Regular Meeting

August 24, 2017 

City Council Chamber

City Council Regular Meeting News Summary August 24, 2017

NEW ORLEANS - Today, the Council approved an ordinance to allow New Orleans youth who commit misdemeanor offenses to receive a warning or summons in place of being arrested, approved an ordinance to authorize the City to lease and use land under I-10 in an effort to preserve and enhance the Claiborne corridor, confirmed appointments to the Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB) Board of Directors, waived permit fees for Aug. 5 flood victims and heard a presentation from Voice of the Experienced (VOTE).

Additionally, the Council approved a revision of signage regulations for New Orleans hospitals, received emergency response updates on Hurricane Harvey from the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and approved a series of ordinances to authorize leases at the Louis Armstrong International Airport, one of which, allows Entergy Louisiana to provide permanent electrical service to the North Terminal Project.

Youth Misdemeanor Crime Ordinance Passes

Today, the Council unanimously approved an ordinance to reduce the number of children unnecessarily placed into the criminal justice system. The Policing Alternatives for Youth (PAY) ordinance allows New Orleans youth who commit misdemeanor offenses to receive a warning or summons instead of being arrested. Prior to the vote, the Council heard a presentation from Chief Judge Bates-Anderson and Ranord Darensburg of the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court, and Aaron Clark-Rizzio and Rachel Gassert of the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights. Ordinance Calendar No. 31,954, also known as the PAY ordinance, was developed by Councilmembers Guidry, Cantrell and Williams as part of a multi-year collaboration with the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), the City of New Orleans, the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights, and other stakeholders, to establish a variety of responses to children engaged in minor misbehaviors. This ordinance applies to low-level misdemeanor delinquency or status offenses including truancy, running away and disturbing the peace. PAY provides NOPD officers with guidelines and expectations regarding when and whether to take juveniles into custody, in addition to providing them with the option to issue a warning or summons only. The policy was created to address a plethora of findings that show children who are arrested, regardless of the nature of their crimes, are less likely to finish school and more likely to commit future crimes as adults. Additionally, it will address the vast racial disparity that exists within the City's juvenile detention centers. "This is one of the most exciting moments of my career to bring this work before the Council today," said District "A" Councilmember Susan Guidry. "We're calling this the PAY ordinance because we believe it will pay out big benefits to our families and community. We already have this system in place for our adults, but for whatever reason, there's nothing in place for the most vulnerable members of our community, our children. I am so grateful to the countless number of stakeholders that worked alongside me over the past several years to address this issue. This is truly a great day and a great victory, not just for this Council, but for our youth and our entire community." With the passing of the PAY ordinance, the Council took an important first step toward reducing recidivism and ensuring increased and equitable opportunities for success so that our youth may grow to be productive members of society.

Council Confirms Sewerage and Water Board Appointments

The Council voted to confirm the Mayor's appointment of Stacy Horn-Koch and re-appointment of Joseph Peychaud to serve as members of the Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB) Board of Directors. At the special Council meeting on Thursday, August 17, the Council decided to defer action on these two motions in an effort to ensure those appointed to leadership roles met the necessary qualifications and standards.

Peychaud appeared before the Council today to address any individual concerns and assure his commitment to continuing the organization's efforts to remedy the City's recent flooding crisis, hold the appropriate parties accountable, and maintain full transparency going forward.

"I can assure you that I, and other board members, did not have the information needed to make adequate decisions at the time of the flooding," said Peychaud. "It's unfortunate and it's not fair to citizens and community stakeholders, but I cannot change it. Moving forward, the intent and understanding is that we, as a board, will be fully informed, advised and given all the information necessary to make the important decisions. That is what we will constantly ask and demand of those tasked with bringing that information to us."

Council Approves Revision of Signage Regulations for Hospitals

The Council voted to approve Zoning Docket No. 58/17 requesting a text amendment to the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance to revise signage regulations that apply to New Orleans East Hospital and other hospitals.

A hospital representative spoke to the Council on the inadequacy of its signage allowances and the detrimental effect it's had on people in need of life-saving care. This amendment will increase visibility from main thoroughfares and ensure visitors are able to reach emergency room entrances more effectively.

Building Permit Fees Waived for Flood Victims

The Council unanimously voted to pass Ordinance Cal. No. 31,989 to waive certain fees relative to building permits necessary to perform non-structural repairs of buildings damaged by the severe flooding that occurred on August 5, 2017. Effective until December 31, 2017, this ordinance will provide critical assistance to those still attempting to rebuild and recover in the wake of this disaster.

"So many of our citizens suffered devastating effects to their homes and businesses as a result of this flooding and inadequate emergency response efforts," said Councilmember Brossett. "Eliminating this financial burden represents our continued commitment to helping these people get back on their feet."

Voice of the Experienced (VOTE) Presents to the Council

The Council heard a presentation from Dolfinette Martin and Bruce Reilly from Voice of the Experienced (VOTE), a grassroots organization led by people impacted by the criminal justice system. VOTE has been central to advancing more sustainable policies in Louisiana and bringing the expertise of affected people into the conversation.

The presentation detailed the organization's work with reentry of released inmates into society. As representatives of the formerly incarcerated community, those at VOTE know first-hand the struggles these people face and are, therefore, well-equipped to provide assistance and solutions. They stressed that re-entry is not just an extension of the criminal justice system in the form of heavy monitoring.

"Thank you for being vulnerable enough to share your experiences in this public setting," said Councilmember-At-Large Jason Williams. "There's a huge misconception that if someone serves time, whether it's a week or 30 years, that somehow their life will be left in place for them when they return. Louisiana has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world and no rehabilitative measures are obtained by taking away a man or woman's right to vote. This effort to disenfranchise such a large subset of our population is inexcusable. I'm prepared to fight alongside you all on behalf of these people and do whatever it takes because ensuring their success ensures success for us all."


Council Receives Emergency Preparedness Updates

The Council suspended the rules to hear emergency preparedness updates that were not on the agenda. Aaron Miller, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for the City of New Orleans, presented information in light of recent weather forecasts.

The City receives twice daily updates from the National Weather Service on Hurricane Harvey's progress. While the forecast is still continuing to develop, as of now, New Orleans is expected to get a total of 5-10 inches of rain through late next week.

"I encourage every citizen to go about their plans as normal as we enter into this weekend," said Councilmember Williams. "However, with any tropical storm system, it's important to also have a plan in place, if in fact, we do experience a bad weather event."

Ordinance Passes to Authorize Claiborne Corridor Enhancement Measures

The Council unanimously approved Ordinance Cal No. 31,995 to authorize the Mayor to enter into a Joint-Use Agreement between the City, the State of Louisiana, and the Department of Transportation and Development (the "DOTD") to provide for the lease of land and airspace to preserve and enhance the Claiborne corridor. This measure will secure control of the site under Interstate Highway 10 and allow the DOTD to establish the Claiborne Corridor Marketplace and Cultural Innovation District in that area.

"We're invigorating a corridor that was once a thriving business hub prior to the existence of the Claiborne bridge," said District "D" Councilmember Jared Brossett. "We don't develop as a person through life without taking chances. That being said, we come here today to push forward in an investment in our people. People who are determined and hopeful, who have come together in their community and built it from the ground up. People who've invested in themselves and who have come to government to ask us to, in turn, invest in them. It's like my grandfather used to say, nothing beats a failure like a try. This is a great victory for the Tremé and the entire City of New Orleans."

Flozell Daniels from the Foundation for Louisiana spoke to the Council in support of the project, which he believes will create space and opportunity for jobs in addition to promoting the expansion of culture in the area. He said that the Foundation for Louisiana would work with the Council to conduct any additional research and develop the necessary resources, both strategic and financial, for this project to be successful.

"The bottom line is that we have to grow in order to succeed as a city," said District "B" Councilmember LaToya Cantrell. "With this project, we'll be able to create opportunity, link people to that opportunity and build community in the process. I see this as a chance for us to finally show some love to the deserving people in this area. It's all about how we build people up, how we engage them, and how we show them real results. I have no doubt that we will see the fruits of our labor with this project."

Created on: 6/21/2018 11:28:44 AM | Last updated: 6/21/2018 11:28:44 AM


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