It’s been one year since the city invited the public to attend the BlightStat meetings. Today’s meeting was the 26th BlightStat meeting that the public was invited to attend.
At the first BlightStat meeting, Mayor Landrieu spoke about the hearing process noting that, “Continuances should be the exception rather than the rule.”
There’s been much progress toward that end over the last year. New hearing officers have been hired, case managers have been assigned, and the case review process has been streamlined. All in an effort to get properties adjudicated and if necessary, moved to Sheriff’s sale. Read more about that first BlightStat meeting in the link below:
Mr. Kopplin noted that I was likely the only one who has made it to all of the BlightStat meetings so far. You can review my reports on all of the previous BlightStat Meetings in the links below:
Blight Sweep in 9th Ward: http://fsjna.org/2010/11/blighted-beginnings/
BLIGHTSTAT ONE: http://fsjna.org/2010/11/bi-weekly-blight-business/
BLIGHTSTAT THREE: http://fsjna.org/2010/12/what-gets-measured-gets-managed/
BLIGHTSTAT FOUR: http://fsjna.org/2010/12/blight-busting/
2010 Year End Update: http://fsjna.org/2010/12/year-end-update-from-the-landrieu-administration/
BLIGHTSTAT FIVE: http://fsjna.org/2011/01/the-5th-dimension-of-blight/
BLIGHTSTAT SIX: http://fsjna.org/2011/01/a-sixth-sense-for-blight/
BLIGHTSTAT SEVEN: http://fsjna.org/2011/02/the-7-heavens-of-blight/
BLIGHTSTAT EIGHT: http://fsjna.org/2011/02/8-by-ya-mommas/
BLIGHTSTAT NINE: http://fsjna.org/2011/03/blightstat-9/
BLIGHTSTAT TEN: http://fsjna.org/2011/03/blightstat-10/
BLIGHTSTAT ELEVEN: http://fsjna.org/2011/04/blightstat-11/
BLIGHTSTAT TWELVE: http://fsjna.org/2011/04/blightstat-12/
Mayor’s State of the City Address: http://fsjna.org/2011/04/one-city-that-shares-one-fate/
BLIGHTSTAT THIRTEEN: http://fsjna.org/2011/05/blightstat-13/
BLIGHTSTAT FOURTEEN: http://fsjna.org/2011/05/blightstat-14/
BLIGHTSTAT FIFTEEN: http://fsjna.org/2011/06/blightstat-15/
CITY GETS REPORT CARD: http://fsjna.org/2011/06/city-gets-report-card/
BLIGHTSTAT SIXTEEN: http://fsjna.org/2011/06/blightstat-16/
BLIGHTSTAT SEVENTEEN: http://fsjna.org/2011/06/blightstat-17/
BLIGHTSTAT EIGHTEEN: http://fsjna.org/2011/07/blightstat-18
BLIGHTSTAT NINETEEN: http://fsjna.org/2011/07/blightstat-19/
BLIGHTSTAT TWENTY: http://fsjna.org/2011/08/blightstat-20/
BLIGHTSTAT TWENTY-ONE: http://fsjna.org/2011/08/blightstat-turns-21/
BLIGHTSTAT TWENTY-TWO: http://fsjna.org/2011/09/blightstat-22/
BLIGHTSTAT TWENTY-THREE: http://fsjna.org/2011/09/blightstat-23/
FIGHT BLIGHT RIGHT: http://fsjna.org/2011/09/fight-blight-right/
BLIGHTSTAT TWENTY-FOUR: http://fsjna.org/2011/10/blightstat-24/
CITIZENS PARTICIPATE: http://fsjna.org/2011/10/citizens-participate-in-new-orleans/
BLIGHTSTAT TWENTY-FIVE: http://fsjna.org/2011/10/blightstat-25/
BLIGHTSTAT TWENTY-SIX: http://fsjna.org/2011/11/blightstat-turns-one
NOTES FROM THE NOVEMBER 3, 2011 BLIGHTSTAT MEETING ARE BELOW:
Mr. Oliver Wise began the meeting with introductions and announcements. He announced the one year anniversary of the BlightStat meetings and presented buttermilk drops to those in attendance.
Mr. Hebert introduced Ken Grossman who is working with the City because of a grant from HUD. Mr. Hebert also introduced Allison Plyer of the Community Data Center who began the meeting.
She discussed the new report which is available at gnodc.org. Please visit the link below to read her report:
Ms. Plyer presented the following facts: New Orleans peak population was in 1960. Between 1960 and 1980 suburban development expanded while historic neighborhoods in New Orleans experienced abandonment.
The “sliver by the river” experienced growth in the 1990’s. After Hurricane Katrina singles are attracted to downtown living but more households move out than move in. Westbank gains households.
Mr. Kopplin asked about the depopulation of New Orleans. Ms. Plyer indicated that while population does fluctuate, overall population in New Orleans is down. Large growth is happening in St. Tammany Parish and other areas north of Lake Ponchartrain.
Ms. Plyer stated that the “baby boom” generation is getting older and there will be a “demographic tidal wave” of elderly in the next few years. She indicated that the city may want to pursue measures to keep elderly in their New Orleans homes.
Mr. Kopplin discussed redevelopment programs for vacant housing like the soft-second program. He indicated that rehab of vacant housing is the focus of the Landrieu administration.
Mr. Hebert indicated that many people want larger homes and are moving to suburbia to get them.
Ms. Bascos introduced “Tammy” who will be working on hearings with Ms. Illarmo.
Inspections continue to exceed goals with 22,000 inspections done this year and 469 inspections during this bi-weekly period.
Ms. Bascos continued with a discussion of the inspections backlog with Mr. Wise inquiring about the time it takes between a call for an inspection and when the inspection takes place. The goal of having the inspection take place within 5 days is not currently happening.
Inspectors have specific areas to cover now and that seems to be working well.
Ms. Illarmo continued the meeting stating that 352 hearings were done during the last two weeks with 315 hearings set for the next two weeks.
Mr. Kopplin asked what the plan is to close the gap. Mr. Hebert indicated that Ms. Illarmo is working nights and weekends to keep things moving.
Mr. Lessinger indicated that “Tammy” will be focusing on higher level management of the blight cases. This was in response to Mr. Kopplin’s question on what is to be done to “close the gap”.
Mr. Hebert indicated that the Case Management system is a problem with getting blight cases adjudicated.
Mr. Kopplin discussed with Ms. Illarmo about the churning of re-inspections due to case resets and indicated that 26 hearing officers have been hired and the process needs to move along efficiently.
Mr. Kopplin indicated that the hearings backlog should disappear by December 31, 2011. He also indicated that he wants citizens to be able to call up on January 1, 2012 and be able to find out information about blighted properties easily.
Mr. Kopplin stated, “Don’t submarine our goals” when referring to the backlog of blight cases.
Mr. Wise indicated the backlog is down to 1600 from 2200. Mr. Wise indicated that hearings productivity has increased while Mr. Kopplin expressed his gratitude for that.
Mr. Hebert indicated that “undesirable resets” of blight hearings has gone down from 67% last November to 23% this November.
Mr. Kopplin continued with a discussion of the problems encountered with demolition contractors.
The FEMA representative indicated FEMA funded demolitions are moving along. He indicated that during 2008 and 2009, people were not renovating properties but many more are now due to increased enforcement via blight hearings.
Mr. Kopplin indicated that the HDLC has a new booklet on how to properly and inexpensively rehab historic properties. The city is getting contractors to use the HDLC guidelines when doing rehab on historic properties for the small rental program. Please visit the link below to learn more about the Historic District Landmarks Commission guidelines for proper restoration:
Mr. Keith Ferrouillet of INAP indicated the contractor has equipment issues so not many lots were cut this bi-weekly period.
Mr. David Lessinger indicated 12 people have been hired under the Job 1 program several of which are ex-offenders to perform grass cutting in the 9th Ward area. Over 100 lots have been cut already.
Ms. Lear indicated 3 front-end loaders are damaged and need repair. She once again asked citizens to immediately report dumping. Citations are being issued.
Mr. Hebert indicated that tire dumping is a huge problem. He said he saw a boat in the middle of one street and the boat was filled with tires.
Mr. Kopplin indicated that he would like greater emphasis on catching violators or solving the problem. It’s not individuals but small tire shops that are doing most of the dumping.
Tires are recycled through LDEQ via COLT. Learn more about the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and tire recycling by visiting the link below:
Mr. Wise indicated that a lot more Sheriff Sales happened over the last two weeks.
Mr. Granderson said many of these properties were re-sales that did not sell at the first auction so the asking price was lowered.
Mr. Granderson said that Mr. Ryan Berni will be sending out a press release about the upcoming Sheriff sales.
Mr. Kopplin asked how many properties are scheduled for sale. Mr. Granderson indicated that goals for the year will not likely be met.
Mr. Kopplin put pressure on Mr. Granderson to get contractors that help with the Sheriff sale process to produce results the City is paying for… namely that blighted property sales increase significantly before the end of this year.
Mr. Kopplin requested an email blast be sent out with links to properties for sale to make it easy for people to find properties they may be interested in.
Ms. Wilkerson reviewed the stats on NORA properties and announced that another auction is coming up this Saturday.
Mr. Hebert said the City has learned from other cities what enforcement mechanisms work in different situations.
Mr. Kopplin indicated he is “deeply uncomfortable” with differential enforcement based on how an area is affected by blight.