans and in the tax rolls of the City of New Orleans
* Posting a notice on the property advising that the property has been found to be in violation of this section of the City Code;
* Posting of the finding on the City’s website; and
* Posting in the Times Picayune for three (3) consecutive days

CRITERIA FOR DEMOLITION

* The structure is substantially damaged and structurally unsound. Unremediated damages 20 months after the hurricane will compromise the structural integrity of a building.
* Poorly constructed buildings and homes that were built to the minimum building codes and were unable to withstand the effects of the hurricane as well as quality constructed homes.
* Houses built on slabs that are below the base flood elevation and are substantially damaged. It is infeasible to elevate a slab foundation and bring the entire structure up to current code requirements.
* If a building will be structurally compromised by removing the interior wall coverings by gutting, then the building will be considered for demolition.

HOW DO I REVERSE THE DEMOLITION CONDEMNATION?

Homeowners do have the ability to rectify the condemnation, and in order for this to happen they must gut and secure their properties and submit in person proof (photos) that they have gutted and secured the structure. At that time the property will be scheduled for a follow-up inspection to validate remediation claim.

WHO DO I CONTACT?

If property owners have any questions about the designation of their condemnation notice or the necessary steps they must take to reverse the demolition condemnation, they may contact the city’s Bureau of Code Enforcement at 504-658-4300 or 504-658-4200.

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About Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use for Squandered Heritage. For her work with television reporter Lee Zurik exposing widespread misuse of city recovery funds — which led to guilty pleas in federal court — Gadbois won some of the highest honors in journalism, including a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a gold medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors. She can be reached at (504) 606-6013.

  • G.Jenkins

    One of my rentals,Located on redfish street in New Orleans East had a yellow sticker on it.Even though it had been cleaned up and a new roof was put on it.When I spoke to the city I was told I needed to remove the sheetrock 4 feet up from the floor,which we did 3 days later.The grass has been cut twice a month since the storm.The house is locked up and all the requirements of the city has been done.We have e-mailed pictures and statements as to what has been done.We have also sent pictures and statements via certified mail.We have talked to code enforcement many times on the phone the last time asking for written acknowledgment that it will not be torn down.I am not going to put more money into this place when the city may tear it down.The city told me that it was the corp of engineers that did this………Thats just to funny.If they tear it down it will stay a vacate lot for as long as I live,But what the hell it won’t cost much in tax’s.I just hope that they give me a little time to get my tenets out before tearing down any of my other properties.