Posted by R. Neal

Some residents are not happy with at least one proposal:

Angry residents expressed frustration Wednesday at the debut of rebuilding proposals for this devastated city, taking aim at a suggested four-month moratorium on new building permits in areas heavily flooded by Hurricane Katrina.


The idea behind the moratorium is to ensure that enough people would move back to a neighborhood to avoid large expanses with isolated houses.

But that didn't sit well with residents from the hard-hit Ninth Ward, Lakeview and east New Orleans. Several lashed out at commission members, such as prominent New Orleans developer Joseph Canizaro.

"I don't know you, but Mr. Canizaro, I hate you," Harvey Bender of the Lower Ninth Ward said as he pointed his finger. "You've been in the background scheming to take our land."

After the meeting, Canizaro met with Bender and promised to explain the commission's recommendations in greater detail.

"I told him I want to do everything I can to help this city. I'm not going to make a dime off this," Canizaro said. Commission members have pledged not to profit from their positions on the panel.

A summary/overview of the full Bring New Orleans Back Commission report is here (warning: 34MB PowerPoint). The Commission website is here.

You can read a summary of the plan from the PowerPoint after the jump. As you review the plan and all the action items, the enormity of the problem and the work ahead begins to sink in and it is overwhelming. But it is also an unprecedented opportunity to rebuild a major American city and make it better.

Certainly there are controversial ideas, and virtually unlimited opportunity for corruption and exploitation, but it has to begin somewhere. This plan appears to embrace the best current thinking about urban planning and design, and includes experts from every discipline needed for it to be successful. Hopefully the rest of America will pull together with Louisiana and the City of New Orleans to make it happen.

Click "there's more" for a summary of the plan.

Highlights from the recovery plan:

  • 108,731 households had over 4 feet of flood water; 50% of all New Orleans households.
  • New Orleans is the center of a metropolitan area with over $500 billion in real estate assets, excluding petrochemical and other industries.
  • 19 National Register Districts with 38,000 properties: as many as 25,000 damaged.
  • The plan consists of four parts, a Flood and Stormwater Protection Plan, a Transit and Transportation Plan, a Parks and Open Spaces Plan, and a Rebuilding Neighborhoods Plan. Each plan has a list of immediate and long term action items.
  • The Flood and Stormwater Protection Plan encompasses perimeter levees, pumping and gates, internal levees with separate pumps, and coastal wetland restoration. The plan also calls for creation of a single levee district, and for the Corps of Engineers to build and maintain the system with independent oversight.
  • The Transit and Transportation Plan encompasses a city-wide, high speed, light rail transit network connecting neighborhoods to downtown and other employment centers, rail transit linking the city to the airport, Baton Rouge, and the Gulf Coast, and new roads designed with the wide median (neutral ground) model for pedestrians, bicycles, transit, and open space.
  • The Parks and Open Space Plan calls for parks in every neighborhood, with multi-functional parks and open spaces connecting neighborhoods and employment, using canal edges and covered canals as open space amenities, and making parks part of the internal stormwater management system.
  • The Rebuilding Neighborhoods Plan is the most complex, and controversial. It is centered around several guiding principles. Family, friends and neighbors make great neighborhoods. Reconstruction will be built on neighborhood history and culture. It will be respectful of historic block patterns, architecture, and landscape. It will encompass mixed income communities with a diversity of housing types. It will have parks and open space connected to a city-wide system, city-wide accessibility through transit, and neighborhood centers that provide a high quality of daily life.
  • The plan states that neighborhoods require sufficient population to support the equitable and efficient provision of public facilities and services. Every neighborhood must have basic infrastructure: roads, drainage, utilities, services, public schools, cultural and community facilities, places of worship, health facilities, park and open space within an easy walk, convenience retail, and access to public transit.
  • The plan states that reduced population and City revenue require a new approach. The plan is to provide immediate temporary housing to enable citizens to return, to establish neighborhood planning teams to complete plans by May 2006, to consolidate neighborhoods with insufficient population to support equitable and efficient service delivery, to provide facilities and services to population concentrations in the most efficient manner possible, and to recognize publicly subsidized housing as an asset and address with HUD where appropriate.
  • The rebuilding plan focuses on four distinct areas: Immediate Opportunity Areas, Neighborhood Planning Areas, Infill Development Areas, and Targeted Development Areas.
  • Immediate Opportunity Areas involve areas with little or no flood damage, downtown concentration of commercial, medical, residential, cultural, entertainment, and hospitality activities, and institutions with immediate needs. Action items are to identify vacant and underutilized property for new construction, expedite permits for repairs and construction of new housing, provide/support community and cultural facilities and services, assist educational/health institutions address immediate needs, and to begin repair/reconstruction using current rules and regulations.
  • Neighborhood Planning Areas are areas that contain deeply flooded and heavily damaged properties. A neighborhood planning processes will be conducted to determine the future of these areas. Neighborhood planning teams will comprise neighborhood residents, planner/urban designers, historic preservation experts, city Planning Commission representatives, environmental/public health consultants, mitigation planners, finance experts, administrative/technology support, and community outreach, including outreach to displaced residents by internet and other means.
  • Infill Development Areas are private and publicly-owned land, blighted and adjudicated properties, and underutilized sites on high ground, or those requiring demolition and clearance, that can be developed with houses, commercial, and institutional uses. Action items are to consolidate public and private ownership, prepare development plans, isue developer requests for proposals and select developers.
  • The rebuilding plan calls for the creation of a Crescent City Recovery Corporation that would receive and expend redevelopment funds, implement redevelopment plans, buy and sell property for redevelopment, including use of eminent domain as a last resort, issue bonds, and coordinate with and enhance the City Planning Commission capacity.
  • One of the immediate next steps is to advise the City to not issue any permits to build or rebuild in heavily flooded and damaged areas until Advisory Base Flood Elevations have been issued by FEMA, neighborhood planning teams have completed their plans and made recommendations to the City, and adequate and efficiently delivered utilities and city services are available. This appears to be the most controversial provision among residents of flooded neighborhoods.
  • The plan would develop finance programs to assist homeowners, business owners, and investors to implement the Recovery Plan through tax credit incentives, below market interest rate loans, providing favorable gap financing, assuring grants are utilized in an efficient manner, and identifying institutions that will "adopt" neighborhoods to provide funding not available from other financial sources.
  • Targeted Development areas are not explained, but according to a map they include Downtown, Algiers, Central City, Almonaster Corrider, and the Lower 9th Ward. For these areas, the plan is to "identify and facilitate financially responsible developers to develop large numbers of houses quickly in Target Development Areas."
  • The estimated cost of the plan is $18 billion, with the largest single cost being $12 billion for acquisition of heavily flood damaged homes.
  • All final plans and proposals are to be completed and acquisition of property and rebuilding would begin in August of 2006, nearly one year after the disaster struck. There is no estimated completion date, but the life of the Crescent City Recovery Corporation is planned for ten years.