The safety of our residents is essential for a better New Orleans. Residents face the dual threats of violent crime and crumbling infrastructure. The primary function of city government is to provide for the safety of its citizens. Without this basic guarantee, New Orleans cannot thrive into the future.
The recent flooding events of August 5th demonstrate the very real danger that an inadequate and mismanaged drainage system poses to the entire city. The Gulf Coast region already suffers from the consequences of climate change, and for a city that rests below sea level, the stakes are exceptionally high - we cannot afford to rely on our current infrastructure. We must address the weak areas immediately and allocate for green infrastructure initiatives where possible.
During my City Council term, I advocated for better parks, libraries, schools, and playgrounds; received an increased budget for minor street repairs and to increase the number of crews fixing potholes; secured $1 million to fund the “Paths to Progress” sidewalk repairs; and restored recycling services to the city.
I will continue to advocate for infrastructure improvements, and will work to ensure transparency and accountability throughout our city’s infrastructure agencies.
Reducing crime requires focusing on both prevention and enforcement. Treating employment and affordable housing as a public safety issue helps prevent crime. Our city is safer when our residents have jobs and affordable houses to make home. We must work to make New Orleans a city of economic and educational opportunity, of meaningful, permanent jobs and quality schools. To help those who face systemic barriers to employment, we need to ban the box on job applications. We also need to create more opportunities to engage our youth, such as when I opened the West Bank office of the Youth Empowerment Project.
The city must address the depleted state of the NOPD. Having already lost more than 60 officers to attrition in 2017, we need to grow the police department through extensive recruitment and retention policies. I support a pay raise with career advancement testing provided every 2 years. More police on the street means the ability to promote community policing. Smart community policing will allow for officers to respond effectively to the needs of our citizens and neighborhoods. The city can offset these additional costs by ensuring full implementation of existing technologies and equipment, and by also investing in technology-driven policing.
I believe everyone in New Orleans deserves to live in a safe neighborhood with equal resources.
Addressing New Orleans’ affordability crisis requires eliminating blight, incentivizing avenues for affordable homeownership, and amending our Short Term Rental Ordinance to reflect the needs of our neighborhoods.
New Orleans has roughly 35,000 vacant and blighted houses. We need to get this housing stock back into commerce, which I believe will strongly offset the affordability crisis. Blight reduction was a major focus of my time in office. I created the Algiers Blight Committee, which met once a month with all relevant city agencies at the table (NORA, health department, code enforcement, legal department, and community members). We systematically worked through a list of the most egregious situations of blight. The committee successfully eradicated over 500 units. I also improved regulations for the construction and remodeling of multi-family housing in order to enhance the quality of multi-family housing.
Additionally, I will work with the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance (GNOHA) and other nonprofits to make sure a fair percentage of these houses are affordable. Any development project that utilizes public funding will be required to have substantial set-asides for public housing, meaning at least in the 20-30% range. I demonstrated this in office when I advocated for the Bell Artspace project, a development that will transform the Bell School campus - abandoned since Hurricane Katrina - into a cultural center with 79 units of affordable housing. If elected, I would seek to re-establish the blight committee and to refine all city agencies that deal with blight to make them more streamlined and accountable to the public.
On the Council, l asked for and won a set-aside allocation of $52 million of disaster CDBG for soft second money. This allowed access to funds for first time homebuyers to help with down payments and closing costs. The program was widely successful and utilized the entirety of the allocation. I believe homeownership is the best way to accumulate wealth and gain economic equity. In office, I will advocate for similar programs for first time homebuyers, making homeownership more affordable throughout New Orleans. Additionally, I will back special incentives for first time buyers to purchase NORA properties to get these houses back into commerce.
SHORT TERM RENTALS
New Orleans currently bans short term rentals (STR) in the French Quarter. However, this French Quarter moratorium resulted in the over-saturation of STR in the Marigny, Bywater and Treme neighborhoods. Residents complain of feeling like they live in a residential hotel, businesses struggle to stay open without a local customer base, and an exodus of permanent neighbors means opportunities for crime to flourish unseen. Furthermore, remaining residents are now being subject to exorbitant rises in property taxes.
Conversely, on the West Bank, the STR marketplace is scarce. I believe that STRs can help bring blighted properties into commerce and also provide much-needed residual income for residents in areas that are unlikely to become over-saturated with STRs..
As such, a “one-size-fits-all” policy is impractical for the diverse neighborhoods of New Orleans. I’m in favor of neighborhoods self-determining the limits of STRs, encouraging homestead exemptions, and capping and regulating whole-home rentals the same as existing commercial corridors. Essentially, they should be treated as commercial endeavours and follow the zoning laws as such. I will work to amend the city’s STR ordinance to reflect these positions.
As chair of the transportation committee, one of my greatest accomplishments was authoring and passing the Complete Streets ordinance - the first of its kind in the state, and one of the first in the nation. The ordinance requires that all transportation and street improvements are planned, designed, and constructed for all users: pedestrians, disabled persons, bicyclists and public transit riders. The result is safer streets, more accessible public transportation, and the proliferation of bike paths throughout the city.
I also ensured that the city build the new streetcar line along Rampart Street (instead of on Convention Center Blvd.) and advocated for its expansion to Poland Avenue. Enhancing our public transportation infrastructure increases access to jobs and promotes economic equity. It also reduces our city’s carbon footprint and, in the long run, helps lighten the burden placed upon other infrastructure systems.
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND GOVERNMENTAL TRANSPARENCY
During my term as Councilmember, I passed an ordinance that established a system for neighborhood participation that included civic groups and citizens in the decision-making process. For example, I helped create the Sustainable Transportation Advisory Committee, which was instrumental in the development and passing of key policies such as the Complete Streets ordinance. I also opened a satellite office in the West Bank so that my constituents from the entire district would have easy access to me and my staff. To increase efficiency and promote transparency, I required that all budget presentations must adopt a uniform template during the appropriations process. I will continue to develop and support similar initiatives to ensure that New Orleanians have a responsive and proactive government.