It was good to see a letter from my neighbor on the editorial page of the Times-Picayune this weekend. (Note: The “Good Neighbor Program” started off as a city ordinance that dictated storm damaged homes must to be gutted and secured one year after Katrina. We are now approaching the two-year mark.)
Not such a Good Neighbor
Sunday, June 24, 2007
What is going on with the Good Neighbor program?
As a long-term property owner and investor in Orleans Parish, I am very concerned.
My neighbor’s abandoned property at 3920-3922 Bienville Street has a rodent problem. I have reported this property, and other neglected properties owned by the same person, to the Good Neighbor program on numerous occasions without result.
Prior to the storm the properties were already in bad condition. The owner is a very hands-off type of landlord. The houses were boarded up a few months ago; I do not believe they have been gutted.
The owner says he has no desire to renovate the properties and does not care to sell. Regardless of how hard we try to renovate and move forward, it is extremely difficult when you live next to a biohazard.
Our home is to be our place of retirement and long-term commitment to Orleans Parish and Mid-City.
I would sincerely appreciate the same commitment from my representatives as well.
But wait, there’s more! Not one but two letters on this subject.
Why isn’t program enforced?
Sunday, June 24, 2007
It is difficult to express my frustration level with the Good Neighbor program. The New Orleans City Council passes these recovery programs and the city does not enforce them.
The old Avenue Sandwich shop on City Park Avenue burned many months ago. The roof is being held up by a single 2×4. Worse, this is a bus stop used by Delgado students. Many times when I pass there someone is leaning against the board.
Surely someone owns this building, and one would think that the city could apply pressure or simply take the initiative to tear the place down. Do we have to wait for some unsuspecting student to be injured or killed?
Additionally, there are hundreds, if not thousands of homes in the neighborhoods that have not been gutted or closed up. There is no incentive for the neighbors to invest money to fix their own homes, therefore no recovery.
James M. Taylor
And here’s a letter sent today from the Vice-President of the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization to a city official.
As Vice President of the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization, I attended the Mayor’s Town Hall meeting for our area, along with many of my neighbors, back on March 17, 2007. At the urging of your office, neighbors compiled the attached list of the 14 worst-offending properties in Mid-City with regard to imminent danger of collapse and health hazards. These properties were initially reported to the Good Neighbor Program, many of them in mid-September 2006 following a detailed survey of the neighborhood.
This list was initially sent to Patricia Robinson on March 23, 2007. Our first follow-up email, dated April 16, was prompted by the collapse of one of the properties. The next follow-up email was May 16, while the debris pile from the April collapse still was blocking the sidewalk and part of the street. The most recent follow-up email on June 11, 2007 finally produced a phone message from Mr. Winston Reid. However, on the occasions when I have called the number that Mr. Reid left (915-0092), the recording says that the number cannot receive messages and nobody returns my page.
Many of our concerned Mid-City residents have recently contacted your office, the Mayor’s office, Councilmembers, and the media regarding this ongoing problem with the failure of the Good Neighbor Program. It seems that in most of the responses, there is no clear action on the part of the city.
I am providing you with the chain of emails, on-going for more than 90 days. As a neighborhood that is more than 60% populated, with neighbors daily making a decision whether or not to return and/or to rebuild their homes, these dangerous properties weigh heavily in their decisions.
I ask you on behalf of the residents of Mid-City to provide us with a clear plan and timeline for when these most dangerous properties will be dealt with. Mid-City neighbors stand ready to assist the City in any way possible to address these issues, we only need your leadership to begin.
Mid-City Neighborhood Organization
I applaud my neighbors for doing what they can to bring attention to this issue. Irresponsible property owners and ineffective government conspire to hold us back. But we need to think carefully about what we want the solution to look like. I don’t trust government or business to solve this problem alone. But the community working with government and business might be able to get something done. We need to start exploring other models.