Vieux Carre Commission trying to make it easier to install security cameras

Surveillance video has been helpful in solving crimes around the city, including the French Quarter. But given the historic nature of the Quarter, permits are needed before cameras can be installed.

In recent years, some have complained that the Vieux Carre Commission's standards get in the way of security. Now the commission says it's making it easier for most people to get through the permitting process.

"It shortcuts the issue, and I think in some ways the fear by some people that it is a prolonged process. It really doesn't have to be," said Vieux Carre Commission Executive Director Lary Hesdorffer.

The change doesn't apply to buildings that are nationally rated, such as St. Louis Cathedral. But for most others, getting a camera installed will be a more streamlined process.

"As long as any camera proposal is following the guidelines based upon the size and method of installation and appropriate placement, those permits will be handled by staff," Hesdorffer said. "They won't require taking an application like that before a public hearing."

"The process for getting Vieux Carre approval - it could be challenging," said Bryan Lagarde.

Lagarde runs projectNOLA - a system of cameras that has been shown to help police catch criminals.

"To have more [cameras] it means greater opportunity for us to go ahead and help the NOPD while they're responding to crimes in progress," he said.

Lagarde is very familiar with the restrictions when it comes to the placement of surveillance cameras in the French Quarter. He was involved in a fight with the Vieux Carre Commission over a camera placed at Conti and Burgundy Streets."

"In one case, it took us about a year going through to try to get permission to put a camera up, and it wasn't the camera that wasn't allowed it was actually the mounts," he said.

"For the most part, the sizes of them are kept to either bullet-style cameras that are less than 7 inches long, no greater than 4 inches in diameter," Hesdorffer said. "Then there are some sort of half-dome cameras that are also diminutive."

The Vieux Carre Commission says these measurements are within the rules they have a place.