According to a story in the morning paper, our neighborhood has four months to prove its viability.
This is according to the new plan from the mayor’s Bring New Orleans Back commission. (Actually it’s supposed to be unveiled this afternoon. I guess someone leaked it to the paper.) It appears to be a compromise between two extremes. Months ago, the Urban Land Institute proposed a “phased redevelopment” plan, which would have held off redevelopment of badly flooded areas, at least for the time being. A lot of people didn’t like that, particularly if they lived in one of those areas. So other folks began to advocate for more of a “market driven” approach: Let people rebuild everywhere, and let the market decide what’s viable. Conservatives seemed to favor the strong government approach, and liberals seemed to favor letting the market decide. Kind of the opposite of what you’d expect. At least that’s my half-baked analysis.
But the new plan is a compromise. It kicks the question out to the various neighborhoods. If they were badly flooded, they will have to prove their viability. They’re using the City Planning Districts; we’re in District #4, most of which was flooded.
So now we’ve got something to prove. I’m not sure exactly how we do that, but I’m thinking the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization will play a role. And I’m pretty confident that our neighborhood will come back, given our central location.
There’s a lot of interesting stuff in the plan about mass transit and bike paths and so forth, but that will tend to be overlooked right now because all attention will be focused on who can rebuild where.
Of course, this plan is just a proposal. It’s not binding. All sorts of people have to sign off on it. But at first glance, at least, it seems like a “good enough” plan to me. Right now New Orleans desperately needs some clarity of focus for all the efforts that are underway.
I’m sure it has flaws, though. For one thing, what about all the displaced New Orleanians who want to return but who lost their homes and jobs and therefore have no place to live in the city now? How are their voices going to be heard?