Access to the Lower 9th Ward is fine, even for a profit, but the feelings of New Orleans residents are also important. Being the epicenter of a national catastrophe only seven years ago makes the Lower 9th a historical site, one that draws bus tours to hear and see the consequences of the levee failure after Hurricane Katrina.
New Orleans is one of the great tourist cities of the world. It’s the victim of the levee failures and thus site of a significant historical event. When one adds in the celebrity of Brad Pitt’s foundation building new houses, the Lower 9th is clearly not going to be off the sightseers’ radar anytime soon.
A rarely enforced 2006 ordinance is being invoked against bus tours in the neighborhood, but we hope that efforts to lower the temperature can bring a reasonable compromise. These are, after all, public streets.
Councilman Ernest Charbonnet is gathering tour guides and residents together Friday to begin discussing possible changes to the ordinance. Those might include limiting bus sizes and requiring a single route to protect streets and the privacy of the residents.
“I feel confident that we will come up with a plan that will work for everybody,” Charbonnet said.
We hope so. It’s real money to the tour groups that ought to be harvested without becoming obnoxious to the residents. And first-hand experience of the levee failures ought to remind visitors from around the country and the world about the continued need to support the New Orleans area in its recovery.