by Charlie London
BlightStat meetings take place on the 8th Floor in the Homeland Security Conference room at City Hall. This was the 25th 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.
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.
Click here for the City’s October 20, 2011 BlightStat presentation
BLIGHTSTAT MEETING ARE BELOW
Mr. Oliver Wise began the meeting with introductions of City personnel.
He asked Mr. Winston Reid to go over the Age of Inspections Backlog slide.
Mr. Reid noted that HDLC cases are an issue that’s being worked out.
The backlog has gone from 900 cases at the beginning of the year to about 200 now.
Mr. Reid indicated that the Code Enforcement districts are setup and running.
Ms. Kristin Illarmo noted that fewer hearings were done due to training of personnel.
90 hearings were done over the last two weeks. 450 hearings each two weeks is the goal.
Ms. Breaux indicated a plan is in the works to have a large number of hearings to reduce the backlog. Ms. Illarmo concurred with that assessment.
Mr. Kray and Ms. Illarmo discussed some details about reporting the backlog. Mr. David Lessinger offered some comments on the details of the reports as well.
Ms. Illarmo discussed how cases are closed in the computer system. Mr. Reid and Mr. Lessinger discussed the intake process for inspections.
Ms. Denise Ross and Ms. Illarmo discussed issues with the software noting that there are some significant safeguards missing to ensure accuracy of reports.
Mr. Reid noted that some properties are being inspected and reinspected sometimes 4 to 6 times because of software issues.
Mr. Allen Square indicated that IF Accela wins the upcoming bid for a new system that he will recommend significant changes to make reports easier for inspectors on the street.
Ms. Illarmo discussed undesirable resets which have steadily increased over the last several months after a significant drop in June. Mr. Wise asked what causes resets.
Ms. Illarmo indicated that many are due to no re-inspection.
Mr. Wise indicated that there is a plan to fix this problem and we’ll soon see the results of that plan. Mr. Reid discussed operational issues preventing re-inspections from being done timely but indicated the new plan should help but many times the inspectors don’t “see” the inspections needing to be done because the computer system isn’t working properly.
Mr. Hillarie Carrere discussed demolitions. 1,731 demolitions have been completed so far. The largest activity is with NORA/LLT demolitions. Mr. Carrere indicated that Entergy disconnects are currently caught up.
The demolition process is moving along with total demolitions continuing to rise each bi-weekly period.
Mr. Wise reviewed the demolition denials which appear to be concentrated in the 7th and 8th Wards. These are denials by SHPO, NCDC, and HDLC. Ms. Ross asked about neighbor participation in the process. Mr. Carrere indicated that notices are placed on each property, the demolitions are noted on the city’s website, and the hearings for demolitions are broadcast on television.
Mr. Square noted that it appears that there is a high incidence of crime in the same areas where demolition denials take place. He qualified that statement by indicating there is no definitive data yet to back that up but appears to be the case in his view.
Mr. Carrere and Ms. Breaux discussed eminent danger of collapse. Ms. Breaux indicated that a City engineer has to inspect and certify a building is in eminent danger of collapse.
The recent multiple fires reputed to have been started by vagrants was discussed.
A Fire Chief was present and discussed the Fire Department’s efforts and the impact of blighted properties on fire fighting efforts.
Mr. Keith Ferrouillet discussed lot clearings. 27 lots were cleared over the last two weeks.
Mr. Wise asked about the 9th Ward grass cutting project. Mr. David Lessinger indicated that over 100 lots have been cut with more being done everyday.
Mr. Wise indicated the City is way past the deadline for FEMA trailers being completely gone but less than ten FEMA trailers remain.
Ms. Cynthia Sylvain-Lear discussed the Sanitation Department’s outreach efforts. Trees must be cut into 36 inch lengths for it to be picked up by sanitation contractors.
Tire dumping continues to be a problem. Bandit signs are being removed steadily. Write to email@example.com if you have bandit signs in your area. Ms. Lear has mailed a list of codes to the Office of Neighborhood Engagement to be sent to neighborhoods.
Mr. Miles Granderson discussed Sheriff Sales noting that 1908 Esplanade was recently sold at a Sheriff Sale. The sale price was $70,000 with the City receiving $17,000 in past due blight liens from the sale.
Ms. Joyce Wilkerson asked about follow up on Sheriff Sale properties to make sure they get repaired. Mr. Granderson indicated that the City cannot attach covenants to Sherrif Sale properties but once the property transaction is complete that the owner has 90 days to begin the process of restoration of the property. If that isn’t done then neighbors can once again report the property as blighted and the process begins again.
Mr. Reid discussed the possibility of having a notice put on the construction permit for properties sold at Sheriff Sale so that these properties can be properly monitored. Mr. Wise indicated that a policy needs to be formulated. Mr. David Lessinger indicated that there is a policy of 90 days for action to be taken but enforcement is the issue. He indicated that more information will be in the annual blight report.
Mr. Wise indicated that information on foreclosed properties can be found at http://data.nola.gov
Ms. Joyce Wilkerson reviewed NORA issues. NORA properties are closing faster after auctions. She indicated that some of the properties are being auctioned for as little as 1,000 dollars in Algiers. Ms. Wilkerson indicated that Gilmore Auctions will be conducting another auction for NORA soon. She suggested that citizens should check the Gilmore website for more information.
Mr. David Lessinger responded to a question from the audience about deconstruction of properties. He indicated that all of the demolition programs have a deconstruction clause in the contract.
Mr. Carrere indicated that if any part of the building has any value the contractor is aware of it.
Mr. Wise indicated that the City should do a better job of communicating the availability of properties that can be deconstructed.
The City of New Orleans Sanitation Department received a grant from Anheuser Busch to provide recycling bins to fairs and festivals in New Orleans. Find out more by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org
WHO: Key blight policy and code enforcement staff
8:00-9:30 AM CST
*OTHER HELPFUL INFORMATION*
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.
Is it blighted or just a public nuisance? Click here to find out.