January 23, 2014
City Council Chamber
City Council Regular Meeting News Summary January 23, 2014
Thursday, January 23, 2014 - New Orleans, LA - At today's regular City Council Meeting, the Council adopted ordinances to strengthen the City Code relative to public safety and enforcement of Mardi Gras parades. The Council also moved for approval on zoning dockets implementing zoning changes to protect the Zion City neighborhood.
In other business, the Council passed a resolution urging state leaders to increase the minimum wage in Louisiana, and a motion to extend the consulting contract for the noise abatement program. The Council also adopted ordinances which appropriated grant funds to the Office of Inspector General.
Urged State Leaders to Increase Minimum WageThe Council passed Resolution R-14-18, co-authored by Councilmembers Gray and Cantrell, urging Governor Jindal and the State Legislature to adopt legislation that will increase the minimum wage in Louisiana to $10.10.
This Resolution responds to President Obama's November 7, 2013 announcement of his support for raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10. In Louisiana, the estimated living wage is $9.26, and in New Orleans the estimated living wage is $10.51 per hour. The minimum wage has not increased since 2009.
District "E" Councilmember Gray said, "It is our responsibility as government leaders to represent our constituents and to respond to their needs and the challenges they face. Our workers deserve a fair wage, one that will allow them to support themselves and their families. This Resolution to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 is a good start."
Implemented Zoning Changes to Protect Residential NeighborhoodThe Council moved for approval on Zoning Docket No. 125/13 and Zoning Docket No. 126/13 to address recent issues in the Zion City neighborhood pertaining to set-up of a concrete batching operation near residential areas without notice or permits. The City Planning Commission recommended approval of both Zoning Dockets.
On August 9, 2013, the Director of Safety & Permits issued a Zoning Interpretation concluding that concrete batching, under the language of the current Comprehensize Zoning Ordinance (CZO), is a permitted use in industrial areas regardless of the proximity to residential properties. The Zion City neighborhood is comprised of residential areas surrounded by industrial zoning without a buffer zone. Industrial zoning in this area is inconsistent with the Master Plan and draft CZO, which calls for a mix of residential and commercial uses.
Zoning Docket No. 125/13 establishes the Zion City Residential Character Preservation Interim Zoning District (IZD) in the area generally bounded by South White Street, Thalia Street, South Dupre Street and Earhart Boulevard. This IZD prohibits the issuance of permits or licenses inconsistent with the regulations of the RD-3 Two Family Residential District. The IZD will last for a one-year period, with the possibility of two 180 day extensions.
Zoning Docket No. 126/13 amends the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance to add "concrete batching" as a Conditional Use in the LI-Light Industrial District and to add "concrete batching within 600 feet of a residential zoning district" as a Conditional Use in the HI-Heavy Industrial District.
District "B" Councilmember Cantrell said, "Industrial zoning in this neighborhood is inconsistent with the vision that Zion City residents have for their own community. This IZD and amendment to the CZO will protect the residential character of Zion City and ensure consistency with the Master Plan as we work towards our new CZO. We must ensure that our residents receive the notice and due process that they deserve when it comes to these sensitive industrial uses."
Moved to Extend Consulting Contract for Noise Abatement ProgramThe Council passed Motion M-14-19, authored by Councilmember Gisleson Palmer, authorizing and requesting extension of the professional services consulting contract with Oxford Acoustics, Inc. to December 31, 2014, expansion of the scope of the original contract, and an increase of the maximum compensation under the contract by $14,500.
Over the past 18 months, David S. Woolworth, principal of Oxford Acoustics, Inc., has worked over 700 hours interviewing hundreds of local residents, musicians, cultural bearers, historians, community activist groups, sound experts, and business owners in order to gather the data necessary to produce an evaluation on and recommendations for noise abatement issues. Mr. Woolworth's research was summarized in a report entitled "New Orleans Sound Ordinance and Soundscape Evaluation and Recommendations."
The contract's expanded scope will provide for advice and consultation on possible revisions to the noise abatement program, collection and analysis of sound measurement data, responses to questions of Councilmembers, and other related matters.
District "C" Councilmember Gisleson Palmer said, "The Council is appreciative of and grateful for the work Mr. Woolworth and Oxford Acoustics, Inc. have provided relative to the City's noise abatement program. Continuing our work with Mr. Woolworth will ensure that the tasks associated with the expanded scope of work will be completed in a timely and effective manner by someone who is already knowledgeable on the original scope of work."
Appropriated Grant Funds to Inspector General's OfficeThe Council passed Ordinances to appropriate local foundation grant funds and Federal grant funds to the Office of Inspector General (OIG).
Specifically, the Ordinances amend the City's 2014 Operating Budget of Revenues and Operating Budget of Expenditures to:
- Appropriate $140,500 of local foundation grant funds to the OIG for the Justice System Funding Evaluation Grant (Ordinances Calendar Nos. 29,900 and 29,901);
- Appropriate $198,750 of local foundation grant funds to the OIG for the Rosa Mary Foundation Grant, which provides for the New Orleans Police Department force structure analysis and utilities regulation evaluation (Ordinances Calendar Nos. 29,902 and 29,903);
- Appropriate $99,934 of Federal grant funds to the OIG for New Orleans Community Police Mediation Project (Ordinances Calendar Nos. 29,904 and 29,905).
Council President Clarkson said, "While the Inspector General's budget is set by the City Charter, the office is allowed to receive additional funds from other sources. We are proud of our Inspector General and his staff for securing these additional funds in order to expand his office's work."
Strengthened City Code Relative to Safety and Enforcement of Mardi Gras ParadesThe City Council passed Ordinances Calendar Nos. 29,894 and 29,897, co-authored by Councilmembers Clarkson and Cantrell, to amend provisions of the City Code relative to the public safety and enforcement of Mardi Gras parades. The Council's Economic Development and Special Development Projects Committee recommended approval of both of these Ordinances.
Ordinance Calendar No. 29,894 prohibits stopping and parking on either side of Napoleon Avenue between Tchoupitoulas Street and Claiborne Avenue beginning two hours before and ending two hours after any parade whose route includes that portion of Napoleon Avenue. Additionally, the Ordinance prohibits stopping and parking on either side of St. Charles Avenue between Napoleon Avenue and Canal Street beginning two hours before and ending two hours after any Mardi Gras parade whose route includes that portion of St. Charles Avenue.
Specifically, Ordinance Calendar No. 29,897:
- Prohibits placement of portable toilets on public property without written consent from the appropriate governmental agency, and provides for a fine of $250 per day against the owner of the portable toilet for violation of this provision;
- Provides for a fine of $250 for "throwbacks" (the throwing of any object at a float or participant in a parade);
- Prohibits the use of ropes or other similar items to create a barricade or otherwise obstruct passage along public property;
- Prohibits placement of ladders, chairs, ice chests, tents, grills and other personal effects in intersections or between curbs of public streets during a parade and requires that these items be placed six feet back from the street curb;
- Prohibits the fastening of two or more ladders together;
- Requires that ladders used by parade spectators be structurally sound;
- Prohibits riding on the exterior of an automobile during a parade;
- Prohibits the sale of "snap pop" high explosive devices.
Council President Clarkson said, "After many months of outreach meetings with the public, guidance from our first responders and the Mardi Gras Coordinating Committee, I am proud to co-sponsor these ordinances with Councilmember Cantrell that will make Mardi Gras safer for everyone without hurting the fun."
District "B" Councilmember Cantrell said, "The people of our City deserve a Mardi Gras season that is safe and accessible to all. It has been our goal to strengthen and clarify the rules pertaining to our Mardi Gras parades, to safeguard public spaces so they can be used fairly by all our citizens and visitors, and to ensure public safety with even handed and effective enforcement."