Squandered Heritage Vintage

"Mayor Nagin hates Neighborhoods"

I just received this e mail from local attorney,
Keith Hardie, Jr.

The Mayor’s rush to demolish historic buildings in the wake of Gustave is only one aspect of the inadequacy of the City’s protection of neighborhoods. As we speak, the historic McMahon Funeral Home being converted into a Haunted House/Reception Center/Paranormal Research Center (with S&P threatening to unleash 50+ grandfathered parking spaces on the neighborhood) is trying to arrange for police details for an opening, even though it doesn’t have an occupancy license. Last week, a new bar opened on Maple St, again without an occupancy license. A building in the 700 block of St. Charles is about to collapse on its neighbor. One right across the street is undergoing demo by neglect. There’s scarely a block in this City that isn’t threatened by forces which are either assisted or unopposed by the Executive Branch. Neighborhood groups and preservation organizations are overwhelmed.

It’s clear that slum landlords, sleazy developers, and bar owners feel that they can ignore the law with impunity, or, with a little patience, sneak by with an ill-conceived permit. The Mayor is the chief enforcement officer, and he’s failing in the executive’s prime responsibility: protection of the public and enforcement of the law. It’s partly incompetence, but he clearly suffers from a nasty strain of the deregulatory fever that’s bringing us the Wall St. meltdown. This Mayor apparently believes that if you suspend regulation and don’t enforce the law, the City will rebuild faster.

The only way to reform the executive in the short run will be public demonstrations. Lawsuits either fail or take too long and are very labor intensive. (I’m currently representing neighborhoods in at least three lawsuits, so I speak from experience.) Only the Mayor can act fast enough to stop this stupidity. And the only way to get the Mayor’s attention is to bring political pressure via public demonstrations. The message? NAGIN HATES NEIGHBORHOODS! RAY LOVES LAWBREAKERS! Put him on the defensive. Make him explain. Create some eye candy for the 6 o’clock.

Sunday Funnies

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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.

  • Time and place. Let’s do it.

  • I’m ready to do it to it.

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  • “This Mayor apparently believes that if you suspend regulation and don’t enforce the law, the City will rebuild faster.”

    Or stagnate and therefore drive away enough people to do what he and his cronies wanted in the first place–to turn it into McNew Orleans Lite.

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  • Lee Mcmahon

    And whats wrong with the use of The Mortuary? I think it is a great idea , I live very close and keep up with the progress of the building. So far i am very impressed and i welcome it to MY neighborhood with open arms

  • Lee,

    The point is there is not an occupancy permit. That certain rules and regulations are overlooked.

  • 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.

  • The citiy’s occupancy permit process is so broken many many projects never get one. It is virtually impossible to get one except by luck or influence so many people never bother.

  • Lee Mcmahon

    Mc- When the “neighbors” have an unpermited block pary and parade that blocked traffic and the right away on sidewalk and streets, who was complaining? No one was ,because the people who are doing all the complaining was taking part in it. Right now people are building a house on S. Bernadotte and have 40 or so feet of sidewalk covered in dirt 4 feet high for over a month. Why is that still like that??? why arnt them pictures on a website somewhere? Why isnt shelly being called EVERYDAY . A gate can be opened but who is going to shovel up 40 feet of dirt to walk on a sidewalk.

  • Lee Mcmahon

    Karen Gadbois do you think the company is going to be able to open with out a occupancy permit??? I think you know better. There is so much hear-say going on around here it is funny. I have heard so manythings people are all worried about it being a nightclub, The same people who say it is going to be a nightclub are the same people saying it CAN’T be because of the school and the churches . So why even worrie. I know its not going to be a nightclub and you know its not going to be a nightclub so why bother? Give me proof that it has open,ran and made money without a occupancy permit and I will jump on your band wagon and go to the BZA with you

  • Lee,

    Perhaps you need to get your own blog? Or perhaps you need to use your real name and e mail address?

    Take a moment to see that I did not author that article.

    Just saying “Lee”

  • Lee Mcmahon

    I was not talking about the article, I was talking about your reply– Karen Gadbois // Sep 20, 2008 at 10:22 am


    The point is there is not an occupancy permit. That certain rules and regulations are overlooked.

  • Until you use a correct e mail address I will no longer post your replies.

  • ClarkT

    For Lee,

    You clearly have an agenda. If it’s true that you are posting with a bogus e-mail address, it does diminish your standing quite a bit in my eyes.

    Around Haloween last year I went by the Funeral Parlor and it had all the appearances of being a niteclub. Puke on the sidewalk, beer cans in the curb. Are you really a neighbor? If so I’d think you might have a problem with these things.

  • MC

    Again, you miss the bigger picture, Lee. I can’t join you in your judgement of the unity, social or cultural practices of a neighborhood which are integral to the survival of our unique city. We should celebrate the determination of property owners who returned and are still rebuilding after 3 long years. Piles of dirt and neighbors gathering in tradition are the sweet sights and sounds of progress.

    It’s impossible to compare a business’ disregard of it’s neighbors or the law, to the labor of love and tradition of neighbors who have struggled to come back home and make their neighborhood what it is today. Your criticism for what makes this city unique won’t make you friends and makes me wonder if you’ve moved to the wrong place. It really sounds petty, but IF there is some real or actual violation and by choice, you continue to work in the neighborhood, I can only suggest that you call code enforcement. See where that gets you Lee.

    Yes, Lee, I agree there is a lot of hearsay. That’s why I suggest you visit http://nonightclub.wordpress.com/ where you will find a copy of the change of use application filed by the business for Nightclub/Assembly. It’s best to just view public documents for yourself. It seems the question to ask would be why would a business propose a fictitious use? And why would the city knowingly allow it? That brings us back to the bigger picture. It’s time for the city to follow it’s own procedures. Time for the city to apply and enforce the law.

  • MGT

    The nonightclub website mentioned herein is a waste of time for anyone looking for the truth about The Mortuary. This project is good for the city and good for the neighborhood. During the Halloween season, many locals will be employed. Millions of dollars have been invested into the local economy thru the renovation by mainly local companies and contractors. The next phase of renovations will be to restore the exterior. The Blood Center needs the Mortuary being the largest donor site in the State.

    We will not open without the proper permits as needed by any business in the City. We have always and will continue to operate according to the law. Our “friends” at the anonymous nomcnightclub site are trying to convince the public that this project is intended to be a night club to create fear. THIS IS NOT A NIGHT CLUB. Their site is filled with lies and half truths designed to mislead. The change of use application filed by the business for Nightclub/Assembly was suggested by Safety & Permits to conserve as many grandfathered parking spaces as possible. It had nothing to do with opening a night club. We are a haunted attraction and museum.

    Last year’s Halloween event was spectacular with only a couple of very minor issues that were addressed. After the first weekend, the trash concern was handled. NO alcohol was sold. Patrons were very civil, organized and well behaved. Any complaint we received (and there were very few) was addressed immediately.

    This Halloween event will have police officers from both the Criminal Sheriffs Office as well as the NOPD. Police cruisers will be in the neighborhoods on both sides of Canal when we are open and after. Police will encourage patrons to park in the readily available on street parking on Canal St. SDT will provide nightly on foot trash details for a two block radius of The Mortuary including the side streets in the neighborhoods. We listened to the concerns of a few neighbors plan not to place barricades in a fashion to block any side walks. We will continue to observe or policy of not selling or encouraging alcohol at our event.

    We will continue to encourage those opposed to our project to contact us to learn the truth about what we have done in the past and what we will don in the future with this property.

    Some people fear what they don’t want to understand.

    Thanks Lee and many others for your support.

  • MC

    Thank you for your insightful post.

    Herein lies the problem.

    “The change of use application filed by the business for Nightclub/Assembly was suggested by Safety & Permits to conserve as many grandfathered parking spaces as possible. “


    Just like Tipitina’s right?

    Essentially Safety & Permits instructed a business to file a fictitious proposed use and one that is not even permitted in the C1 district with the sole purpose of minimizing parking requirements, avoiding additional restrictions in the CZO, hiding the expansion of the use and essentially creating an off-street parking waiver without going through the proper procedures before the City Council or Board of Zoning Adjustments?

  • Amy

    Which new bar just opened on Oak St? I live on Plum and I haven’t see any new bars open up at all and I walk on Oak every day to take my daughter to school.

  • Amy the bar mentioned in the original post is Maple not Oak