Built without benefit of a city permit, the Bienville Street driveway straddles a catch basin. photo: Karen Gadbois

Much has been made of our resilience. We New Orleanians are so resilient that we pull up entire sections of curbstone to install a driveway where none existed. And we do it without a permit.

The owners of one Mid-City property decided to make an oak-shaded driveway big enough for four cars. No matter that it meant straddling a raised catch basin in the 4100 block of Bienville Street.

But before any of you are inspired by this example to race out and start pick-axing your front lawn, you may want to get a permit to do so. Or maybe not.

After the driveway was installed, on May 30 the city sent a letter to property owners Mario Martinez and Milton Gautreaux telling them that the driveway was in violation of city code and that they had 15 days to obtain a permit from the Department of Public Works. Fail to comply and you’ll face a fine  or jail time, the letter warned.

An administration official provided The Lens with a copy of the May 30 letter, but a request for a copy of the application for a permit, assuming one was filed at all, met with no response. Efforts to track down Martinez and Gautreaux for comment were unsuccessful.

Pave at your own risk seems to be the message.

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...