27 Meetings about Blight

by Charlie London

This was the 27th meeting since the city began inviting the public to attend the BlightStat meetings.


Mr. Oliver Wise began the meeting with introductions and announcements. Deputy Mayor Kopplin was unable to attend due to a meeting with the State Bond Commission in Baton Rouge. He was there to ask for and received permission to refinance the City’s debt by selling new bonds.

Mr. Hebert began the meeting with an overview of the Blight Strategy begun in August, 2010.

Process Improvements
– consolidated code enforcement – 5 offices to one

Created a data management system to improve outcomes and support strategy development for programs.

Established BlightStat to manage performance of blight strategy.

Prioritized Sheriff’s Sales as the primary tool for disposition of blighted properties.

Developed new programs targeting blighted properties and lots.

Increased collaboration with NORA to focus interventions strategically.

Sheriff sales are making a difference.

43,755 blight properties. 25,662 inspections
15,413 inquiries 5,326 hearings 1,743 lots cleared 687 properties brought in to compliance due to inspections. 3,214 blighted units eradicated in the first year.

Interdepartment collaboration. Revenue collection up 90%. $791,406 fines collected in 2009. $1,346,631 fines collected in 2011.

0 Sheriff sales in 2009 | 68 in 2010 | 1,002 in 2011

Revenue collected from lien foreclosures $648,610 in liens – zero before

154 properties demolished in 2009. 523 properties demolished in 2010. 1,349 properties demolished in 2011.

Clearing nuisance lots – zero in 2009 for lots cut
5 years no lots cut – huge backlog. Lots were cited previously but there was no program to cut lots.

873 cut in 2010 – New program started April, 2010.
During 2011, 359 lots were cut as part of the lot cutting program in the 9th Ward with an additional 917 lots cut throughout the city.

Executable Judgments
1200 executable.

22,000 housing code inspections.
Entire city covered.

Fight the Blight Initiative – 5th one coming up in Dec.

Partnerships – collaborating with neighborhoods and city agencies for greater impact.

Large scale apartment demolitions.

10341 Plainfield – great before and after photo.
Higgins Gate getting cleaned up in Algiers now.
Successful property auctions in Lakeview.

Eradication of 10,000 blighted properties is the goal. 3,214 done with 6,786 to go to meet goal. Even with the ambitious goal of eradicating 10,000 blighted properties within three years, there will be at least 30,000 more properties needing attention. It is a herculean task.

Ms. Basco continued the meeting and noted that inspections continue with 668 done this bi-weekly period. Inspections backlog is increasing slightly due to a focus on hearings.

Mr. Wise commented that Code Enforcement has made remarkable progress since February.

Inspections process is smoother now that inspectors have been assigned districts. There are also people to replace them when someone is out which keeps the process moving.

Mr. Kray inquired about data on inspections by district and inspector. Ms. Basco indicated that would be a great thing to have.

Ms. Illarmo continued the meeting with a discussion of the hearings backlog which has been reduced by 421 cases this bi-weekly period. Ms. Illarmo and “Tammy” continue to work hard to keep cases moving. Ms. Illarmo has put in lots of nights and weekends.

Mr. Wise asked about the time period between inspections and when hearings are scheduled. That time can vary due to several variables. The goal is 30 days.

337 hearings done this bi-weekly period with 413 scheduled for the next two weeks. Highest ever!

20% compliance, 36% guilty judgments, resets down due to increased focus. There were 67% of cases reset in Nov 2010. That has been reduced to 13% this period. BlightStat meetings and community input drove this success.

Mr. Square indicated IBM pushed to have the BlightStat meetings reach a wider audience. He suggested information by neighborhoods be available to make the information more meaningful to individuals.

Ms. Basco indicated that is the goal to have information that is meaningful to individuals.
Mr. Bayas stressed the importance of having meaningful information for neighborhoods.

Quality of Life “STAT” meeting was brought up.
The program is still in development and is not currently open to the public.

Mr. Carrere continued the meeting. He indicated that there were 6 emergency demolitions over the last two weeks. They are working on demolition of a large complex near the high rise bridge on I-10 in New Orleans East. 111 properties in the pipeline but the contractor is current on the properties given to them.

Mr. Lessinger indicated that is why contractors and others are invited to BlightStat meetings to make sure everyone is aware of the importance of blight removal.

Eleven FEMA demolitions were done over the past two weeks. 101 properties salvaged to date.

INAP – Keith Ferrouillet said 20 lots were cut and 4 complied after warning.

Mr. Lessinger said there is a pilot program in the 9th Ward for cutting lots due to the large number of properties needing attention in that area. Mr. Hebert indicated that has a map of lots being cut. Neighbors, ex-offenders, and re-entry folks are cutting the lots.

Mr. Hebert indicated his frustration with dumping. After lots are cleared of tall grass and debris, more dumping occurs.

Only 5 FEMA trailers still remain. They should be gone soon.

Ms. C.S. Lear indicated that the Sanitation Department has been working more in the 9th Ward.
Dumping continues to be a major problem. Inspecting tire shops for proper documentation continues to be the focus.

Tire dumping is a nation-wide problem. The Sanitation Department is getting info from many state and federal sources that indicated tires are a problem everywhere. A unique stamp for each tire shop is a possible solution.

Mr. Gray discussed the legal issues concerning properties going up at the Sheriff sales. He discussed the results and problems associated with Sheriff sales.

Sheriff Sales will take place December 6th and 15th then again January 10th, 19th and 26th and February 2nd, 2012.

Mr. Lessinger is going to receive a list of properties from Mr. Kray on all the properties that did not sell with a copy to Mr. Hebert.

Ms. Breaux indicated some of the owners are waiting for grant money from the state. The law department has met with several owners to stress the importance of repairing properties.

Mr. Bayas indicated that the PRC had a great training program for the Sheriff sales. The City is looking into a similar program.

Ms. Wilkerson indicated that many people bid on properties based on the community they are in. She suggested selling properties strategically by area.

Mr. Gray indicated over a million dollars has been collected so far this year due to the lien foreclosure process. Code Lien Foreclosures are listed at

Ms. Wilkerson indicated 13 NORA/LLT closings happened. Rehab financing is sparce with no program to help people to rehabilitate homes.

There will be an auction in January for LLT/NORA properties. Hundreds of properties will be available.

Mr. Square said the City won a grant from Code for America. The City does not have a good way to retrieve batch information from individuals and neighborhoods. The grant will bring in smart folks (programmers) who can help resolve this problem.

The Code for America program will focus on solving tech problems for the City. Work should commence in January, 2012. More about Code for America at

Mr. Hebert indicated that city funds are limited so grants are a focus. The City of New Orleans beat out 20 other cities for the Code for America grant.

Mr. Square indicated IBM’s Smarter Cities report will be coming out soon with a set of recommendations that the City will have to figure out how to fund.

The Green Project has a contract to remove architectural details and other salvageable items from properties before they are demolished.

An “alternatives to demolition” meeting was held with all consulting parties for FEMA demolitions.

Mr. Square indicated a new computer system is a priority and is currently being reviewed. The new system should be up and running by October, 2012.

Questions from the audience were answered and the meeting adjourned.

November 17, 2011 BlightStat Presentation

At the first BlightStat meeting, Mayor Landrieu spoke about the hearing process noting that, “Continuances should be the exception rather than the rule.”

There’s been much progress toward that end over the last year. New hearing officers have been hired, case managers have been assigned, and the case review process has been streamlined. All in an effort to get properties adjudicated and if necessary, moved to Sheriff’s sale. Read more about that first BlightStat meeting in the link below:

You can review my reports on all of the previous BlightStat Meetings in the links below:
Blight Sweep in 9th Ward:
2010 Year End Update:
Mayor’s State of the City Address:

About the author
Charlie London
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