City Council clashes over historic preservation and short-term rentals

New debates over preservation and short-term rentals arose at a City Council meeting last week over the demolition request of two historic shotgun homes on Marais Street in St. Roch.

A representative of the property owner presented plans to demolish the historic homes and replace them with two new construction double shotguns.

Erin Holmes, the PRC’s Advocacy Coordinator, opposed the demolitions before City Council, noting that they would destroy irreplaceable historic inventory and reduce potential housing for local residents in favor of short-term rentals. Councilmember Stacy Head also spoke out vehemently against the demolition of the historic buildings, suggesting that the demolitions were only requested in order to redevelop the properties as short-term rentals.

Head pointed out that the property owner requesting the demolition owns another short-term rental in New Orleans, which was redeveloped in an identical manner with a new construction double shotgun. The owner has a homestead exemption on the property, allowing them to rent out half of the double as a short-term rental full time, but the listing advertises that the other half of the shotgun is vacant. “How are we continuing to allow short-term rentals to obliterate our neighborhoods because they aren’t following the rules we set up in the first place?” asked Head. Watch the video here.

The short-term rental ordinance passed last year allows for property owners in New Orleans to rent out half of a double-shotgun full time, if the owner lives in the other half and has a homestead exemption on the property.

Despite opposition from the PRC, City Council approved the demolition 4-2, with Councilmembers Head and Guidry voting against it.

Three historic shotgun homes on the 2600 block of Marais have been approved for demolition. The two homes on the right were approved for demolition last week. The demolition of the adjacent home on the left, requested by the same owner, was approved in March.

With upcoming elections, it will be vital to elect leaders who see the value of preservation, recognize the need for increased housing availability for local New Orleanians, and can address ongoing issues with Short Term Rental enforcement. Primary elections for mayor and seven city council seats will take place on October 14 and the general election will take place on November 18.

 

Watch the video from city council here.
Read more on the New Orleans Advocate here.
Watch New Orleans Mayoral Candidates debate preservation issues here.