NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - “I think we really need to send a message to property owners, particularly those who’ve had blighted property since Katrina,” New Orleans City Council member Joe Giarrusso said. He wants New Orleans to be more aggressive when it comes to blighted pools.
“Thirteen years, everything is wrong with that particular pool, and look, it’s not the only one in the city that is like that,” New Orleans City Council member Helena Moreno said at a recent Governmental Affairs Committee meeting in August.
Council members where clear that something needs to change when it comes to the city enforcing judgments against blighted pool owners.
“We should not have to live next to that disgusting pool,” Brigette Starr said. Her family has lived next door to a vacant home with a blighted pool in Lakeview for years.
The council committee discussion started after a series of FOX 8 Defenders reports over the last year, which laid out concerns around the Vicksburg Street pool.
Concerned Lakeview homeowner Walter Brunken told the committee, “after she (nuisance pool owner) pays the fines, there’s no mechanism that we know of that will still force her to abate the violations that have been imposed against her.”
Code Enforcement leaders have stressed the Constitution limits what they can do. “They have said that by paying the monetary part, that the other piece of compliance kind of goes away or can’t be enforced. That makes no sense to me,” Giarrusso said. But, that’s been the case with the Vicksburg pool.
Giarrusso said he met with the owner, Frances Mussacchia, recently and gave her two options, which were also laid out in a letter sent via certified mail. “You can sign contracts proving to us that either you’ll fill in that pool as you’re supposed to, or two, sign contracts having all the appropriate contractors come out and address all of the pool issues. The choice is yours,” Giarrusso said.
The letter states she’s agreed to one of the options “on or before September 24th,” the day of the next Code Enforcement hearing.
If that doesn’t happen, just as the city can demolish a home considered to be in imminent danger of collapse, Giarrusso said the city has the ability to fill a blighted pool and then place a lien on that property for what it costs to do it.
Also, rather than Code Enforcement issuing violations, he’d like to see NOPD officers who work the Lakeview Crime Prevention District get involved. “That way, it’s not only just subject to the Code Enforcement policies, but maybe we can cite people in Municipal Court as well,” Giarrusso said.
We called the Lakeview homeowner to find out how she plans to move forward with the blighted pool, but were not able to reach her for this story.
In the meantime, the City Council’s Governmental Affairs Committee expects to learn how many other nuisance pools exist citywide when it hears from Code Enforcement leaders later this month.
If you’ve got a consumer complaint, call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women, the NCJW at 1-877-670-6397.