Neighbors First for Bywater – Board Meeting – May 15, 2019

Present: Julie Jones, John Andrews, Brian Luckett, Anthony Eschmann, Mark Gonzales, Steven Jacob, Tyler Harwood

The meeting started shortly after 7PM with an informal discussion regarding the HANO / ITEX project at 4100 Royal. John said he was interviewed by a reporter from The Advocate.

Mark and Tyler reported that the Just Press Pause post card writing event at Vaughan’s Bar Tuesday evening was a big success. Attendance was good, and hundreds of postcards were sent to City Hall. The event was organized by Cherry May, who NFB has hired to help with PR. We all agreed she is doing a fantastic job. Mark objects to our financial agreement with her. An agreement has already been signed allowing for a $3000 budget, but doesn’t specify her hourly rate. Mark believes it isn’t appropriate for a non-profit to sign an agreement without being more specific about rates. Steven and other board members countered that the cost to NFB is reasonable for what we have gotten so far, and Brian reiterated that she is doing great work.

Joe Brown obtained a letter HANO sent to HUD with information about the lease for the HANO/ITEX lot. In the letter, dated April 22, HANO is asking for approval to give ITEX a 99 year lease for $10,000 a year. ITEX is guaranteed to make a hefty profit at this price, and 99 years is a long time. The project is essentially a multimillion dollar gift to ITEX. HANO states in the letter that they plan to build “150 units, of which 60 will be market rate and 90 will be Project-Based Vouchers.” The letter also proposes “to dispose of all the vacant land at 710 Clouet (0.31 acres) via a negotiated sale at less than FMV to Clouet Gardens Inc, via a 15-year ground lease at $1 per year in rent.” A second letter was obtained that discusses the details of a loan from HANO to ITEX. The loan is for $4,250,000 with 1% interest for up to 40 years. The letter is dated April 5, and refers to “construction of 136 new construction and mixed-income rental units [including 34 project-based voucher units] to be located at the development to be known as the Bywater Scattered Sites…” All present agreed that the letters should be shared with City Council and the press. Mark will email the reporter from the Advocate on John’s behalf.

There was then a discussion regarding the letter recently released from Kristen Palmer. It’s unclear whether she approves the zoning change or not. In the letter she states that “all stakeholders, from the neighbors to HANO to advocates have agreed that 90 affordable units is the right number for this development.” Julie spoke with her on the phone and was told the scattered sites are included in this number. Palmer advocates for the HDLC in her letter, stating that she believes their guidelines should be followed. Elliot Perkins, the Executive Director of the HDLC, has stated that he is not pleased with the City Attorney’s assertion that the HDLC does not have jurisdiction over publicly owned property. NFB has filed an appeal to City Council regarding the issue, because while the land is HANO’s, the building would be the property of ITEX, which is a private corporation. If we are told we can’t appeal because there was no decision we can argue that the HDLC did indeed make a decision – the decision to do nothing. NFB may file a suit if it is necessary after the City Council meeting. It was noted that allowing HANO to abuse their power in this way has implications for the entire city, and that other agencies, such as Audubon Institute, could pull the same stunts.

Brian was informed of a similar zoning change case in Algiers Point. Prohibitive and stringent covenants were attached to the zoning change that ultimately made the project difficult for the developers. If this winds up being the strategy of City Council we will want to have suggestions ready, but in the meantime our focus remains on simply opposing the zoning change and advocating for affordable housing that would fit in to the surrounding neighborhood and better serve potential tenants.

Anthony received a notification regarding 4214 Dauphine being on the agenda for an ARC meeting. Little was known about the proposal.

Julie informed us that the ARC will be reviewing plans for an open air restaurant that is being proposed for 830 Piety at their May 21 meeting. The lot is currently zoned HMC-1. Brian suggested inviting someone from the City Planning Commission to speak about outdoor seating regulations at our next general meeting. Inviting someone from FMIA was also suggested, as they are asking for the current regulations to be modified. Tyler will bring food and the water left over from the last meeting.

An NPP is apparently scheduled soon for the hotel project being proposed at 3220 Chartres Street (the lot next to the “rusty rainbow”), but none of us had seen any information regarding it yet. It was also reported that realtors are marketing condos in The Saxony as Short Term Rental investment opportunities.

The meeting ended at 8:23.

Submitted by Tyler Harwood

Posted in Minutes | Comments Off on Neighbors First for Bywater – Board Meeting – May 15, 2019

Ask City Council to JUST PRESS PAUSE!

Introducing The Neighbors First for Building Community Coalition! The Coalition has been formed in response to the efforts of HANO and the Texas developer ITEX to build a massive apartment complex that would have a negative impact on Bywater. The Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association, Louisiana Landmarks Association, and Parks For All have joined NFB in the Coalition so far. A web site is in development and events are being planned to mobilize neighbors. More updates will be coming very soon!

In the mean time: The next meeting regarding the proposed giant HANO / ITEX project planned for Bywater is a critical one. It is in front of the City Council, Thursday, May 23, at about 11 (we’ll get a more exact idea of the time this comes up as soon as we can and fill you in). Our message to the Council is JUST PRESS PAUSE. We want affordable housing, but we don’t want a rushed job that Bywater and the surrounding neighbors will live with for decades. Once the zoning is changed it cannot be unchanged. If it goes to HU-MU as is proposed, that will allow almost anything. Please make plans to come! A big turn-out will be very important here. Affordable housing groups that want the project to be built regardless of its shortfalls will certainly show up in force, and we have to show the Council that we welcome affordable housing, but we want to get it right. Below is more information on the proposal as well as email addresses for all the City Council members.

This is proposed as a mixed income development. 40% of the building would go for market-rate units. A one bedroom, 750 sq. ft. market-rate apartment would go for $1200 (some houses in Bywater twice that size are available for that price). And the zoning change would allow any un-leased units to convert into Short-Term Rentals.

The out-of-state developers—who need the market-rate units for their business model to work— are proposing about 80 units of affordable housing in this fortress. We’d like to return to the original RFP, which we have always supported: 56 units, all affordable, architecturally appropriate and open to the neighborhood. We’ve always supported a design that protects our beautiful indigenous trees—some a hundred years old—and maximum green space that also protects the watershed. The original plan may not work for this Texas developer but it sure does work for us.

But there’s more.

We support development that is sustainable, but there have been no studies of the impact on traffic, parking, electrical service, water, sewerage or storm water. None! There has been no Section 106 review, which is the federal impact study required for historic sites to receive public funding (this developer’s business model requires significant amounts of federal and state dollars). This flawed proposal is at the hub of immense disruptive changes to our neighborhood, including the 78-unit Arrive hotel next door (with only 27 parking spaces and three bars), a proposed cruise ship terminal directly across the street, the massive Navy facility (soon to be developed—in large part, the developer hopes, as affordable housing—just three blocks away), a 3-4 story, mixed use 30 room hotel/retail complex with rooftop bar on Chartres at Piety plus multiple potential development sites at play in between—all located between two active rail lines that stall traffic multiple times each day.

Here are the email addresses of the Council Members. Thank you.

Helena Moreno   morenocouncil@nola.gov
Jason Williams    jasonwilliams@nola.gov
Joe Giarusso       joseph.giarusso@nola.gov
Jay Banks           jay.banks.nola.gov
Kristin Palmer      kristin.palmer@nola.gov
Jared Brossett     jcbrossett@nola.gov
Cyndi Nguyen     cyndi.nguyen@nola.gov

Posted in News | Comments Off on Ask City Council to JUST PRESS PAUSE!

Neighbors First for Bywater board meeting – April 17, 2019

Present: Nancy Thacker, Anthony Eschmann, Mark Gonzales, Julie Jones, Tyler Harwood, Steven Jacob, Stephen Haedicke, Brian Luckett. The meeting was held on Nancy’s lovely back porch.

Called to order at 7:15 PM.

Our next general meeting will be May 1st. Stephen Haedicke will bring food with plates and utensils. Steven Jacob will bring water and cups for wine. Someone from SOUL NOLA, an organization that has been planting trees around the neighborhood, would like to do a presentation. John Koeferl would like to speak about the Corps of Engineers plans to expand the lock and Industrial Canal.

Julie passed out letters she had written for us to review regarding a “community feedback” meeting being hosted by the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance at Holy Angels, April 22 at 6PM. The letter would be to our members, encouraging them to go. We all agreed the letter was good, but planned to all read it more carefully after the meeting and let her know if we have suggestions. Everyone present agreed advocating for a smaller project with 100% affordable housing would be much better than the current proposal. HANO / ITEX is requesting zoning for the lot be changed from HC-2 (neighborhood commercial) and HMR-3 (neighborhood residential) to HU-MU, the highest density zoning in the city. Up-zoning to that extent isn’t necessary to do what they currently plan, and we are opposed to the change. We would also like to delay the decision as Gregg Fortner, the current executive director of HANO, is stepping down soon. He might try to push this project through, and he is the one insisting on the large number of units. When he leaves the new executive director may not be accountable if the project has already been approved. The project is very clearly profit driven. Everyone should stop calling it affordable housing because it is actually mixed housing. We need to try and get people to the GNOHA meeting because ITEX will certainly have their people there, and there have been efforts to paint those opposed to the project as “NIMBYs” or as being opposed to affordable housing developments in their neighborhood. We have to keep reiterating that we are absolutely in favor of affordable housing but that this project will not serve the tenants or neighborhood well. As it is currently zoned they could put 56 units and make them ALL affordable, which everyone would support. Some board members met with Kristin Palmer Monday to discuss our position, and also met with members of Jason Williams’ staff.

Julie, Nancy, and Brian all went to a Neighborhood Engagement Meeting hosted by Concordia LLC at the Parleaux Beer Lab the evening of Monday the 8th. It was not a NPP, but more of a “brainstorming session” with activity sheets for groups to fill out to give them ideas on how best to plan a hotel development on Chartres next to the “Rusty Rainbow”. The previous condo planned for that site was unsuccessful. They described their hotel idea as “The Drifter 2.0” (The Drifter is a hotel on Tulane Avenue with a bar and publicly accessible pool that frequently has events, which Concordia helped develop). They said they want to have a pool and bar on the top level of their hotel and have live entertainment. They don’t plan to have any parking because commercial space is a better use for the ground floor than a garage, and they can lease parking spaces from the French Market Corporation in the adjacent Crescent Park parking lot. They plan to have an NPP in 6 to 8 weeks.

The City Planning Commission is looking at the proposal to re-insert the affordable housing requirement in the riverfront overlay, which would require 10% of units to be affordable housing to get the height and density bonus. 10% doesn’t seem like enough – why not 15% as it is outside of the overlay in the existing Affordable Housing Density Bonus? The FMIA is still pushing for a 55 foot limit and affordable housing should be included anyway. Brian is going to try to meet with Kristin Palmer to discuss it with her.

Brian then informed us that the CPC is looking into a possible “backyard buffer” for commercially zoned businesses that wish to have outdoor seating in backyards that may be adjacent to residential homes. The FMIA is asking the city not allow any outdoor seating for HMC-2 zoned property that abuts a residentially zoned property. What effect could that have on development along St. Claude Ave.? Uptown they designate only a certain percentage of the back yard can be used. We agreed to wait and see what the CPC says and do more research before we take a position.

Up next was the appointment of officers and positions on the board. Everyone was comfortable with maintaining their current position, with the exception of Nancy, who will remain on the board but no longer as co-secretary. Tyler agreed to be secretary but will need backup from time to time. Mark agreed to make audio recordings of meetings if necessary. We discussed adding positions to potentially get new people on the board. We came to the conclusion the current size of the board is ideal – however, we need to make efforts to encourage other nominees. We do not want to be a self perpetuating board. We agreed the board election date being just after Mardi Gras every year is not ideal, so Anthony and Julie will propose revisions of the by-laws to be presented to the board for approval. If the board approves they will be submitted to the general membership for a vote.

The meeting ended at 8:19 PM.

Respectfully submitted by Tyler Harwood

Posted in Minutes | Comments Off on Neighbors First for Bywater board meeting – April 17, 2019

Neighbors First for Bywater General Meeting – April 3, 2019

Meeting called to order by President Julie Jones at 7:19PM

NOPD 5th district Commander Frank Young explained some recent personnel changes in the NOPD. He introduced Lieutenant Wayne DeLarge, who was promoted in December after spending many years in homicide. Lt DeLarge is now second in command for the 5th district.

New Orleans is now experiencing record low numbers of homicides. We had 15 fewer homicides in the 5th district last year, which was the bulk of the reduction for the city. This year we have only had three so far, which is good. The worst spot for violent crimes in our district is on the other side of Elysian Fields in the 7th ward. Car theft has been a problem lately. Usually the suspects are juveniles. They are armed, and have a tactical approach. They generally take the cars out for joy rides until they get “hot” and then abandon them. More officers wouldn’t necessarily help, it just puts more kids in jail when what we should be doing is looking for solutions, collectively as a city, to keep our youth from heading down these dangerous paths.

Commander Young has made efforts to address the continuing problems at the NSA (former Navy facility on Poland St.). It’s “cloudy” who is actually responsible for keeping the property secure, but the MCC (Joe Jaeger) said they will work to keep the perimeter secure with 24 hour security if the NOPD cleared it, which they did last Monday. There was some concern where the approximately 20 “residents” that were chased out have wound up.

Mark Gonzales advised a need for better community policing. He suggested it would be beneficial to have officers walk the neighborhood when possible, getting to know the neighborhood and interacting with residents. Commander Young agreed that it would be nice, but the NOPD simply does not have enough staffing to make it a priority. The NOPD gets around 30-34,000 calls a month. He reminded us he has a weekly MAX meeting that residents are encouraged to attend. Meetings take place every Tuesday at 1PM in the roll call room at the 5th district headquarters. There is also a meeting the second Wednesday of every month at 6PM. In the past officers were assigned to smaller geographical areas and did know the areas and residents better. Different communities have different needs, and some in our district require more police attention. Commander Young said it “would be a dream” if they had enough time or adequate staffing to be more present.

Commander Young and Lieutenant DeLarge were thanked for their time. It’s always great to have them at our meetings!

Next Julie introduced Jennie Canon West, the new HDLC commissioner for Bywater. Ms. West is an experienced architect and has been a Bywater resident since 2012 and lived in the Marigny prior to that. Neighborhood commissioners are volunteers appointed by the mayor, and serve four year terms. We can contact her with questions or concerns at bywater.nohdlc@gmail.com. Commissioners are not permitted to discuss a position on projects, but we are free to voice our opinions to them. Projects are first reviewed by the Architectural Review Committee (ARC), and they make recommendations to the commission. The ARC is made up of professionals, mostly architects. Commissioners must have a thorough understanding of the HDLC guidelines, and base their decisions on them. Ms. West has been to many orientations and one official meeting so far.

A member asked for clarification as to why the HDLC is reduced to an “advisory” role on some projects. The HDLC only has control over projects planned on private property. Concerns were raised that projects built on public land in historic districts, but technically owned and operated by private entities, should not be exempt from HDLC guidelines.

Another member asked if the HDLC was concerned with the impact of the proposed industrial canal lock expansion on neighboring historic homes. Ms. West had heard of the project as a neighbor, but it hasn’t come up as a point of discussion in HDLC meetings yet. As commissioner, she won’t hear anything until there is a proposal submitted to the HDLC, and that’s where her involvement would begin. To voice our concerns over issues like these Ms. West encouraged us to contact C. Elliott Perkins, the HDLC Executive Director [ceperkins@nola.gov or (504) 658-7040]; or Alex Nassar, who is familiar with Bywater [anassar@nola.gov, (504) 658-7048].

Brian Luckett brought up an issue NFB encountered where a conditional use became a proviso. One of the provisos stated that the HDLC had to approve the “overall content” of the design, but when we went to the HDLC they reminded us they can only regulate what is visible from the street. In cases of larger structures (e.g. The Saxony) some sections of the building not technically facing the street are still visible, and can tower over and crowd smaller adjacent historic structures. Brian asked for clarification regarding the limits of the HDLC’s purview over content. In terms of context and scale there are guidelines, and Ms. West suggested we look at {section 8 or 10 – can somebody help me find this? Did she send a link?}, which have recently been rewritten to make them clearer. Brian commented that the way new developments interact with a historic neighborhood can be detrimental, even though what you see from the street isn’t necessarily capturing that fact. Ms. West said she agrees that our historical structures need protecting, but reminded us her role in the HDLC is strictly limited to being certain a project adheres to the HDLC guidelines, and reiterated that a thorough understanding of them is key should we like to address any issues with a particular project or guideline. Ms. West was unsure who writes the guidelines, but suggested we could ask the one of city attorneys. Melissa Quigly (sp? contact info?) deals specifically with the HDLC. Issues with specific regulations could be directed to city attorneys or the HDLC Executive Director, Elliot Perkins. Ms. West was thanked for making time to speak with us and volunteering for this important job.

Julie then introduced Meredith Clancy from the Police Community Advisory Board (PCAB) to the group. The PCAB is made up of seven volunteer members from each district. They gather and vet community input and suggestions to the NOPD, and help the community gain a better understanding of police operations and processes. Their goal is to maintain and improve communication between the community and the police, and also to reduce crime and improve our quality of life. More info, including dates and locations of PCAB quarterly meetings, can be found at https://www.nola.gov/neighborhood-engagement/projects/new-orleans-police-community-advisory-board-(pcab)/. Ms. Clancy handed out surveys to members.

Julie then addressed the election of the NFB board. Since no new nominees came forward or were suggested the current board was considered “re-elected by acclamation”. NFB members present approved.

Meeting adjourned at approximately 8:07PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Tyler Harwood, co-secretary

Posted in Minutes | Comments Off on Neighbors First for Bywater General Meeting – April 3, 2019

Neighbors First for Bywater board meeting – March 20, 2019

Present: Julie Jones, Susan Korec, Mark Gonzalez, Rhonda Findley, Anthony Eschmann, John Andrews, Brian Luckett, Tyler Harwood

Called to order at 7:28 PM by Julie Jones.

The election for the new board needs to happen at the next general meeting. It seems all current members of the board are content to continue to serve, but we all agreed “self perpetuating” boards are not ideal. A few members have volunteered to resign if we need to make room for new members, as we are at the maximum of twelve. We will notify the membership in the general meeting email announcement that we are still accepting and encouraging nominations, and will open the floor at the meeting for any last-minute nominations.

The Krewe of Red Beans is having a block party on the 3200 block of Burgundy on March 30th as part of their “Bean Madness” charity event. Devin De Wulf, the founder and organizer, has obtained permits to sell beer, which has been donated by Urban South brewery. NFB was invited (and gladly agreed!) to man the table, and we get to keep the proceeds. Tyler volunteered to help set up the table, and will bring the NFB banner to hang as well. Rhonda and Susan will work the table from noon until 1:30, Anthony and Mark from 1:30 to 3, Brian and Julie from 3 to 4:30. The last shift is from 4:30 to 6, and we’ll ask via email for other members to volunteer. We agreed it will be really fun, and the bands are good! Tyler will coordinate with Devin and Mark to be sure we have enough coolers for the provided beer.

Julie was notified that NPR and the Lens ran a story about the large HANO development being proposed that featured a 5-minute interview focused on the difference between all affordable housing and the 60%/40% mix. It was suggested that we respond, and the question was raised how to go about doing so, and who it should be from. Near neighbors would be good, and several great candidates were suggested, but that an official statement from our organization may be most effective. Mark agreed to contact Cherry May, who is an event organizer and promoter, to see if she has suggestions. Devin from Red Beans might also have a contact. Rhonda suggested consulting or hiring a public relations expert to help us craft our message. NFB has always welcomed and encouraged affordable housing, and we need to be clear about our reasons for opposing this development. Simply stating that the development is too big leaves us vulnerable to the convenient “NIMBY” dismissal. Time is of the essence, so if we want to look into a consultant we’d need to be fast.

John reported that he recently attended one of Councilmember Palmer’s “Coffee with Kristin” events at the St. Roch Market. The HANO development was mentioned, and the lack of HDLC’s authority on these kinds of developments. Ms. Palmer said she can still base her decisions on their advice. She expressed concerns about the trees, almost all of which the developers plan to remove. We agree the trees remain a major concern. Rhonda is looking into issues with stormwater management, which may not be adequately addressed in the current plan.

We then discussed the Arrive Hotel (a.k.a “Poshtel”), and our need to speak with Councilmember Palmer about it. She has been on vacation, but will be back in a few days. It’s unclear if the project will come up in the next city council meetings. NFB has filed an appeal to the city council regarding the HDLC’s approval of the final design. The design doesn’t consider noise issues for near neighbors, and the city attorney claims the HDLC doesn’t have the authority to address it. We have hired an attorney and Mark stressed the need to pay him a retainer that he can bill against. Rhonda made a motion that we pay a retainer of $2000. It was seconded by Mark and unanimously approved. The project will not come up until the Council meeting in late April.

Planning the next general meeting was then discussed. Councilmember Palmer expressed interest in having a community meeting / forum regarding the HANO project, and we agreed to offer to host it. Another option is to invite the new HDLC commissioner. It would be good to ask serious questions about her thoughts on issues specific to our neighborhood. Susan will check with Commander Young to see if he can come. It’s been a while since we’ve had him at a meeting, but Mardi Gras was understandably too busy for him to make time. Brian will bring food. Mark will bring plates, cups, and napkins. Steven Jacob was elected to bring water.

Rhonda then expressed serious concerns about crime in the “parklet” located at Independence and St. Claude Ave. Should it be fenced? The owner of the lot did not take any money from the “Main Street Initiative” to put in the parklet, and had expressed concerns about its potential for criminal activity when it was proposed. Men with assault rifles were apparently arrested there recently. Commander Young has been contacted. Some have suggested turning it into a small, fenced dog park. We discussed inviting the owner of the lot to a meeting to discuss possible solutions. Can we help? It may be complicated as he does not live in New Orleans. John has his contact information.

The last item of business was an email Julie received from Joe Brown regarding a friend of a near neighbor that expressed interest in an informal meeting to discuss our concerns with the “Arrive” hotel project. This friend is apparently an acquaintance of one of the developers, and could possibly help mediate, should it be helpful. There was some curiosity as to what his motivations may be, but we agreed there was no reason not to meet him. Mark suggested emailing him to see what his concerns are ahead of time. We agreed to have the near neighbor contact John, whom he knows, to discuss it further.

Meeting adjourned at 8:30 PM.

Submitted by Tyler Harwood, co-secretary

Posted in Minutes | Comments Off on Neighbors First for Bywater board meeting – March 20, 2019

NFB General Meeting – March 6, 2019


President Julie Jones called the meeting to order and introduced Bettina Reutter, Elizabeth Macy and Panacea Theriac, who were active in the opposition to the Sun Yard hotel development. The idea was to hear about their experience and learn from their success as other neighbors work to have their issues with HANO or the “poshtel” addressed.

Panacea became aware of the development when she got the zoning change notice in the mail, and was alarmed about it. The near neighbors know each other well and called each other. They also know each other from gathering at the “Chaz Fest” event that used to take place on the property. Elizabeth was out of the state when the news started to come in. Her backyard backs up to the yard where Sun Yard would host events. The group was diverse and had an assortment of helpful skills, which was advantageous. In addition to contacting people in the neighborhood they made efforts to inform folks outside of the immediate area. Efforts were made to distribute information to neighbors in a variety of ways – telephone, email, door-to-door – so that nobody would be left out, and gathered as much contact info as they could.

Sharing letters that were written to the HDLC, ARC, and City Council was helpful, so that other neighbors could have ideas about what to write. Getting press was also important, so that the issue would be heard about outside of just their block. Through the process they learned a lot about how city government works and grew closer as neighbors. Allen Johnson from FMIA commented on how the group organized their speakers at public meetings, and how it has inspired his organization. Instead of several people saying the same thing over and over in the short two minutes that are allowed, they each took on individual issues to maximize time. The only issue with that approach is if speakers get called up out of order. Joe Brown suggested numbering the cards that speakers hand in so they know what order speakers would like to be called up.

Organizers also met with City Council members outside of public meetings whenever possible, and sent thank you notes when they took time to meet with them. They printed maps showing where all the members of their group lived in relation to the proposed development to show at the meetings.

Establishing personal contact was extremely helpful, and they created a phone bank from numbers they got off their petition so they could call to personally remind neighbors about upcoming meetings. They brought their petitions to events around town. They focused on getting signatures in the neighborhood first but then talked to people all over the city as time went on.

Julie then brought up an upcoming meeting regarding a proposed up-zoning at the lot at 4100 Charters, which HANO owns and plans to develop. In the past the lot held as many as 50 units. A few proposals have come up for larger, but fairly reasonable developments. The latest proposal is very large, with more than 150 units, which would include 60% “affordable” units, with the rest rented out at market rate. The developer, ITEX, plans to lease the property and would own the building. Ron Loesel from Weber Consulting (hired by ITEX) informed everyone that the CPC report had been released earlier that day. It can be viewed by using the city’s “One Stop App” web site and searching for 4100 Royal.

A member commented that the increase in traffic this development would create would be a major issue, as well as the impact on infrastructure. He suggested that outside of scale and massing, neighbors should make note of all the other specific issues. Joe Brown added that the “Arrive” hotel that is planned for the lot across the street would exacerbate many of these issues. Getting facts correct in letters to city officials helps to be taken seriously.

Since the lot is owned by HANO the HDLC only is able to serve in an advisory capacity. A member commented that it didn’t seem right that the development is being called a HANO development when the reality is that ITEX is leasing the property to profit off of the development.  

These minutes were transcribed from a recording made by Mark Gonzales.

Respectfully submitted by Tyler Harwood, co-secretary

Posted in Minutes | Comments Off on NFB General Meeting – March 6, 2019

Neighbors First for Bywater Board Meeting, February 20, 2019


Attending:

Julie Jones, Stephen Haedicke, John Andrews, Tyler Harwood, Anthony Eschmann, Susan Korec, Steve Jacobs, Mark Gonzalez, Nancy Thacker, Brian Luckett. Held at Stephen Haedicke’s home.

Called to order 7:09 by Julie Jones, agenda distributed.

Mark gave an update from the Community-Based Mitigation Committee on the long running “Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lock Replacement Project.”

We reviewed copies of the agenda, which took three meetings for them to cover. There was a long list of problems with sub-problems in each area. All in all it’s very confusing as to what actually has to happen before they start building. There is somewhere around ten million dollars in mitigation to be determined. There would be a problem with only mitigating the near neighborhoods, as the impact reaches beyond those nearest this problematic project. Mark will continue to keep up with the developments and follow up with Rep. C Richmond, as this is a federal project. It’s going to be a long slow road.

Brian then addressed “movie money.” We have learned it is customary to make a donation to the neighborhood association when a production is filming in the neighborhood. Julie followed up with some production companies and got $500 from NCIS and another $500 from a movie (“Tall Girls”). As this is seen as an “inconvenience fee”, there isn’t any liability in accepting these donations. However, everyone agreed to come up with a list of possible places to pass a significant portion of these donations along to the community since the productions effect everyone.

Next up was the Riverfront Overlay – Councilmember Palmer introduced a motion for a study to re-insert the affordable housing requirement in the riverfront overlay, which would require 10% of units to be affordable housing to get the height and density bonus. This had unfortunately and surprisingly been pulled at the last minute when the overlay was reinstated in the CZO after a judge ruled that the council violated state law in approving it the first time. Ms. Palmer also wants to expand the overlay to include the two square blocks (Chartres to Dauphine, Montegut to Press) where Sean Cummings plans to build the “Via Latrobe” apartments. It wouldn’t affect his height limit, though, because he already got that through the variance process.  He could take advantage of the density bonus aspect of the overlay to increase his square footage, but he could already get the same additional square footage through the Affordable Housing Density Bonus, but that would require 15% affordable units rather than the 10% under the overlay. NFB has always supported affordable housing in Bywater, but this would set a dangerous precedent of extending the overlay to the lakeside of Chartres Street. Brian suggests we are better off not supporting this extension of the overlay, but encourages the board and members to support the inclusion of the affordable housing requirement in the overlay.

Arrive Hotel (a.k.a. “Poshtel”): Brian has talked to a lawyer familiar with the overlay who is willing to do some pre-case consulting. We may have a case in that there was a change of use. He will follow up. Carolyn is working with the near neighbors from Sun Yard to help with any other angles that might protect the neighbors as well as try and help make Arrive a good neighbor should it be built.

This was followed by a discussion of the HANO project and the meeting with the Architectural Review Committee on Tuesday. The ARC didn’t seem happy about the project. Both Julie and Mark shared that we should address mass and scale. The ARC technically has no authority as this is apparently a federal project. ITEX, a private company based in Texas, is paying HANO for use of the lot. In questions of the ARC and the HDLC, the scale needs to be addressed as opposed to the density, even though this would be the densest HANO project in the city. Does HUD/HANO understand how much better it would be at the old NSA? Is there a way for us to effectively communicate this? It is uncertain if the question of hands off comes because it’s a federal project (is it?) or because it’s a HANO project.

Final Item – The next general meeting is on Ash Wednesday. For the meeting we plan to focus on how to help near neighbors get organized to oppose oversized, intrusive developments. Julie will ask Megan from the Sun Yard opposition if she can speak. It would be good to get some flyers out to the neighborhood. Nancy, Susan and Mark say they will distribute them. We will offer Virgin (and not so Virgin) Mary’s(?). Mark will bring mix, John will bring vodka, Tyler will bring garnishes, Julie will pick up pizzas, and Steve J will bring water. Mark also has plates and cups.

Meeting adjourned 8:31 PM

Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Thacker & Tyler Harwood, co-secretaries

Posted in Minutes | Comments Off on Neighbors First for Bywater Board Meeting, February 20, 2019

Neighbors First for Bywater – General Meeting, February 6, 2019

Called to order at 7:17PM by President Julie Jones.

Note: This meeting was planned as a “year in review” and discussion of what the future holds for our organization.

Carolyn Leftwich and Michael Bolan were introduced to the group and gave an update on the “Arrive” hotel (formerly Stateside, The Rusty Pelican, among other names), which is proposed at 4019 Chartres St.  The near neighbors, with some assistance from NFB, have been working since February 2015 to have their concerns addressed about the development, which we agree is not appropriate for the neighborhood. It would back up to and tower over several historic homes on Bartholomew and Royal Streets. The hotel could hold up to 500 guests. Aside from scale, noise and parking have been major concerns. The building is effectively a sheer wall that would deflect all noise from the parking lot into neighbors’ bedrooms. These issues are being discussed with HDLC and there is currently a 30 day reprieve for neighbors to collaborate with the developers. The developers failed to show up for one meeting and then didn’t return calls for a proposed conference call. Neighbors are asking for another 45 days. The HDLC meeting that was supposed to happen earlier this same day was cancelled for lack of a quorum. It’s important to get as many people as possible to the meeting when it is held. Speaking isn’t required, but filling out the card that shows you were present and against the development is very effective. Andrew Sullivan, Councilmember Palmer’s Chief of Staff, clarified some confusion regarding the expiration of the conditional use extension, which has been a controversy for many reasons. He explained that it may not expire when it is expected to because the city may not have “started the clock” until the lawsuit was settled last March. Carolyn had a letter written by Lane LaCoy, one of the near neighbors, that she was asking members to co-sign like a petition [click here to see the letter]. She also handed out an informative document detailing the noise concerns near neighbors are trying to get addressed. [click here to see the document]

Julie then brought up Brian Luckett, who mentioned the “Red House” – a formerly proposed  entertainment complex at Press and St Claude on the Marigny side. Both an event space and wine garden were proposed, but neither came to fruition, and the property is now for sale. NFB partnered with Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association (FMIA) to express concerns about the effect of noise on the quality of life for near neighbors. HMC-2 zoning (which is what much of St. Claude Ave is) does not require any kind of buffer for neighbors that may be backed up to businesses that have outdoor seating, etc… though many other commercial zoning types in the city do include it – a problematic oversight. This was also a concern with the proposed “Sun Yard” hotel zoning change as well (which was ultimately denied). There has been some discussion with Councilmember Palmer to address this issue.

Brian then gave us an recap and update regarding the former Naval Support Activity property (aka the NSA or “point of embarkation”), which he referred to as “an unmitigated disaster”. The Navy transferred ownership to the City in 2013 after the property sat unused for a number of years. A plan to redevelop some of the buildings was abandoned when the city diverted $40 million in federal grants away from the project. The buildings have deteriorated since, and become a den for criminals and drug addicts. EMDRC Partners, a development group headed by Joe Jaeger, got a 99 year lease for the property. The city later wanted to renegotiate the lease to give the port access to the wharf, which they own, presumably for a cruise ship terminal. The proposal is problematic to the developers, who would like to make the property into mixed use / affordable housing, which NFB supports. The developers are applying for some financial assistance from HUD, which has been a painfully slow process. In the meantime there are a number of security issues that still need to be dealt with. A movie crew has been working there recently, which has helped, but it’s not known how long they will stay or how much security they are providing. Andrew Sullivan told the group that an “occupant” of the NSA actually called the city to complain about the film crew disturbing them. The long term solution is for the property to be developed. NFB has always supported affordable housing and understands sometimes there can be a tradeoff, such as green space or storm water absorption. If HANO could work with EMDRC to develop affordable housing at the NSA, everyone would win. They would have much more space for housing and the lot at Royal and Mazant, which is currently slated for an out of scale HANO complex, could be more thoughtfully developed and/or remain green space for the neighborhood. Intelligent development at the NSA would also stimulate economic growth in the area.

Brian then gave an update on the wharf and possible cruise ship terminal. NFB takes the position that a cruise ship terminal would overwhelm the neighborhood with traffic. It would also result in commercial activity better suited to tourist heavy areas downtown. The reason that this wharf is being considered for cruise ships is that it can handle extremely large ships. Some of these big cruise ships can hold 4500 passengers and 1500 crew members, so with supply delivery trucks and other support staff that could mean around 10000 people coming and going in a day! A couple of years ago the Port of New Orleans demolished the historic Poland Street wharf and shed. They did not have approval from the neighborhood conservation district or a permit. They did get a permit from the levee district to build a road, and approval from the Army Corps of Engineers, even though they violated a code that would have been enforced for Crescent City Park. Now they are trying to get permitted by the Corps to do “bank stabilization and wharf structure repairs”. They are saying it’s not safe, but that hasn’t been stopping them from temporarily parking cruise ships there anyway. The permit process requires them to go through a federally mandated process called the “Section 106 Process”, which requires an environmental review, and in our case requires a review of the impact on an adjacent historic district. They haven’t done it and seem to be avoiding it. We are pushing for it to be done now, and not letting them wait until after they are done with the work. We know they are simply trying to push through to accommodate a cruise ship terminal. There has been a steady increase in the amount of cruise ship traffic to New Orleans. An attendee suggested we communicate directly with some of the cruise ship companies to tell them building a terminal in our neighborhood is a bad idea because it would be a traffic problem for them as well as us. They would not be able to turn ships around as quickly as they would like. If they realize it is not a great idea for them logistically then it isn’t as economically appealing either. Brian has been working with BNA and FMIA to try and raise public awareness of the project and its implications.

Joe Brown was then introduced, and he discussed the large HANO development that has been proposed for the lot on Royal between Mazant and France Streets. The ARC and HDLC suggested significant changes to the plan. The architect — who is working for ITEX, the developer — has been amenable and cooperative, but it’s still 143 apartments. HANO seems to be forcing the developers to put in as many apartments as possible. Much of the building is 55 feet high, with a shorter section at 28 feet along Royal St. and part of France St. Near neighbors have asked Councilmember Palmer to communicate to HANO that the project is too big. Other neighbors have been suggesting the project be moved to the NSA, where there is more than enough room and it would actually be an asset to the neighborhood.  

Brian returned and explained that NFB supports Jane Place’s REST ordinance for Short Term Rentals. The suggested ordinance would require a homestead exemption to get an STR permit in a residential area, and the city council has voted in favor of requiring a Homestead Exemption for STRs in residential areas. Now we are carefully watching how permits in commercially zoned areas are handled. We would like to see limits on commercial STRs. City Council is currently waiting for a CPC report. Andrew Sullivan clarified that a permit for a property with a homestead exemption could still cover multiple units on the same parcel. They are trying to be strategic in how they approach the new regulations, making compromises to be sure the new rules are effective and less likely to be challenged. He stressed that the platforms have to participate and be held accountable when laws are broken. San Francisco went from about 15,000 listings to 3000 overnight when they implemented new rules that fined platforms for hosting illegal listings. A member told the group about a tenant that was illegally listing her property on AirBnB. She contacted them to have the listing taken down and they were uncooperative. She also mentioned hearing the tax assessor say he was going to raise the property taxes for Marigny and Bywater (again) as a direct result of STRs and gentrification. Mark Gonzales then recommended everyone read the report recently released by the Economic Policy Institute regarding the pros and cons of STRs. [read it here]

Mark then gave us a recap of our “Bywater Goes Bananas” event. He had posters from the event, and they were free to members or $5 for non-members (same cost to become a member!). The idea was to host an event that would be an opportunity to talk about what we love about Bywater. A forum of “long term residents” was assembled, and was a great success. We hope to do it again, as there are other neighbors with stories to share. We sold a lot of banana daiquiris and Roy Markey made a generous donation of $250 to NFB as a result of the event.

Julie showed everyone posters made by NFB board member Tyler that reflect NFB’s position on STRs, and encouraged them to take one.

John Andrews told us about a meeting several board members, along with near neighbors of the HANO property and the hotel/hostel property had with Councilmember Palmer on Monday, February 4. They discussed all the same issues we had been covering at this NFB meeting, and it was a positive and pleasant experience.

Julie spoke briefly about the great work the near neighbors opposed to the “Sun Yard” hotel project did last year. They were successful in stalling the project, but the developers can try for the zoning change again in two years, so there may be more work ahead. NFB supported their efforts, as it is part of our mission to help near neighbors with quality of life issues.

Julie then invited attendees to make suggestions for any issues we may not have covered yet that they would like to see us pay attention to in the coming year. One person mentioned concerns about the impact of road work planned on St. Claude. There is a plan to repave some areas starting at the Poland end and working toward downtown. Another member spoke to a worker and got the impression work wouldn’t be starting for a while. Suggestions can also be mailed to Julie at julienola@gmail.com or by using the contact form on nfbywater.org.

Our next meeting is on Ash Wednesday – March 6th, and WE’RE DOING IT! We are hopeful someone from NOPD can attend since they were unable to come this time due to staffing changes. Nominations for the NFB can be submitted at this meeting, and voting would be in April. Nominees must be NFB members for at least three months to qualify. Maximum board size is 12, which is what we currently have.

Meeting adjourned at 8:22PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Tyler Harwood

co-secretary

Posted in Minutes | Comments Off on Neighbors First for Bywater – General Meeting, February 6, 2019

NFB Board Meeting – 1/16/19


Attending: Mark Gonzalez, Tyler Harwood, Anthony Eschmann, John Andrews, Julie Jones, Susan Korec, Nancy Thacker, Brian Luckett, Stephen Haedicke., Michael Owings.

Meeting called to order at 7:09 PM

The meeting began with a brief discussion around compensations from visiting film and television crews. “NCIS: New Orleans”, which frequently films in the neighborhood, has offered to make a donation to NFB.

Ideas for our general meeting on February 6th were then discussed. A “year in review” and “looking ahead” agenda was decided on, and the following people were nominated to discuss the subjects listed:

  • Cruise Ships / NSA – Brian.
  • Rusty Pelican / Stateside hostel (now ARRIVE hotel) – ask Carolyn L.  
  • Red House / Sun Yard: Brian and Julie
  • Banana Festival: Rhonda
  • Banana Festival forum: Mark
  • Police- Crime / Perception: Susan

Some of the priorities for the future we discussed were:

  • Continued push for STR reform.
  • Continued monitoring of developments regarding  the cruise ship terminal / NSA.
  • Informing the community how to report fraudulent homestead exemptions and illegal STRs.
  • Noise & light being included in HDLC regulations for developments.

We would like to invite someone from the city council office to be there. Julie volunteered to contact them.

Food: Michael volunteered to bring food and Tyler will bring water.

The March 6th meeting falls on Ash Wednesday. NFB board nominations happen at this meeting. 12 is our top limit. Discussion on this meeting focused on the uptick of crime in the neighborhood. Mark shared an idea regarding coordinating security cameras for Bywater. Could Cox help or contribute?

We then got a briefing on the ARRIVE hotel (a.k.a Rusty Pelican hostel / Stateside hostel / “Poshtel”) HDLC meeting. Noise was considered in the design, a victory of sorts. Now there is a delay of 30 days to talk more about the noise. Noise and light should be considered part of the design.

The original conditional use – broadly worded – has to be approved. So far HDLC says their responsibility is what you can see from the street. ARC reports need to be reviewed. Hiring another lawyer was discussed.

There is a meeting tomorrow (Jan 17) to view and discuss revised plans for the HANO development at 4100 Royal St. Members attending will meet 20 minutes early.

Brian proposed NFB make a $500 donation to Societé de Sainte Anne for their 50th anniversary parade to help cover expenses for the band.

John seconded the motion and it was unanimously approved.

Meeting adjourned at 8:14 PM

Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Thacker and Tyler Harwood, co-secretaries

Posted in Minutes | Comments Off on NFB Board Meeting – 1/16/19

NFB General Meeting February 6th

Yes! We have a general meeting this Wednesday, February 6, at 7pm, at the Stallings Center (St. Claude, river side, just before Poland). 

Agenda:

  1. Commander Young or another officer from the 5th will give us an update on the neighborhood  crime situation.
  2. We will sum up what we have done in 2018, including on-going projects.
  3. We will tell you what we’re focusing on in 2019 and ask for your input on same. Please bring in your concerns and/or email them to us at julienola@gmail.com. We will take your suggestions seriously. 
  4. As part of #2, we’ll tell you what comes of a meeting with Councilmember Palmer on the proposed HANO site, scheduled for this Monday. 

As usual, there will be a bite to eat, a glass to drink (well, not actually a glass glass) and somebody to take $5 from anybody who wants to become a new member or renew her/his membership. 

Two items that will not come up in the meeting, but that may be of interest:

Free trees for your right-of-way or front yard – we do the planting! DEADLINE IS FEBRUARY 6, BY CLOSE OF BUSINESS! 

Do you want to get trees for FREE planted in your right-of-way or front yard? SOUL offers FREE 15g trees to be planted in the right-of-way (the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the street) outside of residential properties. These trees are planted by community volunteers on fun Saturday plantings, and they are easy to take care of – simply water your tree 2x a week for a year, mulch it once every couple of months, and you are good to go! Planting schedule: February 6 – permits due for Bywater/St Claude/St Roch/7th Ward February 23 – Planting date for Bywater/St Claude/St Roch/7th Ward (9:30 am – 1pm) SOUL will handle every step of the process for you. Download your tree permit from soulnola.org, and send it into julia@soulnola.org. SOUL will then consult with you on the right kind of tree for your house (we offer 9 different species), have your utilities marked, and plant the tree on our Saturday plantings. Have questions? Call our Program and Outreach Coordinator, Julia, at 504 356 2073, or email her at julia@soulnola.org. Want to volunteer? Sign up online via soulnola.org/volunteer

Community Office Hours 

City Hall is coming to our neighborhood! In an effort to better connect residents with local government, City Hall is excited to announce the expansion of the Mayor’s Community Office Hours Program. Residents will have the opportunity to engage with representatives from various city departments more often and at more locations throughout the city.

Community Office Hours for District C Eastbank will be held at the Treme Rec Center (900 N. Villere) from 10:30 AM to 4:00 PM on Feb. 5, 11, 13, 19, 25 and 27. Meetings will extend through May. We’ll provide later dates.

Posted in News | Comments Off on NFB General Meeting February 6th