Regular Meeting

January 10, 2019 10:00 AM

City Council Chamber

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NEW ORLEANS - At today's regular City Council meeting, the Council approved two motions and a resolution regarding the City's Short Term Rental (STR) Program, adopted a resolution encouraging tourism officials to apply for consideration as a host city for presidential debates, approved revisions to taxicab inspection schedules, adopted a resolution approving guideline revisions submitted by the Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC) and the Central Business District HDLC (CBDHDLC), established the 2019 Mardi Gras parade schedule, amended citywide zoning standards for planned developments, and authorized a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) to increase training opportunities for first responders.

Additionally, the Council recognized New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Chief Michael Harrison with a special proclamation to thank him for his years of service, recognized local tourism officials following the City's historic Tricentennial fireworks display on New Year's Eve, and heard a presentation from Our Voice Nuestra Voz on its upcoming event to break down barriers and empower minority communities during Martin Luther King Week.

(L) The Council with tourism officials and partners in recognition of the expanded NYE citywide fireworks display (R) Mary Moran and Henry Jones of Our Voice Nuestra Voz presenting to the Council

NOPD Chief Recognized for Decades of Service and Leadership

Prior to the start of today's regular agenda, Councilmembers took time to express their deepest gratitude to NOPD Chief Michael Harrison for his nearly thirty years of service and friendship. Chief Harrison recently announced his departure from the NOPD to embark on a new chapter as the Baltimore Police Department's next commissioner.

"Not only are you a phenomenal officer and chief, but you are a wonderful man," said Council President Jason Williams. "Under your leadership, this institution has become a national model for reform despite being largely undermanned and underresourced. You've always known what was needed to get the job done, and as a result, New Orleans crime is down in a historic way. You were open, transparent and took every challenge and turned it into a trophy. I know that Baltimore is just another step of many for you, and I know that you will make them as proud and as awe-inspired as you've made each of us."

The NOPD Superintendent leaves behind a lasting legacy in New Orleans for his leadership in overcoming various challenges including a shortage of officers and high crime rates to implement several significant reforms. At the end of his long and impressive tenure with the NOPD, which began in 1991, New Orleans marked the lowest number of murders in nearly half a century this past year.

"You all have always embraced me and this department, and for that, I am eternally grateful," said Chief Harrison. "On behalf of the entire NOPD, I want to say thank you to all of you for believing in us, being patient with us, and for giving me an opportunity as a brand new chief to come in and work alongside side you. Together, we fought long and hard to transform this department from what it was to what it is today. I consider all of you not just colleagues, but dear friends. We worked together to identify and cultivate young talent at every level so that one day, one of them could rise up and succeed me, and that day has come. I'm so grateful to have had that opportunity, and I know that this department is in great hands."

The Council with NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison and his wife C.C. Harrison

City Planning Commission to Study New STR Policies

Following nearly seven months of public input and studying the issue of STR regulations throughout the city, the Council unanimously approved two motions and a resolution to update New Orleans' STR Program.

 Motion M-19-4 directs the City Planning Commission (CPC) to conduct a public hearing to consider incorporating several recommendations from its 2018 "Short Term Rental Study" into the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) where STR zoning laws are housed. The motion recommends the creation of two types of STR permits (Residential and Commercial) similar to the existing Accessory and Commercial permits.

The new Residential STR permit requires a homestead exemption and on-site host and allows owners to obtain up to three permits for additional units that may exist on their property, within residential zoning districts. The motion establishes three new categories of Commercial STR permits (Single Unit, Small Scale and Large Scale) within the City's mixed-use and commercial zoning districts. The motion also maintains a total prohibition of STRs in the French Quarter (with the exception of the Vieux Carré Entertainment (VCE) District and provides for a prohibition in the Garden District. Additionally, it asks the CPC to reconcile CZO provisions regarding bed and breakfasts and other similar uses.

Motion M-19-6 directs the CPC to conduct a study on the possibility of special programs or conditions that would allow for the issuance of two or more Residential STR licenses to a single license holder to incentivize development in certain areas of the city.

Resolution R-19-7 emphasizes the Council's intention to address and legislate outstanding key issues regarding STRs including platform accountability, enhanced and reliable enforcement and the increase of fees to expand affordable housing in the city. Along with recommending additional funding to be allocated into the Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund (NHIF), the resolution directs the Chief Administrative Officer to determine the feasibility of creating a unified STR enforcement office. The resolution also directs the Director of Safety and Permits to submit recommendations to the Council to address platform data sharing, platform registration, platform tax and fee remissions, and other improvements so the Council can legislate accordingly.

In the next several months, the CPC will release a staff report and conduct a public hearing on the proposed changes before making its final recommendation to the Council. That process will include several opportunities for public input before any new regulations are adopted.

Slides from the STR presentation shown during today's meeting

To view today's meeting presentation summarizing the most current and previous STR legislation, click here.

Council Directs Tourism Officials to Submit New Orleans as Potential Host City for Presidential Debates

The Council adopted a resolution strongly encouraging tourism officials to submit a proposal for New Orleans to be considered as a host city for presidential or vice presidential debates in 2020. Per the resolution, the Council asks officials to submit the proposal by the deadline of April 2, 2019, in advance of the Commission on Presidential Debates' announcement of general election debate sites this fall.

The Council believes the City of New Orleans is well-equipped to handle national debates of this nature and meets all the requirements for host cities as listed by the Commission. If chosen as a host city, New Orleans would benefit greatly from increased tourism revenue and positive visibility on an international scale.

Changes to Taxicab Inspection Schedules Approved

The Council approved an amendment relative to taxicab inspection schedules. In December, the Council increased the maximum age for a taxicab on the road from nine to ten years and allowed drivers to renew their licenses every two years rather than annually. The ordinance approved today clarifies timing requirements in light of the revised vehicle age limit.

Council Signs Off on HDLC Design Guidelines

The Council received a report and adopted a resolution approving 2018 revisions to the Design Guidelines adopted by the HDLC and the CBDHDLC. In compliance with the City Code, the Executive Director of the New Orleans and CBDHLDC submitted a report to the Council detailing updates to the Design Guidelines. Those updates were approved by the Commissions following a public hearing process to receive input on various efforts to protect and preserve the city's historic districts and architecture.

The Council adopted a corresponding resolution approving the revised guidelines submitted in the report. The majority of the changes were minor edits regarding typos or grammar. However, several larger changes were implemented to clarify existing guidelines or establish and add guidelines for topics that previously had none. To view the full report, click here.

Resolution Adopted to Support Training for First Responders

The Council received a presentation from New Orleans Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and authorized a CEA to provide increased training opportunities, such as ride alongs and more, for Emergency Medical Technicians and Emergency Medical Responders. This cross-agency collaboration will increase expertise and efficiency and help place New Orleans at the forefront of emergency first response efforts.

Council Amends Citywide Zoning Standards

The Council passed an amendment to the City's CZO relative to General Standards for Planned Developments to reduce the threshold for institutional structures. The approved text amendment reduces the current threshold of 10,000 square ft. to provide a mechanism for the adaptive reuse of smaller institutional, industrial, and commercial structures.

The unique structural characteristics and size of these institutional buildings paired with the limited use allowances have created a barrier to their adaptive reuse. This change will facilitate the process of bringing vacant, small institutional structures that contribute to the character of neighborhoods back into commerce, in a way that is compatible with surrounding residential areas.

2019 Mardi Gras Parade Schedule Confirmed

The Council established the 2019 Mardi Gras parade schedule. Mardi Gras parades will kick off on Friday, Feb. 22 with the Krewe of Oshun Parade at 6 p.m. and will conclude on Tuesday, March 5 with the Krewe of Crescent City Parade. The approved schedule includes 34 parades and five marching groups. To view the full 2019 Mardi Gras parade schedule, click here.

Oshun Parade float via Uptown Messenger (left) Crescent City Parade truck lineup via Facebook (right)

Created on: 10/16/2018 9:10:06 AM | Last updated: 12/11/2019 4:24:07 PM


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