New Orleans Unified Plan Leaves Neighborhoods Stranded

The Unified New Orleans Plan was supposed to unite seven separate, and often competing, official Hurricane Katrina rebuilding plans. But it has not been able to sidestep the controversial need to align the physical city to its shrunken population.

The plan proposes incentives to encourage citizens in deeply flooded neighborhoods to voluntarily move to higher ground. "But neither New Orleans nor Louisiana can afford what's proposed, and the federal government isn't likely to commit the funds needed." In the "super-democratized" planning process, citizens selected planners by "speed dating."

The result: "Difficult, longer-term issues are couched in ambiguities that help politicians save face, while video cameras zoom in on the real anguish of retirees who troop to these meetings from rickety FEMA trailers."

"The UNOP was supposed to find consensus on such tough issues, putting together 12 teams to create a single vision for the city."

"Getting neighbors to trade properties so they can move to the highest ground can work, but it requires that they think of themselves as stewards of -- and invested in -- a neighborhood rather than owners of fixed parcels of land. That's a tough sell anywhere."

Thanks to James S. Russell

Full Story: $14 Billion New Orleans Plan May Strand Whole Neighborhoods

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