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

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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

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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.

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Free trees for your right-of-way or your front yard!

Do you want to get trees for FREE planted in your right-of-way or front yard? SOUL (Sustaining Our Urban Landscape) 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 in to 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.

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Special meeting regarding proposed hotel at 4019 Chartres St. – January 30

A special NFB meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 to hear about the developer’s solutions to noise concerns of the ARRIVE hotel complex (formerly the Rusty Pelican hostel, then Stateside hostel, now ARRIVE hotel) on the 1/2 square block bounded by 4019 Chartres St., Mazant and Royal Streets.  See location below.

At the January 9, 2019 HDLC meeting, the commission delayed approval of the massing for ARRIVE for 30 days, so developers and neighbors could work out solutions to the the following:

  • noise concerns related to an insufficient noise barrier along the property line of 10 homes due to late night noise generated in the 24/7 multi-use “T” thoroughfare
  • noise concerns of the 3rd floor open air bar
  • there should be a sound engineer engaged through design and construction on the project who will test the performance of the claims he makes about noise. 

Meeting Location & Time:
6:30 PM
3180 Chartres St., corner of Louisa and Chartres (white building with airstreams in the parking lot and sign directing how to get into the building)
Parking on Louisa St., riverside of Chartres and behind the building

Link to the January 9, 2019 full drawing set https://onestopapp.nola.gov/Search.aspx  From here, select 4019 Chartres St. HDLC C of A Reference Code UMGQ15, then Download 43, then ARRIVE.pdf 

Below are links to:

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City Council meeting tomorrow, Thursday January 10, re Short-Term Rentals

THE MEETING TOMORROW WILL DEAL WITH THE MOTION THAT SHORT-TERM RENTALS IN RESIDENTIAL AREAS SHOULD BE RESTRICTED TO PEOPLE WITH A HOMESTEAD EXCEPTION (i.e. people who own and live on the premises). THIS IS A MOTION THAT THE NEIGHBORS FIRST BOARD BACKS WHOLEHEARTEDLY. PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND THE MEETING. It’s in the City Council Chambers at City Hall and will be the first item on the agenda, so it will come up at 11:00. We strongly suggest that you come a little early, because the chambers will probably be packed. You should sign and turn in a card immediately stating your name, address and position. Even if you do not wish to speak, your comment will go into the record and you can also cede your time to another speaker.

If you cannot come to the meeting, send an email to the Councilmembers letting them know you support this motion. Here are their emails. Be careful. Some of them have a period between first and last name; some don’t, and some don’t use names for email address.

Councilmember at Large, Helena Moreno: morenocouncil@nola.gov

Councilmember at Large Jason Williams: jasonwilliams@nola.gov

Councilmember Jay Banks: jay.banks@nola.gov

Councilmember Kristin Palmer: kristin.palmer@nola.gov

Councilmember Jared Brossett: councildistrictd@nola.gov

Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen: cyndi.nguyen@nola.gov

If you want to send to all in one fell swoop: morenocouncil@nola.govjasonwilliams@nola.govjay.banks@nola.govkristin.palmer@nola.govcouncildistrictd@nola.govcyndi.nguyen@nola.gov

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NFB Board Meeting – December 19, 2018

NFB Board Meeting – December 19, 2018

7PM at Julie Jones’ house.

Present: Julie Jones, Anthony Eshmann, Mark Gonzalez, Tyler Harwood, Steven Jacob, Brian Luckett.

We started by talking about our “Bywater Goes Bananas” party, and all agreed it was a big success. The panel of neighbors telling stories about the neighborhood was a highlight. Everybody really liked the music and we sold a good amount of daiquiris! Mark requested we give $20 to the neighbors who provided electricity to Clouet Gardens and we all agreed it was a great idea. He also requested we make a donation to Clouet Gardens, and we decided to give them $100. We also agreed that Cherry May was incredibly helpful, and we should thank her with something special, like Champagne!

{At this point we were still waiting for other board members to show up so we would have a quorum… we paused to call missing members, messages were left.}

Our next general meeting would fall on January 2nd. All agreed this was not ideal, and we discussed whether to cancel or postpone until January 9th. It was suggested via email that we could just have a social, but we technically just did for the banana fest. Mark suggested we could do a “year end review” and discuss what we have worked on in the last year and what we will or should be working on in 2019. If we cancel the meeting this could just be an email newsletter. We decided to try and contact Kristen Palmer to see if she would like to come and also give us her “year in review”. We’ll wait to decide if we are having the meeting or not until we hear back from her office and if Stallings Center is available. Julie is contacting both. If we have the meeting Brian agreed to bring food and Steven J will bring water.

How do we get more folks to our meetings and events? Anthony said he talked to a few neighbors that didn’t hear about the banana fest, despite our promotional efforts. He said some have heard of NFB but don’t know what we do. Tyler volunteered to make new posters, and this time we can make some smaller handbills for coffee shops, etc.… Julie suggested twitter, but this was not taken up.

We should let Kristen Palmer know our thoughts on her proposal for new STR regulation. {overview can be seen HERE}. Ms. Palmer has requested it not go before city council until next month to allow time for feedback. We couldn’t find an exact date. Brian informed us that Allen Johnson from FMIA wants to form a group from historic core neighborhoods to talk with Ms. Palmer regarding better regulations for commercial STRs.  

A few board members went to an ARC meeting regarding the hostel (now a hotel?) which is still planned for 4019 Chartres St, and described it as a waste of time. Noise is still a considerable concern, and is seen as a design issue, but Committee did not address it. We wondered if the conditional use was dependent on the building’s use as a hostel, not a hotel. We also wondered if the two year extension for the conditional use granted by Bob Rivers was ever found to be legal. Because of the way the approval went through Kristen Palmer says that if anything changes with the plans they will be required to go back to city council for approval.

Meeting ended at 8:06 PM

Respectfully submitted,

Tyler Harwood, co-secretary

 

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NFB Board Meeting – November 20, 2018

NFB Board Meeting – November 20, 2018

Held at Tyler’s studio.

Present: Steve Jacobs, Michael Owens, Anthony Eschmann, Susan Korec, Tyler Harwood, Nancy Thacker, Brian Luckett, Julie Jones, Rhonda Findley, Stephen Haedicke.

Called to order at 7:11 PM by Julie Jones, President.

A meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 3rd regarding the large HANO development at Mazant and Royal Streets and 8 NFB members have been asked to attend: Julie, Brian, Steve, Nancy, John, Mark, and Rhonda. Joe Brown is also attending. The points to be reinforced are reduction in density and our opposition to the zoning change.

There is an ARC Review December 27th at 2PM for the development, and it’s not clear what the commission’s role is. The City Council can only make them go for advisement, they don’t have to follow it. The general consensus is “It’s HANO – it’s going to get built.” It was wondered if the folks planning the hotel/hostel may reconsider with ‘affordable’ housing across the street. Julie spoke with someone at the Gambit and shared that we are in favor of affordable housing, but not of the project as presented and we are opposed to the zoning change. City council has some power over the zoning change. An adjustment to the current design is to lower the height of the building(s) on France where there are residences. These homes will be essentially in the dark with the development the way it is currently depicted. It’s important to go to these meetings as it is a good opportunity to participate and point out issues. Habits at these meetings can be that the ‘presentations’ can run over in time if attendees are not assertive in speaking up.

Tyler noted a backlog on posting minutes to the web site, partially due to difficulty getting them approved prior to posting. People are not responding to emails. A “five day no objection rule” was proposed. If he does get approval or requests for corrections within five days after notes are sent to the board, he will post minutes as uncontested. Motion made and unanimously carried.

We then discussed the upcoming Tricentennial Celebration / Bywater Goes Bananas.

Letters inviting restaurants to participate were dropped off and we didn’t get many responses. Bywater Bakery said no. Lloyd from Junction was enthusiastic, and they want to set up a grill for hamburgers, and a Banana Daiquiri machine. Apparently we might need to pay a fireman to stay near the grill with a fire extinguisher. Bratz Ya’ll seemed interested but they haven’t followed up. All vendors will be outside, and will need to provide their own tent and appropriate permits.

Tyler, Rhonda, and Nancy agreed to meet at Tigermen Den to start on a site plan. Tyler agreed to contact them to schedule a time.

We were still undecided on if we will be asking to close the street. Rhonda said she would follow up with Kristen Palmer to see if the city can assist. Our budget is not clear. Mark submitted notes since he could not attend the meeting but they were difficult to read.

Tyler has secured Papa Mali for music. He has requested $225.

Susan is making arrangements with the police, and has been speaking to Serena Mohan from the PRC. She would like to speak about the architecture of Bywater.

A rough schedule was proposed:

11:00 – “banana bake-off” submissions drop off – these will be inside the Tigermen Den.

12:00 – “banana bake-off” judging

1:00 – PRC presentation

2:00 – Neighborhood history speakers

3:00  – music

What to provide for a kid’s area was discussed, as well as what kinds of maps we would like to display. We decided not to do banana carving or a costume contest.

We agreed that we need to schedule a special festival planning meeting soon to work out more details.

Submitted by Nancy Thacker, co secretary

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General meeting for Wed, Jan 2, CANCELLED

Because of the date we are cancelling. We are trying to get the room for another Wednesday the 9th, but NORD is taking its time to respond. In any event, we want to tell you what we have done this year and to get an idea of your priorities for 2019. We already have some ideas, but we’d like to hear from you, please.

In the meantime, we wish you the best for your new year’s celebration and–more important–for the rest of 2019.

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NFB General Meeting — November 7, 2018

NFB General Meeting — November 7, 2018

Meeting started by president Julie Jones around 7:05 PM. 

We were given an update on the proposed HANO development at 4100 Royal St (the big lot bordered by Mazant, Royal, Chartres and France). Hano owns the property and ITEX is the developer. Councilmember Palmer is reported to have requested they downsize the development significantly. It was also suggested that some of the other smaller developments planned for the smaller lots could have more units (e.g. 4-plex instead of singles or doubles) to reduce the density at the larger development. It’s unclear if she if is supporting the zoning change, which the NFB board is opposed to.

We were then notified there is an application by “KP Desire St LLC” seeking to change the zoning at 3350 Dauphine (corner lot at Desire and Dauphine) from HMR-3 (residential) to HMC-1 (commercial). Julie requested they change their original NPP time and location because it was in the middle of the work day and at the Piety St Wharf, which can be difficult to access for some. The time has been changed to 6PM, Wednesday November 14th, and will be held at the Nora Navra Public Library – 1902 St Bernard Ave. It was noted that this is considered “spot zoning”, which the NFB is decidedly opposed to. 

Julie mentioned that she has personally had issues with the NFB email announcements getting lost in her “spam” folder. She recommends members check to see that they are getting our announcements and adjust their email filtering to be certain our emails get through. 

Elliot Perkins, director of the HDLC, was then introduced. He’s been with the HDLC since 1999 and director since 2005. His single most important piece of advice is to consult with the HDLC before starting any work, as it is typically more difficult to fix issues after the work has started. It was later noted that the fees are now also significantly higher “if you ask for forgiveness before asking permission”. Mr. Perkins then updated us on some new guideline changes. They can now approve “case-style” gutters on many buildings, which can be less expensive. Guidelines regarding solar panels have changed, as they have discovered the design of the panels is really more important than visibility in most cases. Black on black solar panels are preferred, as the blue and silver panels are “distracting”. They have also been working to make the approval process more efficient, and are trying to make their website easier to use and more helpful. Mr. Perkins then mentioned some changes the outgoing city council made to their definition of “demolition”. In “partial control” districts the HDLC only has jurisdiction over demolition, so we can expect to see some of these changes reflected in their agendas, and it can be a little confusing. 

The ITEX / HANO people have agreed to meet with the ARC (Architectural Review Committee) regarding the large development at 4100 Royal St. The developers are required to seek the advice of the commission (whether they choose to follow it or not) before undertaking the work. Mr. Perkins noted that the developers are required to come to the public hearing as well, and that this is an excellent forum for the public to come speak on any issues they may have with the project. Kristen Palmer’s staff attends these meetings and pay attention to these forums. This will probably be scheduled next month – check for more info here: https://nola.gov/hdlc/calendars-agendas/, [you can also sign up to receive agendas via email at that address].

Mr. Perkins then took questions from members. He prefaced that their jurisdiction is over anything visible from a public right of way, including side streets, so this may sometimes include more than just the front of many structures. A member asked about the color coding used on maps to designate the significance of properties, and Mr. Perkins said they had simplified their system. Purple and blue now designate “significant”, whereas green, gold, and red designate “contributing”. Non-contributing buildings are green. He mentioned that the map they use is old and colored in with pencil, so it has been a challenge to get that information on their web site. Another member asked for clarification regarding attic vents. On some buildings historic vents have been required, and she remarked that they do not work as well as newer ones. Mr. Perkins recommended newer versions of the appropriate vents that operate a fan using a solar energy. Julie inquired about the process by which more modern looking new construction is allowed in historic districts. State Law does not allow the HDLC jurisdiction over new construction regarding style or type of building. The HDLC tries to assess new construction to help it fit in as best they can by applying existing guidelines (setbacks, materials, projections, porches, ect…) to whatever style the proposed building is in. He again encouraged us to come to ARC meetings to express our opinions on new construction. Postcards are sent out to anyone within 300 feet of properties on their agenda, though occasional issues with the USPS were noted. 

A member asked about guidelines for exterior paint color. The HDLC does not regulate paint color, but they do have regulations regarding painting previously unpainted masonry, as it can cause structural issues in our wet climate.

Anthony Eschmann asked for information regarding the “belgian blocks” (aka “cobblestone”) on the 1000 block of Montegut, where there have been concerns about their preservation as the proposed Iris apartment development moves forward. Those lots were not drawn into the historic district and the HDLC does not have jurisdiction over them. There is an ordinance requiring that historic paving be restored, though it isn’t clear if it applies to this particular project or not. It was noted that this same ordinance covers the historic tile street names embedded in sidewalks, some of which have been damaged by the new gas lines being installed by Entergy / Cimarron. We were encouraged to ask the HDLC to help if we see tiles that are not replaced, as they have had success getting them fixed in the past. 

Mark Gonzales asked about fence heights. Maximum allowed fence height for side and rear yards is 7 feet. Maximum fence height in front of buildings depends on the significance of the building. For most contributing and significant buildings it is usually 6 feet and it must be transparent (wood or metal picket). Unrated buildings can have opaque fencing in front, such as horizontal board fencing or capped vertical board fencing. Chain link or “non standard” fencing has to be reviewed by the commission on a case by case basis.

Mr. Perkins was thanked for his time and for all the great information. 

We were then introduced to Jeffrey Goodman, an expert on Short Term Rental regulations. 

Mr. Goodman, also vice president of the Urban Conservancy, announced that November 24th is “Small Business Saturday”, which is “a national shopping event (between Black Friday and Cyber Monday) that encourages consumers to shop local”. Over a dozen Bywater and Marigny businesses are participating. If you would like your business included email maryann@staylocal.org. There is also a city-wide effort to encourage consumers to shop locally for the holidays. Make a pledge to spend 10% of your money at local and independent businesses this year. More info can be found at staylocal.org

The City Planning Commission released their report, and it’s long. Their recommendations are still fairly complicated, much like the current ordinance which is very complicated and arguably unenforceable. They want to get rid of the temporary permit category, which isn’t working, and keep the commercial permits. Commercial permits allow operation year round in any property zoned commercial, but not on the ground floor and only 25% of the units can be STRs, which is a confusing rule. 25% is also an arbitrary number, not based on any real research. People have apparently used fake businesses to apply for spot zoning to switch to commercial to run STRs. It was later noted that these are basically what would be traditionally regulated as a “Bed and Breakfast”, but this version does not have to follow the same safety and zoning standards.

AirBnB backed out of the “handshake agreement” the city had with them to share data. The CPC wants to see the agreement honored. Other cities have been more aggressive and more successful in terms of making all the STR platforms be active in enforcement off regulations. It was noted that New Orleans has such agreements with Uber and Lyft and they have been successful.

Mr. Goodman was a co-author of the “REST” ordinance (Residents for Ethical and Sustainable Tourism Ordinance), which is being promoted by the Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative. Jane Place released a very informative and well researched report on STRs a few months ago, which can be read here: https://storage.googleapis.com/wzukusers/user-27881231/documents/5b06c0e681950W9RSePR/STR%20Long-Term%20Impacts%20JPNSI_4-6-18.pdf 

The REST ordinance was written using research on current successful regulations being used in other cities, and has four key new rules. 

The first is that STR permits should be limited to primary residences, which would be residences with homestead exemptions. This would limit the permits to one per property they live in. It prevents homes being turned into full time STR businesses. If the permit holder does not live on the property that would be considered homestead exemption fraud, which on its own is a serious offense and less complicated to enforce using existing law.

The second is to require licenses for STR platforms and require them to assist in stopping illegal listings. It’s safe to assume the platforms will fight this as hard as they can, because they have proven they don’t believe local governments should interfere in their business, and they have sued other cities. 

The third change would be to increase fees to fund the Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund (NHIF), which helps fund and develop affordable housing that is compromised by allowing STRs to operate at all. The fee is currently $1 per night, which is not very helpful. The REST Ordinance wants that to increase to $20, which will still barely make a dent. 

The fourth new rule would be zero tolerance for discrimination. Multiple studies have shown discrimination is a real problem on STR platforms, from both the host and guest side. We would not allow that of a hotel or Bed and Breakfast, and it should not be allowed here. If someone is caught they should get a lifetime ban. The platforms would be required to share data about any cases of discrimination and the process would have to approved by the city council and human relations committee of New Orleans. There really should not be any pushback in asking for this, and it would be unique to our city’s efforts to improve STR regulation.

The full REST Ordinance can be found here: https://storage.googleapis.com/wzukusers/user-27881231/documents/5b99cd288dd5c2tLOdOP/REST%20Ordinance.pdf

The CBD could have unique rules since it is a unique neighborhood. One idea suggested by housing groups is a one-for-one swap — for every unit that is an STR there would have to be one unit that is affordable housing. This could be the one place the commercial STR permits could be OK. It was suggested that the mayor could be approached with this idea, as she has frequently touted affordable housing as one of her major concerns. Currently somewhere around 40% of the units in the CBD are full time STRs. The ban should remain in place for the French Quarter, as it has been for many years even before these new platforms emerged.

Mr. Goodman made the point that we should not be privileging people who own several homes and run them as businesses, when many New Orleanians can’t afford a single home, not to mention all the people looking to rent. We should be thinking of STR regulation as a major housing issue. We have little to no control over so many factors when it comes to promoting more affordable housing, and this is the one issue where we have a significant opportunity.

The deadline for making some real progress on these issues would be roughly April, before the state session begins. Other cities lost the ability to regulate STRs because state government got involved and preempted local regulations. It happened in Tennesee, Florida, and Arizona, and it would be devastating if it happened here. 

Mr. Goodman said he would stay after the meeting to answer any other questions. He was thanked for his time and hard work to help bring New Orleans smart and meaningful STR regulation.

Mark Gonzales quickly reminded everyone about the NFB Tricentennial party, which will be held December 16th, noon until 5PM, at Clouet Gardens and Tigermen’s Den. There will be food and drinks from local restaurants, activities for kids, and a forum where long time residents will share stories about our beloved neighborhood.

Adjourned at 8:23 PM

Respectfully submitted,

Tyler Harwood, co-secretary

Posted in Minutes | Comments Off on NFB General Meeting — November 7, 2018