by Charlie London
BlightStat meetings take place on the 8th Floor in the Homeland Security Conference room at City Hall. This was the 24th BlightStat meeting to which the public was invited.
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.
Click HERE for the City’s October 6, 2011
BLIGHTSTAT MEETING ARE BELOW
Mr. Justin Kray announced that more information on lien foreclosures will be online at data.nola.gov
Ms. Bosco discussed the slide showing the districts that code inspectors have been assigned. By Oct 17 all inspectors will be familiar with their areas.
Jeff Hebert announced that HUD has funded a market value analysis like in Baltimore. This is a big part of what peer cities use for data analysis.
Mr. Allen Square said that a RFP (request for proposal) will go out to solve the Accela problem. Accela can legally be one of the bidders.
Ms. Bosco said 658 inspections were done in the last bi-weekly period. Focus is on re-inspections for hearings since Code Enforcement is so far ahead of its goal for the year.
Ms. Bosco continued with a discussion of the inspections backlog slide. She indicated that Code Enforcement continues to move forward.
Ms. Bosco indicated that by October 17 when the new inspection districts are assigned, inspectors will be “doubling up” on the backlog to wipe it out.
Ms. Illarmo said the focus is on research for the backlog of cases for hearings. Mr. Wise asked about the mailroom problem discussed at BlightStat 23. Ms. Illarmo indicated that problem has been solved.
Mr. Wise asked Ms. Breaux about using volunteers from the Bar Association. Ms. Breaux indicated the State Attorney has indicated this can’t be done.
Ms. Illarmo continued by noting that undesirable resets for blight hearings climbed during the last two weeks.
Mr. David Lessinger explained that the City interacts with the State about Road Home properties before bringing them to adjudication.
Mr. Hebert indicated that just because someone is using a State program that does not preclude them from taking care of their property… cutting grass, boarding up, etc.
Mr. Kopplin indicated there is an urgency to get resets resolved because of the impact on the adjacent neighbors.
Mr. Wise, Mr. Kopplin, and Ms. Illarmo discussed the “undesirable resets”. Mr. Kopplin asked for more information about this issue for the next BlightStat meeting.
Mr. Kopplin indicated that the City is “getting tough” on blight and that the prosecutors in blight cases need to constantly reiterate this policy to people attending the hearings. Ms. Breaux indicated that is currently being done.
Justin Kray and “Debra” have done a great job reducing the hearings backlog, Ms. Illarmo said.
Mr. Kopplin indicated “we’ve been puttering along without a plan to close the gap” on the hearings backlog. He suggested a large hearings event at Maria Goretti church as has been done in the past.
Mr. Wise reviewed the total demolitions by program slide. Mr. Carrere indicated that the city is “still on track” with demolitions.
Mr. Wise asked about Entergy disconnects which were discussed as a barrier to progress at BlightStat 23. Mr. Carrere indicated that coordinating Entergy disconnects are still an issue due to more requests than usual for utility disconnects.
Mr. Wise asked about any other barriers to progress. Historic review was mentioned by Ms. Bosco as an issue.
Accela issues were indicated as a barrier to getting information disseminated out to Quality of Life Officers.
Mr. Wolcott discussed FEMA funded demolitions. Grant money from the state for demolitions has been verified.
Finding and notifying the correct property owners is still an issue but progress is being made.
Mr. Wise discussed abatement interventions. Mr. Hebert announced that Mr. Wolcott will be moving to another position and will no longer attend the BlightStat meetings. Mr. Hebert wished him well and announced that “Will” will be taking his place.
Mr. Kopplin indicated that the majority of fires that the city puts out are blighted and abandoned properties. The Fire Department is another City agency that is committed to fighting blight.
Mr. Hebert expressed his frustration over property owners who allow vagrants to inhabit their property. Mr. Kopplin indicated that the City should have a strategy to combat this problem to prevent another incident where kids get killed in a burning building like what happened in the 9th Ward.
Mr. David Lessinger discussed the strategy for fighting tall grass in the 9th Ward. A pilot program for just the 9th Ward has been implemented to combat high grass. High grass along major thoroughfares will be cut first then the program will move further into the neighborhoods.
Ms. Bosco indicated that 7 FEMA trailers remain in the City from 2005. Some trailer residents have received rental assistance from FEMA and some are working on their permanent residence. Mr. Kopplin said the public is not sympathetic to those who have not made progress 6 years after the storm. Not that anyone will be “put out” but that they need to get their act together and accept FEMA funded rental assistance or fix their homes.
Mr. Wise said Ms. Lear is out of town.
Mr. Granderson continue the meeting with a discussion on Sheriff Sales. Mr. Hebert said notifying the proper owner is still a problem for people who have walked away from their property. Mr. Gray discussed state requested holds.
Mr. Granderson indicated that a Sheriff sale is taking place today. A large sale event will take place on October 18th. He indicated that 250-300 sales should take place by the end of the year.
Significant progress is being made on getting blighted and abandoned properties to Sheriff Sale. Properties going to Sheriff Sale definitely get the property owners’ attention.
Mr. Kopplin indicated a thousand writs have been filed against blighted and abandoned property owners. Mr. Kopplin indicated he would like more properties at the Sheriff Sales by the end of the year.
Mr. Kevin Hanna reviewed the NORA situation. Mr. Hebert said even more details about a CEA between the State and the City concerning NORA properties will be available for the next BlightStat meeting. Mr. Hanna noted that NORA closings continue at a steady pace.
Ms. Rita Legrand from Lakeview asked via email about LLT properties being online. Mr. Hebert indicated that is being worked on and that the process is complicated. 150 have gone to Sheriff Sales.
Ms. Rita asked (via email) about the acquisitive prescription process? Ms. Breaux indicated they are monitoring this.
Mr. Hebert indicated the Mayor is vociferous about getting lots cut and other forms of blight remediated.
Michelle Thompson, a UNO assistant professor said she had the opportunity to meet with the 8 member “Smarter Cities” group from IBM. She indicated that the group invited her to be in a video about the work of IBM for New Orleans.
Ms. Thompson indicated that one of the IBM “Smarter Cities” group hails from Japan and is very interested in using New Orleans’ BlightStat program in Japan.
I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. David Lessinger after the meeting. I expressed dismay that Accela touts on their website how well their program works in other cites but that just doesn’t seem to be the case here in New Orleans.
Mr. Lessinger indicated that in other cities there are 3 city employees assigned to monitor, update, and make changes to the Accela system. Here in New Orleans there is no one.
So, anytime anything needs to be done to the Accela system, the City has to hire Accela representatives to fly down and fix problems. I hope the new RFP has a maintenance program where at least one full time employee paid for by Accela (or whoever wins the bid) to monitor, update, and fix any issues that may arise.
WHO: Key blight policy and code enforcement staff
8:00-9:30 AM CST
To report blighted property please call (504) 658-4300/4301 or email Jonathan Solis at email@example.com
To report an abandoned car or illegal parking please call (504) 658-8290/8291 or email Zepporiah Edmonds at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
2nd Police District at (504) 658-6020, or email Sgt. Ernie Joseph at email@example.com
6th Police District at (504) 658-6060, or email Sgt. Yolanda Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org
8th Police District at (504) 658-6080, or email Sgt. Jonette Williams at email@example.com.
For all other complaints call: (504) 658-4000 and follow the prompts. If you get unacceptable results after contacting the numbers from above please email firstname.lastname@example.org with all the info and we’ll follow up.