Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Don't Get It

I'd say this has something to do with what I'm reading in this pdf of the city's operational plan for the new public-private partnership for economic development:

Real Estate Development

The PPP will be the facilitator, and at times the initiator of real estate development. This means the organization may initiate feasibility studies, assemble land, package incentives, initiate the public participation process, prepare land for pre-development, provide facilitate regulatory approvals, provide or organize partial financing, encourage the private sector to identify and initiate projects,
reduce the risks associated with initiating development and focus redevelopment according to priorities, issue RFPs, and sell or lease land.

A public-private organization will have more autonomy and flexibility than a City agency, but will still require government approval on major projects. Currently, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) is the only existing agency with the legislative authority and capacity to implement comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans. The agency has the power to expropriate (take by eminent domain) property. NORA oversees a blighted property acquisition program, Real Estate Acquisition and Land-banking Mechanism (REALM).

It is necessary to incorporate the momentum that NORA has been building as a redevelopment entity with the creation of a new PPP. It is not an option to maintain two separate organizations that are engaging in similar work. This would only enhance inefficiencies and a reputation that New Orleans does not have its act together.


Option 1: Maintain a Redevelopment Board, staffed by the PPP

In this option the Redevelopment Authority maintains an independent board of directors, but does not have dedicated staff or a CEO. The PPP would staff redevelopment activities under the real estate division. Staff would make recommendations to the board, prepare board agendas and staff meetings.

Option 2: Create a redevelopment committee from the existing PPP Board

A special redevelopment committee would review and make recommendations to the PPP Board on redevelopment matters. The benefits of this option include using the expertise that would currently exist on the PPP Board. It would also keep projects and priorities very much coordinated and communicated. A potential obstacle is the difficulty in dismantling the current redevelopment board and transferring powers to a public-private partnership.

So who are the new overlords of eminent domain and real estate development? The Times-Picayune tells us the process for selecting them:

[t]he presidents of the city's universities will choose a 17-member partnership board. The university presidents will choose two mayoral appointees from a pool of three nominees and two City Council representatives from that body's three nominees. Those appointments would have to be ratified by the council.

There also would be three permanent representatives of city government on the board: the mayor's executive assistant for economic development (now Ed Blakely), the chairman of the City Planning Commission (now Ed Robinson) and the chairman of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (now Herschel Abbott).

Finally, the university presidents would select seven private-sector representatives and three members from non-governmental organizations, from among 21 names provided by an advisory council of general and ethnic chambers of commerce, the Board of Trade and a 400-member business group called the Horizon Initiative New Orleans.

Why are we giving private interests jurisdiction over the future of taxpayer-owned real estate? Can someone explain this to me?

1 comment:

Superdeformed said...

Because it's "business-friendly."