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New Orleans MAYORAL ELECTION 2017 Desirée Charbonnet LaToya Cantrell NEW ORLEANS will elect its first female mayor in the city’s history on Nov. 18, 2017, choosing between runoff candidates LaToya Cantrell, currently New Orleans District “B” City Councilmember, and former Judge Desirée Charbonnet. Both candidates, along with then-contender Michael Bagneris, participated in a forum on September 19, organized by the Preservation Resource Center and the Louisiana Landmarks Society, and hosted by the Center for the Study of New Orleans and Loyola’s Institute of Politics, titled Shaping a Livable Historic City: The Challenges of Calling New Orleans ‘Home.’ It was attended by approx. 450 people. Here are some of the candidates’ thoughts on the urban planning, neighborhood and preservation issues facing New Orleans. SHORT TERM RENTALS RISING PROPERTY TAXES AND BLIGHT ISSUE: The proliferation of short-term rentals across the city, especially in ISSUE: Property taxes have risen considerably in recent years, yet blight con- homes without permanent occupants, has caused complaints from neighbor- hood residents, and generally threatens the authenticity of New Orleans’ his- toric districts. STRs have also been blamed, in part, for New Orleans’ lack of affordable housing. CANTRELL Gist: The City of New Orleans has not yet been effective enforcing short- term rental properties into compliance with legislation meant to control their overall impact. Cantrell would improve enforcement as well as create legislation aimed at finding balance in historic neighborhoods. Memorable quote: “In terms of stabilizing communities, we really have to look towards…incentives to help create balance, keeping people in their homes, [and] ensuring that homestead exemptions are in place, as well.” CHARBONNET Gist: Short-term rentals have had an effect on available affordable housing units, and residents complain about strangers constantly coming in and out of their neighborhoods. Charbonnet proposes a plan that would require short-term rental operators to have a homestead exemption, meaning they live in the same property as the rental, and that they have lived there at least five years, or are registered voters. Memorable quote: “There are some neighbors that have welcomed short- term rentals, so I think that we have got to listen to the voice of the neigh- bors to see what they want; what works in one neighborhood may not work in another.” tinues to mar many city districts, much of it owned by organizations or indi- viduals who aren’t required to pay taxes. CANTRELL Gist: Property tax exemptions need to be reevaluated, as everyone in this city shares the benefit of services supported by taxpayer dollars, such as those pro- vided by Sewerage and Water Board. Cantrell would scale up the “Green and Clean” program she launched in Broadmoor to clear vacant lots of garbage, as well as her “Mow to Own” program. She would also reallocate millage money to help people stay in their homes and improve education offerings. Memorable quote: [As a councilmember,] “I have made a lot of strides with blight eradication and bringing properties back into commerce.” CHARBONNET Gist: In a city where the majority of residents are renters, we need to incen- tivize homeownership, which will ultimately result in more people paying property taxes. Charbonnet would advocate for tax breaks and other incen- tives to help more people become first-time homeowners and to help exist- ing homeowners who need help maintaining their properties. Memorable quote: “That is what makes this community solid: home own- ership. It gives people pride in themselves. If we were doing a good job of [incentivizing homeownership], you wouldn't see as much blight around this town as you do.” *Special thanks to the Center for the Study of New Orleans, the Institute of Politics at Loyola University New Orleans and Mary Kate Andrepont for a transcript of the event. More synopsized candidate opinions from the forum, as well as video of the event and a full transcript, can be found at Additional topics include: Green space, transportation, vacant historic buildings owned by the city, proposed cruise ship terminal on Poland Ave., City Council’s reversal of HDLC decisions, funds for historic cemeteries, proposed development of space under Treme’s elevated I-10 expressway 8  PRESERVATION IN PRINT • NOVEMBER 2017