BioDistrict Forum Meeting Recording

Representatives from the BioDistrict, City of New Orleans Economic Development & the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization present on the proposed Cooperative Endeavor Agreement proposed to give the district numerous financial and governing authority if approved by the New Orleans City Council.


00:12:59 Jenel Hazlett: someone tell him the sound is garbled
00:13:13 Sydney Obloy: Please check to make sure you are mute
00:13:18 Jenel Hazlett: Please Everyone MUTE your mics
00:14:05 Annie Labruzzo: To the speakers, could y’all please speak into the mic? It is difficult to understand the speech so far.
00:15:31 Haylee Vieregg: If you have questions for the BioDistrict representatives, please type them in the chat and we will field them to present during the Q&A
00:16:43 John Filostrat: Can you please make sure you are muted while not talking? It is hard to hear speakers…
00:17:00 Bridgette Medley: Zoom participants please mute your device
00:25:11 Elaine Leyda: Question: When you refer to “the BioDistrict”, who, precisely are you referring to? Names, please, nor merely Board members.
00:25:15 Keith Hardie: Can someone tell him it is hard to hear. Is his power point keeping up with his spoken presentation?
00:25:42 Andrea Lee: please send
00:25:49 Rachel Lyons: Are the slides on the screen keeping up with presentation?
00:26:08 Haylee Vieregg: yes! Slide has not changed yet
00:26:22 Stacey Bennett: Doesn’t appear that they are in sync
00:26:39 GARMANNE MACK: I see one slide. Nothing else is moving. Lots of garbled talking
00:27:04 Elaine Leyda: Question: How many public meetings have been held since the CE was drafted?
00:27:43 Bridgette Medley: What effect will this project have on MidCity residential property taxes?
00:28:45 Karen Ocker: 1) Q for Jefferey Schwartz:
Last week you vaguely stated “It is not a contract for a one-to-one activity where we’re buying widgets from someone…we all actually know what it needs to be doing, whether or not it is spelled out in a very literal sense in the CEA document.”
• With skyrocketing crime through, street flooding, failing infrastructure and utilities, reduced city services and our city falling apart, why are is the city giving away our desperately needed sales and use tax dollars?
• What are the deliverables? What are the projects? Where are the plans? What equal return will citizens see in return.
00:29:18 Elaine Leyda: Question: In December, the Carrollton-Riverbend NA was asked by Councilmember Moreno and agreed to host a Zoom call with Kopplin and the BioDistrict folks. We said sometime in late January would be best. But none of our follow-up emails got responses from Andy. Why is this?
00:29:21 Karen Ocker: State legislation / Statutes allow expropriation currently.
00:29:26 Karen Ocker: 2) Andy Kopplin:
In the CEA, you represented you’ve held three public outreach meetings. In reality the only meetings that were held, were many years ago about Charity Hospital, never the more expansive BioDistrict, CEA or TIF. In late 2019, you wrote in a Memo that bioDistrict can use revenue toward projects outside the Biodistrict boundaries.
• When will you hold a community outreach meetings for Gert Town, Tulane Gravier neighborhoods within the boundary?
• When will you hold city wide meetings to address projects outside the boundary and the money you hope to siphon off our city’s desperately needed sales tax dollars
00:29:51 Elaine Leyda: Question: Adding to the revised CEA that BioDistrict will not purchase or expropriate any properties zoned low density residential is good. Why not also agree to no purchase or expropriate residences that are low density but in mixed use zoning areas? AND, is it not the case that the BioDistrict still retains this ability, under state law?
00:30:31 Elaine Leyda: Question: Regarding the Board: The City Councilperson of the district should appoint at least two *residents* who live in the area, to be on the board. Not hand-picked by state-level politicians. It’s fine and well that Duplessis and Peterson are going to submit names, but there are no regular everyday people who live in those neighborhoods on that board, and there ought to be. Not merely residents of Orleans Parish. There should be more than two everyday people, TBH, given that this affects other neighborhoods, too.
00:31:24 Elaine Leyda: Question: In the 14 Dec presentation, I heard “affordable housing” a few times, but am unaware of any other info on that matter. Where will the affordable housing be and WHO will it serve? I saw a slide that referred about NOFIC and “gap financing for workforce housing near medical campuses.” Who, exactly, will qualify for this? Is workforce housing also affordable housing?
00:31:44 Jenel Hazlett: These details are different from what was originally proposed. Where can the current proposal and all it’s details be found?
00:32:10 Elaine Leyda: Question: Many of our neighborhoods are still navigating around Roadwork projects that have been left torn up and incomplete for up to two years. These negatively impact EMS and NOFD, as well as regular residents. DPW is not responsive, SWB is not responsive, contractors are not responsive to RoadworkNOLA outreach people, and DPW is not responsive to Council members. The City has mismanaged these contracts for two years. How can we trust that this BioDistrict plan will work any better?
00:32:31 Elaine Leyda: Question: Where is the study by Dr J Richardson that Kopplin referred to in the December presentation to the Council? Did he not, regarding the tax revenue and tax cap, “caution[ed] in his report that they are “for illustrative purposes only,” adding that more precise estimates are needed.”
00:33:00 Elaine Leyda: Question: This is being rushed to meet a deadline imposed by the grant deadline, 15 March. That is too soon. Neighborhoods other than Mid City are watching this. In the rush to get funding, there are not enough specifics and concretes. I doubt the GNOF would pour funding into an initiative that was as vague as this one appears to be. No one is asking for a penny-by-penny plan covering twenty years. But we would like to see, at least, a five-year plan with some concrete projects, milestones, etc.
00:33:27 Rachel Lyons: Where’s Andy’s slides?
00:34:03 Jenel Hazlett: Second the recommendation that 2 Citizens who live in the proposed district be nominated by the council member to be members of the board.
00:34:20 Keith Hardie: Will the property in the BD continue to pay property taxes? Or will they avoid property taxes via the legislation or via exemption because of incorporation as a charitable entity?
00:35:01 Elaine Leyda: Question: When will the right to expropriation be removed at the state level?
00:35:51 Elaine Leyda: Which other neighborhood groups have you met and talked with?
00:36:44 Elaine Leyda: Question: This TIF doesn’t meet the recommendations of a previous BGR report. Why is this okay?
00:37:06 Jenel Hazlett: Please explain Payment in Lieu of Taxes – last bullet, and how this impacts dollars into the city’s coffers.
00:37:10 Y. Frank Southall: Hello neighbors! Good to see y’all.
00:38:24 Elaine Leyda: Question: This aspirational plan has a lot to recommend it, not the least is a potential to help us move away from our damaging addiction to tourism. BUT bec it is being pushed due to the 15 Mrch CEA deadline, you’re moving too fast and not providng enough specific info.
00:38:49 Elaine Leyda: Question: How many HANO and NORA lots are within the current BioDistrict map?
00:39:16 Elaine Leyda: Comment: property taxes WILL go up, that’s just a fact.
00:39:18 Y. Frank Southall: Is there a plan for creating affordable housing with this TIF?
00:40:32 Rachel Lyons: The 1960 census had 600,000 people here. Not since then.
00:42:37 Karen Ocker: What protections are there for low density residential neighborhoods inappropriately zoned MU-1 and MU-2. None. Nothing will prevent hazardous or inappropriate uses next door to those homes.
00:43:03 GARMANNE MACK: There’s no guarantee the population will increase. Too much crime, infrastructure, government concerns already. MidCity has a large Hispanic community who are not wealthy or homeowners. So the homeowners will be raising their rents to cover the expenses caused by this.
00:43:19 Bridgette Medley: Where is the location for this?
00:45:56 Haylee Vieregg:
00:46:31 Elaine Leyda: Question: “private money” = whose, exactly?
00:48:18 Earl Williams: Are there investments in HBCU’s besides Xavier?
00:48:24 Elaine Leyda: Question: Have you met with members of Gert Town and Hollygrove? Have you reached out to them?
00:49:50 Karen Ocker: This 2013 map includes many residential areas in Gert Town, lower mid-city…
00:50:57 Elaine Leyda: No. They need to be appointed by the Councilperson, not by state-level politicians. they need to be regular, everyday people, not friends.
00:51:39 Karen Ocker: All the startups at the New Orleans BioCenter have left the state. What does Andy mean they are going to stay?
00:52:10 GARMANNE MACK: Karen, exactly
00:52:49 Jenel Hazlett: Housing First to address homelessness. Codify that please.
00:53:58 Elaine Leyda: Question: As Earl Williams asked, is Dillard not included in this? Why not?
00:53:59 Karen Ocker: List the deliverables if you want money. List the specific affordable housing projects (affordable to who?), Stormwater Management projects, crime and harm reduction, jobs? What is the project? What is the plan? It’s so vague. This is a marketing campaign.
00:54:04 Y. Frank Southall: If 50% of housing built in this area isn’t below 70% AMI then this plan is useless. Literally people making $45,000 have to spend more than 1/3 of their income post-taxes on rent.
00:54:52 Jenel Hazlett: Why are other universities in New Orleans not include? Not UNO? No Dillard? Not SUNO?
00:56:22 Norris Henderson: What’s in this for the community. This sounds so much like what happen after Katrina.
00:56:29 Karen Ocker: It’s a secret
00:58:43 Rachel Lyons: Question: I just don’t believe in city zoning. There’s a terrible (in the last 10 years) building that’s on Bienville between Carrollton and NC Francis that’s modern, built to the max property and a story too high. What is in the plan to keep the integrity of the historic street scape? Whether it be city owned or bio acquired?
01:00:47 Eileen McClelland: Thank you, neighbors, for letting us know this is happening.
01:01:22 Y. Frank Southall: What she is saying is 100% correct?
01:02:37 Debra Voelker: Please return the speaker to full screen
01:05:26 Ian Dreyer: Who is speaking ?
01:05:47 Annie Labruzzo: Would someone let me know the name of the very helpful woman speaking now?
01:05:55 Lee Eaton: Mary Howell
01:06:03 Annie Labruzzo: Thank you!
01:06:45 Jenel Hazlett: MUTE!!!!!
01:07:09 Elaine Leyda: Please mute
01:07:20 Y. Frank Southall: Mary Howell is speaking truth.
01:07:37 Jenel Hazlett: We lost the speaker
01:07:39 Eileen McClelland: Lost sound.
01:07:51 Elaine Leyda: SOMEONE MUTED MARY H OWELL
01:07:51 Andrea Lee: sound is out
01:07:54 City Park Neighborhood Association: put the speaker back on please
01:07:56 Keith Hardie: The biggest long term danger might be letting too many money generating properties fall off the tax rolls. In NO, the Universities (one of which has a huge endowment), exclusive private clubs, and churches are off the rolls. That is why we can’t have decent streets, good schools, support for the economic disadvantaged. It’s important that this PILOT have caps and sunset provisions, so that these properties have to pay taxes based on their value and that they eventually (10 years from now?) are fully taxed
01:08:26 Jenel Hazlett: Exactly, Keith.
01:08:29 Norris Henderson: We need more of these community meetings to expose this take over.
01:08:32 Elaine Leyda: I second what Keith Hardy just posted.
01:08:44 Elaine Leyda: *Hardie
01:09:25 Debra Voelker: And I second Norris.
01:09:29 Elaine Leyda: Tell it, Mary!
01:09:48 Lynda DePanicis: Thank you Mary for telling the TRUTH!
01:11:18 Elaine Leyda: Spot on: putting cart before horse is bad business.
01:13:53 Elaine Leyda: Question: Has Assessor Williams figured out how much tax $ will be lost when these Big Powers (Tulane, LSU, etc.) take over? As it is, these Power Players pay no property taxes but something called “fees” that are nothing close to what they ought to pay in property taxes.
01:15:49 Elaine Leyda: Comment: Yes, there ought to be a cost-benefit analysis, focused on taxes etc.
01:16:44 Elaine Leyda: The CEA does not meet the recommendation that BGR said all TIFs should follow.
01:17:24 Gloria Love: How much money is accompanied from them with their proposal?
01:19:10 Elaine Leyda: Comment: The people developing the CEA etc are getting paid for that. The rest of us, and Mary et al. are VOLUNTEERS researching this on our own time.
01:20:08 Elaine Leyda: Comment: split the CEA from the grant.
01:20:29 Andrea Lee: thank you Mary. I appreciate your due diligence
01:20:52 Jenel Hazlett: Yes, Thank You Mary Howell
01:21:54 Elaine Leyda: Yay, Mary!
01:22:09 Norris Henderson: Where there is people, there is power
01:22:37 Jenel Hazlett: I am concerned about the potential lost to the general fund.
01:23:02 Andrea Lee: Mary, why didn’t you run for mayor?
01:23:20 Debra Voelker: We all need to contact the council and ask that they not proceed with this CEA – I believe it is due to be introduced on Thursday at the council meeting
01:23:55 Y. Frank Southall: I wanna protect our neighbors in Gerttown too! Take their homes out of this TIF mess
01:24:04 Amy Stelly: Agreed.
01:24:05 THEODORE HILTON: ^^^
01:24:20 Lynda DePanicis: When is the CEA going to be discussed at the city council?
01:24:47 Michael O’Keefe: Thank you for advocating for the people, Ms. Howell. The Biodistrict’s action plan provides shockingly little concrete, actionable information given how much they’re asking of our city and its residents. Their terms appear as unreasonable as they are vague.
01:24:57 Karen Ocker: You can’t. We have had to dig for months and file record requests to get basic information.
01:25:18 Elaine Leyda: Mary made a good point about neighborhoods being hemmed in and surrounded by BioDistrict. Even if MidCity area is left out, it’s still surrounded on two sides.
01:27:08 Elaine Leyda: NO NOT HISTORICALLY. Since the CEA was drafted–Nov-Dec 2021.
01:27:09 Karen Ocker: There wasn’t any. The CEA relies on a study for charity hospital’s future.
01:27:33 Karen Ocker: They requested CEA in 2019. Anyone get any outreach?
01:28:03 Debra Voelker: There has been no community outreach. Mary Howell, etal had to go to them
01:28:27 Elaine Leyda: There have been NO community meetings about this CEA. Andy ignored Carrollton-Riverbend’s offer to host a ZOOM in Jan 2022.
01:28:38 Karen Ocker: Spirit of Charity is not the BioDistrict, was not a tif, was not a CEA. There has been no community outreach by city or by bioDistrict at all.
01:29:14 Karen Ocker: Change the statutes first. Then let’s talk.
01:29:48 Elaine Leyda: Sounds like Schwartz just said that the state statutes won’t be changed. Bad plan.
01:30:17 Karen Ocker: Make the CEA and any revenue contingent on the changes to statutes. Put it in writing. No more broken promises from bioDistrict.
01:30:43 Debra Voelker: I am delighted to hear that this will now be heard at the council on the 20th as we can now spread this information throughout ALL neighborhoods in the city
01:32:04 Elaine Leyda: So, Schwartz is simply not answering the TIF question.
01:32:10 Karen Ocker: Come back when you actually have a project.
01:32:31 Amy Stelly: Why is a private entity overseeing a taxing district? It’s public money and requires transparent, public administration. I’ve worked in a couple of TIF districts as a public servant. They were nothing like this!!!!!
01:32:40 Karen Ocker: Make the plan first. This is so backwards.
01:32:50 Elaine Leyda: He keeps saying they don’t know, don’t have plans,…. !!!!
01:33:01 Amy Stelly: It’s beyond backwards!
01:33:04 Karen Ocker: This is an “unprecedented” Tif. None quite like it.
01:33:23 Norris Henderson: We need to push the City council hold that meeting in the community and not at City hall in the evening for more community participation.
01:33:45 Debra Voelker: Agreed, Norris
01:33:50 Elaine Leyda: No. There have been NO COMMUNITY MEETINGS until this one here.
01:34:01 City Park Neighborhood Association: Agree Mr. Norris
01:34:11 Karen Ocker: Agreed Norris
01:34:16 THEODORE HILTON: +++
01:34:19 Elaine Leyda: And that’s only because Moreno told Kopplin to engage neighborhood groups.
01:35:04 Norris Henderson: Our organization is on board
01:35:13 Karen Ocker: It’s only because Mary Howell, etal made sure there was engagement. Mayor Cantrell administration and Andy Kopplin wanted to push this through without any
01:35:16 Cynthia : Where is the mayor in all this? It seems it’s all about money and the people of New Orleans will suffer.
01:35:28 Karen Ocker: Jefferey Schwartz is mayor’s guy
01:35:48 Karen Ocker: The one with the blue sweater is her administration
01:36:33 Y. Frank Southall: I agree, hold the city council meeting in the evening. Is Councilmember Lesli Harris still on?
01:36:42 Larry Robinson: Will someone have a copy of the chat forum to share with participants? How do we make sure we get a full copy?
01:36:57 Rachel Lyons: Indeed – Schwartz
01:37:11 Y. Frank Southall: Please tell her that this project needs to be shutdown! I don’t want my property taxes increasing and I don’t want my neighbors displaced.
01:38:54 Andrea Lee: this will never profit the not tax payer or homeowners.
01:38:55 Amy Stelly: I doubt that the mayor will shut this down. She’s very pro-development, and this has been in the works for years.
01:39:08 Karen Ocker: No other Tif writes a blanket check with no plan or project, and nothing in return to the city.
01:39:50 Norris Henderson: What position has District B Councilmember taken?
01:40:22 Debra Voelker: Some of these residences are not zoned low density
01:40:30 Karen Ocker: You have residential areas in mid-city inappropriately designated Mixed Use Medium and High Density. Andy doesn’t even know what’s on the ground.
01:40:38 Jenel Hazlett: And nothing has changed since 2005
01:41:49 lili legardeur: is he saying he’s gonna fix our streets? Ludicrosity.
01:41:58 Jenel Hazlett: And nothing has changes since 2013 either.
01:42:24 Jenel Hazlett: That’s sarcasm. LOTS has changed since 2005 nd 2013.
01:43:31 Amy Stelly: I’ve worked in TIF districts where there have been great improvements to neighborhood streets, but it wasn’t in Louisiana. TIFs can be a benefit to homeowners if they’re administered correctly.
01:44:23 Eileen McClelland: I wouldn’t want to live in the Texas Medical Center.
01:44:40 Karen Ocker: Did he just say they can’t do projects outside the boundary? Look at this excerpt from Andys Dec 2019 Memo confirming they can.
01:48:10 Karen Ocker: For anyone unfamiliar with the TX Medical Center… this was in the records on BioDistrict.
01:49:05 Amy Stelly: What happened to the tax increment that’s been collected over the years? How was it spent? Was that explained in the beginning? I was distracted early on.
01:49:25 Karen Ocker: Should have let the people have a voice. If a community meeting is not the place and time for community to speak…
01:49:31 Cynthia : I live in the Carrollton/Gert town area since 1977 and this is the first I have ever heard of any of this. I would like to get more involved so I can let my neighbors know what we are up against. This is BS
01:56:53 Elaine Leyda: The CZO does not govern the landscape, dear.
01:58:19 Rachel Lyons: That was my question about he streetscape and he totally did not answer it.
01:58:43 Debra Voelker: Please send an email to to get further involved
01:59:16 Cynthia : Politicians, they know how to be politically correct
01:59:58 Y. Frank Southall: Hi everyone, keep me involved. My e-mail address is and phone number is 504.517.5470. I live in Mid-City and am personally worried about the impact of this.
02:00:02 Elaine Leyda: Well done, all! Shout out to Together New Orleans for helping!!
02:00:40 Haylee Vieregg: join to get involved!

← Blog