Joe Giarrusso III wins City Council District A seat

From Mid-City Messenger

Joe Giarrusso, III has clenched the New Orleans City Council District A seat with 65 percent of the vote. Giarrusso garnered more than 11,000 votes for the seat, beating out five opponents and avoiding a runoff election next month. Aylin Acikalin Maklansky won twenty percent of the vote, with Toyia Washington-Kendrick in third place. “With a victory like this tonight, it’s not because one person, it’s because of everyone,” Giarrusso said. “If something happens of this magnitude it’s because of the message that you have and the people that you surround yourself with.”

District A candidates vary on S&WB management, accountability plans

From Mid-City Messenger

City Council District A candidates all have varying solutions for the ongoing Sewerage and Water Board fiasco, including hiring staff with water management experience and using spare Department of Public Works employees to clean out catch basins. All agreed, however, that more oversight is needed for the state-created entity. The city, rather than the Sewerage and Water Board, was responsible for the August flooding, said Drew Ward, linguist. Catch basin maintenance is under the Department of Public Works, Ward said, so the City Council “chose not to do their jobs,” resulting in criminal malfeasance. Ward finished off his one-minute response by showing off a 1971 Mardi Gras doubloon he found while cleaning out the drain in front of his house.

District A candidates debate park protections, greenspace sustainability

City Council District A is home to a plethora of the city’s parks and greenspaces, and their management and sustainability remains an important issue as the city grows. All six District A candidates said they’d fight to keep greenspaces across the city, though they presented different preservation tactics. Two candidates stressed the importance of zoning ordinances and the city’s Master Plan in protecting current greenspace, while others argued for legislation protecting trees and living plants. Some candidates said they’d look into unifying park management into one entity, if it proves efficient. Tillman Hardy, CEO of CORE USA community development firm, said he’d prioritize protecting the city’s greenspace, particularly those used by children.

District B candidates tackle short term rental complaints

Short term rental issues have been a touchy subject for years in New Orleans, but as local elections draw near, City Council candidates have their own solutions to common rental complaints. All six City Council District B candidates tackled an array of issues at a forum Tuesday, including whether City Council’s short term rental ordinance was too restrictive or not tough enough. Timothy David Ray, educator and musician, noted the rental exemptions granted to the French Quarter which were also chased by residents of the Garden District. Accessory, temporary and commercial short term rentals are prohibited in the Quarter – though some illegal rentals remain – except on a six-block stretch of Bourbon Street. For years, rentals of fewer than 30 days were illegal in most of the city.

Where do the District B candidates stand on proposed stormwater fees?

By Claire Byun

All six City Council District B candidates said they’re against a new stormwater management fee proposed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu to help pay for improvements to the city’s troubled drainage system, though most proposed again adding City Council oversight to the Sewerage and Water Board Commission. Candidates touched on stormwater infrastructure, public safety and short-term rental issues at a forum Tuesday evening hosted by several Uptown neighborhood associations. Most candidates argued for more transparency from the S&WB commission – especially in light of the August flood – though they each had different ideas on how to move forward. Catherine Love, a doctorate of veterinary medicine and environmental conservationist, said city officials need to control the composition of the Sewerage and Water Board committee and establish specific criteria for service. Stakeholders – S&WB customers – must be represented on the committee, Love said, in order to provide transparency.

City Council Districts A and B candidates expound on affordable housing strategies

By Mid-City Messenger

Candidates from City Council Districts A and B races have been establishing their platforms for weeks, whether through general forums, neighborhood organizations or meet-and-greets. But on Wednesday, a select few were given the chance to expound on their strategies to combat rising housing costs and dilapidated rental properties. The forum was sponsored by the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance and Providence Community Housing, and focused solely on housing costs, long-time resident displacement and crippling rental properties. City Council District A candidates Aylin Maklansky and Tilman Hardy both said they’d support new ordinances that required basic health and safety inspections for rental properties. Joe Giarusso was invited by could not attend due to a scheduling conflict, organizers said.

District A candidates offer up varied solutions to citywide drainage problem

By Claire Byun

All six City Council District A candidates have varied solutions on the citywide drainage problem that plagues several Uptown neighborhoods. Related coverage at Mid-City Messenger:
“Where do District A candidates stand on raising the minimum wage to $15?”Nearly 100 people squeezed into the Nazareth Baptist Church in Hollygrove on Tuesday to hear all six District A candidates discuss four main issues: potholed roads; a lack of community schools; increasing the city’s minimum wage; and the citywide drainage problem. The forum was presented by Step Up Louisiana, which works to build political power to fight for education and economic justice. Moderators asked candidates how they will improve drainage in an area habitually flooded after heavy rains – like much of the city. Some candidates argued for legislative action resulting in drainage improvement funding, while others urged the community to help themselves first.

Reducing crime, preserving culture are top issues for District B candidates at Delachaise neighborhood meeting

Delachaise neighbors braved the wind and rain last week to hear four out of five City Council District B candidates’ opinions on crime, economic development and preserving the culture of New Orleans. Delachaise neighbors had the opportunity to ask four candidates questions that matter most to the neighborhood, including economic development and ways to keep New Orleans culture alive and well. Candidates had about 10 minutes to state their background, platform and new ideas to the Delachaise Neighborhood Association at their meeting Tuesday evening, followed by several minutes of questions. Though all candidates touched on stemming the crime around the city while reducing the number of people locked up, one of the biggest questions posed was how potential councilmembers would protect the culture of the city. With an influx of “new New Orleanians” moving into the city – and at times skyrocketing housing prices – some residents fear the city’s underlying vibe may become lost.

Artists’ co-op bed-and-breakfast at Race and Magazine gets initial city approval

An artist-run bed-and-breakfast is one step closer to fruition in the Lower Garden District after approval for a zoning waiver. Developers want to construct a three story mixed-use building consisting of a ground floor office, a second-floor bed and breakfast with nine guest rooms and a third-floor four-bedroom residence for artists. The structure would have two covered off-street stacked parking spaces on the ground floor with access from Race Street. Charles Rutledge, developer, asked the Board of Zoning Appeals for a waiver of rear yard space for the project. The front of the structure is planned as three-stories, but neighbors requested the rear height be reduced by one story.

Lower Garden District residents offer mixed feelings about 211-unit apartment proposal

Lower Garden District residents have mixed emotions about the 211-unit apartment complex proposed to replace a former grocery store, but some are just appreciative it’s not a big-box retail store. Edwards Communities, the Ohio-based developer behind the proposed Lafitte Greenway apartment complex, is planning a four-story development in a shuttered Robert Fresh Market grocery. The proposed complex – located at 1301 Annunciation St – will have 211 units available for rent, according to Stephen Caplinger of CAPLINGER Design and Planning, an associate of Edwards Communities. Plans include a corner space for retail, a four-story garage and several outdoor courtyards. “We have a really good design flow, and we totally understand the importance of the community in this project,” Caplinger said to the Coliseum Square Association during their monthly meeting Monday.