In The News › First N.O. rebuilding report due out today

Jan 11, 2006

Source: Baton Rouge Advocate

First N.O. rebuilding report due out today

The Advocate
First N.O. rebuilding report due out today
By BY JOE GYAN JR.
Advocate staff writer
Published: Jan 11, 2006

NEW ORLEANS — The first of seven key reports that will go
a long way toward shaping the future of post-Katrina New
Orleans will be presented today by members of Mayor Ray
Nagin’s blue-ribbon rebuilding panel.

The Bring New Orleans Back Commission’s Urban Planning
Committee will make its public presentation at 1 p.m. at the
Sheraton Hotel on Canal Street. A news conference will follow.
The final six reports will be given next week at the same hotel, starting
with the Education and Cultural committees (1 p.m. and 3 p.m.)
Jan. 17, followed by the Health & Social Services and Infrastructure
committees (1 p.m. and 3 p.m.) Jan. 18, and wrapping up with the
Government Effectiveness Committee at 1 p.m. Jan. 19 and the
Economic Development Committee at 1 p.m. Jan. 20.

The seven reports eventually will be massaged into one document and
comprise the commission’s master plan for rebuilding New Orleans.

Nagin, who appointed the 17-member panel Sept. 30, a month and a day
after Hurricane Katrina left much of the city in shambles, applauded the
commissioners and their committee members for their efforts and urged
the public to “pay close attention to these meetings as we all rebuild
together.”

“We have a tremendous opportunity to rebuild a great American city,” the
mayor said.

On the eve of the release of the Urban Planning Committee’s report, a
coalition of 13 local and national health and environmental groups urged
the city to protect residents’ health and safety during and after the
rebuilding. The coalition’s chief concern is cleaning up what it calls dried
toxic sludge blanketing much of the city.

“We want to make sure that all residents have the right to return to a clean
and safe city, that the hardest-hit areas are given the highest priority for
cleanup and rebuilding, and that returning residents can fully participate in
the decisions that will affect them,” Pam Dashiell, president of the Holy
Cross Neighborhood Association and co-chair of the Bring New Orleans
Back Commission’s sustainability subcommittee, said Tuesday.

The association is one of the 13 groups in the coalition that also includes
the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, the Sierra Club Delta
Chapter and the National Black Environmental Justice Network.

In November, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Urban Land Institute
— which is advising the Bring New Orleans Back panel — made waves
when it proposed a phased strategy to redevelop the city. The Institute
strategy called for immediately rebuilding areas that were not as hard hit
by the storm while studying the safety and viability of redeveloping the
most severely affected areas, such as most of eastern New Orleans and
Gentilly, the northern part of Lakeview, and parts of the Lower 9th Ward,
Mid-City, Broadmoor and Hollygrove.

Black elected officials and other leaders swiftly denounced the phased-in
approach, arguing that shrinking the city’s footprint would likely have a
disproportionate effect on areas populated largely by black residents, and
a unanimous City Council adopted a resolution urging that “all
neighborhoods (should) be included in the timely and simultaneous
rebuilding of all New Orleans neighborhoods,” and “resources should be
disbursed to all areas in a consistent and uniform fashion based on the
needs of the community.”

The controversial Institute report divided the city into three “investment
zones.” The first zone includes the high parts of the city, such as the
French Quarter and Uptown, which the Institute said is an area
immediately ready for rehabitation. The second zone, or midground, is
ready for individual rehabitation with some opportunities to put together
parcels of land for green space or redevelopment. The third zone, some of
the city’s hardest -hit neighborhoods, needs more study but could have the
potential for mass buyouts and future green space, Urban Land Institute
said.

After the Urban Land Institute report’s release, the mayor’s Urban
Planning Committee floated a three-year window in which neighborhoods
would be allowed to redevelop on their own, with areas that failed to do so
targeted for buyouts after that period. The committee then reduced the
three-year time frame to a year.

Last month, the watchdog Bureau of Governmental Research said city
leaders need to devise a realistic and smaller footprint on which to rebuild
New Orleans. The Bureau criticized allowing homeowners across New
Orleans to begin rebuilding when, a year later, the city may move to buy
out those who rebuild in neighborhoods that show few signs of progress.
The group called that approach “no plan at all.”

“Unless the city’s plan addresses the mismatch between the city’s
footprint and its population by initially directing development into more
compact areas, the outcome will be random, scattered development in a
sea of blight,” the Bureau of Governmental Research report stated.

The city’s pre-Katrina population was 462,000. The mayor’s
commission’s consultants project that the city’s population in three years
will be at best 250,000 to 275,000.

The Urban Planning Committee’s land-use plan also could feature several
light-rail lines crisscrossing the city to promote mass transit and a highspeed
commuter route perhaps running from Baton Rouge to Biloxi.

Jan 11, 2006

Source: Baton Rouge Advocate

Fair Use Notice

This site occasionally reprints copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues and to highlight the accomplishments of our affiliates. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is available without profit. For more information go to: US CODE: Title 17,107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.