Thursday, February 07, 2019

Park of broken promises

It's important to remember how much of the current housing crisis in New Orleans is a crisis we entered into by choice. When City Council voted to knock down the "Big Four" public housing complexes and turn them over to people like Pres Kabacoff who explicitly talk about poor people as "a drag on the city's economy" the clear implication was they were voting to remove as many poor people as possible from the valuable downtown real estate they were such a drag on.

Of course we were promised (some of) the affordable housing destroyed in the process would be replaced.  We were never promised where or when that would happen explicitly.  But we were led to believe certain properties in the city's hands could be used for that purpose.  Like, for example, the cite of the former St. Aloisious High School. Well now, of course, even that is controversial.
A long-vacant plot of land straddling the Treme and 7th Ward neighborhoods in New Orleans has become a focal point of tension between nearby residents’ desire for a park and the city, which is backing a housing development with affordable units.

Neighbors and supporting local groups say they want a community park space there that they’ve committed to paying for and maintaining themselves. Some have been pushing for a park since 2011, pitching design and fundraising plans they say have fallen on deaf ears at City Hall under two different mayoral administrations.
And, of course, Real Estate professional Kristin Palmer is leading the charge.  Palmer swears housing is still a priority.  Just not here. Not now. 
Even so, Palmer, whose council district covers the Esplanade site, highlighted a recent land survey that found more than 200 lots are vacant in the surrounding area. She said the city could still achieve its goals for more affordable housing while granting neighbors their wishes for a park.

“This is not an ‘and-or’ (situation),” Palmer said. “We have the ability to have everything we want if we talk about it with a collaborative approach.”
 What does "200 vacant lots" mean, exactly?  Are these privately or publicly held?  What sort of  "collaborative approach" happens to get them developed?  Here we have a piece of land we can make a decision on today.  And look what our priority is for that.  Will it be any different with the next lot? Or the one after that?

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