New Orleans City Planning Commission
The FMIA has been working alongside VCPORA regarding the issue of parklets, and their impact on Historic Core neighborhoods. We obviously have the same concerns they do, as well concerns that are more specific to our neighborhood. The FMIA agrees that temporarily expanding outdoor dining during the COVID-19 epidemic, when health measures prohibit or limit indoor dining, made sense. However, we are opposed to any permanent implementation in the Marigny for the following reasons:
They are no longer necessary. Currently, there is not a dearth of dining options in the Marigny. It is obvious that street life is not a problem. There is no longer a demonstrated need for them.
Commercial business in residential areas. These are bringing the bars outside in the streets, much like Bourbon and Frenchmen Street. Many bars and restaurants are located in residential areas, some in grandfathered spaces where such commercial uses are otherwise no longer allowed. Expanding a “legal non-conforming use” in size or intensity is prohibited in the CZO.
It Impacts the Quality of Life in the Marigny Outdoor dining and drinking establishments have shown, in the French Quarter, to significantly increase the noise impacts, crowding, and litter on adjacent residential uses.
Privatization of Public Space Outdoor dining also involves a taking and privatization of public space, such as sidewalks or streets. That is space, which is shared by many users for residential parking, loading and unloading, and passenger zones, has now been specifically designated for the private usage of a sole business entity, as well as spaces that neighbors already purchased parking permits for.
Public Safety & ADA Accessibility Crowding and safety become an issue when establishments take over the often narrow and crowded public right of way that separates a business from its adjacent parklet dining area. In some situations, this may make a bad or difficult situation worse, with a variety of potentially negative effects for pedestrians, diners, and businesses. This is especially problematic for ADA accessibility.
Aesthetic Considerations As we have observed, and predicted, the aesthetic considerations have not been adequately addressed. The existing parklets bear little resemblance to anything that could contribute to our historic streetscapes. Even if their designs were improved, the parklets will still mask and obscure our carefully preserved architecture.
Opposite of Current Zoning Concept of Protecting Residential Properties The CZO supports the concept of putting more intense commercial uses on the exterior of our neighborhood, away from residential properties. This proposal, allowing restaurants and bars to exist in public, outdoor space would push the more impactful commercial businesses to the interior of the neighborhood.
Impact and Consideration of Surrounding Properties The CZO traditionally considers whether or not a use is appropriate based upon the zoning of the property, while also considering its location and surrounding properties. A parklet, if placed in the interior of a neighborhood, should not be allowed when surrounded by residential properties.
And perhaps most importantly, there has been no record of enforcement for the ones that are operating. Some have been in place for nearly two years without a valid permit. Some have introduced exterior speakers and furniture/equipment on the sidewalk, including tents, which are specifically prohibited. There has been no effort to enforce any of these built-in regulations and no indication that they will be in the future.