by Charlie London
BlightStat meetings will take place on the 8th Floor in the Homeland Security Conference room at City Hall until further notice. This was the 23rd BlightStat meeting to which 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.
Click HERE for the City’s September 22, 2011
BLIGHTSTAT MEETING ARE BELOW
Mr Wise began the meeting with introductions. Mr. Hebert announced the Fight the Blight event taking place throughout the city this Saturday, September 24th from 10 am to 1 pm. More in the link below:
Mr. Hebert also welcomed Councilmember Palmer who attended today’s BlightStat meeting.
Mr. Wise announced that New Orleans received a Challenge Grant from IBM. The IBM team was introduced. An IBM representative introduced the team which hails from all over the country and the world. He stated that the team will be working with the City of New Orleans to analyze data and processes to help the City improve. More about the IBM Smarter Cities program can be found in the link below:
Mr. Kopplin recognized the Strategic Partnerships group from the City that helped make this grant a reality. This is one of 8 grants given by IBM throughout the country.
Mr. Square said this grant is timely as the City is looking to move forward.
Mr. Kopplin announced that the Bureau of Governmental Research wanted to award the City for its BlightStat efforts but Mr. Wise is married to someone who works at the Bureau of Governmental Research.
Mr. Kopplin introduced Brian Lawlor who is a new employee. He recently worked for the State of New York.
A Chief of the New Orleans Fire Department was present and will be present at future BlightStat meetings.
Ms. Bosco of Code Enforcement once again reviewed the backlog as they have at every meeting. She indicated that the backlog is steadily dropping. The Code Enforcement inspections are down but they have already met their goal for the year and have assigned inspectors additional duties to help move the entire blight remediation process along.
Mr. Square indicated that the Code Enforcement Department has made incredible progress on the backlog and asked how long it takes for an inspection once blighted property is reported. Ms. Bosco replied that it is generally 48 to 72 hours.
Mr. Hebert indicated that the system is designed to get information in but the system is not user-friendly when trying to get the information back out in a usable format. He indicated that frustration is rising from both City employees and the public about the computer system.
Ms. Ross indicated the features that she would like to see the system be able to do. Every status in the blight pipeline needs to be “live” so that the workflow can proceed smoothly. She indicated Justin Kray, the Technology Lead in the Office of Performance and Accountability has done a great job collating information with the tools at hand. Mr. Wise reviewed the computer system process from inspector to report.
Mr. Hebert indicated we may not need 7 people for 311 intake calls if the reporting process is going to be on the website.
Mr. Square indicated his team is here and has been diligently working on fixing the Accela problems but have been unable to get the system to work as it should. Mr. Square further noted that his entire team was sitting in the back row of the room.
Mr. Reid indicated that the response time for his Department is good despite the problems with Accela.
Ms. Bosco said the City has been divided into 16 areas where an inspector is responsible for the entire process for each blighted home within that area. This is to make the inspectors more accountable and take ownership of the process.
Ms. Illarmo indicated that hearings are up this bi-weekly period. Most were FEMA cases of which most are complete. She indicated 272 more cases were added recently.
Mr. Wise discussed the 30 day “noticing” period before cases go to adjudication.
Ms. Illarmo indicated that some recently noticing letters did not go out on the 20th because the City’s mailroom was “changing out a machine”.
Mr. Kopplin indicated that this is unacceptable and that the mail room should have warned all departments before performing the machine upgrade so that alternative mail options could have been arranged. Mr. Kopplin indicated a meeting will take place with mail room staff so that this does not happen again.
Mr. Hebert went to the City of Baltimore recently and indicated that the City of Baltimore may be willing to help the City of New Orleans with some computer programs.
Mr. Wise asked Ms. Illarmo about improvements in the process. Ms. Illarmo indicated that the City Attorneys were extremely helpful with research to move cases along. Case research is the main focus for properties going to Sherrif Sale.
Ms. Bosco indicated that her Case Managers are unable to do case research 3 days of each week due to other responsibilities.
Mr. Kopplin indicated that there may not be enough resources allocated to getting cases to adjudication hearings.
Ms. Bosco indicated that the Case Managers are doing a good job but are overly cautious which slows the process.
Mr. Kopplin asked if we need paralegals to get legal notices out for Sherrif Sale or what do we need to do? What is the plan?
Mr. Hebert indicated that there is a snafu with the Bar Association members donating time.Ms. Breaux indicated that lawyers can’t volunteer their time to municipalities due to a potential conflict of interest according to the Attorney General. If a work-around is unable to be found for this issue, it will eliminate a significant source of help for the city.
Ms. Illarmo indicated that resets are up this period due to more re-inspections. Ms. Bosco indicated the computer system is causing manual viewing of files. Mr. Kopplin indicated that the problem needs to be solved as resets prolong the process and frustrate citizens.
Mr. Square indicated that Accela needs to sit down with the Code Enforcement Department and fix the problems. Mr. Kopplin concurred.
Mr. Carrere indicated steady progress on demolitions but “eminent danger of collapse” cases are a priority. Mr. Carrere indicated that utility disconnects can slow the process of demolitions. The recent tropical disturbance put Entergy’s resources elsewhere.
Mr. Kopplin indicated that the City will monitor Entergy’s disconnect performance and make phone calls to Entergy’s management if necessary. Mr. Kopplin indicated that the City may want to investigate modifying the current contract and pay the current 500 dollars for a disconnect if done in two weeks and 100 dollars if not.
Mr. Carrere reviewed the strategic demolition process indicating that historic review slows the process of getting demolitions done. Some demolitions are being appealed. Mr. Wise indicated we review the process to eliminate roadblocks to progress.
Ms. Bosco said that coincidentally several demolitions will take place this Saturday during the Fight the Blight event.
Mr. Wolcott indicated a FEMA demolition on Arthur Street will also take place Saturday during the Fight the Blight event. 111 guilty judgements so far for FEMA properties. He indicated that the threat of demolition often brings the property into compliance.
Mr. Hebert indicated that getting the property to demolition or compliance is as much of a reimbursable cost from FEMA as other FEMA reimbursements. He indicated that in Terrebonne Parish the demolition process moves quicker. New Orleans has a unique process.
Mr. Wolcott indicated that private property demolitions are more labor intensive.
Mr. Kopplin indicated that we may want to consider what works in other areas to shorten the process. Mr. Hebert indicated that it’s a comparison of urban vs. rural and that what works in a rural environment may not work here.
Mr. Ferrouillet indicated the grass cutting contractor is not meeting the terms of the contract. Mr. Kopplin indicated that the City is taking action to protect its interests.
Mr. Wise indicated that the contractor should be invited to the BlightStat meetings to explain the lack of progress.
Mr. Hebert discussed the Federal jobs bill. As part of that bill, jobs will be created to cut grass where needed. Mr. Kopplin suggested citizens write to their congressmen to support the Federal jobs bill so we can get the grass cut in New Orleans.
Ms. Lear indicated that fencing is also an issue because dumping occurs on unfenced properties.
Mr. Kopplin indicated that nine FEMA trailers still need to be removed. Mr. Kopplin said rigorous enforcement has been the norm for the past year.
Ms. Lear said illegal dumping is up but the Sanitation Department is working hard to go after illegal dumpers and is working with volunteers to clean up areas. The City has removed and transported 11,950 dumped tires to date.
871 illegal signs removed this period and the City Attorney is following up on the summons issued to violators.
Mr. Kopplin indicated the amnesty for illegal signs is over. The City is aggressively eradicating sign pollution through enforcement.
Mr. Granderson indicated 3 properties will be up for Sheriff sale today. Two large Sheiff sales are coming soon. 32 auctions on Oct 18 and 20 on November 1st.
Mr. Gray reviewed the code lien foreclosures slide. 3 properties were put up for sale for 2/3 of the appraised value but did not sell. They will be put up for sale again at a lower value.
Mr. Granderson indicated that 200 curators have been appointed to move the Sheriff Sale process along.
Mr. Gray indicated that 62 properties had their liens paid due to the threat of Sheriff Sale.
Mr. Kopplin indicated that the City has the potential to collect millions of dollars in liens.
Mr. Gray indicated that approximately 475 properties are being prepared for Sheriff Sale.
Ms. Breaux indicated that the Law Department is working all angles to get the job done. She indicated that slow payments from the City continue to be an issue. Mr. Kopplin indicated he and Ms. Breaux will meet “off line” about that.
Ms. Wilkerson review total NORA closings. Some properties are being held for the Iberville development. Mr. Hebert and Mr. Kopplin discussed the universe of properties that the state requires the City to process.
Ms. Wilkerson indicated 117 properties sold at the recent NORA auction. None of the properties had a reserve. She indicated that the auction produced a nice increase in sale prices over assessed values. The focus was on properties with structures for this auction.
Mr. Wise reviewed the NORA auction slide also noting that many of the properties sold for more than the appraised value.
Mr. Hebert indicated that he was present at the auction and that most of the Lakeview lots sold for more that $100,000.
Mr. Kopplin indicated that the marketing for NORA properties was great.
Mr. Hebert indicated that the auction companies get a handsome piece of the action so therefore it is in their best interest to market the properties aggressively.
Ms. Wilkerson indicated that all of the Westbank properties sold for less than the appraised value.
Mr. Hebert indicated that there has been a population shift away from Algiers. He and Councilmember Palmer toured the Westbank recently.
Ms. Wilkerson said there is another NORA sale coming up in October and that there will be more frequent sales.
Mr. Bryan Lawlor said a plan is being devised for the City to acquire and dispose of problem NORA properties.
Questions from the audience were answered and the meeting adjourned.
WHO: Key blight policy and code enforcement staff
8:00-9:30 AM CST
Nov 4, 2010 | Nov 18, 2010 | Dec 2, 2010 | Dec 16, 2010
| Jan 13, 2011 | Jan 27, 2011 | Feb 10, 2011 | Feb 24, 2011 |
Mar 10, 2011 | March 29, 2011 | April 7, 2011 | April 21, 2011 | May 5, 2011 | May 19, 2011| | June 2, 2011 | June 16, 2011 | June 30, 2011 | July 14, 2011 | July 28, 2011 | August 11, 2011 | August 25, 2011 | September 8, 2011 | September 22, 2011 |
To report blighted property please call (504) 658-4300/4301 or email Jonathan Solis at [email protected]
To report an abandoned car or illegal parking please call (504) 658-8290/8291 or email Zepporiah Edmonds at [email protected]
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 protected]
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 [email protected]
2nd Police District at (504) 658-6020, or email Sgt. Ernie Joseph at [email protected]
6th Police District at (504) 658-6060, or email Sgt. Yolanda Jenkins at [email protected]
8th Police District at (504) 658-6080, or email Sgt. Jonette Williams at [email protected]
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 [email protected] with all the info and we’ll follow up.