We were interviewed for a piece that will air on NPR’s Weekend “Edition”: The discussion centered on the newly released “City Demolition List”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/neworleans/sets/72157600031435459/.

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”:http://blog.nola.com/updates/2007/03/city_announces_first_17_target.html 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”:http://www.wdsu.com/video/11321414/index.html 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?

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...