Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Must... Not... Look Away... Even Though It Burns

Everyone get ready... New Orleans is about to go through one of the most wrenching property grabs and legal clusterf**ks in the history of the United States, and this along with several other factors may be one of the final nails in the coffin for this city.

The Bring Back New Orleans Commission is working directly with the Urban Land Institute (ULI) in order to formulate a plan for the reconstruction of New Orleans. ULI is advocating the turning of several large swaths of neighborhoods into public parks and floodplains, even though many of these neighborhoods have never flooded except during the manmade levee failures of Katrina.

Remember that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on June 23rd of this year affirmed that "local governments may force property owners to sell out and make way for private economic development when officials decide it would benefit the public, even if the property is not blighted and the new project's success is not guaranteed." So it is a moot question about whether on not this could even happen.

Therefore, the plan ULI is advocating, would have the city or some other entity purchasing these thousands and thousands of homes based on pre-K property assessments. The problem with this is that before the hurricane, New Orleans was dealing with a huge property assessment corruption scandal.

Basically one could walk down any block in New Orleans and pick out any two identical homes on that block, check the tax rolls and discover that the two owners were paying vastly different amounts in property taxes. We're talking huge differentials. Many homes that have been in families for generations were paying zero property taxes because of the $75,000 homestead exemption and had not been properly assessed for decades. While the owner of the other identical home which had recently sold for say $250,000 (the current market value for each of these homes), were paying many thousands of dollars in property tax a year.

So according to ULI's and the Bring Back New Orleans Commission's plan, new owners would actually get closer to market rate payouts for their property, while families who have lived for generations in New Orleans would be reimbursed for around 30% of market value.

Moreover, these generational property owners tend to be families who are on the low income scale as opposed to individuals or families who can afford $250,000 mortgages.

What all of this is leading towards is massive amounts of litigation that will tie up the entire rebuilding and restoration of New Orleans for many, many years.

Take this along with the myriad of other issues before this city from levee rebuilding to lack of electricity and the frustration and time involved in settling all of these issues leads me to believe that unless the Federal Government steps in, which it is apparantly loathe to do or because of ulterior motives, New Orleans will be left to wither.

Now in a tangential theory, with all the gross amounts of litigation about to erupt, the massive new influx of attorneys into New Orleans may stem the flood of out-migration...

But, where will we house all these attorneys?

4 Comments:

Anonymous Shamba said...

I can only say I hope that the rebuilding of Nawlins doesn't turn into "Disney version of Nawlins". That would be horrible.

I hope there is a great amount of litigation about to erupt that may come out on the side of the homeowners.n Lawyers are often good for many things, despite their popular image sometimes.

Thanks again for your blog and the information you provide for others to read.

best wishes,

shamba

1:19 PM, December 14, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am still of teh conspiritorial mind that the 17th sreet canal was blown not breached..since the first early days of when Black water agents were crawling arould the city .. my fear has a name New Orleans will = New Halaburton.. there is a reason that levey was not repaired before the lake leveled.. its called corperate profit.. and I do not see the goverment that foster these glutonious monster corps.. gonna do a darn thing... thank you Bush and that you Supreme Court for thowing out our rights.. korin

2:49 PM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Chris Laurel said...

GEORGE BUSH DESTROYED CITY #AM01 (see #IQ01)
When I lived in Europe friends would ask me where in the United States they should visit. I was asked so often I came up with a standard reply:

First, you should go to New York City. New York is the American branch of the world. Arguably, it's the capital of the world: Everyone is welcome in New York, even Iranians and Syrians who work for their governments. Even Castro. America doesn't get to play its petty hypocritical politics here. It's interesting to see what Americans do with their branch, just like it's interesting to see how the Japanese spin the world in Tokyo, the Australians with Sydney, the French with Paris, the English with London, etc. They are national takes on the same city.

Second, go to New Orleans. I spent over a month there in college. I was so stressed over grades one semester I almost ran away to live in a friend's place on St. Charles (now it's gone). They have Mardi Gras, voodoo, hoodoo, jazz, a vibrant black culture, above-ground cemetaries, swamps, people who speak French all over the place, a unique newspaper name, and Louisiana has this crazy government system that produces outrageous politicians. You won't find a more colorfulpeople and everyone's friendly though the whites can be deathly racist. They have drive-through margaritas! But you have to be careful because next to complete oppulence you have abject poverty, like the time I went jogging through the Garden District and crossed Magazine Street with a New York Times. I decided to walk to the newly redeveloped "Riverwalk." I wasn't paying attention in my jogging outfit reading the paper. Suddenly I looked up and spray painted all over the houses were things like "R.I.P. Bump" and "I Will Miss You Always Charles." This wasn't the Garden District. I decided to get to the Riverwalk so I quickened my pace. But there was no waterfront, there was a wharf. The Riverwalk didn't extend this far. A few crack whores. I was nervous, son. I started walking down the street and a patrol car came driving down the wharf and stopped me. He asked what I was doing there. I said nothing, that I was just reading and walking, and that I was a little lost. He said that unless I wanted to be robbed, raped or dead, that I should get in his patrol car and he can take me home. So stay in the areas the hotel clears, because there is no zoning; it's all checkerboard with good and bad neighborhoods, and the police are corrupt and agressive in trying to keep the people under control. But still, see New Orleans

Third, go to San Francisco. And then if you see anything else in the United States, well, good for you.

6:41 PM, December 14, 2005  
Anonymous Jefeaux said...

You wrote:

"Remember that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on June 23rd of this year affirmed that "local governments may force property owners to sell out and make way for private economic development when officials decide it would benefit the public, even if the property is not blighted and the new project's success is not guaranteed." So it is a moot question about whether on not this could even happen."

Moot, my Crawfish Monica, cher. After the Supremes made that stupid decision, Congress went back and re-wrote the law.

There's already plenty of land-grabbing going on -- like the CNN piece tonight on landlords tossing people's possessions out of homes that didn't flood. But the condemnation by eminent domain as passed by the Supremes is pretty much moot itself.

You wrote:

"Many homes that have been in families for generations were paying zero property taxes because of the $75,000 homestead exemption and had not been properly assessed for decades. While the owner of the other identical home which had recently sold for say $250,000 (the current market value for each of these homes), were paying many thousands of dollars in property tax a year."

You allege corruption, I allege incompetence. Have you ever tried to get something done through the City? Sheesh...bring your camping gear and a cooler.

"But, where will we house all these attorneys?"

In East N.O. and the Lower 9th, of course! If that doesn't handle the influx, we can set 'em up with FEMA trailers right next to the levee break on the 17th Street.

12:51 AM, December 15, 2005  

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