A coalition of neighborhood groups has amplified its call for amending the massive overhaul of the city’s zoning law now under consideration by the New Orleans City Council with a radio advertising campaign lambasting the proposed ordinance as “just darn scary” and urging council members to vote against it.
The ad, paid for by a group of anonymous residents who support the goals of the Riverfront Alliance, targets the new comprehensive zoning ordinance that is intended to replace a more than 40-year-old law that has been amended hundreds of times.
The alliance is a coalition of groups representing the French Quarter, Marigny, Bywater, Holy Cross and Algiers that was formed in January to call on the council to “fix” the new CZO. The group paid for a billboard on Loyola Avenue across from City Hall urging the council to “Fix the CZO!” and “Respect, Protect, Save New Orleans’ Neighborhoods.”
The radio ad began running Wednesday on WWL-AM and WBOK.
In it, a man’s voice warns residents that the proposed new law will allow developers to build towers along the riverfront “not for ordinary people to enjoy the river but as a place for the rich to play.”
“We all love New Orleans, but right now, some people are lining up at City Hall to turn our New Orleans into their New Orleans,” the voice says. “Why is the city focused on penthouses at the expense of our neighborhoods?”
The Riverfront Alliance objects to a proposed “overlay district” in the ordinance that would allow new structures along some sections of the riverfront to qualify for a 25-foot “height bonus,” bringing a building’s maximum height to 75 feet if it incorporates certain “superior design elements.”
The overlay district would include lots along the river from Jackson Avenue to the Pontchartrain Expressway, in Algiers from Powder Street to Alix Street, and from Esplanade Avenue to the Industrial Canal, excluding the Marigny neighborhood.
Taller residential buildings would “fundamentally change our historic districts,” French Quarter Citizens President Carol Gniady said.
Proponents say the taller heights are necessary for desired higher-density living and growth in the Bywater neighborhood in particular.
The ad also takes aim at a provision in the CZO that would allow later hours and more live entertainment at restaurants. The ordinance would allow standard restaurants to stay open later and allow them, except in the French Quarter, to provide unamplified music. Critics say those allowances, which would come by right and not as the result of a conditional use request requiring a City Planning Commission review and a public hearing by the council, have the potential to turn any restaurant into a nightclub without input from the neighborhood.
The ad speaks specifically of “corner restaurants,” saying they will “stay open late, serve liquor late and turn into late-night bars.”
The council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance May 14.