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District "C" Newsletter - June 2018

June 1, 2018


MESSAGE FROM COUNCILMEMBER PALMER 
First of all, let me just say that I’m thrilled to be back and serving District C. Since taking office three weeks ago, I have hit the ground running and working to fulfill several of my campaign promises. I tackled the city’s short-term rental program at the first regularly scheduled council meeting. My approved motions are the first step toward changing how we issue permits and who can receive them. In addition, the City Planning Commission will be required to include community feedback by hosting a public hearing as part of the process to revamp the program. 
Secondly, I’ve requested Mayor LaToya Cantrell to take a look at monies earmarked for projects in Algiers. I hope this action determines who’s accountable for the funding that’s no longer available to an area of town that’s in desire need of access to public resources such as swimming pools. Finally, I’ve been meeting with you, my constituents. My team and I have listened to concerns from neighbors in the French Quarter, Algiers, Bywater and Treme. In the next two weeks, we’ll wrap up our neighborhood meetings in the Marigny and St. Roch communities. Expect to see more of my team members at your neighborhood meetings. Each one of them is assigned to attend your scheduled neighborhood association meetings so that we’re proactive in improving our city. 
I am thrilled to be on this journey to move District C in a new direction and I want you to be updated along the way. Please sign up here for our monthly newsletter here, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 
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City Council Approves Changes to Short-Term Rental Program
At the May 24th regular meeting, the Council unanimously passed legislation authored by District "C" Councilmember Gisleson Palmer to review and improve regulations of the city's short-term rental (STR) program.
"I would like to thank members of the Council who supported our efforts today to improve the City's STR program," said Councilmember Palmer. "I applaud the individual New Orleanians, neighborhood associations, and business owners who participated in today's Council's meeting to voice their concerns. We have said from the beginning that this was going to be a process that involved those impacted, and today was a great example of that. This legislation is a first step towards revising and improving the STR regulations to restore and preserve the residential fabric in historic areas of the city, many of which I represent such as the Marigny, Bywater, Treme, and Old Algiers." 
The Council approved three motions, which address a number of concerns associated with the issuance of licenses for STR's including: 
Establishing a nine-month Interim Zoning District prohibiting issuance of new and renewal temporary licenses in the Historic Core, Historic Urban, CBD, Mixed Use -1 and 2 zoning districts. Most of Gentilly, Lakeview, New Orleans East and the suburban parts of Algiers are excluded from the Interim Zoning District
No longer prohibits issuing new commercial STRs except on the first floor of a multi-story building allowing for residential uses
Directing the City Planning Commission (CPC), which issues STR licenses, to conduct a broader study of the program within 120 days
In addition, the CPC must expand the scope of the current study to include local data on STRs, regulations in other cities, and possible updates to the Council's new regulations. The CPC is required to hold a public hearing within the next 60 days or by the July 23rd deadline and release their study's findings 60 days thereafter due September 21st.
"There is a difference between locals sharing their properties and corporations buying up houses and apartment units and turning them into hotels," said Council President Jason Williams. "These national and sometimes international corporations are artificially driving up the cost to buy a home or rent a home in our city. That is patently unfair to people of New Orleans. I have a serious problem with that. There was not effective enforcement from the previous administration or voluntary compliance on the part of these companies and platforms. This study will look at all of this and more so that we can take next steps to protect our city." 
Councilmember Palmer continued saying, "My colleagues and I are committed to finding a balance on how we keep the STR program but address the concerns of historic neighborhoods. We're asking the City Planning Commission to take a look at how Nashville, Austin, Savannah and other cities are regulating their STRl programs. I campaigned on this issue, heard from my constituents and I am adamant about continuing open dialogue and discussions moving forward. This legislative package includes a process for a hearing to inform the public of developments of the study, gather their feedback and ultimately create a new STR law." 
"I voted in 2016 against allowing STRs because the legislation didn't go far enough, which was noted in the many issues brought up by the members of the public who spoke today," said Councilmember Brossett. "At that time, I wanted first to establish an effective regulatory framework and a proven enforcement mechanism to ensure the preservation of our neighborhoods. That did not happen. Now the Council must find a solution to STRs, which is revving up housing prices, hurting the industries that form the backbone of our economy and eroding the authenticity of our great city."
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Councilmember Kristin Palmer Issues Official Statement Regarding Funding for Algiers Public Projects
In reviewing the funds that were set aside for Algiers projects, many of which were started in my first term, and some even proceeded 2010, it has come to my attention that the previous Administration has requested an amendment of the set-aside funds for the soccer stadium to be directed towards the Natatorium. This flies in the face of what was originally promised to Algiers.
The original plan called first for the development of a soccer complex at Berhman Park encompassing multiple fields and stadiums to be able to host tournaments. The revenue produced from a regional soccer/sports complex could fund the programming for all the Algiers youth year round. The Soccer stadium was a fully funded separate project
In addition to the soccer complex, the Natatorium project grew from a community concern over only having one outdoor public pool in Algiers, currently situated at Berhman. With a neighborhood as large as Algiers, and considering the poor state of the public transportation system, it made sense to add The Natatorium in addition to the Berhman pool and another location, so more of our children and families had reasonable access to a pool.
I have included the request that was sent by the Administration to re-allocate the stadium funds to a Natatorium on the current Behrman pool site; leaving Algiers again with only one public pool (by comparison, the east bank of District "C" has three pools). This is just the diversion of funds that we know of, and I fear this sets a dangerous precedent for other Algiers improvement projects to be raided to provide additional money to this project.
These actions are just another troubling trend in the practices of the previous Administration. Examples like the transfer of money from the General Meyer streetscape project, which received only tree plantings instead of the bike lanes in the original plan, or the recently reported funding of city pensions with monies for the Downtown Development District have left citizens feeling that their government officials will do what suits them best, rather than what is best for the community.
As such, I am requesting an accounting of funding that was originally earmarked for the following projects:
  • Repairs to Skelly Rupp Stadium
  • Fox Playground
  • Norman Playground (The community was involved in a planning process, money was set aside, and no work has been completed in the past four years)
  • Brechtel Park and Golf Course
This funding should include, but not be limited to: Disaster CDBG; FEMA; any additional federal, state, and/or city dollars.
I am sending this in hopes that we can join efforts to ensure Algiers gets its fair share of resources and amenities. This can only happen if we seek out and listen to the voices in the neighborhoods these projects will potentially impact. As such, I respectfully ask that any work related to the Natatorium project be placed on hold until we can sort out the funding issues above, and convene stakeholders from across Algiers to develop a plan that serves all of our citizens.
To view the Administration's request to re-allocate the stadium funds, click here.

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Are You Ready for Hurricane Season?

June 1 is the first day of Hurricane Season and we want you to be prepared. Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer joined Mayor LaToya Cantrell and other city elected officials to inform the public about the importance of having a disaster plan. Hurricanes and tropical weather are extremely dangerous. These storms can produce heavy rain, high winds, flooding, power outages and tornadoes. 

Here, are the top ten takeaways from the June first press conference: 
  • Have a disaster plan so family members know what to do, who to call and where to go if there is an emergency. 
  • Residents are advised to use caution around areas prone to significant flooding and stay home during heavy rainfall. Reports of street flooding can be viewed at streetwise.nola.gov. 
  • Reduce the risk of damage from flooding by cleaning and clearing gutters and catch basins near your home and businesses. You can even adopt a catch basin to clean by visiting catchbasin.nola. gov. 
  • Gather supplies you will need in case severe weather requires you to shelter in place without power, running water or access to groceries. 
  • Secure or bring inside loose outdoor objects, including lawn furniture, garbage and recycling bins, etc. 
  • Sign up NOW for the special needs registry. It helps emergency responders know who might need extra help during an emergency. More details here. 
  • Stay informed by watching the news and signing up for emergency alerts at ready.nola.gov or following @nolaready on social media. 
  • Call 3-1-1 to report non-life threatening emergencies such as downed trees, road problems or debris and catch basins that are not fully functioning. 
  • Stay away from downed power lines and if there’s a power outage visit entergystormcenter.com for updates and restoration information. 
  • Know alternate routes to and from your home because roads may be blocked and streets impassable during severe weather. 
The Mayor’s Neighborhood Engagement Office is hosting a Neighborhood Leader’s Roundtable tomorrow – Saturday, June 2nd from 9-11am. During the meeting, you can learn about hurricane preparedness and resilience from the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and Office of Resilience and Sustainability. The roundtable will take place at the Mosquito and Pest Control Board located at 2100 Leon C Simon Drive New Orleans, LA 70122. 

For more information on hurricane preparedness, click here.

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Community Spotlight: High Voltage, Inc.

High Voltage Inc. celebrated New Orleans turning 
300 with a day of service. The non-profit organization 
teamed up with two other community groups, Hands 
on New Orleans and NOLA Trash Mob to “clean up” 
the Treme and Lafitte neighborhoods.

Dozens of volunteers collected more than 400 
pounds of trash within two hours on the morning of Saturday, May 26th. People from 
Virginia, California and Texas along with New Orleanians participated in the Tricentennial 
Neighborhood Day of Community Service. Volunteers also cleaned storm drains in the area. 
After the neighborhood clean-up, volunteers enjoyed a special picnic with music, food and 
drinks. 

High Voltage Inc. offers programs that help build self-esteem, critical thinking skills and 
therapeutic recreation for the city’s youth. They have served hundreds of middle and high 
school students across the city since 2003.

High Voltage is always looking for volunteers, find out how you can get involved here
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To view the District "C" June 2018 newsletter in its entirety, click here.

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