Another Victory for the people! Justice shall prevail!

Judith Browne
Date Published: 
January 14, 2006
The City of New Orleans has agreed to provide notification to homeowners before they do any bulldozing. Kirk v. City of New Orleans, brought on behalf of a class of approximately 5500 homeowners and organizational plaintiffs (People's Hurricane Relief Fund, ACORN, Hope House, Common Ground Collective, Lower Ninth Ward Neighborhood Council, New Life Intracostal CDC), now requires notice to homeowners whose homes pose an "imminent danger," even those that are in the right of way. The city originally said they would not provide any notice at all.
We were successful in stopping bulldozing for the last 3 weeks. Now, the City will put notification in the Times-Picayune on 3 consecutive days, on the city's website and send notice by mail to the last known address or to addresses we provide (we have many upĀ­-to-date addresses, at least for the first 120 homes to be demolished). In addition, the city will set up a 1-800 number for homeowners to call about their homes. Homeowners can also submit a letter of contest to the city permits department

Notification prior to demolition is as follows
7 days for properties that are "imminent danger" and a threat to public safety and in the right of way;
10 days for properties that are "imminent danger" and a threat to public safety and on public property; and
30 days for properties that are "nuisances" because they are in "imminent danger of collapse."
I must say that this was a case that clearly showed the strength of community organizing, litigation and media. The working groups of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund must be commended for working closely together. A turning point for the case was on the day that community organizations held a press conference and later stopped bulldozers in operation in the Lower Ninth Ward. The media coverage of these efforts put this case over the top. The organized resistance made all the difference in the world.
Thank you to the organizers, the media working group of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund, Jaribu Hill, Luke Hyatt (our GPS guru) and the volunteer law students from the Student Hurricane Network (who worked round the clock on gathering evidence). Also, thanks to the law firm Dewey Ballantine (who came in to help in a crunch). The legal team consisted of: Advancement Project (Ishmael Muhammad, Jen Lai, Elizabeth Westfall, Jim Freeman, Judith Browne), Loyola Law Clinic (Bill Quigley and Judson Mitchell) and Tracie Washington (solo practitioner and warrior).
I've attached the Consent Order. Thanks. Judith A. Browne
Advancement Project