On August 22nd, 2013 the New Orleans City Council approved several new ordinances aimed to strengthen the City’s power to control residential and commercial blight. The updates to the City’s Code Enforcement policy was the first step in Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s plan to control the growing blight problem. When Landrieu took office in 2010, New Orleans had the most blighted properties of any city in America. After the ordinances were approved, the Mayor stated in a press conference, “These revisions are long overdue and will allow us to increase efficiency and create stronger, more flexible enforcement options for all properties, including substandard living conditions in occupied properties.” The policy changes included heavier fines to encourage large property owners to comply as well as streamlining the demolition process.
While the new ordinances were seen as a large victory for New Orleans, City officials acknowledged that they were only part of the equation to solving New Orleans’ blight problem. Council Member-at-Large Stacy Head said, “While there is more work to be done, this series of ordinances is a comprehensive and welcome first step toward amending the code to provide more reasonable and effective tools to combat blight.” The new ordinances improved the City’s ability to deal with delinquent owners and expropriate neglected properties. Now they needed to improve their ability to sell the properties and attract reinvestment.
To deal with their growing number of assets, New Orleans’ Redevelopment Authority (NORA) decided to utilize the Davenport Group’s Citizen Access product. The same product was already used to build the City’s website One Stop App to enable citizens to access Permitting, Licensing, Planning, and Code Enforcement services. For NORA, LAMA Citizen Access was implemented to provide an interface for citizens to look up information on expropriated properties and express their interest. The new website is titled NORA Landworks and was launched in May of 2014. Through NORA Landworks, the people of New Orleans have many ways to connect with NORA:
Search for available properties via map or table view
Submit expressions of interest on properties
Look up detailed property information such as Historic Districts, Zoning, current violations, etc.
Check the current status of favorite properties
Review newly available properties
When the mayor first took office, the Landrieu Administration set a goal to reduce blight by 10,000 units by 2014. On January 9th, 2014 the administration confirmed that they achieved their goal, through an independent study conducted by University of New Orleans Professor Perter Yaukey, PhD. “We got to work on this community – wide effort and we’re now fighting blight faster here than anywhere else in the country,” Landrieu announced. Now the baton has been passed to NORA to finish what the City started. With the LAMA Citizen Access website NORA is collecting much better data on potential sales. The door is open for New Orleans citizens to reinvest in their city and contribute to the fight against blight. “Our partnership with the City is stronger than ever, and we will continue to work to provide opportunities for our citizens to redevelop and return vacant properties to commerce,” said Jeff Hebert, Executive Director of NORA.