March 07, 2013
City Council Chamber
City Council March 7, 2013 Regular Meeting News SummaryThursday, March 7, 2013 - New Orleans, La - At today's regular City Council Meeting, the Council adopted ordinances updating the Domicile Policy for City employees, providing stronger protection of domestic animals, and strengthening a law governing the removal of construction debris from City sidewalks and streets. By resolution, the Council requested Mayor Landrieu and Governor Jindal to strategically focus on Mental Health Awareness in the City of New Orleans. Also by resolution, the Council supported the extension of the Gentilly-Pontchartrain Park Cultural District to include the Edgewood Park Neighborhood. Ruthie Frierson, founder of "Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans," appeared before the Council to discuss the recovery, reform, and rebuilding advocacy efforts. The Council also adopted an ordinance authorizing a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between the City, the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, and the New Orleans Recreation Development Foundation to maintain public parks and playgrounds.
Domicile Policy Updated for New Orleans Employees
The Council adopted Ordinance Calendar No. 29,454, authored by Council President Head, which clarifies that employees of the City of New Orleans have and maintain an "actual domicile" in Orleans Parish, meaning a principal domestic establishment where one sleeps, eats, votes and surrounds him or herself with family and comforts of home. The ordinance restores the requirement that the resident only have one domicile and meet the criteria of the "actual domicile," which requirement was waived following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Employees of the City of New Orleans include all attached, unattached and departmental boards and commissions, independent agencies and public benefit corporations of the City, including the Sewerage and Water Board, the New Orleans Aviation Board, the Public Belt Railroad Commission, the Audubon Park Commission, and any local public agency that use employees in the City Civil Service. This includes the offices of clerks of the municipal court and traffic court. The "actual domicile" policy will provide a grace period of 180 days in which new employees may move into Orleans Parish. Any officer or employee of the City who was hired prior to January 1, 2013, who lives outside Orleans Parish, may maintain their domicile outside of Orleans.
Council President Head said, "I am pleased that this ordinance passed and that the NOPD can focus on increasing and improving recruitment efforts. In order for us to reduce the amount of serious crime in our city, it is imperative that we have more well-trained police officers on our streets."
Adopted Stronger Protection of Domestic Animals
The Council adopted Ordinance Calendar No. 29,357, authored by Councilmember Guidry, proposing stronger protection, including increased fees and penalties, for the keeping of domestic animals. Councilmember Guidry began vetting the ordinance in October of 2012 in the Council's Governmental Affairs Committee meetings. On November 1, 2012, Councilmember Guidry along with Ana Zorrilla, CEO of the Louisiana SPCA, held a meeting outlining and discussing the proposed changes. The ordinance will assist the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LASPCA) to more efficiently carry out animal control duties and help modernize the City's pet care and control laws. These changes will also help ensure a safer community by keeping dangerous or potentially-dangerous animals under appropriate supervision and control.
District "A" Councilmember Guidry said, "I am proud to author this ordinance, which is the product of many months of collaboration and discussions with numerous interested stakeholders. Not only do these changes bring our city's animal control and pet ownership laws in line with modern best practices, but they also establish New Orleans as a national trailblazer with respect to how we treat animals that have been the victims of cruelty such as dogfighting."
Strengthened Law Governing Removal of Construction Debris from City Sidewalks and Streets
The Council adopted Ordinance Calendar No. 29,361, authored by Council President Head, to create requirements for retention and removal of all construction and demolition related debris generated by permitted construction projects. In compliance with Federal and State guidelines, these requirements necessitate the removal of all excavation, construction/demolition debris and rubbish from sidewalks and streets. The debris is to be removed daily as accumulated. Materials not removed from the site must be immediately stored in a refuse container or other device to prevent public nuisance. Property owners and contractors will have a minimum of seventy-two hours to remove all debris resulting from fire or demolition. All non-regulated or non-contaminated materials generated by site work shall be deposited in a permitted Type III construction and demolition debris and wood waste landfill.
Council President Head said, "With the amount of construction and renovation ongoing in the City, creating these requirements was necessary. This ordinance is a step forward and will ensure cleaner and safer sidewalks and streets."
District "C" Councilmember Gisleson Palmer said, "The ordinance will strengthen existing regulations for demolition and construction debris management. The much needed amendments will protect communities from being negatively impacted by construction and demolition debris. Several projects in my district have had a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood and burdened the residents with sand, trash and scattered materials. Having to fence in this debris and daily removal or containment of debris will alleviate construction and demolition hazards."
Authorized Cooperative Endeavor Agreement Enforced Among the City, Commission, and Foundation to Maintain Public Parks and Playgrounds
The Council adopted Ordinance Calendar No. 29,428, authored by Council Vice President Clarkson, authorizing the Mayor to enter into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement on behalf of the City with the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission and the New Orleans Recreation Development Foundation. The CEA is for a term greater than one year, for the public purpose of supporting, promoting, stimulating public interest in, and raising and distributing funds to benefit the construction, creation, preservation, and maintenance of public parks and playgrounds, recreational facilities and other leisure programs and activities. Under the agreement each entity will coordinate the promotion of their shared public purpose consistent with agreement terms and will work in good faith.
Council Vice President Clarkson said, "Historically, in order for NORD to secure private dollars to compliment public dollars there has had to be a separate fund that is dedicated only to NORD. This CEA ensures that this fund is created for NORDC so that all parties, public and private, can begin the necessary fundraising to continue rebuilding our City's recreation department!"
Requested Mayor Landrieu and Governor Bobby Jindal Strategically Focus on Mental Health Awareness
The Council passed Resolution R-13-70, authored by Councilmember Hedge-Morrell, requesting that the Landrieu Administration begin to strategically focus on the state of mental health in the City of New Orleans. A group of local mental health administrators including Genevieve Durkin, Director of Resources for Human Development, Karen Henson, Assistant Director of Resources for Human Development, Judge Calvin Johnson (retired), Executive Director of Metropolitan Human Services District, Dr. Howard Osofsky, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Head of LSU Health Sciences Center Department of Psychiatry, Cecile Tebo, Crisis Intervention Specialist, Dr. Karen DeSalvo, New Orleans Health Commissioner, and Eleanor Chapman, mother of a mentally ill daughter, gave a presentation on Mental Health Awareness. The resolution outlines that the City has been experiencing a rash of murders committed by citizens with a history of mental instability who no longer have access to hospitalization and/or medication, resulting in deadly consequences. Since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the number of patient beds in the metropolitan New Orleans area is thought to have decreased by 60-70 percent, leaving the mental health community searching for answers. With the expected closing of Southeast Louisiana Hospital at the end of the year due to Medicaid cuts, the Council resolution urges Governor Jindal to provide increased funding, beds and services for mental health related care in New Orleans.
District "D" Councilmember Hedge-Morrell said, "The infrastructure present in the New Orleans area regarding mental health and mental health awareness is unsatisfactory for a major metropolitan city like New Orleans. We urge Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Governor Bobby Jindal to strategically focus upon the pressing issue of mental health in our City."
CitizensFor1Presentation from Ruthie Frierson, Founder of the "Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans"
Ruthie Frierson, founder and chair, of the "Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans" presented before the Council an overview of the organization's advocacy efforts in the recovery, reform, and rebuilding of the City over the past seven years. Founded after Hurricane Katrina, "Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans" has made tremendous progress following tragedy and challenges due to the commitment, resilience, and persistence of the citizens of New Orleans. The first successful efforts of the organization were the consolidation and reforms of the levee boards in Southeast Louisiana and Orleans Parish. Since then, the main focus has been on bigger issues including criminal justice, education, ethics and good government reforms. As informed policy advocates, the organizational committees thoroughly research pressing issues to educate themselves and others, often building and working in broad-based coalitions of civic and business organizations. "Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans" also work collaboratively on boards and committees, in coalitions, and forums, at both the local and state levels - building and sustaining partnerships for the future.
District "A" Councilmember Guidry said, "The 'Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans' has been a leading organization in the reform and rebuilding of our City since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The organization has become a powerful voice for change focusing on pressing issues including public education reform, criminal justice reform, and governmental ethics."
Supported Extension of the Gentilly-Pontchartrain Park Cultural District to Include the Edgewood Park Neighborhood
The Council passed Resolution R-13-66, authored by Councilmember Hedge-Morrell, that supports the extension of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism certified cultural district located in Council District "D." The application extends the existing Gentilly-Pontchartrain Park Cultural District to include the Edgewood Park Neighborhood. The Gentilly-Pontchartrain Park Cultural District's geographic area is generally comprised of the area within the boundaries of Lakeshore Drive, France Road, Gentilly Boulevard, Spain Street and Painters Street. The inclusion of the Edgewood Park Neighborhood will extend the boundaries of the cultural district to continue past Gentilly Boulevard to Clematis Street and the intersection at Clematis and Bay Street, and then running parallel to I-10 on Dahlia Walk Way. Within the new boundaries tax incentives may be available including sales tax exemption on the sale of certain original works of art; individual income tax credits for eligible expenses of certain owner-occupied residential or owner-occupied mixed use structures; and income and corporate franchise tax credits for eligible expenses incurred during the rehabilitation of certain historic structures.
District "D" Councilmember Hedge-Morrell said, "The new extension of the Gentilly-Pontchartrain Park Cultural District will support economic and cultural growth for the existing Edgewood Park Neighborhood. Economic development will continue from the inclusion of the new area and help sustain the rich historic traditions embodied in these neighborhoods."