MARI ANNUAL MEETING Thursday January 18

MARI’s annual meeting will be held on Thursday at St. Andrew’s Parish Hall, 8017 Zimple St. Doors will open at 6:30 PM and the meeting will begin at 7:00. A light supper will be served. Speakers will include CM Giarrusso and Rep. Freeman. Representatives of Code Enforcement, Safety & Permits, and the Department of Public Works will make a presentation and answer questions.
Bring  your questions about D2Ds, parking, crime, streets, zoning, noise, bars, fraternities, and other issues.


CM Giarrusso has proposed a new “University Area Design Overlay,” which will require new structures and major renovations to be compatible with other nearby structures, and will limit the height of additions to 30 feet or three feet higher than the taller of the two immediately adjacent structures. Many of the D2Ds constructed in recent years have been out of scale with neighboring buildings, and it is hoped that this legislation will rein in those excesses.


On January 9, the Planning Commission approved most of Tulane’s requests to change the designations of six properties on the City’s Future Land Use Map (“FLUM”) from "Residential" to “Institutional” use. The properties approved were 1311-1323 Broadway, 6301, 6309, and 6325 Freret Street, 2210 Calhoun, 6325 and 6320 Clara Street.  The only property CPC did NOT approve was 2418 Calhoun. CPC Staff had recommended DENIAL of all requests for various reasons including: (1) Tulane's proposed changes could be considered spot zones, (2) Tulane has not indicated a specific future use for all sites such that the currently intended use could change and allow inappropriate uses if the FLUM is changed, and, (3) a "separate participatory and inclusive planning process needs to be undertaken that provides a pathway for the growth of institutions that is mutually beneficial to the university, the city, and the citizens of New Orleans." For staff reports and maps go to:   The video of the CPC hearing can be viewed at

The D2D or Doubles to Dormitories Challenge

Some of the most important work of MARI is trying to stem the tide of these D2Ds which threaten the very fabric of our beautiful neighborhood. Working with Councilman Giarrusso we have managed to get passed an overlay which restricts parking. In essence, for every bedroom added they need to provide parking which they cannot.


One challenge that we have is what seems to be the blanket approval by the city to these developers to almost anything they want to do. Many times we have found that they will buy a property and begin working on it before they even get a permit. One of the most egregious violations is the raising of a classic old shotgun house into 2 stories. You can see this in the left hand column. MARI has been fighting this and currently there is a lawsuit against Amicus, the developers from out of state who are behind some of the most blatant examples of this D2D movement. Apparently, this is happening all over the country in these university areas.


We feel that the powers that be in the permitting office and others to be on the side of the developers rather than the neighborhoods and the neighbors. They may issue fines but they are so low that the developers can easily absorb them.


Here is a letter written by MARI VP Keith Hardie in support of a bill that increases fines for these people. It provides a very good overview of our current challenge:


My name is Keith Hardie. I am an attorney and reside in the Carrollton University Area of New Orleans. For many years, I have been involved with the local neighborhood, and have worked, pro bono, on many issues regarding the neighborhood. 
I urge you to recommend and pass legislation which would permit the City to increase the daily and cumulative fines for code and zoning violations. Housing in the University area has been targeted by investors, often from out of state, who frequently ignore regulations, fail to obtain permits, make misrepresentations in applications, and refuse to bring illegal structures into compliance. 
As a result, many buildings include illegal and excessive numbers of bedrooms, pose life safety and fire risks, have excessive paving (which results in additional runoff flooding properties downstream), and create excessive parking demand, resulting in blocked driveways, broken sidewalks, and ultimately blight. 
Others have used lots zoned residential for commercial purposes or have constructed illegal structures and fences on their property.  Over the years, we have complained to the City about these properties, and the City has responded with inspection and citations, and with adjudications ordering the violators to comply with the laws and codes, and with fines.
But in many instances the violators -- the great majority of whom have acted in knowing violations -- simply ignore the inspectors and refuse to remedy the violations. I have seen violators refuse to comply, even after the Louisiana Supreme Court has affirmed violations found by the City’s Board of Zoning Adjustments. I have seen them alter buildings without having filed applications for building permits, ignore orders, knowingly and intentionally build structures which violate zoning regulations, and refuse to remove fences and structures erected in violation of the law. 

The scofflaws look at the relatively tiny fines and either ignore them or consider them just another cost of doing business. However, the excess parking demand, blocked views, cracked sidewalks, trash receptacles on the street, illegal inhabited structures, and other problems create blight and make life difficult for long term residents. 
It’s time to bring the amount of the fines in line with economic realities.  If City employees and regulations are to have any respect, there must be the potential for single day and cumulative fines that can increase to an amount sufficient to get the attention of the scofflaw, and pressure him or her to comply with the law. Violations must have consequences, and those consequences cannot be de minimus
Please work with our local Representative, Aimee Freeman, to empower the City of New Orleans to enforce its public safety and zoning regulations with fines that are commensurate with current economic realities for the good of the City’s vast majority of law abiding property owners.   


Lens Article on Short Term Rentals

We used to worry about these STRs back a few years ago. Rules were passed to try to get a handle on them and for the most part they seemed to have worked. Now, in the University area we are dealing with D2Ds, our most pressing concern. This is referenced in the above post.


Writer and Carrollton Resident Roberta Gratz has written an article for the Lens about short-term rentals. Gratz, who has written several books on urban planning, including "We're Still Here Ya Bastards" about the post-Katrina recovery, says, “What ruined the Quarter as a community now threatens the whole city.”