Fox 8 Defenders: Head of code enforcement finds violations at Gentilly house after report

Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 10:33 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A decaying house in Gentilly, long considered a safety hazard by neighbors, has been visited by the city’s head of code enforcement after a report by the Fox 8 Defenders.

The house in the 4300 block of Cartier Avenue has been vacant since Hurricane Katrina, neighbors said. And even now with a new owner, residents don’t believe enough is being done to bring the property out of disrepair.

Director of Code Enforcement Thomas Mulligan walked the property to make his own assessment.

“The windows -- holes in the windows -- broken glass,” Mulligan said. “I see multiple windows where that’s the case. I see there’s missing glass entirely.

“It’s obvious that there are a number of violations, just looking at the front.”

Neighbor Kenya Harry said the unoccupied home has been an eyesore and safety hazard for nearly 18 years.

“At one point, this grass was so overgrown it was like a forest,” she said. “The city had put it on the demolition list and we were like, ‘Yes, this is so great they’re going to demolish it.’”

After several code enforcement violations and unpaid fines, the property was put up for sale at an Orleans Parish Sheriff’s auction. It was purchased in 2021 by Larry Taylor Jr.

When the Fox 8 Defenders interviewed Taylor earlier this month, he tearfully said his rehabilitation work on the property had been delayed by the theft of some of his building materials.

“I got a family member with me,” he said. “We’re just taking our time to do it.”

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Taylor said he also had been ripped off by a building contractor and simply ran out of money. He still promised to make the property safer.

But with seemingly no work done in the weeks since our interview, Mulligan showed up with an inspector.

“This is fairly bad, and so we do need to see some immediate action on the part of the owner, especially when it comes to this trench,” Mulligan said. “The standing water -- again, you can see the flies and mosquitos everywhere -- and especially if there are children around.”

The city slapped Taylor with eight violations, all listed on a city website. The citations ranged from sanitation to rodent harborage to the broken windows.

Mulligan said the city wants to work with Taylor.

“We currently have an owner, who at least says he wants to do the right thing,” Mulligan said. “So, I want to see him do that over the next six months.”

Some of the issues must be dealt with immediately, such as the standing water in the trench. Taylor will face another inspection on that problem in a few weeks.

As for the other issues, Mulligan said, “I think six months is a fair timeline to see progress.”

If nothing is done in the next six months, Mulligan said Taylor would be summoned to a code enforcement hearing where he could face hefty fines.

Taylor said he’s waiting on a plumber to help him finish the plumbing work before the trench can be filled. He said code enforcement told him the city could take the property if he’s not able to make it secure.

If you have a consumer complaint you’d like us to look into, call the Fox 8 Defenders, staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women at 1-877-670-6397. Or click here to fill out our online complaint form, which is the easiest way to reach us.

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