City council considers new measures to clear old boats from Bayou St. John

Published: Dec. 7, 2013 at 9:49 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 15, 2013 at 4:36 AM CST
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New Orleans, La.- City officials are looking at new measures to clear Bayou St. John of the old and molding kayaks moored along its side.

"It amazes me that people are leaving these kayaks. You can pick them up and put them in your SUV. So, why aren't they?" said Councilmember Susan Guidry.

Kayaks and canoes float on their side, growing moss and collecting rainwater, along the otherwise picturesque Bayou St. John.

"Some of these kayaks have been out here for years. We've been living here for about three years now," said Sumit Patel who lives along the bayou.

Guidry says the boats on the bank get in the way of grass cutting, but most importantly, they pose a health and safety risk.

"It harbors mosquitoes, if there's a hurricane or something like that and they're left abandoned they can become missiles. There are a number of problems. They're an attractive nuisance for children," said Guidry.

This isn't the first time boats have piled up.

About five years ago, the Orleans Levee District took charge of the removal process, Guidry said, "but, they said that really wasn't their jurisdiction so we have to create a regulation that allows it to be done."

So Guidry proposes an impoundment process for boats left in the bayou or on the bank for more than 24 hours.

An enforcement agent would leave a sticker on the boats with a date when they would be confiscated, and just like for abandoned vehicles, there would be a storage fee and a daily fee up to $150 before they would eventually be sold.

The problem is that no city agency wants to do the actual cleaning up.

"The NOPD says that they are strapped and that it's difficult to think in terms of taking on an additional task such as this. So, we're working on the enforcement part of it right now," said Guidry.

Though they are in favor of removing idle boats, neighbors say they hope the proposed rules don't discourage people from utilizing the waterway.

"Some of them obviously need to be cleaned up a little bit, but for the most part it's good for culture around here seeing people out here having a good time," said Bobby Hastings, who hangs out around the bayou.

"I like them, well some I do some I don't. I like having a boat you don't have to carry all the way from your house to get it there so you can just go out whenever you want, but obviously the ones with moss growing on them and half sunken-- they don't need to be out here," said Griff Lewis who lives near the bayou.