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LETTER FROM LCIA TO CITY PLANNING COMMISSION RE: ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS
March 15, 2022
Dear Commissioners of the City Planning Commission,
I write on behalf of the Lakeview Civic Improvement Association (“LCIA”) to express our Association’s strong concerns and general opposition to the ADU zoning proposal that is being promoted by the Mayor’s Office of Community Assets and Investment. The information that has been provided by the Mayor’s office to date has confirmed that this city-wide ADU proposal would have the effect of nullifying many of the existing neighborhood zoning districts which have been thoughtfully tailored and enacted for each specific neighborhood in our City.
Article 1 of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance states that the purpose of the City’s zoning ordinances is to “preserve and enhance the value of structures, communities, and neighborhoods that constitute the distinct places within the city.” The CZO goes on to state that this purpose is accomplished “by establishing zoning districts, which regulate the location and use of structures for residential use” and “the density of use.” The regulations applicable to each zoning district were deliberately designed “by considering the character of the districts and their suitability for particular uses.”
In recognition of the lower-density character of some neighborhoods, the CZO includes many different zoning districts that contemplate single-family residential neighborhoods (HU-RS, S-RS, S-LRS1, S-LRS2, and S-LRS3). Some of these single-family neighborhoods are located in higher-density historical areas near the Fairgrounds and Uptown, but most are located in the lower-density “Suburban Neighborhoods Residential Districts,” the character of which is described in the CZO as being “characterized by lower density development, including neighborhoods of single-family development on lots of various sizes and more spacious setbacks between homes than found in older areas of the City.”
These low-density, single-family residential neighborhoods can be found in neighborhoods across the City, including Gentilly, New Orleans East, much of the West Bank, and throughout the Lake Area neighborhoods, including Lakeview. Lakeview is located within the S-LRS1 Lakeview Single-Family Residential District, and the CZO recognizes that the zoning ordinances in that area should “provide for and encourage low density single-family residential development of a relatively spacious character…in such a manner as to preserve the distinctive character of the Lakeview area.”
Simply put, this city-wide ADU proposal is directly contrary to the purpose and objectives of the existing zoning districts and laws. If enacted as initially proposed by the Mayor’s Office of Community Assets and Investment, these amendments would completely undermine the existing zoning and make any and all single-family residential properties eligible to be converted into multi-unit properties. The effects of such a change would be far-reaching and would recklessly threaten the historical character and density of the unique neighborhoods located in these single-family residential districts.
Lakeview in particular has historically been a low density neighborhood predominated by single-family homes on relatively spacious lots––all characteristics that make it distinctive and set it apart from some of the older neighborhoods in the City. After Hurricane Katrina, Lakeview leaders and residents worked closely with their elected representatives and city planners to ensure that our neighborhood would retain those distinctive historic characteristics and to re-assure displaced residents that they could return and build back with confidence that their neighborhood would not be susceptible to over-development. Residents who have moved into Lakeview since that time have also done so with the confidence that their neighborhood would retain those same distinctive characteristics and not suddenly become crowded with multi-unit rental properties. The priorities and preferences of these residents should be respected, as should the existing zoning that is in place in Lakeview and other similarly-zoned neighborhoods.
Even setting aside the zoning contradictions that would result from allowing ADUs city-wide, we have a number of other serious concerns about the concept as it was proposed by the Mayor’s office:
Nearly 50 residents of Lakeview attended the most recent meeting of the LCIA Zoning Committee, and the above concerns were shared unanimously by all who were in attendance. Alarmingly, the Mayor’s Office of Community Assets and Investment did not respond to or address any of these concerns at a recent public meeting, and it is unclear whether they had even considered any of them before proposing the city-wide introduction of ADUs.
As of today, the City Planning Commission has yet to issue its report and recommendations on this ADU proposal, so it remains uncertain whether these concerns can or will be addressed through its proposed zoning amendments. Regardless, the lack of prior consideration given to these concerns further underscores our concerns about the City’s lack of awareness of and preparedness for the far-reaching impacts of this ADU proposal and provides even more reasons for for opposing it.
On behalf of the LCIA, I hope this information and input helps to guide the CPC’s decisions and recommendations concerning ADUs during your upcoming meeting.
President, Lakeview Civic Improvement Association