April 09, 2015
City Council Chamber
City Council April 9, 2015 Regular Meeting News Summary
Thursday, April 9, 2015 - New Orleans, LA - At today's regular City Council meeting the Council adopted an ordinance to create and regulate a new class of for-hire vehicle and transportation network companies. Other ordinances were adopted to amend language in the Smoke Free Air Act regarding cigar bars, designated smoking areas, and distance restrictions in public spaces. The Council also passed a resolution encouraging continued state support of the Greater New Orleans Community Health Connection (GNOCHC).
In other business, the Council commended the Center for Restorative Approaches for its community efforts and commemorated the 145th anniversary of Temple Sinai. The Council also recognized the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity for its recent spring community outreach event.
Amended Smoke Free Air Act Relative to Cigar Bars and Smoking and Vaping Restrictions
The Council adopted Ordinance Calendar No. 30,679, authored by Councilmember Cantrell, allowing the smoking of cigars in Cigar Bars, and the smoking of hookahs in Hookah Bars. Neither Hookah Bars nor Cigar Bars will be permitted to allow the smoking of cigarettes or the use of vaporizers. The Council adopted Ordinance Calendar No. 30,611, authored by Councilmember Ramsey, creating the definition of a Cigar Bar as a legally operating bar that generates at least ten percent of its total annual gross income through the sale of cigars and the rental of humidors. Persons under 21 will not be admitted into Cigar Bars, and the smoking of cigarettes will be prohibited. The Council adopted Ordinance Calendar No. 30,578, authored by Councilmembers Gray and Cantrell, amending language that was inconsistent with the Council's intent in passing the Council's Smoke Free Air Act.
The amendment removes the prohibition of smoking and vaping within:
- Five feet of enclosed areas where smoking or vaping is prohibited
- Twenty-five feet of enclosed public property
- Five feet of bleachers and grandstands
The Council adopted Ordinance Calendar No. 30,619, authored by Councilmember Guidry, adding facilities regulated for the operation of slot machines, pari-mutuel wagering, and off-track wagering to the existing definition of "casinos." The ordinance, as amended, ensures that these facilities will be allowed to maintain designated areas for smoking and vaping. The Smoke Free Air Act already allows for smoking in designated outdoor areas of bars, restaurants, and casinos.
The Council, in related business, passed Resolution No. R-14-155, approving regulations governing the implementation of the Smoke Free Air Act with respect to education, signage and complaints. The Smoke Free Air Act, which was adopted by the Council on January 22, 2015, will go into effect on April 22, 2015.
District "B" Councilmember Cantrell said, "It is imperative that we maintain clear and consistent language throughout the Smoke Free Air Act to ensure that it effectively and adequately addresses all public health and economic concerns."
Endorsed Greater New Orleans Community Health ConnectionThe Council passed Resolution R-15-156, authored by Councilmembers Cantrell and Guidry, encouraging continued State funding of the Greater New Orleans Community Health Connection (GNOCHC), a program designed to reduce the number of preventable hospitalizations and improve the overall health status of Orleans Parish. The 2016 State budget does not contain the ten million dollars necessary for the GNOCHC to provide primary and behavioral health care to 57,000 residents of the Greater New Orleans Metropolitan Area.
District "B" Councilmember Cantrell said, "The GNOCHC provides a valuable medical resource to residents in the Greater New Orleans Area. I encourage the State to continue the program's funding so that the tens of thousands of people who rely on this program can continue to receive medical attention."
District "A" Councilmember Guidry said, "The GNOCHC's impact in our community is broad and far reaching. In addition to administering vital health services to our residents, it also provides over 300 jobs and a major economic impact for our region. I strongly urge the State to continue supporting the GNOCHC so that it can continue to provide essential services for our citizens."
Commended Center for Restorative Approaches for Community EffortsThe Council commended the Center for Restorative Approaches (CRA), a non-profit organization that trains educators to teach children critical thinking and conflict resolution skills. CRA uses alternative methods to educate children about the consequences of their actions through dialogue circles, rather than punishment through school suspension. The Center, founded in 2008, is an initiative of Neighborhood Housing Services and has conducted over 400 dialogue circles, 60 of which occurred this year as alternatives to more punitive discipline practices.
District "D" Councilmember Brossett said, "The Center for Restorative Approaches has done an excellent job providing teachers and students with the tools and methods to effectively resolve conflict and build stronger relationships within the New Orleans' school system. The organization's approach will positively impact the health and well being of our community for years to come."
Commemorated the 145th Anniversary of Temple SinaiThe Council commemorated the 145th anniversary of Temple Sinai. Temple Sinai, founded in 1870, is the largest Jewish congregation in the State and the oldest Reform congregation. Temple Sinai has a historic tradition of serving spiritual needs through programs that satisfy the religious, musical, cultural, emotional, and intellectual needs of the congregation's members. Rabbi Edward Cohn, along with other members of the congregation, gave a presentation on the history of the Temple and its ongoing community efforts.
District "A" Councilmember Guidry said, "On its 145th anniversary, we celebrate Temple Sinai for its lasting contribution to the rich history and culture of the City of New Orleans. Temple Sinai has served as an integral part of the community for many years and will continue to be a cornerstone for spiritual and community life."
Recognized Omega Psi Phi Fraternity for its Recent Spring Community Outreach Event
The Council recognized the local Rho Phi chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, the first international fraternity to be founded on the campus of a historically black college, for its recent spring community outreach event benefiting children being treated in local hospitals and in transitional housing facilities. This past Easter Holiday weekend, the fraternity distributed baskets of candy, religious books, stuffed animals and gifts to multiple area hospitals and transitional housing facilities in the New Orleans Metropolitan Area. This year marks the 21st year that the fraternity has distributed gifts to children.
District "E" Councilmember Gray said, "The members of Omega Psi Phi, Rho Phi chapter, have consistently shown devotion to improving our community. It is heart-warming to know that they have brightened the lives of many children."
Approved the Operation of Transportation Network Services
The Council adopted Ordinance Calendar No. 30,617, authored by Councilmembers Brossett and Guidry, creating definitions and regulations for the operations of Transportation Network Companies (TNC) and TNC for-hire vehicles. The ordinance defines Transportation Network Companies (TNC) as a person, organization, or corporation that connects passengers with drivers using their personal vehicles for the purposes of for-hire vehicle transportation through a TNC digital network. Drivers are not required to be employees of the TNC. Services commence when a driver logs in to the TNC digital application and concludes when the driver logs out. Under the Ordinance, the Department of Safety and Permits has full discretion in issuing permits and is responsible for:
- Ensuring compliance and issuing violation punishments
- Collecting an annual permit fee of $15,000, as well as 50 cents per trip originating in Orleans Parish to be paid each quarter
- Submitting lists of TNC drivers to be randomly drug tested
TNCs found to be operating without a permit will be fined no less than $500 for the first offense and will not be allowed to obtain a permit for one calendar year. Subsequent offenses will result in the maximum fine allowable and permanent prohibition from obtaining a TNC permit. To apply for a TNC permit, applicants must provide:
- Name of the business
- Name, phone number, mailing address, and street address of the applicant's agent for service of process
- Proof of insurance
- Description of standard rates
- Occupational license
- Proof of physical office address in Orleans Parish.
- Any additional information requested by the Department of Safety and Permits Director
TNCs must maintain a registry with the Department of Safety and Permits of all employed or contracted TNC drivers that must be electronically updated the first of each month or within 24 hours of request. The registry will include the following information:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Louisiana driver's license number
- Louisiana motor vehicle registration number of vehicle or license plate number
- Active dates of employment or contracts
TNC vehicle requirements:
- Must have an insurance policy that covers TNC vehicles (provided by the driver or the TNC itself)
- Must be annually inspected by a state-certified mechanic or garage
- Must be under 7 years old
Additional TNC requirements and regulations:
- Must perform background checks on drivers
- Cannot increase rates during emergencies
- Minimum charge for a trip set at $3.50
- Minimum charge for trip to / from Louis Armstrong International set at $33.00
- Not permitted to pick up passengers at Louis Armstrong International without prior authorization from the New Orleans Aviation Board
- Cannot pick up passengers hailed from the street or at designated taxicab stands
- Drivers must submit to a narcotics test within 24 hours of an accident
- Cannot impose additional charges to persons with physical disabilities
- Must comply with laws relative to the accommodation of service animals
- Must maintain a registry of drivers that must be updated at the beginning of each month, or within 24 hours of request by the Department of Safety and Permits
District "D" Councilmember Brossett said, "Today's action by the City Council signals a tremendous technological step forward for the City of New Orleans. Ride-sharing companies have the potential to revolutionize and enhance the City's transportation infrastructure."
District "A" Councilmember Guidry said, "This ordinance establishes clear and common-sense regulations that embrace this new technology and ensure public safety and consumer protection."