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WWL>Topics>>12-18-13 2:10pm Angela: on the French Quarter

12-18-13 2:10pm Angela: on the French Quarter

Dec 18, 2013|

Angela talks with Meg Lousteau and Carol Allen of Vieux Carre Property Owners and Coco Garrett of French Quarter Citizens about the Quarter in her "On The Front Porch" segment.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

-- one of the most unique neighborhoods in the world. The parade is the crown jewel New Orleans and the place where millions of people from all over the world have come to create memories. But it is first and neighborhood. One that fights valiantly to maintain a balance between a place to live in a place that invites the world to visit. In our from the front porch segment today and we'll talk to three French Quarter residents an activist. Who have much to say about the special place on earth. Meg -- stone executive director of the group great property owners residents association. Carole Allen president of the great property owners. And -- Garrett president of the French Quarter citizens' organization. I cannot thank you enough for all being here. Thank you can't see this this is -- an opportunity to brag on where to land because we want to get to know neighborhoods. And the people who live there and in for so many of the groups with sort of taken it from how argue since post-Katrina what has happened in your community. The French Quarter wasn't devastated as badly clearly is most but I'm sure you've had some effect but what I'd like to start with his. Tell me what make sure neighborhood special. It's a. -- start to know where to begin and the architecture is unrivaled. Earlier I think it's one of the most beautiful neighbors in the world. Of people that we have living in the quarter and you've got some of them here. The authenticity. That is something that -- -- speaks to it's it's a real living place it's not just the -- it's not a playground it's an actual place that. People living and working and then and it's very welcoming. Of course -- food and music and all the other things that everyone talks about but it's. It's just unique is no other place in the world like it. I agree and I'll say for myself. I think it's helping to grow as a person. People have been here for eleven years and people that probably wouldn't across the street to meet before now and it's laid -- industry for. And it the diversity of cultures of people that -- a different color handles close stores are packed house where did you come from well. Which tend. The last time I moved from a little town in Idaho but I was raised in Shreveport son. You know very familiar with New Orleans my mother Stanley -- from here. -- so and so. -- -- me into I would I would just say in it a little bit echoing cocos but. You can have to be a little bit crazy to live in the French Quarter I think we pride ourselves on being eccentric. And it's something that we guard jealously to -- keep that kind of eccentric edge. And like -- I've lived well all over the United States and even in Paris and I said if there was any other place I could live a wanna live it would be the French Quarter in New Orleans. You know yesterday I did the show with three wonderful people who have written a I hesitate call the guide because it's much more than that but it's 100 bars in the French Quarter that they visited. But it was how it really connects and neighborhoods. And it which is a very unique situation that again night. With you it is a very special place on earth. All right you all do an incredible battle to maintain that same neighborhood I mean that is I'm assuming the goal of exactly organizations yes. So kind of what do you battling now. What can I just introduce them by saying first -- -- we live there and that we call it our neighborhood. But the French Quarter is really the neighborhood of the city. And so whatever we do -- to try to protect that we're working now for ourselves -- Lee you know way but for the entire city and the state for our for people to come and visit and enjoy. And yes we have many battles but I'll turn them over to one -- 61 of the things even working on that. That is something that we'd be the only time that helps avoid battles is the conferences any ordinance and it's a very dry topic for most of your listeners but. Those -- the rules that that's set up how Landis used in the city and in particular in the French Quarter it's so vital to how the rules in place in the first place. So that you're setting you know -- telling development developers what isn't it is not permitted we have a good baseline to work from. There are obviously some some projects that are in the works or that are being discussed where we have concerns. One -- -- is coming up -- the City Council tomorrow against the proposed of an outpost which is. A very large indoor outdoor restaurants. Complex at the corner of rampart and esplanade publication that you know we very much when it's remained sound commercial but we never dreamed that. One single used to take over three parcels of crowns and accommodates a very many people so there were no laws against. It's it's very very complicated it's how we do a whole show on that we contend that there are several on violations of existing off. And we are going to City Council with some of those tomorrow. I've read in the paper has been an ongoing thing. Has there been some sort of compromise on the person who wants to produce -- -- -- On the dare I will know by tomorrow -- has. Which are hopeful. We aren't -- always hopeful look to see something something really positive that corner it's a great corner can be a real anchor for that and at the quarter. On but that is a predominantly residential area and we -- make sure that whatever happens fair. Is respectful and appropriately scaled and appropriately in cancer not intense so that it doesn't disrupt the quality of life at such. And this is a very decent very large project and it could add up to over 900 people. Get the last -- commission architectural committee meeting one of the butt of there architects that he's done measurements and he found east that it could accommodate up to 913 people which is now. Lot of people. And -- in the park. Well there are requirements for parking for commercial use is in the French Quarter. That's generally not a problem because he is a very small scale they're on individual parcels and he can accommodate many people. So. That's what it that's one of the quality of life impact concerns that we have would be that it would have to be not just a neighborhood draw. But -- on a draw from the whole city and that messes he would try affair and it would take up the the parking that the residents who do live down -- count on and not necessarily right for their houses now expects that but just to be able to park somewhere near your home we. You know our goal our mutual goal with but the organizations is to make sure that we don't lose the presidential component at the French Quarter -- is what gives it to its authenticity. So if we have projects that drive out full time residents we are damaging the quarter in the long run. And give me a distinction between your two groups. Well. I would say at this point there's not as much of the distinction as there was when they were initially formed. VC four is by far the oldest organization. I think they restarted will 7538. To 1930 at 38 and a celebrated an anniversary. The French Quarter at that time. The residential component at the French Quarter was primarily called the lower quarter and it was from humane to esplanade. As people began in two metric to light more into the upper quarter. Some of the people felt like there wasn't enough representation for the organization. From that at that particular time so it sort of Adams members of the EC -- Came French -- citizens. At that time they were then. Focusing more on the issues of the residence in the in the upper quarter. As it's evolved over the years we now worked very closely together and we have very many of the same issues we had a lot of overlap in membership. But we do maintain separate identities. And but universal issues yes they have excellent work to -- the -- -- promised her Friday I couldn't. New best friends -- absolutely but stay with this we're gonna continue talking to residents of the group crane right activists. Well we're talking about The -- correct probably the -- the most special neighborhoods. In the world not just in the United States that the world and I think that. Carole Allen has made a very important point. That all that you all are doing is to maintain. Its specialness. That's a word. Not just for yourselves as the people who live there but for this entire city so that we continue to have people who want to visit. For what makes it's special it's not Disney. -- -- it is this very unique spot. And I. I would like and -- I'd like to say that. Nobody I know who lives in the French Quarter wants a pristine. Neighborhood you know it's squeaky clean. No no ways I know. People riding bicycles and Santa Claus suits her ballet out -- two to use a second. It would have read love. All of that all what we try to do is protect a ballots. So that life in the French Quarter is good for everybody and for people events that. Beautifully sent. Okay let's talk about some of the issues. Missing that you're still. On the one of them it has to do with illegal short term rentals and that's a practice of people to rent out their apartments and condominiums of their houses to. People want short term basis without a permit and there's been a de facto moratorium on new hotels and -- -- expansion and a quarter since 1970. Yet this is one of the biggest problems plaguing the neighborhood and the recent at such a big deal is that it it's robbing. Residents of of of places to live it's actually reducing the stock of available housing so and it's driving prices. And as a result the clock -- -- secure our -- earlier where you had people in the service industry people who were millionaires people who were just you know. The middle class. It is the people who are not. -- you don't have as much money art can no longer find affordable housing and a quarter. We want to preserve -- practices on and dealing with the legal sort terminals effectively is a good place to start because it is taking stock away from the available pool. The housing. And it's also illegal it's creating you know the city's not getting tax money. On the legitimate hotels and bad breakfast operators who are paying their taxes. Who are following all the life safety guidelines are being cheated out of potential. Clients it's it's just a huge problem we have that he didn't lack of enforcement. There has been no enforcement that we find each and people are -- it's become a real scam -- all the multiple listings online. We have -- retrieved on complaints from people. They show up at an address and that actress is not there. Armed with their key in the door and it belongs to someone who lives -- if it's just about problem multifaceted problem. What about you mentioned about bicycling since the storm I've seen so many more bikes at all around sitting -- just in the quarter. And is that working well are they being respectful. Of the road. Now. You know that the note at -- is very hard because when you stop and think our police forces down substantially even though. They will tell you -- we have the largest population of the police it concentrated in the French Quarter. It's still way understaffed and because of that they are not going to be is. -- Interested in enforcing something as minor is going the wrong way on -- -- call as they would be. Waiting for some more you know intense situation that they need to be available for. So it hits without point fingers it's just not a top per hour. What about the paddling things and and our blanking on the name -- had -- -- just had a chance. While we were format and is still in a towel situation. So they have a little bit more time yet to see how it goes. And I frankly I think it's been a positive thing. You know I was saying that when I would drive home from the television station all those many many years and when they came I thought oh my gosh and 201. They are still alert that there's a car behind them they pullover. They're supposed to and they do that I've never wants that one was cocky or you know inappropriate -- just I think they had trouble at the beginning getting a fee structure. And no one was really consistent I think they're doing better -- iPad. What about this duck thing. Oh that got us debt prices well com. Let's just say that it -- whoever came up with the saying of necessity is the mother of invention. Never knew what they were getting in getting us into because. Anybody who's got a bright idea can turn that into something new and the duck boats are all over the world you can Google him and find them and and we have opposed that it's coming into the French Quarter. Com it is then. Opportunity it's a fairly things so to speak and people get on the docks and they are given clockers and they -- along and hears music and in this case. They both would be are that well what -- the vehicles when people would board the vehicles in the French Quarter. And then go all the way to the end of Bonneville do you -- into the late for what we think it's about a twenty you're 25 minute ride and then come back. Armed so we think that you know -- both wanna -- a new world that's fine. Boredom in another place -- a quarter. Launch him in the group Blake if you want to but just it's too congested and a quarter right now you cannot. Get down Decatur north Peters in the quarter on a weekend. There are all kinds of vehicles and large buses mega buses. Hop on hop on hop -- buses. City buses and and now or those allowed to hop on hop. Yes they were on -- divided city and yes okay. The second -- -- the duck boats when the other issues is that it's at their novelty vehicles this isn't just another vehicle on the street this is a vehicle that's brightly painted it's almost like an amusement ride using public streets to do that. And edit the the trend and a quarter has been towards more and more and more and more tourist oriented activities and there's nothing wrong with tourism. But at some point we have to ask what where's the balance is Carroll said earlier we are restructured balance and this is the type of views that we think is just inappropriate end. With -- -- group which is a national historic landmark that is the highest designation you can get as an historic site in this country. So we need to be looking at every proposal for use in the French -- whether it's on private properties public property. Does that fit in with with our goals to preserve and protect this national historic landmark and in this case -- the definitely think it's a great idea. It seems to be in it for part of town so it is it sentenced. No it's not. So just under discussion. Yes yes understood. And you know what you're saying is yes duck -- but not in the quarters start someplace else to go to on adrenaline going only. I'd be fine and what you shaking up this is -- You ever gonna do we're gonna take a break we're gonna come back and we have much more to talk about the French Quarter and part of it is we'll talk about the cleanliness. We wanna talk about crime. And we wanna talk about other happy things but now let's go to its -- -- in the newsroom. We're talking about a very precious place on this earth and that's the French Quarter and the people who live there and are trying to protect it. And I'm really hearing from me that really what you want to balance. That you understand that it is a tremendous we want people to come from all over the world to see the -- absolutely and enjoy it and see the fun things that we -- But again it is a place for people live and it is just the lower court anymore it is all over so you know how to you do that. Going back to some of the traffic issues. I remember years ago and not so many years ago that. The big buses were causing significant problems in people's homes cracking walls centers that are. And I thought that they had banned them. They've banned some of the you can still a hotels the -- range for permits to have a over the -- who were coming from out of town with passengers to pull up to the hotel and drop as passengers not to not to make. Inner interest city. Runs they can't go -- -- and taken to the zoo for example. But as -- you know as a person who's in -- ready you're working mayor visiting or live there it's really hard to tell which buses which which -- has a permanent trust that -- doesn't. The we've been working with the French border management district on for -- citizens VC for a on on revising some of these rules and regulations or at least clarify them submitted -- little bit easier to understand. But in the meantime we still have buses that are getting lost sometimes on purpose it seems. Bombed there still eighteen wheelers and no matter what rules are in place that they can change the rules of physics at the corners and are gonna get any easier to navigate with the fifty foot vehicle. That the balconies are not gonna magically disappear make it easier to make that turn I mean we've all seen. Eighteen wheelers and buses get stuck at the intersection of saint enter in charters right by the cathedral where eight in their balconies to treating in every direction and you just cannot make that turn. Parking lot again the way street right. Right so it's it's not just a question of damage to buildings which is a significant one it's damaging our public infrastructure. It's taking stop signs one way scientists that happen all the time on their streets. So we've got to get a better handle on and we really have to get how decal on the city to do a better job of enforcing that and putting appropriate signage. But if I can give a shout out -- One on member conference -- management industry took it upon himself to engage other residents in the in the quarter. To start documenting buses you were on streets that were not Alec Cigna -- out they were not but it with the word you're not bunker. Right designated as -- rates. And he started collecting photographs of those in coordinating with the city and the numbers of illegal buses on streets where they should not be dropped from something like 200. -- to winning in in a few weeks or months because of of Islam. Of them being cited so. It's citizen action working with someone in the city who could help skip that Don and now there are fewer inspectors on the street and we see buses and of course is Christmas. So buses are on the increase on non designated streets. Let me ask you about something that's. I think was a big thrill and minor perhaps on the scale flight but. After the storm. And the new contract to clean the French. Wonder and Sydney -- that's yet to innocent tourists and that because I -- the world's top and I loved the older you know and -- to have you know Alice now. It isn't as bad as it once -- that's on the that. We don't need to get graphic but it was not that bad our. Right now it's delicate but it is still. It could be better. And I'm just wondering do you all have an influence in time in the city about how much would that cost me was it a significant. Amount just add whatever that. Perfume lines that they were using. I think it was a lot more than just an additive and cleaning products and there was. Their agony grubby details of that contract and a new contract that. There were the staffing was was very precise. I I saw mr. choruses. It's wall of monitors where he knew exactly -- he struck was so. There's there's a lot more than went into it than just an ingredient -- sprain. And he ticket on I believe it's a personal mission. I mean course he he's a businessman he made money but he did have a personal by -- into this and and it showed. And -- number of things could be done in a different way many European cities have what our courts sort of mini. Garbage pickup trucks and they're not these big noisy rumbling down the street garbage trucks and we would like to see smaller garbage trucks in the city we've had talks about replacing those very ugly and dirty. Garbage cans -- stand on the streets all the time with heavy -- bags that are used in other cities. -- the garbage trucks leave a great deal of residue on the streets. It's just awful. And then we have the buggies that stopped and we have. Certain replaced from the by a low for those that mules at different times of the years so. It's all in one big package but it definitely needs to be better but. But the point is that all these things we we and other groups have identified -- the problems are in most cases that come up with partial or complete solutions and so we know that these things can be fixed and we we continue to work and with the city with groups to see that they are fix and remedy. Speaking of the bodies the don't have to Wear diapers yet you. They do and the police sources -- they were diapers -- -- well. And then there are real -- I'm very very big courses that they are the horses get spooked. With them as we discussed with them. And because of that I don't want any confusion from the -- perspective of whether there's an issue. And frankly the majority of the -- refuse is from via the buggy drivers from failure to properly. Change the diapers on the dikes are. Are they -- failure to put them on appropriately in the first place. OK as long as we're on this. No one wants to -- for a while it really was an issue -- walking dogs and not picking up after them seem more and more I've seen people walking with their little banks down I don't think that is nations -- minor. -- see that's a victory. And OK yes it is so that can -- -- there several of the events have been providing. That little bags free of charge they have eminently shouldn't expect the month if you don't have yourself. That you know every little bit of every little bit -- I think people are just more conscious and engine which is good. Very special streets went on to people who are walking their dogs are generally people who live in the quarter so they're gonna have that appreciation and respect hopefully. Where they can walk out the door. Well we're gonna take another break we're gonna come back from gonna talk about crime cameras and crime in the quarter run after this weird talking about. One of our favorite neighborhoods and that's the French Quarter. With people who live there who fight -- who want it to be everything that it does and to keep that happy balance of welcoming terrorists but also keeping it as a home. Now the French Quarter has gone back and forth as having high rates of crime and then at the level often -- -- we hear another pocket of crime something that has impressed me a lot. Is the number of cameras. That are now available and how much that has helped the police. Fuselage and again and again as Carol said earlier the shadow knows about Sam's and is that just an individual volunteer his time and has had this initiative along with cops eight. Are no way to account safe candidates say cams say -- camp site and thank him quite a large number announcement they have those cameras are registered with the police. And so if there's an issue in that particular neighborhood they can go to that person look at their cameras and that's helped tremendously now they do the videos online and on YouTube. Just you know help with identification so it's it's coming along -- and you just hope that the bad guys are watching. It in -- realize that exam being watched -- The crime rate does did acidity a lot of crime and and a quarter and that's of course huge concern for anybody that he lived there visiting there. And the we have a large concentration a police officers in the quarter or in the first district. -- write it district includes the quarter the CBD and -- But we look at the number of people that are in that area means nine million people -- year -- the quarter so that's. By far the most concentrate -- -- people yes yes so on it's actually not that many police officers her per person. And I think by our count over the past three or four years the number of officers has gone from 150 to about 100. Recently lost a tremendous number of officers and it's also in -- and to bring in 45 more million right every year doesn't tourism officials goal is to make to raise a lot numbers of tourism tourists excuse me to thirteen million a year. Which is a whole other matter but on is related to crime is related to police staffing and and clearly we need every district in the city needs additional police officers. We're here for the quarter so you know where we're arguing in and have been asking for that. I remember when I worked in the late shift in the quarter. I would see the cars police cars with just their lights on no sound like. I was always grateful for the fact I'm just getting off work at 11 o'clock 1130 he'll want that presence there and now we're down to three cars. Three cars tonight. Ma Sen has -- district yes yeah for the district. And that's very poor and that's not enough now it's certainly not enough is one of the biggest issues now pick pocketing and -- and catchings. And phone snatching. More than. Violent crime. I think of purse snatching and found snatching our our more prevalent than some other things but but there seems to be. And the recent reports we've had. Weapons involved with those like come so it's not just walk up and grab a person run. There have been two rather aggressive confrontations over just what would be personality her -- -- and -- and at all hours the day not 10 o'clock in the morning which is second it would things. Used to happen more and more at least that was my anecdotal observation but now it seems like they're happening in the middle of the day -- an early evening and you know we everybody must feel safe and secure you don't have to do to your for your shoulder worried to walk do you watch your friend's house the stores so we just went do you worry. I'm careful. I'm I don't worry I'm not out that late at night I'm -- careful. Alert. Do you just be aware of your surroundings from writing and keeps you don't walk on the side street where cars are parked for instance you -- George -- taught me that you walk on the other side. It's that somebody can jump out at two between these squatting between cars and you just are you learning your careful. So overall you feel safe. Yes. Are there and I again think of it -- streak not true crime and opportunity. Vs somebody breaking into your home right angry and I mean I'm sure that that does happen but not I don't think that's as prevalent as the other. You know I'm looking into and I'm thinking of doing this very small. Town where he came from. For a treat for me -- total -- and then as you said arriving in the French Quarter it must have been surreal at some point it was and quite a few people used to saying now that -- has gotten used to the inconvenience I think she actually likes. It. And that's true picture you have to learn how to make it work and you know for you know what is wonderful about the -- me is that itself contained. And then literally if you didn't have a car he'd be fine if that grocery store again hardware store he's got the event. Yet everything is -- it's a little village apartment building is silent. That's right and you have wonderful neighbors that you get to now and it's yes -- -- an iron out of my neighbors opened their homestand. The tourists. You know that come to visit and just I you need to -- know one person. We'll be right back as we continue our talk about the the Corey. Once again we're talking about neighborhood -- were talking about perhaps -- most famous which is the French Quarter. I wanna think the three incredible women who have spent an hour with a snake loose stroke. Carol Allen and -- Garrett. Short of giving us a real life view of the special place where they live. Your concern always is that balance of tourism and keeping it a home. And here in the big concern that more tourism could really affect badly. Yeah we have or plane has to about nine million people a year and it seems to be working okay although there is definite. Of degradation to the infrastructure was which -- being adequately addressed and that's that they that the city has to work on and we're happy to help the mark help work with them on it. But on there have been calls for increasing that number by 50%. And mineral interest from New Orleans tourism marketing corporation has sent a great job and it's time retooling the marketing campaign to that the whole city is now the destination they're talking about city park they're talking about out of the park. Bird watching in New Orleans east by the end -- And that's wonderful but we know that if you come to the court -- come to New Orleans are still gonna come in different quarters of we have thirteen million visitors. -- a twelve point out of them are still going to set for the quarter so. I think it's an imperative that we is organizations that the city look at -- as an industry and figure out you know what kind of effect will this have long term. On our resource which is the French Quarter probably do damage to the with the ability of the French Quarter will. It must get a handle on this little short terminal problem are we going to drive out the last of the full time residents that Turkey. To the authenticity which -- -- touts as the reason people keep coming back because it's a real place. So -- and keep it real place what steps do we have to take to ensure that happens. How did not stem the flow. -- there is such any market. Yes to the rest of it but the reality is -- which is said to the quarter there's a lot of things we can do enforcement only a short -- and also be an anchor our great stuff on there are. So you can take with. Public transportation I mean people would really love to go -- general. They're probably not gonna do that so it's -- it's gonna take a coordinated effort amongst city agencies and groups like ours in groups and other parts of town. But there's just you wait to spread the wealth because tourism does has brought great benefits to the quarter into the city. And -- can share in them and -- like -- you know and people you know they're on their spectacular Ares I myself and yes Algiers. Point and also it's at the com and I'm not sure we could ever still the time that we have to be able to manage. The effects of that -- we have to have a fully staffed police force we have to have more boots on the ground. When our police public particularly in the French Quarter we have to have a cleaner quarter. All we have to have good lighting all over the quarter is it's just not a whole package of infrastructure needs that will. He'd be reinforced well great women I appreciate you spending time with us and sharing your neighborhoods. Thank you and we'll be right back right after we go to Dave Cullen in the news.

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