Posted on 11. Oct, 2011 by Morgan Williams
There was recently a marathon series of public meetings convened by the New Orleans City Planning Commission, held throughout the City to discuss the revision of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO). The re-write of the CZO presents an important opportunity to build policies into our regulatory code that will make New Orleans a more integrated community over time, and there is reason to be hopeful that the City may enact policies that further fair housing choice.
The “open house” style meetings held in ten public venues, from schools to churches throughout the City, represented a genuine opportunity for New Orleans residents to engage in the process, which is no small task given the complexity of the regulations at hand and the block-by-block detail zoning revision entails. But true to the participatory spirit exemplified throughout the turmoil of the last six years, from every corner of the City, residents came out and made their voices heard.
In April, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law released a report entitled “Strategies to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing,” which recommends the adoption of (a) inclusionary zoning to incentivize developers to provide a percentage of affordable housing in market rate developments and (b) a reasonable accommodations request policy which outlines how developers of housing for people with disabilities can request accommodations in zoning.
Several weeks ago, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center circulated a petition, allowing residents to sign-on to a statement that voices support for a more integrated and livable New Orleans by supporting inclusionary zoning and a reasonable accommodations policy in the CZO rewrite. Civic leaders and community members signed on, and the petition was placed in the comment box at the Planning District 7 meeting, held in the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church.
On Tuesday, September 27, City Planning Commission staff noted at the Operational Committee meeting of the City Planning Commission that there is interest in exploring inclusionary zoning and in discussing it in more detail at a future meeting. Our office is partnering with the Lawyers’ Committee and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, to further review the current Draft CZO and offer more detailed comments, including proposed regulatory language, by early November.
Our goal is to work with the City to enact policies that promote a more integrated community. We are grateful that our partners have voiced their support of these policies, and we are encouraged to know that the City has implemented a process to solicit community input and that it has heard our suggestions. Now, we will be working on specific proposals for language on how to incorporate these policies. The Planning Commission welcomes feedback on the Draft CZO at firstname.lastname@example.org.