Squandered Heritage Vintage

The City of New Orleans

Give a man secure possession of a bleak rock, and he will turn it into a garden; give him nine years’ lease of a garden, and he will convert it into a desert. ~Arthur Young, Travels in France, 1792

This quote should be broken up a bit here.

This house was a “bleak rock” after a gunman took the life of the son of the owner..she turned that bleak rock into a garden

davids house

It seems the City has claimed that “9 year lease of a garden” and is determined to turn it into a desert.

City Hall

Down the street from me we have houses who have not been touched since the storm, people who have never cut the grass..people who care not one whit for the City and those of us who live here and Robert Mendoza chooses this woman”s house as an offense..

So perhaps we should all just buy cans of paint and start to embroider the City with sidewalk art..it’s a thought.

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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.

  • Carmen

    The street itself is in such fine shape in this photo. I recall reading about this Mendoza guy:


  • ramona

    He must have driven past there at night with his friend after they’d been drinking……..

    Has he SEEN most of the other houses on that street? She is a beacon of hope!

  • ReX

    What a damned shame! I bet it is some neighborhood busy body who believes that the only way to live is to have a perfectly manicured lawn (barf) and a white picket fence (heave). I’ll show that crazy lady, we’ll make her clean it up to conform to our obtuse and ridiculous standards. Thanks…just what we need, more t.v. watching, standardized peopling of our city. If we wanted the suburbs, we’d live there.

  • rw

    Shouldn’t their be an expectation of fair and equal enforcement of code instead of selective harassment of returning citizens because of differences? Do we only celebrate the art of our city and our differences when it serves the City for profit? We are lucky these women are here. Those creative differences are what makes New Orleans unique. What we experience in our daily lives, our neighborhoods and our streets are what make New Orleans culture authentic. Just like the magic of a second line in the street can never be captured at a paid event like Jazz Fest. Art and music can not be pimped out for profit and survive without living in our neighborhoods. We are fortunate that these women returned to this city as quickly as they did despite the personal struggles they faced. After 3 years of selectively unenforced code, and countless blighted properties, overgrown and damaged public right of ways, it seems curious that Mr. Mendozza would focus his attention here. Any one of us could post a photo(s) of home(s) in our neighborhoods that deserve the attention of Mr. Mendozza or Code Enforcement. In fact, many have been repeatedly reported to the City with no results.

    There is a property 4 doors down from me. The “extraneous foliage” creates a nuisance and obstructs sight. They are no longer weeds—they are trees. We’d be so lucky to have roses and flowers blooming. It also creates a nasty health threat. The property is infested with rodents, raccoons, and fleas. Numerous letters have been written. Complaints have been made. Even the dope heads that were squatting there early on must’ve deemed it uninhabitable—they haven’t been back in a long time. A dear neighbor next door moved away in part because of the problem. The sidewalk is blocked and overgrown. There are hazards and pitfalls like holes in the ground obscured by wilderness. We have been collectively complaining for 2 years. Nothing!

    There is a Mid-City business who took it upon themselves to place barricades and port-o-lets and numerous signs along and in the middle of sidewalks for 2 long months at Canal and Bernadotte. They were not removed during hours when the business was closed. Instead residents, customers of nearby businesses and cemetery visitors were forced to walk in the street. At times, vehicle traffic was blocked. As far as I know—no special permission granted to prevent the free and proper use of public rights of way 24 hours a day for two months. As far as we know this isn’t covered by a special event permit granted on adjacent private property and must be handled through the DPW. Why weren’t they penalized for breaking these codes?

    Since when is the City in the business of regulating aesthetic choices made by property owners? I’m sure we can all think of an example of a rebuilt home that might have benefited by some restrictions on design choices. Since when does the color of paint or concrete determine whether a sidewalk is in good order or condition? Should they paint it a solid color? And maybe trim the beautiful rose bushes? It isn’t too clear what Mr. Mendoza is asking them to do.

    It seems a better use of Mr. Mendoza’s salary and our tax dollars to spend some time repairing dangerous and hazardous conditions on roads and sidewalks throughout our city that remain unrepaired.

  • e

    Yeah this is the biggest bullshit I’ve ever heard.
    Gee, I wonder if certain city councilpeople with poorly maintained properties are about to be fined…

  • Susan White

    I wish we had homes here in Iowa City that looked half this interesting…..Great use of space..perrenials…if we only were all growing perrenials in Iowa City we would not have lost our entire arts campus at the U of I to the river….they have deep roots and help for drainage….all homes should be so wise in New Orleans-who is this Mendoza guy?
    FABULOUS blog Karen!

  • ramona

    Mendoza is the guy responsible for the letter sent to the gals that own the house…public works….streets etc. Personally only had one, minimally, postive experience with his office…very difficult.

  • Pingback: Letter from Robert Mendozza « David’s House()

  • MC

    People like Lee continue to miss the bigger picture of how all these issues tie together. They get hung up on a few small details—the symptoms but not the disease. As long as the City gives the message that Laws and the City Zoning Ordinance are not enforced when it comes to landlords and developers all neighborhoods, our history and our heritage are at stake. There needs to be a shake down, starting with Nagin and making it’s way down to Safety & Permits and Code Enforcement. Selective enforcement and application which favors business and developers has to stop. Consequences for those who violate laws and codes need to be carried out—like opening without a certificate of occupancy, or unpermitted construction or use that goes unenforced. Businesses, investors and developers get a free ticket to move forward with impunity regardless of the impact on the surrounding area and despite laws and requirements in place to protect our City and our neighborhoods. While ordinary residents who struggled to return and rebuild are harassed for extraneous foliage or the color of a sidewalk, a business gets a free ticket to block City streets and sidewalks, vehicles and pedestrian traffic.


    Selectively suspending and applying laws and procedures to slip permits through or abuse discretion is not limited to Emergency Declarations, like Gustav. This was just another tool to make the regular practice of the City of violating it’s own laws — temporarily ‘legal’ and ‘official’.
    The only way to stop the madness is for each of you to start making noise before it’s too late.

  • David’s House
  • solidarity from the Iron Rail Bookstore & library. you’re house is awesome. love the quote.

    building and code regulations are some of the most soul-killing nooses strangling our creative urges! not to mention some of the most racist and classist documents i’ve ever read!

    let us know if we can help defend your place from the forces of pedantic authoritarian control, okay?

  • Pingback: Day 1227: Karen Gadbois Named Gambit Weekly’s New Orleanian Of The Year : Maitri’s VatulBlog()