Inclusionary zoning bill sparks senate controversy

A heated debate took place during The Committee on Local and Municipal Affairs meeting on Thursday, Apr. 27

Senate Bill 162 must still go through the Senate Chamber to be put in affect. Photo by Jonathan Rhodes

because of a bill revolving around the issue of affordable public housing.

The meeting was held at the Louisiana State Capitol. Senator Yvonne Colomb spearheaded the meeting and featured statements from both opponents and supporters of the controversial bill. Senator Conrad Appel wrote Senate Bill 162, and introduced to the committee and a packed audience and inquisitive panel. It focuses on creating incentives for property developers where inclusionary zoning laws exist, mainly in New Orleans.

“This bill is a win for both sides, for developers and prospective residents,” said Alexander von Hoffman, a real estate developer and supporter of the bill, “It could help solve the housing crisis and provide fair compensation to property owners.”

Under the current law, developers are forced to offer a certain percentage of their property at a discounted rate, which pushes them away from certain projects as they can lose money. With an extreme affordable housing shortage in Orleans parish, this bill could help create more accommodations for low-income renters, as developers would be more inclined to offer discounted lodging if given incentives. If the bill is passed it would be enacted statewide and local government would be unable to intervene.

“A lot has been said about New Orleans, but the bill would have an impact on real estate developments in any jurisdiction, whether that be Lafayette, Baton Rouge, anywhere,” said Appel in regard to the bill.

Opponents of the bill argued that state government should not interfere with local affairs, especially since The New Orleans City Council has not yet been given the chance to create their own solution for the housing problem. They are also curious as to who would be fitting the bill for the proposed incentives, especially if it would result in increased taxes for Orleans Parish residents.

“I think it would be unfair to implement this law without giving New Orleans a chance to enact their own plan for affordable housing first,” said Lesley Thomas, Communications Director for the Housing Authority of New Orleans. “Having the state hinder local government could be detrimental to the community.”

After extensive discussion and questioning, especially from senators Karen Peterson, Fred Mills and Jonathan Perry, the bill passed with a close 4-3 vote. Amendments to the bill’s language were also added

It will move to the Senate Chamber for final review.


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