Article by Charlie London
This was the tenth BlightStat meeting where the public was invited to attend and the second where Mayor Landrieu was present.
The City continues to march toward its goal of eradicating 10,000 blighted properties within three years. City departments that can help with this process meet every two weeks for a “BlightStat” meeting.
Goals have been set for each department and a presentation is made at each meeting to show how each department is doing toward meeting those goals.
Mr. Oliver Wise (Policy Advisor) is the moderator for each meeting. During the code enforcement inspections discussion he stated, “What drives the numbers is sweeps”. The city has been focusing on blight around playgrounds and schools and works blight eradication in concentric circles around those areas.
Mr. Allen Square stated that within three weeks the public will have access via the internet to a consolidated and searchable database of blighted properties. The user will be able to enter variables then print out their own maps. This will be an invaluable tool for neighborhood organizations in their fight against blight.
The city has also hired 28 new hearing officers from 13 firms. Mr. Andy Kopplin (Deputy Mayor) noted that the new hearing officers are basically Assistant District Attorneys. The new hearing officers will begin work at the April 25th hearing.
Blight hearings are scheduled 30 days in advance. One issue brought up by Mayor Landrieu was the wait time for citizens who are involved in the hearings. He asked Kristin Illarmo, “What is the wait time?”. Ms. Illarmo responded that they currently have a sign-in sheet with times in and out but do not currently track how long a citizen has to wait before their hearing comes up. She also noted that the hearings will be scheduled every thirty minutes which should give citizens a better idea when their case will be heard. Ms. Illarmo said she would get back to the Mayor on how long citizens currently wait for their hearings.
Ms. Michelle Thompson of whodata.org presented a map of blighted properties to the Mayor that uses information currently available from the city. She is looking forward to seeing the consolidated and searchable database mentioned by Mr. Allen Square. Whodata.org is a project of the University of New Orleans and the brainchild of Ms. Michelle Thompson.
Mr. Paul May is the head of the department that oversees FEMA trailer removal. Mr. Ed Horan and Mr. Jared Munster are the case managers for FEMA trailer removal. There are currently 165 FEMA trailers in New Orleans that still need to be removed. For zoning issues or to inquire about the status of a FEMA trailer, please call (504) 658-7125.
An auction at 10 a.m. on April 2nd was also announced. 90 NORA (New Orleans Redevelopment Authority) properties will be auctioned at Xavier University. Please visit http://gilmoreauction.com for more information. NORA will have 200 properties for sale in May.
Ms. Brenda Breaux (Law Dept.) announced that in June there will be a large sale of properties that were foreclosed on by the city for code liens.
The next BlightStat meeting will return to the regular bi-weekly Thursday meeting and will take place Thursday, April 7th at 8 a.m on the 9th floor of the Amoco Building at 1340 Poydras Street.
WHO: Key blight policy and code enforcement staff
8:00-9:30 AM CST
9TH Floor—City Planning Conference Room
New Orleans, LA 70117