Notes from the meeting by Charlie London
The city issued a “writ of seizure” on
3023-3029 Dumaine last Friday.
This was the fourteenth BlightStat meeting where the public was invited to attend.
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 presides over each meeting, asks questions of the attendees, and keeps the meeting on schedule.
The meeting began with a report from Mr. Winston Reid (Code Enforcement) who indicated his department is working on staying the course concentrating on consistency. His department remains above goals.
Mr. Reid added that his department is working on the inspections backlog. Now that his department has good sound data the numbers should improve.
Mr. Reid received congratulatory remarks from Mr. Andy Kopplin (Deputy Mayor) and Mr. Oliver Wise.
Ms. Kristin Illarmo (Code Enforcement) indicated they are still struggling with hearings. The first two weeks of June are not likely to be good but should pick up by the end of June.
Ms. Illarmo mentioned that they have re-arranged the staff which should yield benefits in the future. Once again, at this meeting, she noted that photos are often not with inspections when the case managers get the reports from the inspectors even though the inspectors have includede the photos. This is an ongoing problem and she is working with IT on a solution. Benefits in coming weeks.
Inspectors are attaching photos but the photos don’t show up for case managers. Resets for reinspection can occur if the photos are not available. The total number of hearings is still well below the target of 450 every two weeks. Restructuring of staff should change that.
Mr. Kopplin noted that Mr. Square was not present at the meeting because he is getting married tomorrow.
Mr. Wise asked for an explanation on the useful life of inspections.
Ms. Illarmo replied that there is no real end of life for inspections. The city does not generally set cases for inspections older than 60 days old unless a recent complaint is received. Ms. Illarmo indicated that this is an “internal policy” and not part of the code.
So, one might ascertain that the squeeky wheel gets the grease. Her statement may indicate that if you want properties in your neighborhood adjudicated, you must call 311 and email code enforcement at least once each month and encourage others to do so.
Every case gets an inspection about 10 days before the hearing.
Mr. Reid stated that his department is “creating systematic strategies”. Change of ownership, demolition, renovation all affect whether a property can be adjudicated.
Hearings are fewer but of better quality and outcome due to better preparation. 44 guilty 14 in compliance. Conditional guiltys are fewer. Cases are being closed due to better preparation for cases due to technical issues being fixed. The focus is on keeping undesirable resets down.
73 demolitions were transferred to FEMA. 22 demos to hearings later this month. 9 approved for demo from NCDC last week. SHPO, NCDC, HDLC slows process.
A discussion ensued about demolitions and the process of getting strategic demolitions to the contractor to get demolished. Mr. Andy Kopplin indicated there should be 135 properties available to be demolished. Mr. Oliver Wise stated that it should be crystal clear that there are 135 properties that should be knocked down. There are 135 properties approved through the process.
Mr. Jeff Hebert said there are over 3000 judgements some of which could be demolition candidates. Why does chart say 726? Mr. Hebert very strongly stated that something is amiss with the numbers and expects the process to improve. Mr. Hebert and Mr. Reid to discuss further later.
Mr. Andy Kopplin said, “we’re getting better but need to stay focused on the problems”.
Mr. Dean Wolcott – SCIC – FEMA demolitions
Said there are 919 properties available for FEMA demolition.
756 active packets – some renovated some already demolished. 513 of 756 waiting on adjudication. Click here to learn more about FEMA paid demolitions.
Ms. Cynthia Sylvain Lear of the Sanitation Department stated that June 11th is Hazardous Materials day. Citizens are encouraged to bring items like paint, computers, caulk, oil and any other hazardous waste on June 11th.
Ms. Lear also encouraged neighborhoods to remind citizens to sign up for the recycling program as this program not only helps the environment but saves the city money too.
Officer Terrence Johnson has been assigned to Sanitation Department. He will coordinate efforts on inspections of tire stores.
Ms. Lear announced that a Sanitation Ranger position will be added and that after Civil Service approves the position, the city has a qualified candidate ready to be hired.
Mr. Miles Granderson stated that liens are like a mortgage and the city is steadily foreclosing on properties owned by people who have not paid their blight fines. He responded to my inquiry about 3023-3029 Dumaine indicating that a “writ of seizure” was filed last Friday. 3023-3029 Dumaine should show up in a Sheriff Sale in about 3 months unless the owner pays the $70,000 in fines. Click on the link below to learn more about 3023 – 3029 Dumaine.
Ms. Brenda Breaux noted that she is stressing to Case Managers that they need to “get me to and get me through the June sale then we’ll meet with the Sheriff”.
A couple of questions from the audience were answered and the meeting adjourned.
WHO: Key blight policy and code enforcement staff
8:00-9:30 AM CST
9TH Floor—City Planning Conference Room
New Orleans, LA 70117