Mar 122013

Freret Neighbors United president Andrew Amacker talks with residents in the crowded cafeteria of Samuel J. Green Charter School on Tuesday evening. (Robert Morris,

Bruce Johnson tells neighbors that he feels safe enough in the Freret neighborhood without an additional fee for a security patrol. (Robert Morris,

Proponents of a new fee-based security district in the Freret neighborhood faced an hour’s worth of skeptical questions Tuesday night from residents whose opposition ranged from the specific fee itself to much broader issues about gentrification of the neighborhood.

“I don’t want to further subsidize these businesses through an increase in property taxes,” said Soniat Street resident George Chaney.

Advocates for a security district, led by Kellie Grengs and Michelle Ingram of Zeus’ Place (both known for their work with The New Freret business and property owners association), have said that their research shows a fee of $300 per parcel attached to property tax bills would pay for 24-hour coverage by a private security officer in the neighborhood from Claiborne Avenue to Danneel Street.

That $300, however, is only the upper limit of what they might want, they said Tuesday night before a crowd of more than 100 people. Less coverage may be needed, they said, and some of the money might be spent on more lighting and surveillance cameras in the neighborhood.

Opponents of the fee, led at the meeting by Stan Norwood of Dennis Barber Shop, said they already feel safe enough in their homes in the Freret area — safer, in fact, than they have felt in years. The fee represents an unfair burden when taxes and utility bills are already climbing, they said, and might lead to neighborhood children being hassled by security officers as perceived troublemakers. Ultimately, they said, the rising costs may force residents out of the neighborhood.

“We have to pay to become stereotyped and harassed,” Norwood said. “And that’s something that some of you may not have ever had to deal with.”

Norwood said that he has gathered 620 signatures on a petition against any security-district fee whatsoever, and that the neighborhood now needs to begin discussing alternatives to it.

No decision was reached Tuesday night, and advocates for the fee have said they plan to spend this year surveying the neighborhood and crafting a proposal based on the input they receive. But for several residents, the disagreement over the fee could ultimately lead to a stronger neighborhood as residents new and old get to know one another better.

“This us-against-them is not going to work. These people are not trying to impose anything on anybody,” said Dean Gancarz-Davies, a former president of the association, in defense of the district’s proponents. But urging opponents of the fee to remain involved, Gancarz-Davies concluded, “We need more soldiers in this organization. There is too much to do, and not enough people to do it.”

To read our live coverage, see below.

  6 Responses to “Freret neighbors debate security district proposal”

  1. Mr Norwood makes a good point. There is one simple solution everyone can agree to: NOPD do your job.

    • Mr. Mrs. or Ms. Diogonese-
      I strongly disagree-

      We can’t arrest our way out- and point fingers at NOPD to fix social equities and root causes of crime.
      If you live nearby, and can help, please do- and start by coming to the next NU meeting.
      Best from Freret
      Andy Brott

  2. From experiences in Mid City (where I do not live any longer) I am telling you first hand, “Don’t get a private security patrol”. It is an illusion of safety. Here is what to expect if you do approve it:

    1) You are given a multitude of refrigerator magnets and stuff with the logo and phone number of your private security.

    2) You call that phone number, and it tells you to call 911 for an
    emergency. Seriously, who needs to pay an extra $300 for that? You might as well have called NOPD! Or 911 first.

    So, you just have to bite the bullet on this and believe me.


    Also, don’t forget the cost of your security patrol police cars – that in itself is really expensive. I believe $50-60K per car. So figure that in.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

  3. RESPONSE TO: “and might lead to neighborhood children being hassled by security officers as perceived troublemakers.”

    “We have to pay to become stereotyped and harassed,” Norwood said. “And that’s something that some of you may not have ever had to deal with.”

    Well, some of the reasons why many of those at the meeting “HAVE NOT HAD TO DEAL WITH BEING STEREOTYPED and HARASSED” is because:

    they don’t have children out of wedlock,
    they don’t have children from multiple fathers or mothers,
    they don’t have kids that sit on porches all day long,
    they don’t have kids that stand on street corners,
    they don’t have kids that wear hoodies in the summer or 365 days a year,
    they don’t have kids that wear their pants on the ground,
    they don’t blame someone else for their problems,
    they don’t have something racially to prove,
    they don’t have multiple ex-spouses/BF/GF that they seek revenge on a daily basis,


    they don’t have an attitude of not listening to others with advice.

    – – – – – – – –

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  4. We have a private security patrol in my neighborhood and I have always found them to be VERY responsive and helpful. I have never gotten a recording or been told to “call 911”. I believe that the extra we pay each year in our property taxes is money very well spent….unlike the outrageous amount we pay for sewage and water. I don’t understand why people who live in any neighborhood would fear and fight against extra security especially given the lawless nature of some people in our wonderful city. Criminals have no respect, worth or pride in themselves and certainly do cross neighborhood lines. Extra security can only improve the quality of life in every neighborhood.

  5. Instead of all these added security districts via property taxes (which are already far far too high here) which pay private patrols which lack police powers, why not fund an auxiliary police force?

    We could easily create a New Orleans public safety overlay district which could fund various law enforcement and security options such as a secondary police force which could augment existing coverage by the NOPD and could consist of a combination of paid officers and volunteer officers — all POST certified and having actual police powers and arrest authority.

    I just don’t understand why people would want to pay for rent-a-cops who can’t do much under the law when they could have actual police.

    And here’s the key to funding it and not having everyone pay some ridiculous property tax number like $300 per year:

    Make it a per capita FEE.

    Charge a FEE, not a tax to all residents and businesses. Then, Tulane, Loyola, OPSB, Churches, Hospitals, etc, all have to pay their fair share of law enforcement costs. Even better, the 15,000 Tulane students from which most problems originate would have to pay their part as well.

    Further fund it by requiring that all cars domiciled (DOMICILED, not registered) in the area get a bi-annual inspection sticker (in NOLAspeak, a ‘brake tag’ also means that all these out of state registered cars would have to pay their share of road and parking costs and to prove they are carrying insurance and have a valid license) in order to park.

    This formula would probably cost no more than $50 per person per year and would yield a huge amount of revenue that could go toward either existing NOPD operations or fund an auxiliary department as described above. Either way, if they want a cut of the money, NOPD and others would have to compete for it which would mean better service and response as well as accountability to the citizenry.

    Eventually, this model could replace the existing property tax millage with a user fee being charged to everyone and every business rather than 80% of New Orleans residents and businesses getting a free ride on all such costs whilst a small percentage of residential homeowners from nice neighbourhoods get stuck footing the bill for everyone.

    It could happen, and it would be easy.

    Tulane enjoys a $100 million dollar per year free ride on local taxes on your back property owners. Don’t you think it’d be better for them and their students to pay a few bucks a semester than for you to pay $300 more per year, or for that matter to continue paying the $1,500-4,000 per year you’re paying already on their behalf???

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