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Affordable housing rezoning, quality of life ticketing measures approved by City Council

New Orleans City Hall
Jesse Hardman
New Orleans City Hall

After a feisty debate, the New Orleans City Council unanimously voted to rezone parts of the city and incentivize developers to create multi-unit homes with affordable housing apartments, even after several Council members voiced their concern with the move.

The zoning changes will occur in the Marigny, Bywater, Treme and business corridors scattered throughout the city. The zoning change will allow homeowners and smaller developers to add additional housing units and produce more multi-family homes to create more spaces for affordable housing.

The plan was spearheaded by Council member Kristin Gisleson Palmer and gained support from housing advocates but met resistance from Neighborhood Housing Associations and Council member Joe Giarrusso when it was brought before a Council meeting Monday. Palmer added several amendments to the measure to appease Giarrusso's concerns with parking overlays and the ability of owners using the incentives to host more short-term rentals.

Council President Helena Moreno also voiced concern about short-term rentals, as the city is experiencing difficulty enforcing the industry. Moreno said she would present an interim zoning measure in the next Council meeting, banning short-term rental permits in the newly rezoned 14 residential neighborhoods

“This is one step trying to incentivize private dollars to do the right thing,” Palmer said in her closing remarks.

The measure grants incentives for "mom and pop" developers to build double, triple and quad type homes that will feature apartments set aside for affordable housing. Those accepting the measure will need to provide rent at $750 a month for someone who makes $39,000 a year or less. The property would also have to provide affordable housing for 15 years.

Several neighborhood associations spoke out against the move, saying the process is being rushed and that it would create more density in the city. Housing advocates Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center and HousingNOLA encouraged the Council to pass the measure.

The Council also voted in favor of giving ticketing powers to select municipal offices for “quality of life” ordinances.

The measure gives limited city employees the ability to be deputized by the NOPD and the power to punish nine violations in the city's charter. If passed, the infractions that could earn a ticket would be illegal dumping, public right of way obstructions, overgrown weeds, drainage blocking and tour guide regulations.

If found in violation of the nine ordinances, abusers would have to pay $150 for the first infraction, $250 for the second and $500 for the third, with a possibility of five to 90 days imprisonment.

Moreno was the lone dissenting vote.

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