Each event has been a major success, drawing tens of thousands of locals and tourists to the City of New Orleans, pumping millions of dollars into the treasury.
Sadly each event has been tainted by aggressive and unnecessary City Hall tactics. For each of these major events, parking is a nightmare, especially in the Warehouse District, CBD and French Quarter. It should be a time to show leniency and allow patrons to park without being subject to harassment from meter maids and tow trucks. Ideally, only the most egregious examples of improper parking should be ticketed. Instead, meter maids are employed in full force to issue as many tickets as possible.
This taints the positive impression that people have of New Orleans. After enjoying an event, it is pretty upsetting to return to your vehicle and notice an orange ticket, but it is even worse to see that your car has been towed. Towing cars has never been more prevalent in New Orleans. The Landrieu administration is so determined to harass motorists that a car with only one outstanding ticket will now be subject to expensive towing.
For the Jazz Fest, the city has begun to aggressively enforce laws which require people to obtain permits to park cars in their lots, yards and driveways. The cost will be $265.25 for businesses and $30 for non-profits. Without a permit, city regulators will shut down the parking operation and issue an administrative subpoena. Not satisfied with collecting parking permits, city officials are also prohibiting any vendors from operating near the Jazz Fest without a license. This equals more harassment, more fees and more fuel for the bureaucratic monster at City Hall.
As a parking entrepreneur during the heyday of Tulane Stadium in Uptown New Orleans, I am very thankful that bureaucrats were not employed to harass the university’s neighbors trying to make some extra cash. At that time such heavy handed tactics would have been unthinkable. It is quite sad that today, unfettered bureaucratic intrusion into simple entrepreneurial activities is considered acceptable.
This type of overly aggressive bureaucratic enforcement of permitting regulations stifles entrepreneurship and creates hard feelings for those who are targeted. It fits a pattern we are seeing in the Landrieu administration, which seems to specialize in finding new and creative ways to extract funds from business owners, taxpayers and tourists.
New Orleans now requires taxicab drivers to upgrade their vehicles with expensive equipment and pay increased fees. Tour guides and tour bus operators in the French Quarter have been hit with higher fees. The Landrieu administration is in love with speed and red light cameras and has installed 67 of them throughout New Orleans with the number growing constantly. Despite campaign promises to rescind the expanded weekend hours for parking meters, the Landrieu administration have retained this Nagin era decision.
Citizens will also have to deal with higher sanitation fees and higher water bills, so it is no surprise that Lakeview residents recently rejected a $150 fee for street repairs. With all of the money flowing into City Hall, voters obviously believe that the politicians have adequate funds for street repairs and even more important problems such as public safety.
In a city that routinely ranks as the Murder Capital of the nation and that suffered through 11 shootings last weekend, it is obscene that there is such a focus on harassing law abiding citizens.
People ought to be able to control their own property and park cars for a profit if they so desire. It should be viewed as a way to compensate neighbors for the hassle and crowds they have to deal with at the Jazz Fest every year. This is not something that should concern the Landrieu administration, which has many more important issues to face.
Ideally, New Orleans officials should be fostering a pro-business philosophy, instead there is an attempt to nickel and dime both tourists and locals alike.
It is hard enough to financially survive during this difficult economy, but this administration is making it even more difficult.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected]">[email protected].