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Local Control

I’ve finally taken a stab at completing the section of our Mid-City Recovery Plan which deals with the issue of local control. These ideas are not my own but are based on conversations with the Mid-City Governance Committee and others in the community.

Housing might be most pressing issue, but having local control is ultimately the most important. If the recovery of New Orleans is to be just and fair, then neighborhood control is key. We need to decentralize governance in a way that gives control to the local community.

  1. Community input into a recovery plan is a good start. We also wish to have community oversight of the plan’s implementation. We need to establish local decision making procedures at the neighborhood level.
  2. To this end, we recommend the formation of Neighborhood Councils, similar to those in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Missoula, Montana and many other communities. These neighborhood councils should be democratically elected through the existing ward and precinct system, with one representative from each precinct to sit on a neighborhood council. The system should be constructed so that each council represents approximately 5,000 to 10,000 people. (A less desirable alternative would be to simply expand the existing City Council to accomplish the same level of representation; this would require much smaller councilmanic districts.) The neighborhood councils should not be merely advisory, but have real power to initiate, decide, and execute the affairs that concern the neighborhood: land use, housing, maintenance, streets, parks, police, schooling, welfare, and other services. We support the adoption of a participatory budgeting process, in which residents decide how to allocate a portion of our municipal budget. We recommend funding to support a community-driven process to further investigate and build support for the neighborhood council concept.
  3. Because we realize that this is an ambitious goal which could not be instituted immediately, we recommend as an interim measure regular monthly meetings, open to all in the community, where officials will give an accounting of progress in implementation of our neighborhood recovery plan and will answer questions from the community.

Retrieved from

Your thoughts are welcome.

Published inNew OrleansPolitix


  1. Scott Scott

    Having read this, I looked at the results so far and found them a little hard to deal with. I wonder whether there is a program similar to WordPress that would work on a map rather than text: a map wiki. I could follow the proposals more easily if there was a map with color coding for zoning and land use proposals. This would force some specificity rather than general ideas.

    One problem with these articles is the differences in style that occur. Some are succinct and pointed and others are not. Who, what, where, when and why should all be answered.

    Someone please put some carriage returns in the education section and in the health care sections !

  2. Scott Scott


    ” … but have real power to initiate, decide, and execute the affairs that concern the neighborhood: land use, housing, maintenance, streets, parks, police, schooling, welfare, and other services. ”

    Does this mean the councils will replace the city departments now running all these things? Are the council persons proposed here to be paid or volunteers ? Will school principals be selected by the council ? Will the council replace police district supervisors ?

    The best interpretation of this would be to reduce the city council and whatever type of entity controls each particular school to just passing a budget allocating funds to each council. I can’t even imagine what this means about federal welfare benefits.

    While this direction could be interesting, one problem that arises is an inability to fund projects with a city wide importance but actual effects in only one area. Dressing up Canal Street sidewalks and French Quarter sidewalks was good for the former tourism industry here but would it be funded under this plan?

    You’d also end up with people saying that money collected in their council district should be spent there. City revenues come from sales taxes and real estate taxes. In the olden days, sales tax meant hotels and tourism centers. As for real estate taxes, look to the CBD and Entergy for the real money, not the neighborhoods.

    I think this plan bites off more than it can chew in a practical sense and in a political sense. I would focus on land use/zoning and require a big process to grant an exception from general rules that were approved by the council.

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