Called to order at 7:10PM.
NOPD 5th District Commander Frank Young reported that the reduction in homicides in our district has continued to get lower. The 5th district is large, and most violent crime is outside Bywater. He attributes the low numbers to more efficient policing. Most violent crime is gang related. Mark Gonzales asked what the best way for the public to help the police would be, and Commander Young said it is simply to stay safe and out of the way. Another member asked who is responsible for recent car thefts, and Commander Young said it is a mix of juveniles and adults. Rhonda Findley asked what can be done about the problematic area around St. Claude and Independence. It is difficult to promote growth on St. Claude with current conditions. Commander Young said food stores are always convenient hangouts, because stores are an excuse to be in the area. Store owners get nervous about talking to police. Crime cameras have gone up in other “hot spots” on St. Claude, but people just move to other areas, or hide behind trees. The cameras are most useful when there is an incident. In a 24 hour period there are around 84 to 88 NOPD officers on duty in the 5th district. Tyler Harwood asked about the recent increase of used syringes being found around the neighborhood. Commander Young guesses it has something to do with the old Naval buildings on Poland (NSA) being flushed out. There have apparently been lapses in security. Jennie Canon West told the group that she is on a committee to improve Markey Park and she called NORD and the health department regarding paraphernalia found there. The health department may put up a box for safe disposal of syringes, and bamboo in the park may be cleared. Another attendee asked what happens when citizens call in to the 5th to report hearing gunshots. Commander Young said if there are multiple calls they make it a “code 2”, which means they get there in a hurry. They collect casings if they can find them, and have been able to connect many incidents this way. Guns are usually stolen, and difficult to track. Commander Young was thanked for his time.
Julie Jones told the group about a NPP for a proposed event space at 3621 St Claude that will be taking place at 6PM, August 21. Comment cards are part of the public record at NPPs.
Julie then introduced Rob Bell, the Campaign Manager for Bike Easy. Bike Easy has been working to make streets safer for bicyclists for over 15 years. Mayor Cantrell has established an Office of Transportation to address issues such as safety and traffic congestion. Bike Easy is working with the office on a “rapid build plan” for 50 to 75 miles of improved bikeways. Some would be protected bike lanes, where the bike lane is between the curb and parked cars. Making bike lanes a connected system is a major goal. As is is now many bike routes come to an end suddenly and cause confusion and accidents. Safety education for cyclists and motorists is also a big part of the campaign. Statistics show that more people are fatally injured as pedestrians, so pedestrian safety will also be a priority. New Olreans needs more crossing signals. Despite the obvious need for improvement, New Orleans is ranked the #5 city for bike commuting. Bicycles are a reality of transportation now. Bike Easy works to make cycling safer and more accessible. More information about the new program (including public meetings) can be found here: https://nola.gov/transportation/ and Rob can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian Luckett then told the group about the Planned Development “working group” for the HANO/ ITEX development. Brian and Joe Brown are the two members from NFB in the group. They have been to four meetings so far. The developers, architects, and affordable housing advocates have all resisted changes to the design, though they have made some small adjustments. Joe and Brian are still not happy with the design. The train creates a lot of issues, and the building style (referred to as the “Texas Donut”) does not interface with the street well. The CPC meeting regarding the project has been deferred to late August, then it will go to City Council. There is a Federal process that is happening at the same time. This includes a Section 106 review, which among other things is intended to mitigate adverse effects on neighbors. Federal agencies have been more receptive to concerns about the project. If the local process plays itself out it could leave the federal process no opportunity to require changes, which is a problem and could also result in future law suits. Rick Prince asked if the number of units has changed, and Brian said the developers claim they will lose grant funding if the number is changed. Federal agencies suggested utilizing scattered sites to address this issue, but HANO and ITEX have not been receptive to this idea.
Brian then told the group about the “Backyard Initiative”, a text amendment to the CZO Councilmember Palmer is proposing that would regulate outdoor dining and seating in properties adjacent to homes. FMIA worked with Councilmember Palmer on the proposal and NFB supports it. The proposal would require a 15 foot buffer in back yards and a 3 foot buffer in side yards. Most of the city have these protections built into the zoning, but the historic core was left out. There have been additions tacked onto the proposal that tighten up language regarding regulation of live music outdoors, and this has been controversial. Existing businesses will be grandfathered in, and there is some question about how clear this is in the wording of the proposal.
L. Jameel Shaheer was then introduced. He is running for Louisiana House District 99. He qualified yesterday, and said that things were starting to get crazy! He is having a wine and cheese social at The Tigermen Den September 18th from 6:30 to 8 PM so neighbors have a chance to meet him and discuss concerns and ideas. He has been to several NFB meetings!
Meeting ended at 8:30 pm.
Submitted by Tyler Harwood, secretary