Ban cars in the French Quarter? Fugetaboutit, Power Poll members say
Access deemed vital for deliveries, off-street residential parking
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell lobbed a surprise grenade into the coronavirus pandemic last week when she proposed banning cars in the French Quarter. While some restrictions on motorized vehicles might be needed, there is a strong sentiment among the city’s most influential leaders against a blanket prohibition.
More than half of the respondents in this month’s New Orleans Power Poll said that ensuring access for commercial delivery vehicles is a top priority in the Vieux Carré, home to scores of bars, restaurants, shops, boutiques and museums. Almost as many prioritized vehicle access for the hundreds of French Quarter residents who enjoy off-street parking on some of the most expensive real estate in town.
Parking in New Orleans’ most famous tourist district for visitors? Not so much. Only 13 respondents considered it crucial.
"I think it is a terrible idea. ... For what: To enable tourists to roam when sidewalks are sufficient?" Jacques Morial, a public policy strategist and community organizer whose brother Marc Morial is a former New Orleans mayor, said of forbidding cars. "It will bottleneck even more our entrances and exits in and out of the Quarter, and even people on bikes cannot ride on pedestrian-only streets. ... Why do we have to cater to tourists and people drinking if we want the French Quarter to still be a living neighborhood where residents can have reasonable accessibility for themselves and their friends and family and public?"
Also opposed to a ban was Ruthie Frierson, founder of Citizens for One Greater New Orleans: "The Quarter is a vital historic New Orleans neighborhood, and property owners need to have the ability to park on the street and to get around town. We are a tourist destination, and our museums, restaurants, historic sights, antique shops, hotels, and businesses all need access to the Quarter by cars or trucks for deliveries."
Yet in a sign of how conflicted New Orleans can be, the two most important factors among survey respondents considering a ban were “preserve the current character of the French Quarter” and make it “more accessible to pedestrians.”
We asked our 443 members, the people who set the agenda for local business, politics, government, the arts, non-profits and other sectors, what to make of Cantrell’s idea. Almost 20 percent responded.
Nathan Chapman, president of the lawyer marketing firm Firmidable, summed up the middle ground: "As a long-time advocate for the French Quarter, I applaud the mayor's proactive thinking. I urge her to consider [fewer] cars, not no cars. ...
"A caution: If changes lead to a proliferation of buskers throughout the French Quarter like there are now on Royal Street when it's closed off, it could chase out a stable part of our downtown economy, our residents. They shop, dine and lovingly care for downtown through thick and thin."
(Photo by Kristy Dactyl)
The devil is in the details, right? Cantrell has not put forth specifics. But we floated some, and here is what Power Poll respondents said:
What’s next? Cantrell said she based her proposal on recommendations from a task force that she convened with little attention in May. A team of officials from her administration is now refining it for public comment.
Bob Thomas, environmental communications professor at Loyola University, suggested that further restrictions will raise demand for visitor parking on the fringes of the Quarter and along streetcar and bus routes to and from it.
Said Natalie Jayroe, president and chief executive officer of Second Harvest Food Bank: "The French Quarter is a critical part of our culture and of our appeal to people from all over the world to come visit and spend their dollars. Some changes to improve the accessibility of the Quarter will increase its attractiveness as a place to live and visit."
(Top photo by dlewis33)
Find Optimism Through Change with Our New Orleans Business Resources
As a leading New Orleans digital marketing & design agency, Online Optimism is committed to helping our clients in Louisiana and the country with their marketing. At the core of our business, that’s what we do—we help others—and an Optimistic attitude during challenging times allows us to do just that.
Resources that the Power Poll Respondents Need
As part of our duty to help see our community thrive, we have created a number of different resources for New Orleans businesses facing COVID-19. We have made it a priority to provide those who read the Power Poll results—business owners, our clients, government stakeholders, and more—with the information they need to succeed. Here are just a few resources we’ve compiled and made available on our website:
1. New Orleans Tourism Barometer
As our economy enters Phase 2 of re-opening, stakeholders like yourself are asking the same question: “When will everything go back to normal?” Your newly reopened business won’t stay open long if customers don’t walk through your doors. Our Tourism Barometer answers that question based on Google Trends data. We look at five main areas of tourism and identify where searches are compared to the previous year’s data, as well as what’s rising and falling.
2. New Orleans Restaurant & Bar Zoom Backgrounds
Not everyone is ready to go back to restaurants. For those staying home, it doesn’t mean you can’t video conference from familiar local settings. We had our designers illustrate some of our favorites, including Dooky Chase, the Carousel Bar, Galatoire’s, The Elysian Bar, The Rusty Nail, Commander’s Palace, and more. Download your favorite New Orleans restaurant’s Zoom background here.
3. Interviews with NOLA Business Owners Leading the Way
As Louisiana moves through the phases of reopening, we’ve spoken with some local business leaders within New Orleans about how they believe quarantine has gone and what they have learned. Read their COVID-19 stories here.
4. How Restaurants Can Use Instagram’s New Delivery Stickers
From restaurants to retailers, social media has become a vital part of bringing in business while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, Instagram has come out with new and easy features for small businesses!
5. Virtual Networking Calendar
In New Orleans, knowing the right people can get you where you want to go. Stay connected while social distancing with our Virtual Networking Calendar, updated every week with the latest webinars and online classes.
Need a Resource for Your Business?
The reality of the past few months is something no one alive could have predicted. It’s why our second value, Be Exceptionally Helpful, has become the most important one these past couple of months.
If you’re looking for any assistance with digital marketing or design in New Orleans, we’re here for you. We’re excited to do what we can to help other organizations become more Optimistic and successful as the reopening continues.
Want to contact Online Optimism? You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504-324-0073.