Squandered Heritage Vintage

Does New Orleans need A Master Plan?

This house is on Orleans Avenue in an area which received much less water than most.

elevated mess

So why has this house been allowed to be built at a height which is out of scale with the rest of the Neighborhood? Cause there is no review process.

Orleans Ave

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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.

  • Since this is my hood I think I have to suggest this is an example of why I am ambiguous still on voting to put the master plan in the charter.

    This photograph exaggerates the elevation, and omits two critical considerations: That is a street on the left. This house is perfectly consistent with the elevations in it’s block, and with the majority of buildings on the other four blocks that make up the intersection of Carrollton and Orleans Avenues.

    The street front of Orleans Avenue (and a lot of this particular area of Mid-City) are full of mixed raised (basement) and pier set houses. This variation in elevation is part of the essential character of the neighborhood.

    Voting to give the force of law to a plan I have not seen does not leave me comfortable, and this particular post actually aggravated this condition. Who will decide if an elevation like this is appropriate. Will all of the houses in Mid-City be required to be single-story pier houses? It will start to look like one of those faux “old towne” developments.

    Voting for a plan that eliminates the ability to have a reasonable discussion with you, the Planning Commission and failing that the City Council is exactly why I am leaning against voting to enshrine a plan I have not seen into law.

  • As a result of a clever opposition financed by developers who want to keep the same ad hoc “every other Thursday” planning process that we now have, seemingly valid objections are being raised that are not really relevant.

    What we are voting for is a master planning process that will ultimately have the force of law. None of the advocates of the amendment (and that includes very many neighborhood organizations that are constantly exhausted by the current process) are in favor of forcing any neighborhood to follow flood level or any other criteria which its residents do not subscribe to.

    This is a citizen-driven plan. Before it is finished, it will have significant neighborhood and citizen input through many community meetings. Many of us have been involved in the Bring New Orleans Back Committee plan (where we vehemently objected to the infamous green dots), the neighborhood UNOP plans, the city-wide UNOP plan, and the Lambert plans. Most of us feel that we wasted all or some of the time that we spent in these exercises. Good or bad, none of them have any lasting effect.

    As we go through another planning process, we want this one to count. We want everyone’s input and, because there will have to be some compromises, we want them to be done out in the open and fully vetted so that no one is surprised. Currently, all of our planning is “by surprise” and, as stated earlier, can occur every other Thursday.

    I have been going to City Planning and City Council meetings since 1962. It has generally been a very large waste of time, especially since the majority of the decisions have been the wrong ones. The meetings are during the day at City Hall when most citizens cannot attend. Items are deleted from the agendas at will and any given issue may require six to eight hearings. At any time there may be half a dozen issues following each other that will have to be dealt with, so the residents of one neighborhood may have to be attending hearings all year long.

    The Master Plan amendment would change that significantly. We would get to plan ahead of time rather than on a bi-weekly basis. You could have your argument in your neighborhood ahead of time and put it in the master plan. If you find out that you don’t like what you’ve chosen and want to change it, the City Planning Commission will hold hearings in your neighborhood concerning the revision. This can be done as often as every six months.

    No democratic planning process can ever be pain free; that is the nature of democracy. However, the vast majority of the people and neighborhood organizations who have been involved in the process for decades think that this is a better solution.

    Nationwide, many other progressive cities have found this type of planning process to be much more successful. Such cities include Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Atlanta and Birmingham.

    While we may have to fine tune this process as we go along, it is significantly better than what we have now.

  • Billygoat Park

    Citizen involvement and government cooperation is a wonderful concept but what is a community to do if it disagrees with plans that were hatched and promoted by those through whom citizen-city dialog is to filtered or relayed?

    Biomedical progress is welcome and long-overdue but did social injustice have to be added to the already astronomical human cost?
    Involuntary expropriation is HERE. We, the taxpayers, are paying for it.

    Preserving and recording history means more than salvaging a few pretty pieces of cornice, putting a dumbed-down feel-good blurb on a memorial kiosk and crying in a cup of Oktoberfest beer. It also means recording for posterity how elected officials abandoned and literally sold out their own constituants.

    Mid-City beware. How much “biomedical corridor” planning has already been predetermined and backed up city ordinances or backroom cooperative agreements? How much involves bloated non-medical construction and very expensive greenery?

    Will your own Master Planning dialog be as futile and meaningless as the VA/LSU site-selection farce?

    You do not see the steamroller already gassed up and rolling in your own back yard.

    Is the planned housing project near Jeff Davis the intended destination for displaced Lower Mid-City residents?