Squandered Heritage Vintage

National Public Radio

We were interviewed for a piece that will air on NPR’s Weekend Edition. The discussion centered on the newly released City Demolition List.

While reviewing the list Laureen came across a homeowner living in a FEMA trailer,next to his home.

500-02 S. Scott St.

Each time we get these lists we begin to analyze them for the inevitable inconsistencies in damage evaluations which are inherent in all new policy developments orginating from the City level. This new list arrived around March 13th, 2007 with an aggressive announcement that March 31st is the deadline for residents to apply for the free city demolition. After this date, it is presumed that the City will begin to place liens on properties that they demolish under the ordinance outlining city’s the Health and Safety regulations. Many of the 280+ homes on the current list are a threat to health and safety but there are some which are marginal and cases where the homeowner is awaiting word from the Road Home regarding their funds to repair their property. The city, however, has their own idea, it would seem.

This idea is to co-own your property. Consistent with Dr. Blakely’s announcement on Thursday, March 29th, 2007 when speaking of his many pots of money for redevelopment he mentions: the no. 3 ‘chunk’ would come from “blight bonds”. These bonds would use blighted property adjudicated from homeowners to fund Blakely’s projects.

This appearance of a city sponsored land-grab is also supported by Nagin’s speech at the National Newspaper Publishers Association Conference in which he tells his people that there will be property available for development at half the market value. “Buy some dirt in New Orleans.”

NORA (New Orleans Redevelopment Authority) is the entity which will manage the turn-over of properties the city acquires from the Road Home and the Good Neighbor Program/adjudication of property. There was discussion of the “quick take” of properties that are subject to adjudication. Imminent Domain issues will undoubtedly be coming to the fore. This organization has a history of bad record keeping and there are over 300 properties on the REALM list which have unclear title records and sit, decaying. The city, therefore, is a contributor to considerable blight in the city. Will the new board, which includes Mayoral Candidate, Rob Couhig, be able to overcome the historical problems they are left with from Lisa Mazique’s reign? Residents who attended the meeting sternly reminded NORA that we are watching and that transparency will be demanded.

How will these upper level policy decisions affect Mr. Gurley’s ability to stay in New Orleans?

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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. With television reporter Lee Zurik she exposed widespread misuse of city recovery funds and led to guilty pleas in federal court. Her work attracted some of journalism's highest honors, 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.

  • Is Weekend Edition morning or evening? We can listen while we’re getting ready for GD III. Keep up the good work. See you Saturday.

  • Weekend Edition is in the mornings. It’s kind of like Morning Edition, but on the weekends. It also has a slightly more frivolous tone, which must be why they’re interviewing Karen and Laureen.

    Hah! Just kidding. Way to go y’all.

  • alterego

    The blight bonds aren’t going to work. The City, even if they are able to change the LA Constitution to allow “quick take,” no insurance agency will grant title insurance to NORA until the Eminent Domain constitutional amendment is challenged. And without title insurance, no bank will issue bonds.

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  • alterego
  • Interesting article Alterego, seems that the “ideas” need to be more clearly vetted in public fourums so we can be sure that the progress we are making is progress we can support and endorse.

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  • beenaroundno

    I recall the early days of the Community Improvement Agency or “NORA” as it is now known. The agency was once very powerful and productive until politics gutted it of resources during the late 70’s and early 80’s. The greatest disservice done to the agency was a push by connected preservationsists to alter its legislation and allow for property seizures without the proper improvement planning the agency was created to implement. I watched the agency very closely over the years go from being dormant to fairly productive. Unfotrunatley city-wide population loss and blight out numbered the resources and citywide demand. No amount of blight put back into commerce then or now will be aid our city without careful, prudent and inclusive planning. ..

  • randall fox

    Yeah and their improvement went great, there are now vast lots in central city and tulane gravier. Awesome

  • Mistakes of the past. How do you see avoiding what NORA has done in the past?

  • beenaroundno

    Oh ye of little faith…lighten up. No one mayor, councilmember, special interest group, or director created these circumstances. Let’s focus on policy, programs and positive energy for future investments.

  • Thanks Been Around,

    We are full of positive energy!

  • beenaroundno

    Good to hear. The City of NO, needs to become the City of YES!