In a recent Mid City neighborhood survey, the City of New Orleans was found to have a low accuracy rate for FEMA-funded hazard demolitions. Overall,the results of the MCNO survey contrasts greatly with Mayor Nagins “claim of 99.9%”:http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/index.ssf?/base/news-0/119320435487180.xml&coll=1 accuracy. and his pledge that ” no home is demolished improperly”

MCNO undertook a review in August 2007 of properties placed on the demolition list and found a majority of the City’s proposed choices culled from the “Good Neighbor” list ranged from haphazard to absurd. Of the 160 properties surveyed, it found that 79 houses (49 percent) were undeserving of demolition,with situations ranging from renovations in progress to owners who had posted “do not demo” signs on their house,and less damaged homes that had been gutted and secured by owners. Only 18 houses(11%) were identifiably blighted and deserving of demolition asap. An additional 4 addresses (2.5%) were on the City’s public notification list were vacant lots where the properties have already been demolished. The remaining 59 houses (36.9%) fell into an unsure category of houses with moderate damage that needed closer examination.

Federal money for bulldozing is reported to run out in early 2008. When the money is spent, will the City of New Orleans have made wise choices with our taxpayer money? Or, will frustrated neighbors be forced to live with remaining eyesore buildings with no explanation of why the worst were not targeted first? Will already struggling blocks suffer new trauma of being unnecessarily scarred with vacant lots? Will displaced citizens return to the anguish of their homes being demolished by “mistake”? And be unable to fight it because thier damage assessment was tinkered with by City staff?

Or will our best hopes prevail and Nagins pledges to be fair and accurate prove true?

The City of New Orleans bulldozers will be rolling again in December of 2007. Take a drive or walk around your Neighborhood and see what is proposed for demolition in your Neighborhood,especially those of you who just bought property at the recent Tax Sale. If you own an un-repaired house, now is the time to post that DO NOT DEMOLISH sign with contact information.

So “check here”:http://www.cityofno.com/portal.aspx?portal=2&tabid=10 and “here”:http://www.cityofno.com/portal.aspx?portal=1&tabid=118

And don’t make the mistake of assuming the City will get it right this time.

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...