French Quarter security camera process gets streamlined

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) –Surveillance video has been helpful in solving crimes around the city, including the French Quarter. But given the historic nature of the Vieux Carré, permits are needed before the electronic eyes can be installed.

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

"It short-cuts 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 Lary Hesdorffer, Director of the Vieux Carre' Commission.

He said the change does not apply to buildings that are historically rated, like the Cabildo and St. Louis Cathedral. But regarding most other buildings, the intent is 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, they won't require taking an application like that before a public hearing," said Hesdorffer.

"The process for getting Vieux Carré approval, it could be challenging.," said Bryan Lagarde, Founder of Project NOLA, which is a system of cameras throughout the city that help police catch criminals.

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

In fact, Lagarde knows well that there are restrictions when it comes to the placement of surveillance cameras in the French Quarter. He was involved in a fight with the Vieux Carré ommission over a camera placed here at Conti and Burgundy Streets that played out before the New Orleans City Council.

"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," said Lagarde.

The camera is up outside a business and was capturing video as Lagarde was interviewed.

"Anything that makes it easier for homeowners to get cameras on their homes, or their businesses is definitely a step in the right direction," said Lagarde.

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

And while the change should speed up the permitting process, Hesdorffer said it is important to remember that the VCC gets numerous other types of requests.

"Obviously, we're not dealing only with cameras, we're dealing with everything from complete renovations to somebody who wants to re-paint their front stoop," he said.

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