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Faubourg St. John » The Blight Fight

The Blight Fight

In the links below are the finalized versions of the Council’s blight remediation ordinances passed on August 22, 2013. They deal with Minimum Property Standards (City Code Chapter 26) and the Administrative Adjudication process for violations (City Code Chapter 6). Info provided by Mike Martin in Councilmember Guidry’s office.

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http://blightstatus.nola.gov/

For decades residents have asked for easy access to information on the status of blighted buildings, and now we’re delivering. BlightStatus is a new interactive online tool for residents to track the progress of blighted properties within the Code Enforcement system in New Orleans.

Anyone with an Internet connection can visit http://blightstatus.nola.gov to:

•search for any property to view its case history in a clear and simple format;
•create a “watchlist” to track the progress of multiple properties;
•receive email alerts whenever a property on your “watchlist” moves forward in the blight process;
•analyze blight citywide or down to the block level using interactive maps and charts; and
•learn more about the blight process itself at the Help Center
Reducing blight citywide is a top priority of my administration. Blight threatens our safety, the value of our homes, our quality of life and our environment. Nearly two years ago, we announced a new, aggressive blight strategy aimed at reducing the blight count in New Orleans by 10,000 properties by 2014. A recent study released by The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center showed that blighted properties have been reduced by approximately 8,000 addresses since 2010. The study attributed the reduction in part to the focused efforts of City agencies to bring properties into compliance by prioritizing aggressive code enforcement and code lien foreclosure sales.

Recently, the City’s blight strategy was named a 2012 Bright Idea in Government by Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, and was awarded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary’s Award at the 2012 Council on Philanthropy Conference for its public-philanthropic partnership with the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF), the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) and the Center for Community Progress (CCP).

This is a major step forward in reducing barriers to public participation in blight hearings, and improving the quality of the interactions between the City and the community in the common goal of eliminating blight.

Sincerely,
Mitchell J. Landrieu
Mayor
City of New Orleans
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BLIGHTSTAT MEETING (2nd Thursday of every month)
WHO: Key blight policy and code enforcement staff

WHERE: 8th Floor Homeland Security Conference room in City Hall

CLICK HERE TO SEE REPORTS ON BLIGHTSTAT MEETINGS —> http://fsjna.org/category/blightstat-meetings/

Fighting Blight
Lead Departments: Office of Blight Policy & Neighborhood Revitalization, ServeNOLA (from page 16 of the January 18, 2012 City of New Orleans Homicide Reduction Initiatives Status Report)

Blight threatens public safety, property values, neighborhood stabilization and quality of life. By reducing the number of dangerous, blighted properties, neighborhoods become revitalized, safer places to live. In October 2010, Mayor Landrieu launched a new, aggressive blight strategy aimed at reducing 10,000 blighted properties in New Orleans by 2014. Since then, the City’s Code Enforcement and Hearings Bureau has conducted more than 28,000 inspections, demolished 2,280 blighted units, moved over 1000 properties to code lien foreclosure, and collected over $1.5 million in blight liens and fines. In 2012, the city will continue to demolish unsafe properties, clear lots, and provide public review of progress through BlightStat meetings.

Mayor Landrieu’s ServeNOLA initiative in partnership with city departments, nonprofit organizations and neighborhood groups hosted four “Fight the Blight” cleanup days mobilizing 1,250 volunteers in 20 neighborhoods across the City. In 2012, ServeNOLA will continue to provide opportunities for residents at the neighborhood level to get involved in revitalizing communities.

BLIGHTSTAT MEETING (2nd Thursday of every month)
WHO: Key blight policy and code enforcement staff

WHERE: 8th Floor Homeland Security Conference room in City Hall

*OTHER HELPFUL INFORMATION*
To report blighted property please call (504) 658-4300/4301 or email Jonathan Solis at jasolis@nola.gov

To report an abandoned car or illegal parking please call (504) 658-8290/8291 or email Zepporiah Edmonds at zedmonds@nola.gov

To report a street light outage please call (504) 658-8080

To report a pot hole please call (504) 658-8000 or email Nguyen Phan at ndphan@nola.gov

For other Quality of Life issues you may contact the Community Coordinator (CoCo) Officers below:
1st Police District at (504) 658-6010, or email Sgt. Kenny Temple at ktemple@nola.gov
2nd Police District at (504) 658-6020, or email Sgt. Ernie Joseph at ejoseph@nola.gov
6th Police District at (504) 658-6060, or email Sgt. Yolanda Jenkins at ymjenkins@nola.gov
8th Police District at (504) 658-6080, or email Sgt. Jonette Williams at jrwilliams@nola.gov.

For all other complaints call: (504) 658-4000 and follow the prompts. If you get unacceptable results after contacting the numbers above please email info@fsjna.org with all the info and we’ll follow up.


Click here for the City of New Orleans Government Directory


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OptimizingBlightStrategies (click here)


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CODE ENFORCEMENT INSPECTION FORM (click here)

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Click here for the
CODE ENFORCEMENT HANDBOOK for RESIDENTS

Is it blighted or just a public nuisance? Click here to find out.
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This Faubourg St. John property at 1549 Verna is just one of the over 40,000 properties in New Orleans needing attention.

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Article below from the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center
Blight has emerged as a top concern in New Orleans this year…and with good reason. Blight reduces property values, attracts crime, and increases fire risks. But New Orleans has the potential to significantly reduce blight over the next few years.

You see there are basically two ways to address blight: code enforcement and acquiring properties. Both are expensive, but acquiring properties is much more expensive. And New Orleans is in the amazing position of already having 14,000 blighted properties under NORA’s control or subject to a legal agreement with the State.

Cities like Cleveland and Detroit would love to be in this position. All we need to do is make sure that we “dispose” of these properties in the right away.

What does that mean? Well, that depends…It depends on the strength of each neighborhood’s housing market. So if you want to know how strong your neighborhood’s housing market is, and how to maximize blight reduction in your neighborhood, read the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center 2010 Housing Report:
http://www.gnocdc.org/OptimizingBlightStrategies/index.html
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Mayor Landrieu invited the public to attend the first bi-weekly meeting on November 4, 2010 where all of the departments that have anything to do with blight get together to discuss their progress and ways to improve.Click here to view The City of New Orleans’ Blight Strategy
Artists vs. Blight


YOU can help fight blight. Join the fight against blight.
More info: http://twangster.livejournal.com/910.html

Hear Charlie London talk about bandit signs in an interview on March 14, 2011 on WGSO AM 990
http://katrinafilm.com/1demodiva031411.mp3
ANY CONCERNED CITIZEN CAN LEGALLY REMOVE ILLEGAL BANDIT SIGNS ON UTILITY POLES, NEUTRAL GROUNDS, and CITY PROPERTY!

There are many avenues one can take to advertise legally.
Don’t let bandits advertise illegally on our avenues.


With a 4-5 ft piece of scrap pvc pipe you can reach most bandit signs.


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Got Graffiti? Call Operation Clean Sweep NOLA.
(504) 486-9694
Visit Operation Clean Sweep NOLA on the web:
http://OperationCleanSweepNOLA.com

You can also email Operation Clean Sweep NOLA at info@operationcleansweepnola.com to report graffiti, doodles, tags, vandalized traffic signs, spray painting or illegal murals.

To purchase graffiti removal products contact Chad Boutte at ERASER MAN Graffiti Removal Services at (504) 309-1113 or by email at MyEraserMan@gmail.com. You can also purchase “SAFE WIPES” at United Hardware at 735 Elysian Fields. Call United Hardware at (504) 949-4121. Use protective gloves when using SAFE WIPES to remove graffiti.

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Artwork and permission courtesy Diane Millsap

VACANT PROPERTIES CAMPAIGN

Mayor Landrieu’s Blight Task Force Recommendations


Do you have a “problem property” in your neighborhood? If so, you should follow the steps below to rid yourself of that blighted and derilict property:

1st) Contact the owner of the property via registered letter (with return receipt)

2nd) If you do not receive a reply within thirty days, then copy your registered letter receipt and the letter you sent to the owner and call 658-2299 (option 2) and ask Code Enforcement for their fax and exact mailing address. Send the copies via registered mail to Code Enforcement with a return receipt.

3rd) Only after the first two steps have been completed should you contact the councilperson for the area.

Why? Because the first step gives the owner notice that you want the problem fixed and a chance to respond and/or take action.

Following the steps above also shows you’ve done your “due diligence” and are willing to be fair in your quest to get the property fixed.

Please send a copy of any correspondence about any problem property to info@fsjna.org Mail hard copies to the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association at P.O. Box 19101 New Orleans, LA 70179

VACANT LOTS = VIOLENCE


DOCUMENTATION AND DILIGENCE IS THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE PROBLEM PROPERTIES GO AWAY!

Below are five steps you can do to help move the process along. If you are unable to do this, please contact info@fsjna.org and we’ll get it done!

1) Take picture of property.

2) Go to nolaassessor.com, agree to the terms, search by address, get tax bill number.

3) Go to cityofno.com, look for drop down tab of “pay taxes and tickets”, go to “Pay Real Estate Taxes”.

4) enter tax bill number you retrieved in step 2.

5) Put picture and all info in a PDF (or MS-WORD) and send to
info@fsjna.org
Thank you for helping to fight blight!

LIEN FORECLOSURE PROCESS

After the property has been adjudicated, if it is bad enough, daily fines accrue. The fines will accrue to $15,000 then discontinue. Why? So, that the fines don’t exceed the value of the blighted property or scare off a potential buyer should someone wish to purchase it from the owner.

Normally, taxes take precedence and must be paid first. The Lien Foreclosure Process rips the taxes away from the property and assigns them personally to the blighted property owner. This process became available largely due to the efforts of Councilperson Stacy Head via City Ordinance.

What things must be present in order for properties to be eligible for Lien Foreclosure?

1) There must not be a Homestead Exemption on the property.
2) The property must not have been to a tax sale in the last 3 years.
3) Must have blight judgement.

What items need to be in a file that is presented to the District Councilperson?

1) Certified copy of the judgement (32 dollars from the Notarial Archives)
2) Photos
3) Copy of current tax bill and info from assessor’s office.

So, what is the difference between a tax sale and a lien foreclosure sale?

A tax sale involves the sale of a property for taxes unpaid over the last 3 years. The tax sale purchaser has to wait 3 years before they can legally take ownership of the property (title is quieted). The tax debtor can pay the taxes at the last minute along with 1% per month interest and take the property back.

Blighted property that goes to a tax sale (sherrif’s sale) only has to wait 18 months to “quiet the title”. See Title 47 of tax code.

The lien foreclosure process is final. No waiting period. New owner can take possession immediately. There is a catch though. The neighbors, neighborhood association, or concerned citizens must pay the 32 dollar fee PER property for the certified judgement in order for the Lien Foreclosure process to move forward.

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Residents have a fiduciary duty to themselves and their neighbors to object to anything that affects the value of the residents’ investment or quality of life in a residential area.

Let’s encourage commercial development in commercial areas. Tulane and Broad Avenues are ripe and ready for commercial development with many many opportunities for commercial growth available.

Organized commercial districts and knowing the zoning rules will be consistent, along with a business friendly climate from City officials, is what will move New Orleans forward.

Investors and major employers want consistency. Commercial development in neighborhoods is not what big investors and major corporations are looking for.

Tulane and Broad Avenues are wonderful commercial corridors. Let’s encourage commercial entities to invest there.

Everyone has a right to do what they will with their property provided that action does not deleteriously affect the value of surrounding property.

Effective zoning laws let everyone know that the rules of the game will be the same for everyone regardless of their wealth, status in the community, or political connections.

Thank you for all you do to move New Orleans forward,
Charlie London

You can review 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 TWO:http://fsjna.org/2010/11/keeping-our-eyes-on-the-prize/
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
BLIGHTSTAT TWENTY-SEVEN: http://fsjna.org/2011/11/27-meetings-about-blight/
BLIGHTSTAT TWENTY-EIGHT: http://fsjna.org/2011/12/blightstat-28/
BLIGHTSTAT TWENTY-NINE: http://fsjna.org/2011/12/blightstat-moving-to-monthly-meetings/
BLIGHTSTAT THIRTY: http://fsjna.org/2012/01/armageddon-has-arrived-for-blighted-property-owners/
BLIGHTSTAT THIRTY-ONE:http://fsjna.org/2012/02/31-flavors-of-blight/
BLIGHTSTAT THIRTY-TWO:
http://fsjna.org/2012/03/blightstat-32-for-you/
BLIGHTSTAT 33:
http://fsjna.org/2012/04/blightstat-33/
BLIGHTSTAT 34:http://fsjna.org/2012/05/blightstat-34/
BLIGHTSTAT 35:http://fsjna.org/2012/06/blightstat-35/
BLIGHTSTAT 36:http://fsjna.org/2012/08/blightstat-36/
BLIGHTSTAT 37:http://fsjna.org/2012/09/blightstat-37/
BLIGHTSTAT 38 – Blight Status Arrives!:http://fsjna.org/2012/10/blightstatus-arrives/

LOYOLA University published blight busting strategies on July 20, 2010.
Click the link below to view that report:
BlightStrategyLOYOLA-2010july20

The City of New Orleans published their blight busting stratey on September 30, 2010. Click the link below to view that report:
CityBlightStrategy2010sep30

The definitions of blight and public nuisance below were obtained from the following link:
http://www.nola.gov/RESIDENTS/Code-Enforcement/Definitions-of-Public-Nuisance-and-Blight
Many residents don’t understand what is meant by the terms “public nuisance” and “blight”. Generally, they refer to properties that are vacant and in a state of disrepair. Generally blight is a worse condition than public nuisance. Below is a description of what is usually meant by those terms. This is a summary, not a legal definition. For the legal definition, see Chapter 28 of the City code, available on the code enforcement main page.

Public Nuisance

A property can be considered a public nuisance if:
There is a significant amount of trash or garbage on the lot.
There are plants or weeds above 18 inches.
There are abandoned automobiles, building material, discarded appliances, machinery or furnishing.
It could be a hazard to children because of the condition of its foundation, the condition of the slab, abandoned machinery, unsecured building materials, uncovered holes or uncovered excavation.
There are conditions that could allow vermin infestation.
There are objects that can hold standing water.

Blight

A property can be considered blighted if:
It is chronically vacant.
There are unresolved code violations for unsafe, unsanitary or unhealthy conditions.
It has been declared a fire hazard.
It is lacking in facilities or equipment required by the Housing Code of the City of New Orleans.
It has been deemed “demolition by neglect” pursuant to section 84-108 or 84-208 of the City Code.
It has a substantial negative impact on the health, safety, or economic vitality of a neighborhood.
It is a vacant lot that is abandoned, does not meet the requirements of the City Code or has been adjudicated.
There is a vermin infestation.

New Orleans Redevelopment Authority

The City of New Orleans Code Enforcement declares properties to be blighted through an official City of New Orleans designation process.

After a property is declared blighted by the city, ownership does not immediately transfer to NORA. Before we can take control of a blighted property, we must first work with the courts to obtain the title to the property. This process may take anywhere from six months to two years depending on the ownership structure and legal issues involved in each individual case.

NORA only initiates cases to seize titles of blighted properties in limited instances and on behalf of Lot Next Door purchasers.

As an alternative to pursuing property titles through the courts, NORA also works with code enforcement authorities and neighborhood organizations to develop remediation strategies. Through code enforcement liens on blighted properties and strategic investment initiatives, market forces are often quite successful in blight remediation.

For more information about code enforcement and blighted properties, please visit the City of New Orleans Code Enforcement page.

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