To navigate the site, please use the links above.

Powerpoint - A powerpoint that team 5 presented to the class pointing out some concerns and answering some questions

Information - Information that Team 5 collected that helped create the proposal

Proposal - Team Five's solution to the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans

Contact - E-mail for all the group members as well as links to each member's website

Credits - Thank you to members of the class and those who helped with this assignment.

On this page, you can find information on the "Ideal City" and how this can help NOLA create a plan. Below is a link to two introductory topics as well as the links to both the long and short term proposals.

Short Term Plan
Long Term Plan

How the Ideal City factors into a plan for NOLA
Neighborhood Restoration

How the "Ideal City" factors into a plan for NOLA

            What constitutes an “Ideal City”? Excellent education, no crime, and perfectly behaved citizens? Sounds like the opposite of New Orleans, right? Even at the core of its traditions, the city’s multitude of parades – an integral part of NOLA’s culture – directly contradicts this plan for a model city. And yet, by stripping away the model city’s aspects that are too perfect to realistically pertain to any modern American city, we can still structure a plan for New Orleans that strives for “pragmatic perfection.” Here, we examine a case study of New Haven, Connecticut and apply the lessons learned there to NOLA:

  • Violence (including racial violence): After the race riots of 1967 in New Haven, that city’s mayor announced the following: “I don’t know whether any city can avoid major violence, through the dedication of a mayor or through the leadership of the community itself beyond the political power structure.” Although these words came from the leader of a city that was only 2.5% Black, they relate to basically any city with a non-homogenous population, the logic here being that if such hostility could erupt in an area with a very minute minority population, the outcome of a comparable outbreak of violence would be catastrophic in a densely populated city like New Orleans, which was roughly 66% Black prior to the hurricane, and is currently, a little more than 50% Black. While a violence-free city could never actually be achieved in the real world, prevention measures can take many forms for the City of New Orleans. These ventures would include an early, yet euphemized, introduction to the evils of violence in elementary school, with continuous education about the emotional, mental, physical, and economic costs of violence throughout the years of compulsory public and private education. In high school, viewing of shock films - like the ones shown in driver education classes of drunk driving accidents – will be required and mock crime scenes will be constructed on high school campuses so that students can witness first hand the grief that violence brings to families (a typical mock crime scene will involve deceased victims, emergency medical personnel caring for the injured, family members and friends mourning the loss of loved ones, and police apprehending the criminals). However, all of this media must be shown in moderation, for fear that the young people will, over time, become numb to something that they view multiple times, as the initial “shock” wears off. Additionally, community meetings will focus on violence awareness and deterrence, as adults actively participate in their children’s lives and set up bi-annual conventions that feature workshops to build strong intra-racial relationships and eliminate the need for violence.
  • Urban Renewal: The problem with urban renewal is that it usually favors the rich and forgets about the poor. For instance, in New Haven during the 1960’s, 6,970 families were displaced from their original residencies: 70% (13% Black, 57% white) received private rental housing, 15% (80% Black, 20% white) received public housing, and 15% (20% Black, 80% white) purchased homes. We do not want the same to happen in New Orleans. Urban renewal in NOLA during the 1950’s and 60’s drove residents, mostly Black, middle class, and, for the most part, extremely artistic, out of New Orleans Proper and into New Orleans East, a neighborhood that suffered huge amounts of damage due to Hurricane Katrina and which, even now, demonstrates slow increases in recovery activity (for example, less than 40% of the available permits for reconstruction, electricity, demolition, etc. have been obtained). With our plan, instead of demolition and relocation, the city will be rebuilt from the center, so that it is easier to implement protection measures against floods and storm surges. Everyone who wants to come back to the city will be allowed to do so, no matter whether their former neighborhood is currently being rebuilt into housing or turned into green space. Neighborhoods in the center of the city, such as Mid-City, Bayou St. John, and Seventh Ward, will be reassembled to accommodate for more housing – both private and public – which will serve as home for the residents whose houses suffered too much storm damage to be rebuilt. Public housing will abide by rigorous upkeep standards and will be mixed race and mixed income (similar to developments like Tent City in South Boston, Massachusetts; for more information, please refer to the following link: The aim is to have an equal dispersal of public, private rental, and purchased housing, all of which are readily available to residents from all socio-economic backgrounds. In essence, with a small increase in income and about 5 years’ worth of savings, a family can move from either public housing into a private rental home, or, if currently renting, can purchase their own house.
  • Jobs: Following the racial violence in New Haven, some statistical organizations claimed an unemployment rate of 12-15% among the “hard-core unemployed” (workers who had not held jobs within the past 1+ years), while official reports stated that among whites, 3.9% were without jobs, among Blacks, 7.7% were without jobs, and among Puerto Ricans, 7.6% percent were without jobs. Looking to current data for New Orleans (the latest available reporting is from September 2006), the unemployment rate for returning evacuees stands at 14.5% (down from 22.2% the previous month), compared to the national average for that month of 4.6% (national statistic retrieved from


How do we aid these workers? One possible solution would be government-funded vocational “boot-camps” – free-of-charge, month-long training programs that would prepare returning residents with jobs in industries such as transportation, utilities, healthcare, hospitality/tourism, and construction. Residents would receive a stipend for the month of instruction and be placed in a job upon completion of the program. By making New Orleans a more attractive place to live, the city will regain some of its pre-Katrina investors, while also gaining the opportunity to reestablish itself as a major port city in the United States.


We may also look to other big cities and their histories as a guide in how to direct our course of action in NOLA. For instance, in 1979, the Citizens Budget Commission suggested that the City of New York take on certain measures to reinvigorate the development of its physical infrastructure. This plan was established after the committee found that the city was struggling with many of the same issues as New Orleans is dealing with today, such as inadequacies surrounding scheduling and implementation of infrastructure projects, lack of budget management, and ineffective monitoring system, dilemmas that, in New Orleans, result from a weak local government, lack of direction from Washington, D.C., and multiple grass-root movements that spring up randomly and are often not officially registered anywhere.

For New York City, the CDC came up with four distinct solutions:

1)      Appoint a Full-time Director of Construction

2)      Create a New Centralized Construction Agency

3)      Improve Scheduling and Monitoring Capabilities

4)      Simplify City, State and Federal Regulations

How can we apply these suggestions to the City of New Orleans?

1)      Currently, Donald Powell holds the position of “Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding” but, to date, he has been not produced the magnitude of effective results necessary to revive New Orleans to pre-Katrina levels. With the enforcement of a more close-knit and organized local government, a “director of construction” can be appointed for Orleans Parish alone (and the same can be done for Jefferson Parish, St. Bernard Parish, etc.). This official will focus specifically on what is to be done within the 73 unique neighborhoods of New Orleans, while working closely with the various religious and neighborhood groups that have begun rebuilding individually throughout neighborhoods like Broadmoor (“Broadmoor Lives!”) and the Lower Ninth Ward (“The Blue House Project”).

2)      The lack of such an agency can be held accountable for the slow speed of reconstruction. To effectively introduce this organization in New Orleans, a representative from each neighborhood should obtain a position on its executive board. Weekly reports of the rebuilding progress will be made mandatory and a block-by-block survey of reconstruction efforts will be conducted each month. The Director of Construction, and his/her team, will be in charge of analyzing which areas are not receiving enough man power, where more financial aid needs to be allocated, and where rebuilding has slowed due to other causes (which will be identified and resolved).

3)      The creation of a centralized construction agency will alleviate some of the difficulties associated with scheduling and monitoring, but a closer inspection of reconstruction must also be done by a task-force team from the mayor’s office. Strict deadlines for submission of weekly, monthly, and yearly progress reports must be enforced throughout the multitude of local government agencies. For example, all weekly reports must be submitted by 11:59 P.M. on Sunday; all monthly reports must be submitted by 11:59 P.M. on the last Sunday of the month; all yearly reports must be submitted by 11:59 P.M. on the last Sunday of the fiscal year. Scheduling guidelines must also be set for the distribution of federal funds (as well as money coming from non-profit organizations), so that large sums of money are allocated to different neighborhoods on an extended timeline (in order to prevent wasteful expenditures), all the while ensuring that money does not mysteriously disappear while it is in the hands of the local government.

4)      On this point, New Orleans differs greatly from New York. At the present time, there is a severe lack of local building codes and, before the hurricanes, building permits were issued quite freely. We feel that this may have led to construction in unsafe areas that generated avertable damage during the storm. In this new post-Katrina era, strict regulations regarding safe construction areas will be made compulsory by the local government. For instance, in areas such as New Orleans East – the parts where reconstruction is allowed – it will be mandated that houses be elevated at least 15 to 20 feet above the ground. Moreover, many of the outdated and unrevised city, state, and federal regulations a propos residential and business construction, as well as allocation of funds for urban renewal, will be reviewed, updated, and re-instituted by professional teams, which in turn will be coordinated by the mayor’s office.


A Plan to Expedite the Rebuilding of New York City’s Physical Infrastructure. (1970). New York: Citizens Budget Commission, Inc.

Katrina Index: Tracking Variables of Post-Katrina Recovery. (2006). Retrieved November 1, 2006, from The Brookings Institution Web site:

Powledge, F. (1970). Model City. New York: Simon and Schuster.

J. Schwartz, personal communication, October 6, 2006.

The Times-Picayune. (2006). Rebuilding New Orleans: A post-Katrina activity report. Retrieved October 27, 2006, from the Katrina: One Year Later Web site:
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Neighborhood restoration

In a perfect world, where protection against floods and storm surges is not a factor, all 73 of New Orleans culturally rich neighborhoods would be preserved. Unfortunately, we do not reside in such a world and must look at the reconstruction efforts not only from a social perspective, but also from the standpoint of which areas incurred the most damage and where it is unsafe to rebuild when planning for a 100-year flood.

            When considering the “newer” neighborhoods – those, such as New Orleans East, Gentilly, and Lakeview, that were established within the last 50 to 100 years and can be seen in (mostly) white on the two maps below,


it is more important to bring the people who lived there back to NOLA and provide them with a productive, lively environment in which to work and live than to spend millions of dollars on the restoration of these areas, which will most likely be flooded again due to the low elevations at which they are situated. As can be seen from the elevation map below, all of the aforementioned neighborhoods border Lake Pontchatrain (which was a major source of flooding during Hurricane Katrina) and are between .50 and 4 feet below sea level. (Click image to load original document)


In particular, aggressive rebuilding in N. O. East would also require the erection of a special levee system to protect this part of Orleans Parish, one that would be unnecessary if the city were contained within the area between Jefferson Parish on the west side and the Industrial Canal on the east side.

            The exception to this “inner city” plan is the Lower Ninth Ward, which will be rebuilt due to its historic value and the negative social consequences of its abandonment. Firstly, the extensive damage that was endured in the Lower Ninth was not caused by its topographic location, but rather by inadequate levee protection from the west. The L.N.W. is naturally very well protected, with high-elevation Holy Cross to the south and St. Bernard Parish to the west; if the levees are rebuilt to actually uphold under the pressure of a Category 3 hurricane, then the Lower Ninth Ward will have enough protection to withstand future flooding and can be rebuilt into a rejuvenated neighborhood, with more, better-equipped schools, desirable housing, and thriving businesses. Once people are convinced that the area will not experience such vast damage, they will be much more likely to look positively at the Lower Ninth.

To track current rebuilding efforts throughout New Orleans, we can, for instance, examine child care centers that have reopened since the hurricane struck: (Click image to load original document)


Fortunately for our rebuilding plan, only about 5 centers in total have been reopened within the three neighborhood span. Although rebuilding is obviously going on in these northern areas of New Orleans, it is not occurring at the same caliber as in the lower (higher elevation) parts of the city. Thus, without completely cutting off Lakeview, Gentilly (especially the neighborhoods closer to the center of NOLA), and New Orleans East from the rest of the city, reconstruction efforts will be allowed but discouraged in these areas and their residents will be provided with housing, schooling, and work within the “inner city.”



K. Baker, personal communication, October 7, 2006.

Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. (2006). Retrieved November 10, 2006, from the GNOCDC Web site:

S. Moga, personal communication, November 1, 2006.

J. Schwartz, personal communication, October 6, 2006.



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