May 21, 2020 10:00 AM
The meeting may be accessed using the following methods:
Live Stream of Meeting: https://council.nola.gov/home/
Live Television Broadcast: Cox Cable Channel 6 in Orleans Parish
During this teleconference meeting, matters will be considered in the attached agenda.
Because of the unprecedented logistical and public health challenges presented by COVID-19, public comment will proceed as follows:
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- At the beginning of the meeting, the moderator will read aloud the entire council agenda. Thereafter, the meeting will recess for 30 minutes so that members of the public may provide written public comment on any agenda item.
- Public comments are submitted electronically on this form, which is available at https://https://council.nola.gov/.
- Public comments are now being accepted and will be accepted until the end of the 30-minute comment submittal period. Public comment received after the close of the 30-minute comment submittal period will not be considered.
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This meeting is being conducted remotely due to the extraordinary circumstances imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to the authority conferred by Gubernatorial Proclamation JBE 2020-30.
In accordance with JBE 2020-30, Sec. 4, this notice shall constitute a certification by the City Council that meeting by teleconference is necessary because of the social distancing mandates imposed by the Governor and the Mayor of the City of New Orleans and that the Council will be otherwise be unable to operate due to the quorum requirements of La. R.S. 42:19 – insofar as they mandate the physical presence of Councilmembers in one location.
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This notice and the accompanying agenda are being provided in accordance with La. R.S. 42:19(A)(1)(b)(iv).
NEW ORLEANS - At today's regular meeting, the Council adopted several resolutions to suspend electric and gas shut-offs, encourage hazard pay funding for essential workers, ask Mayor Cantrell to implement a parklet program and urge Governor Edwards to impose immediate rent relief for impacted New Orleans tenants. The Council also voted to extend the application deadlines and allow for electronic submission of community grant applications, mandated the use of permeable paving materials in connection with public works projects, and authorized Phase II construction of the Algiers Levee bike path.
Additionally, the Council said farewell to two key members of its Central Staff: Chief of Staff David Gavlinski, who will be moving with his family to start a new chapter out-of-state, and Fiscal Officer Calvin Aguillard, who is retiring after 40 incredible years of service. Council President Jason Williams virtually presented them with unprecedented un-signed proclamations, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, recognizing them for their unrelenting commitment to the Council and residents of New Orleans.
"David and Calvin have both been so reliable and solid in both good times and bad. You've had such incredibly difficult tasks, from wrangling all seven of us to ensuring we can continue to serve and meet the needs of our constituents, even through crisis, but have done so with such ease and grace. Not only are we losing two outstanding colleagues, but also very dear and close friends. Words cannot express how grateful we are to both of you for always going above and beyond the call of duty for all of us, our staff, and most importantly, the people of this great city," said Councilmember Williams.
President Williams and Councilmembers presenting central staffers David Gavlinski and Calvin Aguillard with proclamations thanking them for their years of service and friendship
Council Seeks to Extend Moratorium on Entergy Shut-offs
The Council adopted Resolution R-20-133 to suspend utility electric and gas shut-offs through July 1. The resolution comes after Entergy New Orleans previously agreed to voluntary service shut-off moratoriums since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"COVID-19 has continued to illuminate the economic disparities in our community and the clear need for more substantial intervention for our people," said Councilmember Helena Moreno. "With job and wage losses still mounting, too many in our community are facing tough choices. As their bills have piled up, work has dried up. With this resolution, we will continue to offer a lifeline to those facing difficulties so they may avoid losing access to essential utility services while they are safer at home."
The resolution prevents service disconnects until July 1 and allows for ongoing extensions to that suspension as needed. It also creates an accounting of incremental COVID-19 costs accumulated by Entergy in order for the Council to fully review and vet any claims for costs.
Community Grant Applications Approved for Electronic Submission Through July 1
The Council voted to extend the deadline for the Harrah's Community Grant application to July 1, 2020, and allow applicants to submit both Cox Communications and Harrah's Community Grant applications electronically via the Council's website. With the approval of Ordinance 32,965 at the last regular meeting and Resolution R-20-127 today, applicants will be able to complete and submit all required materials electronically, helping ensure their safety and the safety of others during COVID-19.
Once applications are received by the deadline on July 1, the grant manager will review each submission to ensure that all required information was included. If additional information is needed, the grant manager will reach out to notify the applicant. All applications will then be transmitted to the requested Council offices for final evaluation.
"The move to an electronic process is being done to ensure that we get these funds into the community while keeping health and safety as the top priorities," said Councilmember Williams. "We know that many organizations need additional support as they adapt to this new normal. The goal here is to allow these organizations the additional time necessary to assess their needs and to utilize an application process that is in line with the advice of public health experts to continue social distancing whenever possible. These protocols will limit the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring that community organizations receive the financial assistance they need."
For more information on the City Council/Harrah's Community Support Grants Program, click here.
For more information on the City Council/Cox Communications Community Grant Program, click here.
Council Supports Parklet Program and Increased Outside Occupancy for Restaurants and Businesses During COVID-19
The Council adopted Resolution R-20-134
encouraging Mayor LaToya Cantrell to design and implement a parklet program for restaurants and businesses located along commercial streets. Parklets are defined as a small seating area or green space created in front of a business alongside a sidewalk or within a parking space(s).
Restaurants are allowed to open during the City's Phase One COVID-19 reopening plan but must reduce indoor capacity to 25% occupancy. By activating open spaces such as parking spots, parklets would allow restaurants to increase occupancy with outdoor seating, generating additional revenue while adhering to social distancing requirements.
The resolution also requests that the administration strongly consider allowing parklets on Frenchmen Street, St. Claude Avenue, and commercial streets in the French Quarter.
"Parklets are an inexpensive and innovative way to allow restaurants to safely reopen and expand their serving areas. This concept has been implemented in other cities across the country, and creative, responsive policies such as parklets are necessary to support local restaurants and businesses through and even after the coronavirus health crisis, which has severely impacted the City's economy. Having a designated space could help create a more welcoming environment for locals to gather responsibly while showing them what a progressive city can do to improve its physical environment. Mayor Cantrell has already started making progress for additional restaurant seating by suspending off-street parking and issuing temporary sidewalk use permits, and we would support her implementing a parklet program as well," said Councilmember Palmer.
Several parklet examples provided by Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer's office
Approval of Permeable Paving & Green Infrastructure Ordinances to Enhance Citywide Resiliency
The Council approved Ordinance 32,933 to promote the use of permeable paving and green infrastructure citywide. There has been a noticeable increase in the frequency and severity of heavy rainfall events and flooding throughout the City, and everyone, including residents, business owners, and government have a part to play in combating flooding. While previous legislation has looked at what business owners can do, little has been done in terms of City restrictions.
This ordinance addresses that hesitancy by requiring the Department of Public Works (DPW) to use permeable paving where practical. Permeable paving allows rainwater to flow through the pavement so that it can be absorbed by the ground underneath. In contrast, traditional paving prohibits rainwater absorption resulting in rainwater being pushed into the City's drainage system, which can be quickly overwhelmed. Permeable paving also lightens the burden on the City's drainage system during heavy rainfalls and curbs stormwater runoff.
This ordinance ensures New Orleans improves its infrastructure, and those improvements will significantly impact and increase resiliency through less flooding. The legislation targets surfaces that are most adaptable to permeable paving like walkways, sidewalks, parking lanes and parking lots, but also allows DPW the flexibility necessary to determine when permeable paving is impractical and traditional paving is required, like for roadways.
"I am proud to author this legislation and am grateful for the support of my colleagues. Today, we set a clear standard that any investments that the City makes in infrastructure must also address resiliency," said Councilmember Jared Brossett. "Working together, we can decrease our vulnerability to frequent flooding by incorporating stormwater management wherever possible, be that on a residential, commercial or governmental project. DPW has already used permeable pavements on projects in District 'D' on St. Bernard Ave., and expanding this to other areas of our city is apart of the resiliency we need."
A permeable paving driveway being installed in Gentilly as part of the Community Adaptation Program courtesy of New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA)
Additionally, the Council approved Ordinance 32,962 to facilitate the completion and implementation of the Lakeview/City Park HMGP Drainage Project. The project area consists of a 14-square block area in Lakeview bounded by Walker Street, Canal Street, Chapelle Street and Catina Street. Using both grey and green infrastructure, the team developed a series of proposals designed to mitigate and reduce chronic flooding in the neighborhood by redirecting stormwater from the project area to drainage pumps and renovating public alleys to capture and slow stormwater before entering the drainage system. For more information, see here.
A rendering of the proposed drainage system in Lakeview courtesy of nola.gov
Council Calls for Hazard Pay for Essential Workers and Rent Relief for Tenants during COVID-19
The Council adopted two resolutions to ease the financial burden on New Orleanians still facing hardships as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Resolution R-20-136 supports and encourages the inclusion of "hazard pay" funding for essential frontline workers in the next federal coronavirus relief package. New Orleans relies heavily on essential workers, such as first responders, health care professionals, transit operators, grocery store clerks, sanitation workers, childcare providers, and more, to keep the city functioning. Given the crushing economic impact COVID-19, local governments and small businesses have been unable to provide adequate pay increases and fair compensation for these workers who continue to put themselves at risk each day. Therefore, the Council is asking the City's U.S. Congressional Delegation to allocate funding specifically structured to prioritize those workers with the greatest risk of exposure, as an overly-broad interpretation could result in too few dollars to go around.
Through Resolution R-20-135, the Council calls upon Governor John Bel Edwards to use his emergency powers to impose immediate rent relief for impacted New Orleans tenants, and urge federal legislators to support an immediate moratorium on mortgage payments. The average monthly rent payment in New Orleans is around $1,200, with most of the population paying more than half of their monthly income on housing costs prior to COVID-19. In light of the current affordable housing crisis, which has only been exacerbated by this public health crisis, it is imperative to ensure that those who already have housing are not made homeless.
City Moves Forward with Phase II Construction of Algiers Levee Bicycle Trail
The Council approved Ordinance 32,954
authorizing the City of New Orleans to enter into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) with the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority West (SLFPA-W), on behalf of the Algiers Levee District, to provide the design and construction of a bicycle path on the crown of the Mississippi River Levee in Algiers.
The bike path will be approximately 3.7 miles, continuing the existing Mississippi River Levee Trail from Todd Shipyards to the Chalmette/Lower Algiers Ferry Terminal. The three-year CEA will allow SLFPA-W to fund, design and oversee the project.
Once the project is complete, the trail will connect to the larger Mississippi River Trail, which currently extends to Gretna, where other projects are underway to connect with existing trails as far upriver as Hahnville. Along with the new on-street bikeways being constructed throughout Algiers as part of the Moving New Orleans Bikes initiative, the trail will add to the network of bikeways connecting all Algiers residents to new transportation and recreational opportunities.