May 02, 2013
City Council Chamber
City Council May 2, 2013 Regular Meeting Summary
Thursday, May 2, 2013 - New Orleans, LA - At today's regular City Council Meeting, the Council adopted an Ordinance and Motion providing for the adoption of the Neighborhood Participation Program for Land Use Actions. By Motion, the Council approved its Emergency Preparedness Plan and elected Councilmember Clarkson as Council President and Councilmember Head as Council Vice President. In other business, representatives of the New Orleans Public Library briefed the Council on the library's current fiscal challenges and the Council commemorated the Fall of Saigon. Lastly, the Council convened an Executive Session to receive a briefing from the Law Department on pending litigation related to the NOPD Consent Decree.
Adopted Neighborhood Participation Program
The Council adopted Ordinance Calendar No. 29,514 and approved Zoning Docket 16/13 which provide for the adoption of the Neighborhood Participation Program for Land Use Actions (NPP) and the corresponding changes to the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance.
The NPP establishes a system of organized and effective neighborhood participation in land use decisions and other issues that affect quality of life of citizens including: zoning changes, conditional use requests, zoning variances, and related Planning Commission actions. Specifically, the NPP aims to provide timely notification, through public notices and increased access to information, of proposed land use action affecting a neighborhood. The plan also mandates that opportunities to review proposals and engage in the decision-making process are provided to residents. For more information on the NPP, click here.
Council President Clarkson said, "After Hurricane Katrina we saw a dramatic increase in neighborhood and public engagement in the City planning process. The Master Plan intends to encourage our citizens to be involved in the development of their communities and we believe this plan will keep residents informed and give them a voice in the process."
Supported Children's Hospital Acquisition of NOAH Facility
The Council passed Resolution R-13-136 urging the Louisiana Legislature to pass House Bill 720 allowing Children's Hospital to acquire the NOAH facility and expand existing child and adolescent behavioral health services in the City.
The House Bill, which was introduced by State Representative Neil Abramson, in collaboration with State Representatives Helena Moreno and Walt Leger, would allow Children's Hospital to acquire the NOAH facility for $29,000,000 while requiring that the hospital make certain improvements to youth medical and behavioral health services including: increasing the number of psychiatric beds, establishing services for children under 5 years of age, expanding existing Autism Center services, and providing transitional inpatient-to-outpatient care.
District "A" Councilmember Guidry said, "I am pleased that everyone involved in this project has come together and developed a solution that provides for the expansion and improvement of mental health services for our youth, while also providing Children's Hospital with much-needed space to increase medical services in the City. Children's Hospital has been and remains dedicated to providing these critical services to children in our community."
Approved Emergency Preparedness Plan
The Council passed Motion M-13-131 approving the City Council's Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP). The plan, which was developed in coordination with the City's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, aims to ensure that the Council can sustain operational capacity under emergency conditions. Specifically, the EPP supports this effort by allowing Councilmembers and certain essential staff personnel to remain in the City, while providing for prompt return of additional staff as necessary.
The EPP outlines:
- Requirements for implementation - estimation of the National Weather Service that the City is in the cone of probability of a Category 3 or higher hurricane, or upon the direction of the Mayor or City Council
- Designation of personnel levels (essential, reserve and non-essential)
- Guidelines for internal and external communications, credentialing, food and supplies, vehicle storage and generator power
- Requirements for annual review of the EPP, prior to June 1st of each year
Councilmember-at-Large Head said, "As a Council, it is our responsibility to have an emergency plan in place to ensure the safety of our employees and citizens. I feel confident that this plan will enable the Council to continue its essential functions while also providing for efficient and effective internal and external communication."
Received Presentation on Fiscal Challenges of Public Library
At the request of Councilmember Cantrell, New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) Executive Director Charles Brown and Board Chairman Bernard Charbonnet, Jr. appeared before the Council to give a presentation outlining the fiscal challenges the library currently faces.
The NOPL representatives presented a comparison of funding levels between comparable state and national libraries, noting that the NOPL still receives one of the lowest levels of funding among similarly sized communities. Representatives outlined the numerous opportunities for growth that would be available with an increase in the NOPL's budget, including:
- Increased access for residents including mobile library units and expanded days and hour of operation
- Development of outreach efforts and new programs including homework centers for children and resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs
- Expanded book collection and volunteer services
District "B" Councilmember Cantrell said, "Our public libraries are important and beloved resources of information and technology in our communities. It is critical that we support and nurture the growth of our libraries so that they may continue to provide our citizens with educational opportunities. Libraries are more than books, they're people."
Commemorated the Fall of Saigon
At the request of Councilmembers Head and Gray, the Republic of South Vietnam Veterans and the Color Guard appeared before the Council to commemorate the Fall of Saigon, which took place on April 30, 1975. The presentation included the Vietnamese National Anthem, a moment of silence to honor the Vietnamese and American lives lost during the Vietnam War, as well as a short video presentation on US Navy Commander and Vietnam native Hung Ba Le, who was rescued at the age of five during the Fall of Saigon.
Councilmember-at-Large Head said, "New Orleans' Vietnamese community is an important cultural aspect of our City. We are honored to call them a part of our citizenry and are grateful for their many contributions."
District "E" Councilmember Gray said, "Many of us who served in Vietnam stand with you to commemorate the Fall of Saigon. We were proud to serve with you during the war and to be your neighbors in District E. New Orleans East is home to a thriving Vietnamese-American community. This community has been steadfast in its commitment to the City, banding together after Hurricane Katrina to rebuild homes and developing and maintaining businesses that contribute mightily to the economic viability of commercial corridors in eastern New Orleans."
Elected Council President and Vice President
The Council passed Motions M-13-133 and M-13-134, electing current Council President, Stacy Head, to her new seat as Council Vice President, and electing current Council Vice President, Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson, to her new seat as Council President.
City Council rules alternate the role of Council President and Vice President between the two sitting Councilmembers-at-Large. Terms for both seats begin May 2, 2013 and end on May 5, 2014.
Council President Clarkson said, "Having served the citizens of New Orleans for over 20 years, I am proud to assume the responsibilities of Council President and I look forward to working cooperatively with my colleagues as we continue the meaningful work of this Council."