Google map illustrated the continued use of the front yard at 826 Octavia for un-permitted parking. Credit: Google

Who says you can’t fight City Hall? An Octavia Street homeowner named Tony Piccirillo defied the Board of Zoning Adjustment for four years, ignoring an order to remove an illegal parking space he had created by paving the postage stamp-sized yard in front of his bungalow.

But here’s the good news: In order to sell the place, Piccirillo brought the property into compliance with the law earlier this month. The pavers have been dislodged and replaced with sod.

It’s a win for the city’s newly resurrected One-Stop Shop Enforcement and Adjudication office, which is empowered to get heavy with a variety of persistent code violations, including illegal T-shirt shops, paved front yards and properties that chronically attract demolition-by-neglect citations.

Piccirillo appeared before the Board of Zoning Adjustment in 2009 to request permission to retain the parking pad he had built in his front yard without a permit. The BZA denied the request “with prejudice,” meaning Piccirillo lost the right to even appeal the decision.

Four years later, the parking pad remained in place anyway.

A recent sales listing for the property triggered another hearing, this time with an officer empowered to levy fines and impose liens on Piccirillo.

The pavers have been removed and a lawn is being revived at 826 Octavia St.
The pavers have been removed and a lawn is being revived at 826 Octavia St. Credit: Karen Gadbois

Piccirillo promptly folded. With the Octavia Street property on the agenda for the Oct. 9 session, Lily McNee, representing the city, announced that the owner had agreed to comply with the law rather than fight the city further — and complicate sale of the property. Efforts to reach Piccirillo for comment were unsuccessful.

The pavers have been removed and the lawn is being nursed back to life, a small but significant step in the right direction for a water-logged city that — esthetics aside — depends on having as much capacity as possible to absorb rainwater.

The One-Stop Shop Enforcement and Adjudication hearings are held monthly in the Amoco Building.

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...