Neighbors First for Bywater General Meeting – April 3, 2019

Meeting called to order by President Julie Jones at 7:19PM

NOPD 5th district Commander Frank Young explained some recent personnel changes in the NOPD. He introduced Lieutenant Wayne DeLarge, who was promoted in December after spending many years in homicide. Lt DeLarge is now second in command for the 5th district.

New Orleans is now experiencing record low numbers of homicides. We had 15 fewer homicides in the 5th district last year, which was the bulk of the reduction for the city. This year we have only had three so far, which is good. The worst spot for violent crimes in our district is on the other side of Elysian Fields in the 7th ward. Car theft has been a problem lately. Usually the suspects are juveniles. They are armed, and have a tactical approach. They generally take the cars out for joy rides until they get “hot” and then abandon them. More officers wouldn’t necessarily help, it just puts more kids in jail when what we should be doing is looking for solutions, collectively as a city, to keep our youth from heading down these dangerous paths.

Commander Young has made efforts to address the continuing problems at the NSA (former Navy facility on Poland St.). It’s “cloudy” who is actually responsible for keeping the property secure, but the MCC (Joe Jaeger) said they will work to keep the perimeter secure with 24 hour security if the NOPD cleared it, which they did last Monday. There was some concern where the approximately 20 “residents” that were chased out have wound up.

Mark Gonzales advised a need for better community policing. He suggested it would be beneficial to have officers walk the neighborhood when possible, getting to know the neighborhood and interacting with residents. Commander Young agreed that it would be nice, but the NOPD simply does not have enough staffing to make it a priority. The NOPD gets around 30-34,000 calls a month. He reminded us he has a weekly MAX meeting that residents are encouraged to attend. Meetings take place every Tuesday at 1PM in the roll call room at the 5th district headquarters. There is also a meeting the second Wednesday of every month at 6PM. In the past officers were assigned to smaller geographical areas and did know the areas and residents better. Different communities have different needs, and some in our district require more police attention. Commander Young said it “would be a dream” if they had enough time or adequate staffing to be more present.

Commander Young and Lieutenant DeLarge were thanked for their time. It’s always great to have them at our meetings!

Next Julie introduced Jennie Canon West, the new HDLC commissioner for Bywater. Ms. West is an experienced architect and has been a Bywater resident since 2012 and lived in the Marigny prior to that. Neighborhood commissioners are volunteers appointed by the mayor, and serve four year terms. We can contact her with questions or concerns at Commissioners are not permitted to discuss a position on projects, but we are free to voice our opinions to them. Projects are first reviewed by the Architectural Review Committee (ARC), and they make recommendations to the commission. The ARC is made up of professionals, mostly architects. Commissioners must have a thorough understanding of the HDLC guidelines, and base their decisions on them. Ms. West has been to many orientations and one official meeting so far.

A member asked for clarification as to why the HDLC is reduced to an “advisory” role on some projects. The HDLC only has control over projects planned on private property. Concerns were raised that projects built on public land in historic districts, but technically owned and operated by private entities, should not be exempt from HDLC guidelines.

Another member asked if the HDLC was concerned with the impact of the proposed industrial canal lock expansion on neighboring historic homes. Ms. West had heard of the project as a neighbor, but it hasn’t come up as a point of discussion in HDLC meetings yet. As commissioner, she won’t hear anything until there is a proposal submitted to the HDLC, and that’s where her involvement would begin. To voice our concerns over issues like these Ms. West encouraged us to contact C. Elliott Perkins, the HDLC Executive Director [ or (504) 658-7040]; or Alex Nassar, who is familiar with Bywater [, (504) 658-7048].

Brian Luckett brought up an issue NFB encountered where a conditional use became a proviso. One of the provisos stated that the HDLC had to approve the “overall content” of the design, but when we went to the HDLC they reminded us they can only regulate what is visible from the street. In cases of larger structures (e.g. The Saxony) some sections of the building not technically facing the street are still visible, and can tower over and crowd smaller adjacent historic structures. Brian asked for clarification regarding the limits of the HDLC’s purview over content. In terms of context and scale there are guidelines, and Ms. West suggested we look at {section 8 or 10 – can somebody help me find this? Did she send a link?}, which have recently been rewritten to make them clearer. Brian commented that the way new developments interact with a historic neighborhood can be detrimental, even though what you see from the street isn’t necessarily capturing that fact. Ms. West said she agrees that our historical structures need protecting, but reminded us her role in the HDLC is strictly limited to being certain a project adheres to the HDLC guidelines, and reiterated that a thorough understanding of them is key should we like to address any issues with a particular project or guideline. Ms. West was unsure who writes the guidelines, but suggested we could ask the one of city attorneys. Melissa Quigly (sp? contact info?) deals specifically with the HDLC. Issues with specific regulations could be directed to city attorneys or the HDLC Executive Director, Elliot Perkins. Ms. West was thanked for making time to speak with us and volunteering for this important job.

Julie then introduced Meredith Clancy from the Police Community Advisory Board (PCAB) to the group. The PCAB is made up of seven volunteer members from each district. They gather and vet community input and suggestions to the NOPD, and help the community gain a better understanding of police operations and processes. Their goal is to maintain and improve communication between the community and the police, and also to reduce crime and improve our quality of life. More info, including dates and locations of PCAB quarterly meetings, can be found at Ms. Clancy handed out surveys to members.

Julie then addressed the election of the NFB board. Since no new nominees came forward or were suggested the current board was considered “re-elected by acclamation”. NFB members present approved.

Meeting adjourned at approximately 8:07PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Tyler Harwood, co-secretary

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