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New Orleans Planning Commission rejects Cantrell administration on mother-in-law suites!

Thank you to everyone who wrote in against the possible zoning change. I'm sure this is not the last we have heard of this issue, but for now it has been overwhelmingly rejected!


Below is the article from nola.com, published April 6, 2022 written by Ben Myers, staff writer


New Orleans Planning Commission rejects Cantrell administration on mother-in-law suites Residents worry about neighborhood preservation, short-term rentals.

The New Orleans Planning Commission refused Wednesday to endorse Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s

controversial proposal to legalize small apartments within single-family houses and lots, voting 6-2 against the recommendation of commission staffers. The city’s zoning laws currently prohibit converted sheds, carriage apartments and other types of secondary residences, except those historically used as separate living spaces. Most of the grandfathered “accessory dwelling units,” commonly known as mother-in-law suites, are in wealthier neighborhoods, according to a Planning Commission staff report. Staff reasoned that allowing accessory units in all residential areas would be a simple way to put a dent in New Orleans' shortage of affordable rentals, estimated by the nonprofit HousingNOLA at more than 16,000 units. Staffers pointed to a trend of allowing accessory units across the country, including in Portland, Ore., where these apartments now account for more than 10% of new housing. More short-term rentals? A handful of residents and housing advocates agreed with the proposal from the Cantrell administration and the commission staff. But they were dwarfed by energized opponents, who said it would destroy neighborhoods and result in more short-term rentals. Commissioner Kelly Brown said the proposal undermined single-family land use designations in New Orleans' 2010 master plan, which she said was approved after an exhaustive and inclusive process. “It’s important we remain faithful to it,” Brown said.

'Rent at the highest rates' Staff recommended banning short-term rentals in accessory units. But Commissioner Robert Steeg said he feared the ban would be on paper only, given the Cantrell administration’s failure to enforce short-term rental regulations. Even the accessory units dedicated to long-term tenants would do little to address the affordable housing crisis, as most would require new construction, Steeg said. “That’s going to lead to construction costs, and that’s going to lead developers - or individuals - to rent at the highest rates they can rent for,” Steeg said. Planning Commission votes are advisory, and the City Council may still choose to take up the proposal. But council members' appetite for doing so amid intense opposition is unclear.

'Unintended consequences' The accessory unit proposal is the second in recent months aimed at boosting affordable housing through small-scale development. The City Council in December approved new fourplex construction in most parts of New Orleans' historic core, after a heated debate in which opponents expressed many of the same concerns as they did Tuesday over accessory units. But the fourplex measure included a minimum affordability requirement along with development incentives that small builders said would make the cost feasible. Council members later added a short-term rental ban for most new fourplex construction. Commissioner Kathleen Lunn voted for Wednesday's accessory dwelling proposal, while acknowledging it would lead to “unintended consequences” involving short-term rentals. She said zoning laws throttle multifamily development to an “outrageous” degree; only about 11% of New Orleans' land is zoned for multifamily housing, according to a Planning Commission report. “There is no question that we need to incrementally begin to address how this city serves people who actually do live and work here,” Lunn said.


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