The N.O. ordinance requiring bars to install cameras is dead

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Wooden gavel and old book

 

By Kevin Litten

klitten@nola.com,

NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

 

New Orleans City Councilwoman Stacy Head is withdrawing an ordinance that included a provision that would force every alcoholic beverage outlets in the city to connect security cameras to a citywide camera monitoring system.

The ordinance was introduced at Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s request, and had been touted as a major piece of an ambitious anti-crime plan the mayor had hoped to complete before he leaves office on May 7. The cameras at businesses that serve alcoholic beverages would’ve added at least 1,500 privately owned cameras to the publicly-owned network of 350 publicly owned cameras that are already up and running.

 

But as the ordinance moved forward, civil liberties advocates and bar and restaurant owners began mobilizing fierce opposition to the measure, raising a raft of concerns about implementation and creating a “big brother” regime. As late as Tuesday, the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans was railing against the measure as camera footage was being discussed during a hearing of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

In a statement, Landrieu’s office said that the ordinance will “require more discussion and careful consideration by the next council and administration.  Therefore, we have requested the Council withdraw this item.”

His office also noted that “the Landrieu administration has moved aggressively to tackle violent crime in our neighborhoods,” and that the publicly-owned crime cameras and license plate readers “are already helping the NOPD prevent and solve crimes.”

An aide to Head, Katie Baudouin, said in an interview that it became clear that passing the ordinance in a form that included the crime camera requirement would be too difficult to pass. It would’ve required cameras being placed at businesses all over the city — including pharmacies, grocery stores and gas stations that serve alcohol — and that had raised logistical and cost questions that could have resulted in a highly contentious process.

Baudouin said that Head’s priority has been to streamline the permitting process for alcoholic beverage outlets, and is “what she really wants to get done before she leaves office.” Head is term-limited and leaves office with Landrieu and four of seven other council members in May.

Baudouin said the ordinance will be withdrawn and replaced with an ordinance that’s expected to be introduced on Thursday.