Friday, January 05, 2007

Swap Meet

An aide to Mayor Nagin is floating a trial balloon that program could be instituted that would allow people or groups of people can swap their property in blighted areas of the city with properties in non blighted areas.

One possibility, said Ed Blakely, the city's new recovery czar: Let the city assemble vacant or blighted properties and offer them in swaps to homeowners -- preferably groups of neighbors -- who want to move out of sparsely populated neighborhoods and be closer to schools, shopping centers or other vital areas, while staying near their friends.

"What I'm suggesting here is not wide-eyed radicalism. It's been done before," Blakely said. "It works."

One idea among many: using the city's public land bank, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, to allow neighbors along a nearly dead street to swap their properties for city-held lots in a more vital neighborhood of their own choosing.
I don't know how well this idea will go over with residents but at least it is a novel idea that avoids the heavy-hand of government compelling people to do or not do things they are unwilling to do.

The one hindrance the idea may face is that people have strong emotional ties to their neighborhoods. But, in many cases, it is because it is where their friends and family live. So this plan may not be totally without merit.

Ultimately the success or failure of this proposal will be determined by the residents of New Orleans, not some faceless bureaucrats in some far-away place. And that is how it should be.

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