May 282015
 
City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell gestures as she responds to a question Wednesday night at "The Big Issue" panel discussion on gentrification at Tulane Hillel, while Flozell Daniels of the Foundation for Louisiana listens. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell gestures as she responds to a question Wednesday night at “The Big Issue” panel discussion on gentrification at Tulane Hillel, while Flozell Daniels of the Foundation for Louisiana listens. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

As the cost of living in New Orleans continue to rise, pressuring low-income families to give up homes they have held for years, the city has a dedicated tax that raises nearly $4 million a year intended to promote affordable housing.

But that money, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell told a standing-room only crowd Wednesday night, is instead being spent by the city on code-enforcement efforts — which can actually increase the pressure on poor families to sell their homes in gentrifying neighborhoods. Continue reading »

May 282015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Yesterday’s announcement by Mayor Landrieu that the MacArthur Foundation was providing $150,000 for a study regarding our high incarceration rates was good news indeed. New Orleans has the highest incarceration rate per capital of any jurisdiction in the country — quadruple the national average. Since 2010 we have jailed more than 10 out of every 1,000 residents. Why does New Orleans and Louisiana incarcerate so many people — especially African-American males, who make up 90% of the prison population? Continue reading »

May 272015
 
A rendering depicting the approximate size and layout of the homes proposed for the former Turnbull Bakery site in the Irish Channel, though each house will be individually designed. (image courtesy of Pentek Homes)

A rendering from April depicting the approximate size and layout of the homes proposed for the former Turnbull Bakery site in the Irish Channel, though each house will be individually designed. (image courtesy of Pentek Homes)

The proposed redevelopment of the former Turnbull Bakeries site into a 17-home development stepped closer to approval Tuesday, when City Planning Commission voted unanimously to send the project to the New Orleans City Council with a favorable recommendation. Continue reading »

May 252015
 

The former Carrollton court house, photographed in June 2014. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

The former Carrollton court house, photographed in June 2014. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)


Owen Courrèges

Owen Courrèges

One of Aesop’s fables is that of the young crab and his mother.

“Why in the world do you walk sideways like that?” said the mother crab to her son. “You should always walk straight forward with your toes turned out.”

“Show me how to walk, mother dear,” answered the little Crab obediently, “I want to learn.”

Mother crab tried in vain to walk straight forward, but she could walk only sideways, like her son. When she wanted to turn her toes out she tripped and fell on her nose.

The moral of the fable? Don’t tell others how to act unless you can set a good example. And local government could learn something from it. Continue reading »

May 222015
 
The former Robert site in the 1300 block of Annunciation. (April 2014 image via Google maps)

The former Robert site in the 1300 block of Annunciation. (April 2014 image via Google maps)

As the new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance approached approval by the City Council earlier this month, a last-minute effort to change the zoning around the former Robert grocery property on Annunciation Street has Lower Garden District residents wondering what the future holds for the property. Continue reading »

May 202015
 
The pothole killer working on State Street Drive in Marlyville, captured on video by YouTube user "VideoNOLA." (image used with permission)

The pothole killer working on State Street Drive in Marlyville, captured on video by YouTube user “VideoNOLA.” (image used with permission)

LaToya Cantrell

LaToya Cantrell

In a city where potholes are less a problem with streets and more a permanent fact of life along them, New Orleans residents all cope in their own ways — dodging them, reporting them, do-it-yourself fixing them or decorating them with adornments from the ironic to the obscene.

Many New Orleanians have also heard of the city’s “pothole killer,” a truck that fills potholes by spraying materials into them, though fewer have seen it in action.

On Wednesday night, however, Uptown residents and City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell discussed a new concept that might give them hope that the pothole killer will one day visit their streets — real-time online tracking that could at least show where the pothole killer is or has been. Continue reading »

May 202015
 
A side view of the house proposed for 518 Eleonore. (via nola.gov)

A side view of the house proposed for 518 Eleonore. (rendering by William Sonner Designs, image via nola.gov)

518 Eleonore Street (via Orleans Parish Assessor's Office)

518 Eleonore Street (via Orleans Parish Assessor’s Office)

The city panel overseeing demolitions in much of Uptown New Orleans split this week over a request to tear down what may be one of the oldest houses in the Audubon neighborhood and replace it with new construction, after the owner and preservationists debated whether or not it has deteriorated beyond repair. Continue reading »

May 182015
 
Passengers transfer from a shuttle bus on Melpomene Avenue to a streetcar on St. Charles Avenue during road construction in 2010. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

Passengers transfer from a shuttle bus on Melpomene Avenue to a streetcar on St. Charles Avenue during road construction in 2010. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

Streetcar service through the Uptown area will be interrupted in three phases over the summer in order to accommodate the SELA drainage project, RTA officials told Carrollton residents on Monday night. Continue reading »

May 182015
 

Owen Courreges

In the film Cool Hand Luke, a prison guard slaps the protagonist, played by Paul Neuman, into solitary.

“Sorry, Luke,” the guard explains. “I’m just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that.”

Luke responds laconically: “Nah – calling it your job don’t make it right, Boss.”

The phrase “just doing my job” has always been used to cover a multitude of sins. Indeed, when a man feebly attempts justify anything with those words, it’s almost dead-certain that he’s covering up for his own peccadilloes.

New Orleans, sadly, is full of these types. Continue reading »

May 182015
 

LaToya Cantrell

LaToya Cantrell

Susan Guidry

Susan Guidry

The two City Council members representing Uptown New Orleans — Susan Guidry in District A, and LaToya Cantrell in District B — will each meet with residents this week alongside representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies as major road and drainage construction projects continue around the area. Continue reading »

May 162015
 

A project to repair sidewalks on Coliseum Square near the International School of Louisiana accidentally punctured a still-functioning drainage canal dating back to the 1880s, reports Bill Capo of our partners at WWL-TV. The city is now working on a plan to repair the canal and complete the sidewalk project without damaging the nearby oak trees, Capo reports, though neighbors are worried about the unfinished construction site left so close to a school.

May 142015
 
Tall tarps line both sides of Prytania Street, seen from Nashville Avenue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Construction closes Prytania Street at Nashville Avenue, photographed in February. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

A group of Uptown property owners — three families to start, but expected to number in the hundreds as the case grows — filed suit this week against the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans, seeking compensation for damage to their homes from proximity to the installation of major new drainage canals along some of Uptown’s largest thoroughfares, their attorney said. Continue reading »

May 132015
 
A rendering of proposed early-childhood buildings in the 900 block of General Pershing.  (Rendering by Waggoner & Ball architects, via nola.gov)

A rendering of proposed St. George’s Episcopal School early-childhood buildings in the 900 block of General Pershing. (Rendering by Waggoner & Ball architects, via nola.gov)

The Louise S. McGehee School's future Mathilde Hall at 2318 St. Charles Avenue. (via the McGehee school)

The Louise S. McGehee School’s future Mathilde Hall at 2318 St. Charles Avenue. (via the McGehee school)

Two Uptown private schools — St. George’s Episcopal School on Napoleon Avenue and Louise S. McGehee School on St. Charles Avenue — both received approval Tuesday afternoon from city planners to expand their campuses, though the St. George’s request may involve the demolition of a shotgun house on General Pershing Street. Continue reading »

May 072015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Our usually right-on-point Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux has been in the news twice this week — first with his remarks that maybe more, better-paid police is not the answer to our crime problems and then about his proposed “divorce” with Police Monitor Susan Hutson. Now it is true that Quatrevaux is white and that Hutson, most of the police and the people they are sworn to protect are not. Does Quatrevaux just see things differently or is there more to his feelings than meets the eye? Continue reading »

May 062015
 
The shotguns in the 2400 block of Cadiz -- before their demolition (top left, via Google Maps), then during and after their demolition (by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

The shotguns in the 2400 block of Cadiz — before their demolition (top left, via Google Maps), then during and after their demolition (by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

In 2002 local musical impresarios Benny Grunch and the Bunch released a song entitled “Ain’t Dere No More.”  In it the group collectively bemoan, as only the natives may, the loss of landmarks around the New Orleans metro area.  It played in my head over these last few days as I watched yet more apparently salvageable dwellings, in this case double shotguns, meet their untimely demise in the 2400 block of Cadiz.  What was more upsetting to me was that their demolition was supposedly not going to happen, and the structures were to be saved by their new owner Arnold Kirschman.  Even be occupied by him.  Except guess what?  They gone. Continue reading »

May 052015
 
Children's Hospital's proposed master plan for the redevelopment of the former New Orleans Adolescent Hospital site. (via nola.gov -- click to enlarge)

Children’s Hospital’s proposed master plan for the redevelopment of the former New Orleans Adolescent Hospital site. (via nola.gov — click to enlarge)

City officials gave an initial endorsement Monday to Children’s Hospital’s plan to tear down a handful of long-dilapidated residential structures along the edge of the former New Orleans Adolescent Hospital campus and replace them with a new parking structure intended to unify the two medical campuses into one. Continue reading »

May 042015
 
The building that formerly housed the Newcomb College Institute at Tulane University is slated to be replaced with a new building, but its demolition will require City Council approval. (UptownMessenger.com file photo from May 2014)

The building that formerly housed the Newcomb College Institute at Tulane University is slated to be replaced with a new building, but its demolition will require City Council approval. (UptownMessenger.com file photo from May 2014)

Almost exactly a year after it was first made public, Tulane University’s plan to tear down the former home of Newcomb College Institute for an expansion of its dining hall received initial approval from New Orleans city officials on Monday, after a prominent local architect told them that the design of the century-old building was less important than its central location on campus. Continue reading »

 Comments Off
May 042015
 

Owen Courreges

It’s no secret that I’ve never been a fan of urban planning. The idea of some committee micromanaging what structure should go where, what uses should be permitted, what time we should be having our bowel movements (ok, perhaps they don’t go that far), has always unnerved me.

A die-hard planner looks at a map of New Orleans and they don’t see an established city chock-full of independent decision-makers. Instead, they see an interactive game that they can manipulate and control. They see “Sim City.”

Exhibit “A” for this is Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who decided to put her foot in her mouth while giving a speech before the House while arguing against an amendment to block funding for an Obama Administration Flood Risk Management Executive Order. Continue reading »