June 17, 2010
City Council Chamber
City Council June 17, 2010 Regular Meeting Summary
New Orleans, LA - June 17, 2010 - Today, the New Orleans City Council passed Resolutions supporting the efforts of the federal government to assist communities affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; calling for expedited construction of coastal protective measures; and appointing Councilmembers-at-Large Fielkow and Clarkson to an oil spill recovery committee.
Additionally, the Council signed the Army Community Covenant in support of service members and their families, received a status report on the Master Plan and Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, and addressed a presentation on actions the City may take in order to recoup funds lost as a result of the oil spill.
Called for Expedited Construction of Coastal Protective Measures
The Council passed Resolution R-10-265, co-authored by Councilmembers Clarkson and Fielkow, requesting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue the emergency permits necessary to allow the construction of each and every sand berm, rock dike and other protective measure recommended by the local affected parishes and the Louisiana Coastal Restoration Authority, and that BP be instructed to fund the construction of all requested measures.
State and local officials believe that the construction of protective barriers would be more effective than the measures tried to date. The Army Corps has only approved the construction of six sand berms protecting approximately forty-five miles of coastline, though the submitted application requested approval to construct twenty-four sand berms stretching approximately 128 miles.
Council Vice President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, "The natural hurricane protection provided by the coastal wetlands and marshes of Southeast Louisiana is in danger of being severely compromised by oil contamination. We cannot let this happen - we must move expeditiously to implement all coastal protection measures in order to shield our coastline, our wildlife and our residents from this environmental disaster."
Addressed Actions the City May Take to Recoup Funds Lost as a Result of Oil Spill
Stephen Herman and Steve Lane of Herman, Herman, Katz & Cotlar, the firm which serves as the City Council's Legal Counsel, appeared before the Council to make a presentation on actions that the City may take to recoup monies from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The City may be able to recoup monies through the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and/or through an escrow account of $20 billion created by President Obama and British Petroleum yesterday, which covers claims associated with the oil spill disaster.
The presentation also included detailed information on the various industries that are "at risk" as a result of the oil spill, including tourism, convention business, hotels and restaurants, oil exploration and production, recreational fishing, and more. Additionally, the presentation outlined potential secondary and long-term effects the oil spill may have on the New Orleans community including: increased unemployment rates, decreased consumer spending, lower property values, higher demands for public services, and decreases in sales tax revenue, hotel occupancy and New Orleans airport revenue.
Supported Federal Government Efforts to Assist Communities Affected by the Oil Spill
The Council passed Resolution R-10-264, introduced by Councilmember Fielkow, supporting the efforts of the President of the United States
and the federal government to assist residents of the Gulf Coast
affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Specifically, the Resolution:
- Lauds the efforts of President Barack Obama for mandating that BP put $20 billion into an escrow account to cover all claims made, and projected to be made, by residents affected by the ongoing oil spill;
- Urges the swift and fair distribution of the escrow funds to the families and businesses adversely impacted by the spill;
- Supports the federal government's urging of BP to create an efficient, equitable and transparent claims process;
- Urges the federal government to require BP to honor all direct and indirect economic claims related to the spill; and
- Urges the federal government to put all available expert resources on each rig subject to the moratorium, to evaluate its safety, and as a rig is deemed safe, to immediately remove the drilling ban on that rig.
Council President Arnie Fielkow said, "We support the federal government in all the work they are doing to mitigate the effects of this serious environmental issue. We must ensure that Gulf Coast residents are protected by a claims process which fully compensates individuals and small businesses for the damages they experience as a result of this oil spill. I believe that the recent steps of the President will help to do just that."
Signed Army Community Covenant
Representatives of the United States Army appeared before the Council, at the request of Councilmember Clarkson, to provide information on the Army Community Covenant, as well as sign the covenant in conjunction with the Council.
The Community Covenant program is designed to foster and sustain effective state and community partnerships with the Army to improve the quality of life for soldiers and their families, both at their current duty stations and as they transfer to other states. It is a formal commitment of support by state and local communities to soldiers and families of the Army - Active, Guard and Reserve.
Following a presentation on the Army Community Covenant program, Councilmembers-at-Large Fielkow and Clarkson signed the covenant on behalf of the full Council, pledging the Council's support of the program and its mission.
Council Vice President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, "The Council fully supports this wonderful program, which provides the necessary support that our troops and their families need and deserve. I also want to personally thank all of the U.S. Army representatives that are here today for their commitment to serving our country."
Appointed Councilmembers-at-Large to Oil Spill Recovery Committee
The Council passed Resolution R-10-263, co-authored by Councilmembers Fielkow and Clarkson, appointing Councilmembers-at-Large Fielkow and Clarkson to the Oil Spill Coastal Zone Authority Recovery Committee on behalf of the interests of Orleans Parish.
Chairpersons of coastal governing authorities affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have established the committee for the purposes of working directly with each other, BP, and State and Federal authorities to protect coastline interests through collective input into all oil recovery and cleanup operations.
Council President Arnie Fielkow said, "It is in the best interest of our City to work jointly with our sister parishes of Southeast Louisiana on many issues ranging from coastal protection and regional infrastructure to hurricane preparedness and cleanup from the oil leak."
Received Status Report on Master Plan and Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance
Yolanda Rodriguez, Executive Director of the City Planning Commission, and Paul Cramer, Assistant Planning Administrator for the City Planning Commission, appeared before the Council to give a report on the status of the City's Master Plan and Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance.
The Master Plan is the City's primary policy and planning document, which will guide the City's growth for the next 20 years. Building on previous plans for New Orleans and extensive community engagement, the plan is currently being reviewed and updated.
With the help of the public, approximately 79 items have been submitted to the City Planning Commission (CPC) for consideration for inclusion in the Master Plan. On June 22, 2010, the CPC will hold a public hearing in the Council Chamber to address these items, immediately following the CPC's regular public meeting which begins at 1:30 p.m. (click here
for more information on the public hearing). By August 2010, the City Planning Commission will have reviewed each item individually and will submit a report to the Council.
The City is also in the process of updating the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. The Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance regulates land usage and shows the physical boundaries of zoning districts. On June 26, 2010 from 8:30 a.m. to Noon, the CPC will hold a public citywide forum at Dillard University in order to engage the public and gather public opinion/suggestions on the Ordinance (click here
for more information on the citywide forum). Following the citywide meeting, several public meetings will be held around the City. By September 2010, the CPC is scheduled to have completed a draft for a new Zoning Code.
For additional information on the City's Master Plan and the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance click here