New Orleans REP is a developing nonprofit. Our initial round of research is set to begin in April of 2016, and will be based upon resident inquiries. In the meantime, we have listed some of our proposed projects below.
Once research has been completed on a topic, there will be two links offering the project’s results – One entitled “Quick Info” linking to our main findings, and another link to a PDF of the full report. There will also be a “lagniappe” section for each project containing related materials we discovered over the course of our research. Links to our findings will be sent to members of our email list, posted on our social media sites, and presented at monthly meetings. Research reports will also be available on our Past Projects webpage.
List of Proposed Projects
New Orleans Red Light Camera Tickets (New Orleans – Citywide)
Study Overview: Several cities and counties across the nation have declared similar traffic camera programs unconstitutional, resulting in their discontinuation – New Orleans’ neighboring county Jefferson Parish being one of them, where refunds were recently ordered to motorists who had paid tickets. A portion of funds from the red light camera program in New Orleans goes toward the company running it based in Arizona. Meanwhile, a lot of residents are left wondering how it is that their roads are in disrepair and (ironically) many traffic lights are out of order on a regular basis. Study questions we seek to answer include: How much money does the city of New Orleans collect from the red light ticket program? How are those funds allocated? Is the equipment used to capture video and speed properly calibrated? What actions can residents take to appeal red light camera tickets?
Gentrification in the St. Roch Neighborhood (New Orleans – St. Roch)
Study Overview: The recent re-opening of the St. Roch Market, closed for almost a decade following Hurricane Katrina, was made possible by $3.6 million in recovery dollars made available through FEMA and the federal Housing and Urban Development agency (HUD). These funds are intended to “help cities, counties, and States recover from Presidentially declared disasters, especially in low- income areas.” According to HUD’s website, “not less than 70% of CDBG funds must be used for activities that benefit low- and moderate-income persons” (source: Going Hungry at the St. Roch Market). However, the market only recently began accepting food stamps, and many residents have noted high prices and a lack of practical items. Two rather comprehensive pieces published earlier this year written by Andru Okun of the local “Antigravity Magazine” highlight issues with the St. Roch Market, as well as the rising cost of living in its surrounding neighborhood. Study questions we seek to answer include: Who was involved in the purchasing and permitting of the St. Roch Market? Were the allocated funds used legally by definition of their purpose? Just how much have prices risen in the St. Roch neighborhood? What measures and organizations are in place to help residents of St. Roch maintain their presence and influence?
Effects of Recent Building Regulations and Permits on Population (Coastal Parishes – Terrebonne)
Study Overview: In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, coastal residents of Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish have struggled to rebuild. Many of these residents point to additional costs involved with adhering to regulations and permit requirements, such as raising their homes. These newer ordinances, coupled with rising insurance costs and repeated flood events, have prompted some residents to seek higher ground. Those who remain in lower-lying areas have voiced their preference toward being responsible for their own property and rebuilding as they see fit, as opposed to spending money on parish-enforced mitigation measures. Study questions we seek to answer include: What are the historical and current building requirements for Terrebonne Parish? What, if any, have been the population shifts in coastal communities? What are the possible causes for migration? What are the preferences of people who remain in lower Terrebonne Parish, and what actions can they take to avoid leaving their homes?
Diversions – What do the People Want? (Coastal Parishes – Jefferson, Plaquemines)
Study Overview: The 2012 Coastal Master Plan for Louisiana has presented several large-scale mitigation measures to prevent further land loss and protect our coast. One such measure are the proposed sediment diversions in Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes. Construction of these diversions has been controversial among residents who feel such projects may alter salinity levels, affecting their livelihoods. In the past, resident opposition to diversions has resulted in minimized flow through freshwater diversions – such as the Caernarvon Diversion, which underwent a period of total closure from 2012 – 2014. Study questions we seek to answer include: What are resident opinions on the proposed construction of sediment diversions? How could these opinions affect the flow of proposed diversions if they are put in place? Could a possible backlash from the public render these diversions unsuccessful? What are available options that will satisfy both coastal residents and the 2012 Coastal Master Plan?
Bobby Jindal – Can the Presidential Hopeful be held Accountable for Campaign Costs? (Louisiana – Statewide)
It was recently reported that Governor Jindal spent at least $400,000 in state funds on personal security in the year 2015 while campaigning for president, often in areas outside of Louisiana. The governor’s presidential bid was widely regarded as unsuccessful. Meanwhile, the Louisiana state budget underwent controversial cuts to higher education and health care, among other programs, in an attempt to appease the growing deficit. Study questions we seek to answer include: Just how much of Governor Jindal’s presidential campaign funds were covered through the state budget? What are the legalities of using state funds for a personal campaign? Can the governor be held accountable for state funds spent over the course of his presidential campaign? What measures can be taken to prevent such spending by future governors wishing to run for office?
New Orleans REP seeks to provide more localized research as our project evolves. We will gather inquiries from the public through surveys, community meetings, social media, and a telephone “Help Line.” To aid us with our process, please submit your research topic here. You can also help us by donating here. Thank You!
Initial topics may include:
- Why haven’t my street lights been repaired?
- Why are businesses moving out of my neighborhood?
- Where can I obtain affordable healthcare in or near my community?
- Why hasn’t my street been repaired? (see below for example!)