GeoCarta Has Moved

Nov 29, 2005

New Orleans Residents Deride Redevelopment Maps

New Orlean's residents reacted angrily on Monday to a plan for rebuilding the city, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. As I posted recently,more than 50 experts in urban and post-disaster planning worked with the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to prepare a comprehensive plan for the rebuilding of New Orleans.

A key recommendation of the plan was that the city postpone redeveloping those neighborhoods that lack adequate levee protection and may have lingering environmental problems. Using that as a criteria, the plan contains color coded maps, suggesting areas that the city should concentrate on rebuilding in the short term.

As the Times-Picayune reports, those maps came in for some harsh criticism:

Willard Lewis spoke with particular disdain for ULI's "color-coded maps" which divide the city into three "investment zones:" areas to be rehabilitated immediately, areas to be developed partially, or areas to be re-evaluated as potential sites for mass buyouts and future green space.

Those maps, she said, are "causing people to lose hope," and others to stay away.

Willard Lewis, who is black, said many of her African-American constituents believe their neighborhoods have been unfairly "stratified to the last category" slated for redevelopment. Those who once fought for equal access to education and public facilities may be forced to fight for equal access to "relief and restoration," she said.

Noting that she was wearing a pink blouse, Morrell, a Gentilly resident, said sarcastically that she should have worn purple, the map color used by ULI for sections of the city that suffered the worst flood damage.

The ULI has warned that unless New Orleans focuses its rebuilding efforts on the highest and most environmentally sound sections of the city, there is a risk that the result will be large areas of blighted neighborhoods. Mayor Ray Nagin, whose Bring New Orleans Back Commission asked the ULI to prepare the plan says he is reserving judgment on that aspect of the plan.