Weekly Update for August 17, 2012

Property Tax Assessments – Update

As reported last week, property tax assessments are up in the French Quarter. Under the new assessments, the value of FQ land is rising from $27 per square foot to $60 per square foot.

Leo Wattermeir provided the following update on the Tuesday:

This afternoon we brought the first 6 appeals from the French Quarter to Erroll Williams’ office.

One was rejected because it didn’t include a photo of the property. You must include a recent photo with your appeal.

We have also begun to lobby Kristen Palmer to get involved in the issue. We’re asking her to support freezing all French Quarter assessments at the 2012 level for a year so a clear methodology for valuating French Quarter property can be developed and made public.

The first stage in the appeal process is a hearing before the Board of Review which is actually just the City Council meeting as a review board. So the City Council is important and we will be lobbying other council members to support an assessment freeze.

Note: Monday August 20th is the deadline to submit appeals. They can be mailed or brought in person. We reported last week that it was the 15th. The review process doesn’t start until September 15.

Make sure you examine your assessment and preserve your rights in accordance with Louisiana law. For more information, go to the Orleans Parish Assessor’s website.

Noise Back in the News

The hullabaloo about the City welcome crackdown on unlicensed music venues is once again stimulating efforts to reform the City’s sound ordinance.

The recently passed legislation requiring loudspeakers not be aimed onto the street has reduced noise levels on Bourbon Street, according to many observers. Currently, efforts are underway to find a way to implement the law’s ban on courtyard speakers while permitting, as Councilmembers Palmer and Head have asked, restaurants to continue to offer low-level background music to their courtyard patrons.

Efforts, spurred by community groups, including FQC, are also underway to identify changes necessary to discipline and rationalize sound control in the French Quarter … safeguarding residents’ right to peaceful enjoyment while preserving the music for which New Orleans is justly famous.

The issues are important: FQC is a contributor to http://www.hearthenolamusic.com, which illuminates the health and other issues stemming from excess noise. WWL recently ran a story about the noise struggle between FQ resident Peter Yokum and Pat O’Brien’s, that offers an interesting take on the issue. A followup appears in today’s Times-Picayune.

FQC would welcome comments and suggestions … and above all your participation. Just let us know.

501 Elysian Fields – Not Quite Right

Marlene Jaffe (FQC member and HDLC Board Member) reports on the recent HDLC meeting to review the proposed new building for the corner of Elysian Fields and Decatur. She says:
On August 10th, the regular monthly meeting of the HDLC heard the application for the construction of a six story mixed use building on Elysian Fields on the corner of Decatur.

Technically located in the Marigny, it is very close to the boundary of the French Quarter. In fact, the FMIA, Marigny’s neighborhood organization, had asked FQC to write a letter supporting their opposition which was done.

During the almost two hours of discussion on this project at HDLC, there were about as many proponents as opponents to the development. It was a hard decision for the Commissioners who had to weigh the adherence to the zoning laws for parking places and height of the building against the need for commercialization of a rather dingy, light industrial area near the river.

While the City Planning Commission had already recommended approval, the HDLC concluded on a no- action vote. There were 4 votes for and 6 votes against the application as presented. This means that the final decision will be left to the City Council, probably at its next monthly meeting.

Summer Time and the Poop is Reeking

Summer heat adds a really pungent dimension — walk past the Cornstalk Hotel some afternoon — to the ever present problem of mule and horse droppings. Some relief might be on the way.

A proposal before the Council would require the city to hire a private contractor to circulate around the French Quarter 24/7 to clean up after errant mules (and inattentive drivers) and NOPD horses. The cost would be defrayed by a special charge on carriage operating permits. The proposal was prepared by the French Quarter Management District’s Sanitation Task Force (co-chaired by FQC’s Brian Furness), which met recently with the principal carriage company to explore further how the droppings problem could be addressed while minimizing the impact on our picturesque carriages.

Further meetings will include other operators and City sanitation officials. Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer has promised to introduce a measure by the end of September. FQC member complaints have long motivated efforts to address the sanitary and quality of life issues stemming from mule and horse droppings; we’d appreciate your further comments and suggestions … as would Councilmember Palmer as she considers the issue.

Important Dates

  • September 10th, FQC Board Meeting
  • September 20th, FQC Quarterly Meeting.
  • November 2, FQC Progressive Dinner, details to come!

Street Closures

Lane and Road Closures for Friday, August 17th (remain the same from last week):

  • Burgundy from Canal to St. Louis
  • Esplanade parking lanes closed from Royal St. to North Peters (both lake- and river- bound)
  • Royal Street closed from Esplanade to St. Phillip.
  • North Peters riverside right lane from Canal to St. Louis

While some inconveniences are to be expected, please let a board member know if you were not properly notified or encounter other problems.

For more information, please go to the Paths to Progress website.

Hollywood South: Filming Updates

Filming notifications:

Saturday, August 18th (Brass Band filming)

  • Woldenberg Park near the Steamboat Natchez deck 11:30 AM – 12 PM.
  • Corner Royal St. & St. Peter 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM.
  • St. Philip between Dauphine St & Burgundy St 3PM – 4:30 PM.
  • Burgundy St between St. Phillip & Dumaine St 4:30 PM – 5 PM.
  • Corner of Royal St. & Canal St 5:30 PM – 6 PM