Planning Commission votes for tighter restrictions on short-term rentals

After more than three hours of public comment, the New Orleans City Planning Commission on Wednesday voted to recommend tight restrictions on short-term rentals proposed by its staff in a report last month. The proposal now goes to the City Council for its consideration.

The proposed changes would eliminate the city’s popular “temporary” rental licenses, used for whole-home rentals in residential neighborhoods. Under current law, temporary licenses are available to property owners, who do not have to live at the property, and long-term renters. Though the law limits guest stays at temporary rentals to 90 nights annually  — nearly every weekend night per year — the planning staff noted that operators have used the licenses to operate full-time short-term rental properties

Under the proposed rules, operators in residential neighborhoods would have to prove their residency in a housing unit on the same lot as the rental property. Long-term tenants would prove residency with a Louisiana state-issued ID and a secondary form of identification. And those operators would have to remain in the residence they’re renting while guests are present.

The City Planning Commission had less than an hour to ask questions, recommend amendments, and vote to submit a short-term rental study that took its staff more than three months to create.

Harney charter employees ‘made whole’ after late retirement contributions, board chair says

Edgar P. Harney Spirit of Excellence Academy leaders said they have paid 50 employees back for potential lost earnings on improperly delayed retirement contributions.

The Central City charter school’s board president, the Rev. Charles Southall III, said the payout was less than $600 in total.

“All of them were made whole,” Southall said.

It’s not clear if the Orleans Parish school district — which has been investigating the matter — agrees. School district officials did not respond to repeated questions from The Lens about the status of a forensic audit, the school’s repayment plan and what the district’s role was in formulating or approving that plan.

The charter school withheld employee retirement contributions for weeks, sometimes months. When the school finally made up last year’s late October, November and December payments in February 2018, it did not account for any interest employees could have been earning over that time period.

Opinion: Restaurants join fight against plastics pollution—but where’s the government support?

Opinion columnist Kevin Fitzwilliam chimes in on fighting plastic pollution: “It’s a long way from Louisiana to the North Pacific Ocean, but that New Orleanians share responsibility for some 80,000 tons of plastic trash floating in what’s being called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not lost on a growing number of local restaurateurs striving to reduce the global flow of non-biodegradable junk.

Not only are enormous marine junkyards—the notorious North Pacific dump is only one of them—a sad commentary on a consumer society run amok, they are increasingly suspect as a hazard to human health.

The question is when or whether a city—which for decades celebrated the success of Mardi Gras by the tonnage of trash it generated—will wake up and begin to support local efforts to create a more sustainable global waste stream.”

A new weekly podcast: Behind The Lens

We are pleased to announce the inaugural episode of Behind The Lens, a weekly podcast that goes behind the scenes with our reporters.

This week, producer Tom Wright interviews reporter Michael Isaac Stein about the City Planning Commission’s recommendations on short-term rental policy and the Entergy “astroturfing” story.

Reporter Marta Jewson discusses the Orleans Parish School Board’s decision to raise food service workers’ minimum wage to $15/hr and explains exactly who it applies to. The district is also considering a policy for morning bus stop pick-ups.

Get the scoop Behind The Lens.

Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned...