Regular Meeting

November 07, 2019 10:00 AM

City Council Chamber

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NEW ORLEANS - At today's regular meeting, the City Council authorized a diversion facility for non-violent offenders charged with public intoxication, approved an ordinance imposing overdose data reporting and mapping requirements, passed legislation to increase equal access to healthy food options citywide, and approved a rate order and $1M fine for Entergy New Orleans (ENO).

Additionally, the Council heard presentations from Nurse Nikki Greenaway and the Maternal & Child Health (MCH) Coalition on the Listen to Black Mothers initiative, Geaux Girl Magazine on its work to empower teen girls, and the Mayor's Youth Advisory Council (MYAC) with updates on their youth-focused policy recommendations for the 2020 City Budget.

MYAC members presenting to the Council during today's meeting (left) and representatives of the MCH Coalition with CM Williams outside City Hall (right)

Council Orders Entergy to Lower Rates and Pay $1M Fine for Outages


The Council authorized a rate order for ENO to lower citywide rates for customers and build a pathway towards a cleaner energy future. The approved rate order reduces average residential bills by up to an estimated $3 a month while providing significant advancements on climate and equity issues. 

Additionally, Resolution R-19-457 accomplishes the following:

  • Freezes the regressive minimum charge;
  • Allows customers to participate in a 'green option' to optionally purchase more clean energy; 
  • Creates a sustained investment in the Council's nationally-acclaimed Energy Smart program; and
  • Shields Algiers customers through their transition into the ENO service territory.

"The result of this rate case balances a strong win for New Orleans people with lower rates, more affordability, and more options while providing fair treatment for all stakeholders," said Councilmember-At-Large Moreno. "We realize that the people of this city are faced with many financial pressures coming from every direction. Knowing this, we fought to deliver the best deal possible to reduce their bills and provide a positive path for the City's energy future for years to come. I continue to welcome further filings to explore options that truly benefit the people of New Orleans."

In a separate resolution (R-19-442), the Council also approved a $1M fine for ENO following an investigation into the long-running system reliability problems responsible for numerous electric outages that plagued residents from 2014 through 2017. That investigation occurred over the last year and resulted in a series of findings that supported that ENO did not act prudently in preventing and reacting to the numerous outages. 

"The Council conducted an investigation over the last year, which resulted in a series of findings that supported that ENO did not act prudently in preventing and reacting to the numerous outages. ENO has a primary obligation to provide reliable electric service to its customers. The investigation confirmed my concerns that they were not living up to this obligation. As a result, tens of thousands of residents, businesses and visitors were severely inconvenienced over the course of several years. I think this $1M fine will go a long way to assure that will never happen again," said District "D" Councilmember Jared Brossett.

New Sobering Center Approved for Publicly Intoxicated Offenders

The Council passed Ordinance 32,814, which amends the City Code to establish a diversion facility for individuals charged with public intoxication. The Sobering Center will provide a safe, controlled environment for these non-violent offenders to stay until the effects of their consumed alcohol have safely diminished. The ordinance provides the following requirements:

  • Only adults may be diverted to the Sobering Center
  • Verbal consent must be provided by the individual 
  • If the individual is combative with an officer at any point, they will not be transferred to the Sobering Center
  • If the individual is demonstrably unable to comprehend or understand the process of diversion, they will be brought to an appropriate facility to receive medical attention
  • If the individual poses a threat to themselves or others, they will not be transferred to the Sobering Center
  • If the individual's words or actions indicate that it would be futile to attempt a diversion strategy, they will not be transferred to the Sobering Center

The new 25-bed facility located at 732 N. Claiborne Ave. will welcome and care for anyone so deemed publicly intoxicated, including people with substance abuse disorders who live on the streets, as well as visitors to New Orleans who have over-imbibed. Rather than remaining on the streets, vulnerable individuals will be removed from harm's way or an escalating situation and brought to a safe, secure environment until they are able to make more conscious choices. The Sobering Center represents a more compassionate, effective and appropriate destination for these people, who will be under the care of trained professionals and monitored for specific cues while recovering from alcohol impairment. 

"I'm so proud of the work we've done to create a much more thoughtful way of dealing with these types of alcohol-related incidents," said District "C" Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer. "As one of the top tourism destinations in the world, people are coming here to celebrate and enjoy our city. The previous practice of treating our visitors as criminals and placing them in jail is not how we want to be represented. I want to thank our hospitality industry partners for kicking in to help make this center a reality, and Odyssey House for all they've done to spearhead this project and get it up and running so quickly."

Photos of the new Sobering Center courtesy of The Advocate (left) and CM Palmer (right)

Council Takes Steps to Promote Healthy Food Options & Sustainable Agriculture 

The Council approved a zoning change and corresponding resolution to update applicable use standards for food preparation, processing and packaging, and actively support efforts to increase the equity of our local food system through sustainable agriculture. Zoning Docket 79/19 accomplishes the following:

  • Establishes/revises definitions of Home Processed Food Products and Agriculture; and
  • Defines/updates applicable use standards for Agriculture, Food Preparation, Processing, and Packaging, and Retail Sales.

These text amendments, as recommended in the 2018 "Small Box Retail Diversity Study," will support urban agriculture and promote fresh food produce outlets within walking distance of residents. Small box retail stores tend to pop up in "food deserts," where few major grocery stores exist. At the time of the study there were 36 of these stores in New Orleans, with a third of those located in New Orleans East. The approved changes will help reduce zoning barriers to the processing and distribution of fresh local food products, facilitate healthy food access for residents, and improve public health citywide.

"Across the city, and especially in my district, low-income residents and families are suffering due to the lack of fresh food retailers in their neighborhoods," said District "E" Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen. "Since being elected to the Council, I have worked closely alongside my constituents to address the over-saturation of small box retail stores in their communities. The legislation passed today represents another significant step forward in the right direction to ensuring that all New Orleanians have equitable access to fresh and healthy food options nearby."

Map of small box retail stores in New Orleans East courtesy of

Per Resolution R-19-456, every dollar spent locally on food returns two to four times as much into the local economy. Therefore, it is critical to support local food procurement in New Orleans by public and private anchor institutions such as hospitals, universities, long-term care facilities, civil and municipal organizations, correctional facilities, etc. These public institutions have significant buying power and are capable of reforming the food system to create opportunities for smaller farmers and low-income entrepreneurs of color. 

New Orleans' obesity rate of 30.9% and food insecurity rate of 23.7% represent some of the highest in the country, and diet-related diseases have been shown to cost billions in healthcare costs each year. To address these issues, the Council supports the efforts of local nonprofit Propeller, the New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee,, SPROUT NOLA, and the Wallace Center, to undertake efforts to build market demand for local foods while supporting local farms in capacity building. This multi-sector movement will bring about a heightened public awareness about where food is coming from while creating a more sustainable and resilient food system in New Orleans.

Parameters Established to Streamline and Improve Overdose Data Reporting

The Council approved Ordinance 32,780, imposing overdose data reporting and mapping requirements to assist with the adoption of an Overdose Response Spike Plan and allocation of public health resources. The ordinance calls for the use of a data software program to provide a centralized solution for real-time overdose information and assist in developing coordinated action across all relevant stakeholders. 

The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Fire Department (NOFD) currently generate data regarding suspected overdoses, treatments and outcomes, that is reported to the Orleans Parish Communication District. However, the Council desires a streamlined collection platform to ensure data can be shared between the health care community and statewide agencies to quickly identify needs, provide short- and long-term solutions and protect the rights of individuals. This system will help maximize the likelihood of obtaining grant funding to provide critical resources for those areas and groups most in need.

The Health Department will be responsible for identifying the necessary parameters and developing the response plan to coordinate the efforts of all involved parties and reduce the harmful and potentially life-threatening effects of overdoses. The initial Overdose Spike Response Plan should be provided to the Council for review and approval one year from the adoption of this ordinance (Nov. 7, 2020). 

"This is a holistic and strategic approach to addressing both the public health and the criminal justice crises we're currently facing as a city," said Councilmember-At-Large Jason Williams. "A number of these more powerful drugs have yet to make it to New Orleans, so today represents a proactive solution to getting ahead of this issue and preventing the types of tragedies we're seeing in other cities across the country right now. I want to thank each of you for working so hard to make this happen, in addition to your day jobs, and we look forward to continuing this fight together."

City health & public safety officials presenting to the Council during today's meeting


Created on: 10/16/2018 9:25:26 AM | Last updated: 11/15/2019 11:18:27 AM


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