March 25, 2021 10:00 AM
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NEW ORLEANS - At today’s regular meeting, the New Orleans City Council adopted a resolution in support of designated “Safe Exchange Zones” at police stations, established a 30-day comment period to receive input on proposed renewable and clean portfolio standards, and directed the City Planning Commission (CPC) to hold public hearings to consider potential revisions to the Neighborhood Participation Program and use standards for child care centers.
Council Encourages Designated Safe Zones at District Police Stations
The Council unanimously adopted resolution R-21-114 urging the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) to designate clearly marked “Safe Exchange Zones” at district stations to provide residents with a reasonably safe and public area to conduct legal, private transactions from online marketplaces or internet purchases.
The resolution was developed in response to the death of Joseph Vindel, a New Orleans resident who was tragically killed while meeting a stranger to complete an online sale transaction. As New Orleanians continue to face financial challenges due to the economic downtown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s increasingly important to find additional avenues and sources of income wherever possible. These types of internet purchases and exchanges are becoming much more commonplace, creating potentially life-threatening situations. The Council is urging NOPD leaders to implement “Safe Exchange Zones” to ensure local residents can conduct online business without fear of being harmed in the process.
"While it is terribly unfortunate that this measure is coming about because of a tragedy, we hope that Safe Exchange Zones will create a measure of safety for our residents," said District "B" Councilmember Jay H. Banks. "Working with NOPD, we will be able to designate neutral areas for exchanges to take place at district stations. This will help not only those completing online transactions in person but also child custody exchanges and any situation where a safe public space is needed."
Concerned residents were also behind the push to implement "Safe Exchange Zones" as seen in municipalities nationwide. Venus Masakowski, a public safety advocate and Touro Bouligny resident, reached out to neighbors on social media and encouraged the Council to take this important measure.
“NOPD is pleased to be working with the City Council to establish the parameters of the proposed internet exchange safe zones,” said Superintendent Shaun Ferguson. “Any citizen is welcome to use any of the locations to complete transactions in a safe and trusted environment.”
30-Day Comment Period Established on Proposed Renewable and Clean Portfolio Standards
The Council passed Resolution R-21-109, establishing a final 30-day comment period to receive feedback on the proposed renewable and clean portfolio standard regulations. The RCPS ends carbon emissions from Entergy New Orleans power generation by 2050, reaching net zero in 2040.
CPC to Consider CZO Changes for Neighborhood Participation Program and Child Care Centers
The Council passed two motions directing the CPC to conduct public hearings to consider and make recommendations on proposed zoning updates relative to the City’s Neighborhood Participation Program (NPP) and local child care centers.
Motion M-21-113 asks the CPC to consider amending Article 4 of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) – Applications & Approvals - to modify NPP requirements. This change would authorize teleconferencing, virtual, or other remote meeting formats to satisfy NPP requirements during a declared emergency by the Governor or Mayor when in-person meetings are not an available option.
The Council also approved Motion M-21-112, requesting the CPC to consider text amendments to use permissions and standards for child care centers in the S-RS and S-RD residential zoning districts, which are currently not permitted by right or via conditional use. This initiative represents the Council's ongoing efforts to address the increasingly critical need in New Orleans for expanded access to early child care.