Lens Article on Short Term Rentals

After months of waiting we now have action being taken on the conversion of the courthouse to an elder care facility. The first thing is the taking down of these outer buildings. There is ongoing demolition inside the courthouse itself to get it ready for this conversion.

 

One challenge the contractors have is the height of the river. They need to sink dozens of pilings before they can begin work on the additions and if the river is too high they have to wait till it lowers.

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.”