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Mayor says right-of-way rules have always been enforced; residents disagree

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(WVUE) -

Many were out just as the clock struck 6 p.m. Thursday, ready to claim their spot for Friday's parade. It comes after the city stepped in on Tuesday, calling on people to take down their ladders.

"I'm putting the chair on for my grandkids," said resident Billy Houser.

Houser assembled a ladder along St. Charles Avenue 24 hours before Friday's parade. He and others have claimed these spots along the route for more than a decade.

"This is family. We've been coming out here for 13 years," said Houser. 

But earlier this week, someone got a little eager.

"Could not agree more that this is way too early to be putting ladders up," said resident Jeanea Bandi. 

Yet, it didn't stop others from following suit. 

"It's a snowball effect. When the first letter goes up, everybody understands it's time to put ladders up, and we all come out here and put our ladders up in the same space as we've had the last 12, 13 years," Bandi explained. 

What happened next surprised them all. The city required all ladders be removed until 24 hours before Oshun rolls.

"As a general rule, we're just asking people to be respectful and courteous. The ladders have gotten out of control, as have people keeping occupied spaces on the neutral ground so no other families ever have a chance," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. 

Mayor Landrieu says most everyone took down their ladders - 75 were removed. But the city ended up taking seven of them, as well as six sets of scaffolding.

"It's actually been enforced for a long time. And every Mardi Gras we do the same thing. We have Mardi Gras press conferences, tell people what the rules are. They already know what the rules are," said Landrieu. 

"It's not enforced," argued Bandi. "To all of the sudden, after 12, 13 years, now we're going to enforce the codes. It's just a little hypocritical, especially when some of them have come to enjoy the ladders we have out here."

Now, Houser and others along St. Charles are looking toward the weekend when they can put their preparation to use.

Landrieu reiterated that no ladders should go out before 24 hours ahead of any parade this Carnival season. It has the people who post up on St. Charles monitoring their spot, just in case they need to break down their set-up until Wednesday afternoon. 

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