Group pushes for crackdown on illegal French Quarter T-shirt shops

New Orleans, La. - They stretch from one end of the French Quarter to the other: dozens of so-called T-shirt shops.

Vieux Carre Property Owners Residents and Associates, an advocacy group for the neighborhood, says many of the shops along busy streets like Bourbon and Decatur are operating illegally.

"We have now done a block-by-block survey, and we have discovered that of the list that the city has approved, there are about 34 that are in existence that are not on the city's list," said Meg Lousteau, VCPORA's Executive Director.

Lousteau will present the group's findings to the City Council's Housing and Human Needs Committee Monday.

"I mean, it's one of the most common complaints we hear about the Quarter in general, and I'm serious when I say it's residents, businesses and visitors," she said. "They're just like, 'Why do you allow all these T-shirt shops?' And the truth is, they're not allowed. There is just no enforcement to prevent them from staying open."

District C Councilwoman Kristin Palmer has already made a push of her own to crack down on the businesses.

"We heard very loudly that the French Quarter had an over-proliferation of T-shirt shops," Paler said. "So, we crafted an ordinance two years ago and it passed -- basically a moratorium."

Since then, however, Palmer said some business owners have sidestepped the rules.

"There have been some that have opened up illegally," she said. "There is a colossal lack of enforcement on multiple levels. It just kind of snowballs, and we have just that atmosphere and the environment that anything goes, and it prevents having that quality of life that we need to maintain a good residential character of all our neighborhoods."

FOX 8 asked representatives at some shops on VCPORA's list for comment, but they declined.

Meanwhile, VCPORA fears that without a renewed crackdown, the number of illegal shops could grow.

"I mean, the city has a number of methods that they could use for enforcement, but until they start using them, these people are not going to feel any pressure to change their ways, and it's really going to encourage other people to think that they can violate the zoning and the city's rules and regulations with impunity," Lousteau said.

A city spokesman sent this response Wednesday:

"We continue to encourage neighborhood organizations to take an active role in their community, and we look forward to working with the City Council and VCPORA to address these concerns."