It's another example of why we need to expect things of our politicians besides just baseline qualities like competence and efficiency. The actual agenda is what matters. And at the top of Mitch's agenda is "blight reduction."Eight years after the hurricane upended her life, James, 47, had outlasted the misery of temporary relocation — first to Texas, then to a Baton Rouge shelter. She had prevailed, more or less, in skirmishes with her insurer, her mortgage company and New Orleans city bureaucrats. The Road Home program had finally coughed up $52,000, and she had a city building permit in hand to rehab her beloved family home on Pauline Street in the Upper 9th Ward.This past January, a contractor set to work and James joyfully told her daughter that the house should be ready for her son to occupy as he began the fall semester at the University of New Orleans. New doors and windows, still bearing the trademark stickers, are clearly visible in the photograph that a city inspector shot on a visit to the property in March.But on July 16, James’ world caved in with the suddenness of a floodwall undermined by surging stormwater. That day, the man she had hired to maintain her lawn notified her that her house had been bulldozed, without prior warning.James tearfully described the shock of receiving the call. “I didn’t know what to do. I called the police and filed a report. I just didn’t know who to call.”Adding insult to deep injury, the city sent her a bill to cover the cost of the demolition.
The New Orleans City Council has approved sweeping revisions to the city's building codes that are designed to combat blight by setting minimum standards for all properties, including occupied housing.
The new rules, which give the city broader enforcement powers and the ability to impose stricter penalties on non-compliant homeowners, won't solve all of the problems with New Orleans' housing stock, but they are a "welcome first step toward amending the code to allow the administration more reasonable and effective tools to combat blight," said Councilwoman Stacy Head.
The six-month process to revise the code was praised by members of the public at last week's council meeting, but some raised concerns that the new ordinances go too far and will hurt the most vulnerable people.
The priorities are "Blight" first, "Vulnerable people" something like 70th. That sort of thing doesn't change administration to administration. Sometimes you get a little more efficient, though, which means you can execute the priorities faster.