November 07, 2013
City Council Chamber
City Council November 7, 2013 Regular Meeting Summary
Thursday, November 7, 2013 - New Orleans, LA - At today's regular City Council Meeting, the Council adopted Ordinances amending the permissible vehicle age for taxicabs in the City of New Orleans, and authorizing the consolidation of the French Market Corporation and the Upper Pontalba Building Restoration Corporation. The Council also adopted an Ordinance extending the effectiveness of the "Lafayette Square/Warehouse District Refined Height Plan Interim Zoning District."
In other business, the Council recognized Entergy Executive and City activist Demetric Mercadel for her citywide contributions. The Council also received a presentation outlining the Regional Transit Authority's (RTA) current fares and passes.
Amended Permissible Vehicle Age for Taxis
The Council passed Ordinance Calendar No. 29,777, co-authored by Councilmembers Gray, Cantrell, Head and Hedge-Morrell, to amend and reordain the City Code relative to the maximum permitted age for vehicles operating as taxicabs in the City. The Ordinance passed with a vote of 4-3, with Councilmembers Head, Cantrell, Hedge-Morrell and Gray voting for, and Councilmembers Clarkson, Guidry and Gisleson Palmer voting against.
Specifically, the Ordinance extends the period within which the ten-year age provision for taxicabs will remain in effect from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014. This effectively maintains the permissible vehicle age for taxicabs at ten years though December 31, 2014, after which point the taxicab age provision will convert to a permissible vehicle age of no greater than seven years.
The Ordinance aims to alleviate the potential financial burden that many taxicab owners and operators would face should they be required to replace vehicles greater than seven years old in order to renew their Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience (CPNC) and continue to operate in 2014. This Ordinance takes into account the existence of many vehicles operating as taxicabs in the City which are more than seven years old, are in good condition, and pose no danger to public safety.
Authorized Consolidation of French Market and Upper Pontalba Building Restoration CorporationsThe Council passed Ordinance Calendar No. 29,833, co-authored by Councilmembers Gisleson Palmer, Cantrell, and Hedge-Morrell, authorizing the merger of the French Market Corporation (FMC) and the Upper Pontalba Building Restoration Corporation (UPBRC). Upon the effectiveness of the merger, the FMC will be the surviving public benefit corporation, assuming all of the rights, powers, privileges and immunities of both the FMC and the UPBRC, with the UPBRC ceasing to exist.
The FMC's purposes, in addition to stimulating business development in the French Market District and the adaptive reuse and development of the French Market and the Upper Pontalba Building for commercial purposes, will also include providing for the enhancement, improvement, leasing, and commercial development of the French Market and the Upper Pontalba Building property and other city-owned properties, parking, support facilities, and other related improvements.
District "C" Councilmember Gisleson Palmer said, "This Ordinance is directly in line with the City's move to streamline operations and save administrative costs by eliminating the duplication of expenses of these two corporations. The corporations' development objectives and the proximity of their properties make this merger a good choice for the corporations themselves and the City as a whole."
Extended Effectiveness of Warehouse District Refined Height Plan Interim Zoning District The Council passed Ordinance Calendar No. 29,822, authored by Councilmember Cantrell, to extend the effectiveness, for the first 180-day period from November 10, 2013 to May 9, 2014, of Ordinance No. 25,068 M.C.S., which established the "Lafayette Square/Warehouse District Refined Height Plan Interim Zoning District (IZD)" in the area bounded by Loyola Avenue, the Pontchartrain Expressway, Convention Center Boulevard, and Poydras Street.
At the time the IZD was established, the height for designation HT-16 was intentionally set at 184 feet in order to accommodate the Tracage development. The Tracage development is a $55 million project that will put an underutilized property back to commercial use while generating over 200 jobs and $2 million in tax revenue.
District "B" Councilmember Cantrell said, "By extending this IZD, we protect the status quo in the Lafayette Square and Warehouse District neighborhoods as we work towards a new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. I strongly encourage all sides on this issue to negotiate in good faith and find a way to move forward."
Received Presentation on RTA Fares and PassesVeolia Transportation/Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Director of Marketing & Communications Patrice Bell Mercadel appeared before the Council to give a presentation about the current fare structure and available payment methods, including the RTA Jazzy Pass Program. Mercadel also presented information about the employer subsidy program.
Mercadel's presentation outlined specifics including the RTA fare structure, benefits of the flexible fare Jazzy Pass Program, and partnership opportunities for businesses including the employer subsidy program, which allows companies to receive a tax benefit for their contribution, in full or in part, to their employees' fares.
District "C" Councilmember Gisleson Palmer said, "Many of our citizens do not have access to a vehicle and therefore rely heavily on our public transit services. It is vital that we focus on improving efficiency, enhancing our service offerings like Employee Subsidy Programs and Jazzy Passes to ensure that public transportation is accessible to all of our City's neighborhoods."
Recognized City Activist Entergy Executive and City activist Demetric Mercadel appeared before the Council to be recognized for her citywide contributions. Through her position as senior associate analyst in Regulatory & Government Affairs for Entergy of New Orleans, Mercadel has built strong working relationships with the City of New Orleans and the New Orleans delegation of state legislators to support strategic regulatory and energy policy initiatives. Additionally, Ms. Mercadel was one of three individuals representing the Louisiana Chapter of the Campaign to Fix the Debt that went to Washington, D.C. urging our elected leaders to tackle the national debt and find a bipartisan solution to our country's long-term fiscal imbalance.
Born and raised in the 7th Ward, Mercadel is a devoted community organizer, serving as President of the Board of Directors of the French Market Corporation, Secretary of the Upper Pontalba Building Association, Secretary of the Board of Directors of St. Augustine High School, and board member of both the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation and Young Audiences of Louisiana. Her accomplishments as a statewide leader and a public servant have earned her a spot in the Louisiana Center for Women in Government & Business Hall of Fame.
District "D" Councilmember Hedge-Morrell said, "Ms. Mercadel has been a central contributor to the efforts to rebuild this City and put us on a path to a better and brighter future. She has been honored by many organizations for her dedication and commitment to New Orleans and I felt that is was time for the City to formally step up and recognize all the time and hard work she has put into making us a better city."