*UPDATE* The City said the owner may be fined for the debris. Also the house will be on the agenda for Nov 17th NCDC”demolition” hearing.

This house has seen a slow decline.

The above photo was taken about a year and a half ago ago. We had heard that the house had been through the “administrative adjudication process”:http://wiki.lawguru.com/index.php/Adjudication. As we understood it the owner had been declared guilty. The next step would have been a signed order and then the process of “expropriation”:http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expropriation. That, in theory is what should have happened.

But what happened is..nothing. The City never signed the papers and the owner continued to let it fester.

Until New Years Eve..when there was a fire at the house.

I would also like to add here that a number of Neighbors approached the owner and made offers on the house. The offers exceeded the value of the lot. And at the same time the homeowner was trying to get a Free Fema funded demolition. And when I say Free I mean free to him, “we” the taxpayers pay for it.

He was denied the free demo because the damage to the house was a direct result of pre Katrina negligence, and the agreement between the City and FEMA is theoretically to only fund Katrina damaged demolitions.

So to recap..he is trying to create a vacant lot, is pretending to sell the house to avoid a blight judgment but when offered money for it he declines.

Last week he started to destroy the house to demolish it.

As you can see all the windows have been removed and the chimneys demolished in order to further the destruction. The contents which have sat there for 3 years discarded and left on the lawn. Now I would like to add the house next door is occupied by a very elderly couple. Does this seem criminal to you? It does to me. Would you want to live on this block?

We have asked Winston Reid the director of Code Enforcement and Dr. Ed Blakley our recovery Czar. We have asked our Councilperson and our our At Large Council people. And no one responds. Not a polite “we will look into it” or even “thanks for your concern” nothing, nothing, nothing….

Our frustration with the City increases daily. I have sat in the Code Enforcement hearings where they have fined people who have missing pieces of weatherboard or unpainted exterior surfaces on their houses. This selective and farcical code enforcement ignores the larger issues we have here. This owner has been warned and it meant nothing. I challenge any of our elected officials to look us in the eye and say that this house is acceptable and or that there is nothing they can do about it. The excuses of the past 3 years continue on as many wonder what our own personal breaking point will be.

The City has abandoned us and forgot the basic tenants of governance. And the scary news is that this same owner has 2 other non gutted houses just down the block. He continues unabated. And we continue to be ignored.

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...