September 23, 2021 10:00 AM
City Council Chamber
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NEW ORLEANS - During today’s regular meeting, the New Orleans City Council authorized a one-time suspension of monthly sanitation charges, passed a series of legislation relative to its regulation of Entergy New Orleans and the company’s response to Hurricane Ida, approved lease agreements with the New Orleans Building Corporation (NOBC) and New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA), and amended the City Code with new Mardi Gras safety requirements for tandem floats.
The Council also established several polling place relocations in advance of the November 13 Primary Election, and received special presentations from the following individuals and organizations:
- Second Harvest Food Bank and World Central Kitchen on their community relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Ida;
- Finance New Orleans with organizational updates and information on its new Green Mortgage Offering Plan for Building a More Resilient Community; and
- Family and friends of the late Charles M. Jackson Jr. (better known as DJ Action Jackson), honoring the WWOZ radio host and the voice of New Orleans’ second-line culture.
Members of the Council recognizing Second Harvest and World Central Kitchen for their tireless efforts and impact in the community in the weeks following Hurricane Ida
Council Authorizes One-Time Sanitation Fee Suspension and Calls on City to Address Metro Collection Failures
With its passage of Ordinance 33,393, the Council has mandated a one-time sanitation fee suspension to provide residents with a measure of financial relief from inconsistent sanitation pickups leading up to and following Hurricane Ida. Many New Orleanians have yet to see their trash picked up since the storm hit almost a month ago, which has escalated the issue from a mere nuisance to an increasingly concerning public health crisis.
In the weeks and months leading up to Ida, staffing shortages resulting from COVID-19 had already rendered one or more of the City’s trash contractors unable to fully comply with their collection responsibilities. As residents and families continue to be impacted financially by the ongoing pandemic, and now a devastating hurricane, they should not be burdened further by having to pay for City services they are not receiving.
Recognizing that this one-time suspension represents just a small step in the right direction, the Council will continue to work alongside the Administration, its contractors, and other local partners to demand a swift and permanent solution to the trash problem.
“These failures have resulted in direct and harmful impacts on our residents, their families, and the overall quality of life in our city, and can no longer be allowed to continue. Trash pick-up is a basic service, and our taxpayers deserve better,” said District “D” Councilmember Jared Brossett. “As I’ve said before, this single fee suspension may not get the trash off the streets any sooner, but it’s what we can do now to help alleviate some of the strain and hardship that’s been caused by this storm.”
The Council also adopted Resolution R-21-351, requesting Mayor Cantrell and the City's Law Department to send written notice to Metro of its failure to perform, and if the City has already done so, the Council requests it to seek full recovery of all damages resulting from local waste collection failures.
From August 24 through September 16, the City’s 311 system received over 9,318 resident complaints regarding the lack of trash service and pick-up citywide, causing extended rot, smell, maggots, and vermin, further exacerbating public health risks during the pandemic. While other solid waste contractors in the City have experienced collection delays, the vast majority of the service complaints submitted to the Council pertain directly to Metro.
The City’s contract with Metro clearly states its requirement to provide semi-automated curbside collection twice a week. It also provides that that “the City may collect unsatisfactory performance damages” and seek other legal remedies, including the termination of the contract if these requirements are not met. Therefore, the Council strongly encourages Mayor Cantrell and the City Law Department to analyze and assess the potential termination and rebid of the existing contract, including a determination of whether other waste collection contractors have the capacity to take on Metro’s service area.
Photo of weeks-old trash sitting curbside in New Orleans courtesy of NPR
New Safety Requirements for Tandem Mardi Gras Floats
The Council approved an amendment to the City Code (Ordinance 33,426) to require the complete enclosure of the ends and corners of each unit of a tandem float immediately adjacent to the connecting hitch of all tandem floats in Mardi Gras parades. Following two tragic accidents caused by tandem floats during the last Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans, these new requirements will ensure the safety of riders and paradegoers alike.
“You don’t know what you don’t know until you find out you don’t know it. This has been a safety issue in our city for years, but wasn’t brought to light until something tragic happened,” said District “B” Councilmember Jay H. Banks. “We hope these new rules will rectify that so that all those who visit or live in New Orleans can enjoy all of the festivities of Mardi Gras safely and without fear of harm.”
City Lease Agreements Approved to Promote Economic Development and Affordable Housing
The Council passed three ordinances (33,427, 33,428 & 33,430) pertaining to NORA. Ordinance 33,427 authorizes a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement that establishes policies and procedures for transferring City-owned properties to NORA to enhance its community and economic development efforts. Ordinances 33,428 and 33,430 approve leases between the City and NORA to facilitate the redevelopment of City-owned properties at 2600 S. Broad Street and 2314 Louisiana Avenue into affordable housing opportunities.
The Council approved another series of ordinances (33,419, 33,420 & 33,421) relative to a lease agreement with NOBC to lease parking lots at or near the Piazza D'Italia and other surrounding properties. Per ordinances 33,419 and 33,420, Premium Parking Services, L.L.C. will lease, operate, and maintain the surface parking lots in exchange for rent payments to NOBC, which will foster economic growth by providing for the operation of the City-owned surface parking lots located at Union Passenger Terminal and underneath Hwy US90/Pontchartrain Expressway. Ordinance 33,421 allows the NOBC to continue to lease its property located in the French Quarter at 841 Iberville Street to Chifici Enterprises, Inc. (operators of Deanie’s Seafood).
State Legislature Urged to Address Residential Care Facility Regulations
The Council is calling upon the Louisiana State Legislature to pass updated and consistent regulations relating to Residential Care Facilities’ emergency preparedness systems to ensure no residents are left behind or subject to harm in the event of a major storm. During hurricanes or natural disasters when declared emergencies or evacuations are issued, vulnerable populations need special attention and care.
As outlined by the Council in Resolution R-21-356, Hurricane Ida further demonstrated the need for reliable staffing and emergency planning at residential care or independent living facilities. Moving forward, it will be imperative to ensure all stakeholders, including management, employees, family members, and relevant City and/or State Departments, have access to well-developed and clearly communicated plans for evacuation and sheltering in place.
In the aftermath of the storm, the New Orleans Health Department, Department of Safety and Permits, the City Attorney’s Office, and City Council, are working with local partners to promulgate guidelines and implement local regulations to define the types of facilities that need heightened emergency plans. These legislative updates will focus on identifying and defining these types of facilities, including but not limited to the following required submittals:
- Detailed points of contact and backup contacts, including a person on-site and available to the City at all times;
- Manifests of residents with appropriate and applicable information to ensure resident safety and security;
- Demonstrated compliance with Chapter 38 of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Handbook on Multifamily Emergency/Disaster Guidance; and
- Details on types and capabilities of any and all generators on-site.
As the Council works to address this issue locally, it strongly urges its partners at the State level to pass new regulations and support regulatory updates that protect and improve the quality of life of all Louisiana residents in residential care or independent living facilities.
Council Takes Steps to Investigate and Address Power Failures During Ida
Following yesterday's Utility, Cable, Telecommunications and Technology Committee's hearing, the full Council passed a number of significant legislative items relative to Entergy New Orleans’ preparation and response to Hurricane Ida, including: including:
- Resolution R-21-340 affirming the Council's opposition to billing Entergy ratepayers for any and all storm recovery costs without careful evaluation by the Council;
- Motion M-21-341 issuing a request for qualifications and proposals for a consultant to develop a report detailing the options and opportunities available to the Council and customers to change or reform the current configuration of utility ownership in Orleans Parish;
- Motion M-21-342 directing the Council Utilities Regulatory Office (CURO) to work with the Parties to develop the scope for a request for qualifications and proposals for a consultant to conduct a management audit;
- Resolution R-21-343 directing CURO's and the Council’s utility advisors to conduct an after-incident review of Entergy regarding its preparation and response to Hurricane Ida;
- Resolution R-21-344 requesting the Louisiana Public Service Commission to investigate electric transmission failures resulting from Hurricane Ida;
- Resolution R-21-345 requesting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate electric transmission failures resulting from Hurricane Ida;
- Resolution R-21-346 extending the deadline for the Council’s utility advisors’ final report on the prudence investigation in response to the load shed event during Winter Storm Uri; and
- Resolution R-21-347 establishing a 30-day comment period on Entergy New Orleans, LLC’s Initial Compliance Filing for 2022 the Renewable and Clean Portfolio Standard, UD-21-01.
“While this Council has worked diligently to hold the investor-owned monopoly accountable over these past three-plus years ─ issuing millions in fines when appropriate, initiating serious prudence reviews, and prosecuting $1 billion cases at FERC ─ these proceedings only address symptoms, not systems,” said Council President Helena Moreno. “Not a day goes by without someone on the street asking us if there is a better way. But for change to occur, if it is the right thing for our city, we must have the facts laid out in front of us so our community can learn and engage. The steps we’ve taken today help us objectively and independently gather those facts and present the full scope of options for the public to review.”
Chief of Staff
New Orleans City Council