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Bourbon Street crackdown 

Landrieu security plan to include crackdown on rowdy Bourbon Street for a 'change of culture'


Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s long-term plan for increasing security in New Orleans will include a crackdown on “the culture of lawlessness” along Bourbon Street, with a goal of making the city's most notorious street resemble the more sedate environs of Royal Street, officials said Monday night as they addressed a crowd seeking more information about the plan.

The proposal for the famously freewheeling French Quarter stretch of strip clubs and loud music venues calls for efforts to eliminate vendors who sell booze to patrons from buildings' windows, clean the street and focus on code and business violations.

The final touch, once city officials have erected bollards blocking off vehicles from several blocks of Bourbon, would involve adding trees, planters, benches and other furniture to the roadway.

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“We see it as changing the culture of lawlessness,” City Planning Commission Deputy Director Leslie Alley said. “We’ve got to go out and change the culture in this town of lawlessness.”

But that proposed change, and other aspects of the plan, did not go over well with many in the crowd that packed the St. Jude Community Center to grill city officials in the first public forum on the security plan since it was announced in January.


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A security camera sits under a Bourbon street sign on the corner of Bourbon and Bienville streets in New Orleans, Monday January 9, 2017. Mayor Landrieu is planning to improve the security of the French Quarter including plans of closing part of Bourbon street to vehicles and installing more bright lights.

Advocate staff photo by SOPHIA GERMER

The meeting was organized by two residential groups, Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates and French Quarter Citizens.

“There’s an image that’s coming to my mind, and I don’t want to say the ‘D-word,’ " VCPORA Executive Director Meg Lousteau said of the plans for “street furniture” — an apparent reference to what some refer to as the transformation of the city into a Disney World version of itself.

Landrieu's security plan, rolled out in January in response to a mass shooting on Bourbon Street on Thanksgiving weekend and terrorist attacks in Europe that targeted streets filled with people, is a nearly $40 million effort, with a $3.8 million yearly price tag. Much of the initial money will come from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. 

The plan calls for erecting cameras throughout the city, using bollards to block off much of Bourbon Street and turn it into a pedestrian mall, and requiring bars citywide to keep their doors closed after 3 a.m. — though they could continue selling drinks inside — and to install exterior surveillance cameras that would feed into a centralized New Orleans Police Department Command Center.

Although Monday’s forum was the first chance the public has had to question officials about the plan, many of its elements are already underway.

Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Hebert said permanent cameras already have been installed along Bourbon and the city is beginning the process of contracting out work on the centralized command center, which would be housed in the 1st District police station on North Rampart Street. Some streetlights in the French Quarter already have been converted to brighter LED bulbs, Hebert said.

One traffic study is looking at how vehicles navigate a wide area around the Quarter, and a follow-up study will focus specifically on the Vieux Carre to determine the impact of the pedestrian mall plan, Hebert said.

But much remains unclear about how various elements of the plan will shake out.

The crackdown on Bourbon is aimed at businesses that are violating city rules because the city is looking to make the French Quarter “cleaner, safer and with more character than it has today,” Hebert said.

Less cars on bourbon st is definitely a good idea.