No new T-shirt shops would be allowed to open in the French Quarter under a proposed ordinance by New Orleans City Council member Kristin Gisleson Palmer, who represents the historic area.

The proposal would let existing souvenir shops continue to operate, but they couldn’t expand.

Such restrictive legislation isn’t new, Palmer said, pointing to similar prohibitions on the opening or expansion of tattoo parlors and pawn shops.

The move has the support of the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents & Associates organization, Executive Director Meg Lousteau said.

“Council member Gisleson Palmer’s efforts to curtail the proliferation of these establishments is welcome news,” she said.

T-shirt shops create a certain ambiance, but not one that one council member wants to see amplified. Photo by Karen Gadbois

The tourist-targeting establishments aren’t shy about hawking their wares, with each seemingly trying to one-up the next in terms of clever, vulgar or suggestive phrases on shirts.

The shops are a source of complaints from visitors and residents alike, Lousteau said. She’s been working with Palmer’s office to document the existing shops, which are defined by the percentage of store space dedicated to tchotchkes.

Palmer has asked that the City Planning Commission hold a public hearing Oct. 12 on the ordinance, which will then be considered by the City Council at a later date.

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...