It looks like Sidney Torres, the reality TV star and rumored mayoral candidate, has reached a compromise with the local officials he ran afoul of over renovations to his historic mansion in the French Quarter.The tweaking involves some skylights and some door frames and a bunch of stuff that most of us probably don't care about, really. But the principle at work here is frustrating. If VCC or any of the several historic district governing boards throughout New Orleans were more like to "compromise" with individual homeowners of lesser means over similar issues, that would be fine. But this is Sidney Torres, potential mayoral candidate and noted real estate "genius" as seen on TV. Sidney not only should be expected to know the law but also clearly can afford to comply with it.
The Vieux Carre Commission on Wednesday agreed to overlook the fact that his contractors began the work without getting the commission's approval in exchange for assurances that he will tweak some of the work that's already been done.
And yet it's Sidney who gets shown some deference by the Commission. Why is that?
Not requiring that he completely restore the mansion to its former state means Torres will get away with "asking forgiveness rather than permission," said Meg Lousteau, head of the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates.So, because the VCC is afraid of losing control over its little fiefdom through some "tectonic decision" of a City Council it clearly assumes would be manipulated or intimidated by the land baron flaunting the building codes, they're going out of their way to make exceptions for him. And that is how decisions get made in this town.
But VCC Chairman Nick Musso argued that coming to an agreement could ensure at least some aspects of the home were restored rather than taking a chance that Torres would appeal to the City Council.
"I really don’t want to see confrontation, I certainly don’t want to see confrontation with the City Council," Musso said.
"I really don't want someone that is relatively uninformed, meaning the City Council, to make a tectonic decision," he added.