UPDATE Thursday June 25: Zombies live in Legislature: SB75 briefly returned from the dead, attached as amendment to SB104 in manipulative move to revive it. See the story here on the T-P website. It ultimately was stripped from the bill in conference committee and finally died. However, the powers behind the bill evidently were determined and influential. Several politicians risked their reputations, including the lead author, Ed Murray, by pushing this bill. As evidenced by several postings on the T-P comments, Murray’s mayoral aspirations are now greatly weakened by his stance on the Master Plan. The fallout will become evident in the coming months as city election season gets underway in the next few weeks. It should be interesting.
UPDATE: Today (June 24) the House voted against SB75 and the bill is now dead.
So, thanks to sleuthing by “Celebrated blogutante” We Could Be Famous, the powers behind the attempt to mess with the City of New Orleans Master Plan process have come to light. Pres Kabacoff’s company HRI, bought the ad in the Times-Picayune pushing support for SB 75 which seeks to usurp the existing Master Plan process by adding yet another pubic vote. As a supporter of the Master Plan who voted in favor of giving it the force of law, I am disturbed by this effort, apparently driven by developers with ulterior motives, to change the policies and procedures for implementing the long-sought planning process for New Orleans. Red herrings, race baiting and misleading motives by proponents of SB75 make this a particularly ugly situation. My senator, Ed Murray, introduced the bill and my rep, Juan LaFonta supports it. I believe if this bill passes, not only will there be expensive taxpayer funded legal challenges, but the plan may never become law. Having participated in the process and read much of the current draft of the plan, I am saddened by the misdirection and misleading arguments offered by SB75 supporters. Current development “systems” in New Orleans have hurt the city and kept businesses and future-thinking developers away. The new plan will codify strong green/sustainable development guidelines and will help make it easier for everyone to interact with zoning processes. It will ensure that a level playing field is available to all.
The bill is now facing a House vote on Monday. I urge everyone to contact members of the Louisiana House of Representatives and let them know that the people of New Orleans already voted in support of the Master Plan process and that this bill will delay and possibly prevent New Orleans from ever having a Master Plan that helps both businesses and the public have a healthy, well-designed environment in which to do business and live.