Land Use
 

Uptown residents say city is dragging feet on Newcomb Boulevard fence removal

Residents who won a lawsuit to remove a fence blocking one end of Newcomb Boulevard in Uptown New Orleans have filed briefs in court arguing that the city is finding reasons to delay its removal.

“The city of New Orleans, rather than representing the right of the people of New Orleans to use a public street, is defending the illegal and unconstitutional privatization of Newcomb Boulevard for the exclusive benefit of a handful of the City’s most privileged residents,” wrote lawyers for two Uptown residents and neighborhood associations.

Courts have ruled that the fence, erected by the Newcomb Boulevard Association in 2006, illegally blocked a public street.

The final ruling came in late December, when an appeals court ordered the city to “remove all remaining obstructions” to the street. That hasn’t happened.

One of Tuesday’s filings asks an Orleans Parish Civil District judge to notify the appeals court that the city is violating that order. The other is a response to the city’s suggestion that it remove only part of the fence.

In the month since an appeals court ruled that the city must remove a fence across Newcomb Boulevard, the city has offered several reasons for not doing so.

Charles Maldonado / The Lens

In the month since an appeals court ruled that the city must remove a fence across Newcomb Boulevard, the city has offered several reasons for not doing so.

The filings describe the city’s shifting course of action since the appeals court ruled in December.

In early January, Adam Swensek, an assistant city attorney, wrote that the fence would be removed “without delay.” He said it could take a few days for the necessary work orders.

Two weeks later, Swensek wrote in an email that the city wanted a judge to say exactly how much of the fence had to be removed. In a telephone call, a judge agreed that only the part of the fence — the part obstructing the sidewalk and street — had to be removed.

Now, according to the filings, the city says the street must be converted to one-way traffic in order to deal with safety concerns.

One filing mocks supposed safety concerns of two-way traffic on Newcomb:

There is nothing in the voluminous record of this case to suggest that anyone had ever complained that the meeting of two cars in the middle of Newcomb Boulevard (an extremely common situation on many, if not most, two-way streets in Uptown New Orleans) posed a safety issue.”

In response to The Lens’ question about why the fence remains, city spokesman Tyler Gamble responded with the following statement, attributed to City Attorney Sharonda Williams: “The City is working with the Court and the parties to move forward with the removal of the fence and to ensure the intersection and adjacent streets remain safe for drivers.”

The city didn’t respond to The Lens’ request about Tuesday’s filings.

The fence has been the subject of a seven-year court fight. Even after the initial ruling, its removal has been on hold pending negotiations to allow the neighborhood association to buy the street.

Throughout the process, the city has been conscious of saving its own money, as well as that of Newcomb residents, many of whose properties are valued in the high six figures, according to the Orleans Parish Assessor’s Office.

In asking the plaintiffs to agree to delay the fence removal, Swensek wrote in July 2013 that the neighborhood association probably would want to keep the fence if it were to buy the street.

Such a delay would “avoid needless expense by the city and … spare the Newcomb residents the cost of reconstructing the existing fence,” Swensek wrote.

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  • With all the crime in that area, who can blame them for wanting a fence or buying the street? Many, neighborhoods in Orleans pay extra for their own security. Orleans Parish has a culture of promoting irresponsibility and the City is fortunate to have these residents who pay LOTS of property taxes that make the City work and pay for schools.

    Plus you have lots of college students in that area who’s only goal in life is to drink and with all the bars in that area, 24/7 alcohol and public intoxication, why would anyone on that street want that? How many fraternity houses have caught on fire in the past several years?

    If you want to really change NOLA for the better, one should target the FREE LUNCH culture from Free Parades, Free Festivals and Free Music (via anything goes noise ordinance), Free City Services (via Homestead Exemption).

  • ebwhite23

    “The City is working with the Court and the parties to move forward with
    the removal of the fence and to ensure the intersection and adjacent
    streets remain safe for drivers.” The City found nothing unsafe about the street when it closed, and that won’t change when it is reopened. The occupation of the public street by private individuals is unconstitutional and the City has a duty to take the fence down. The safety issue was invented by the City.

  • Owen Courrèges

    ebwhite,

    The safety issue is also irrelevant. The Court has ruled, and the City had the opportunity to present the issue before. They’re just willfully disobeying the order at this point.

  • Definition of squander: “To spend wastefully or extravagantly; dissipate.”
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/squander

    Let’s take about Squandered Heritage…
    See all those historic houses. Many have Ghetto Property Values. This means these Historic Houses are less than $75,000 and qualify for the Louisiana Homestead Exemption.

    Likewise, they pay ZERO ($0.00) property taxes.

    Keep up the Huey P Long “Free Lunch” Homestead Exemption and the City will get more of the “Squandered Heritage”.

  • robinHchrist

    Rich peoples kids go to private schools, for which you get tax money back at the end of the year. And all those “free” events encourage spending at local businesses which the rich either run, rent buildings to, make bank loans to, or profit from in some other way. Poor poor Richy rich, stop trying to pretend the rich don’t stay that way by having their hand in every cookie jar.

  • Poor poor Richy rich, stop trying to pretend the rich don’t stay that way by having their hand in every cookie jar.

    Cookie Jar? Are you saying the rich that own businesses, rent buildings, or work, are taking from a COOKIE JAR??? If you are talking about the state’s cookie jar, i.e. taxes, it’s the rich who put stuff into the cookie jar and it’s the poor who have their hand in every single public and private cookie jar out there. The poor know how to work the system to know all the cookie jars out there and get as much out of the cookie jars.

    Hence, most poor, working or not, don’t pay income taxes or property taxes.

  • boathead12

    Don’t feed the troll. If our dedicated dissenter scrubbed his own arguments with the zeal with which he assaults others ideas we’d see much less noise and much more substance.

  • nolagal70118

    Two and a half months later, the fence is still in place. Seems like a motion for contempt of court might be warranted.