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New Orleans Mayor Wants to Reimagine the French Quarter for Pedestrians and Outdoor Seating

“This is our time,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said of the project to rethink traffic, parking, and land use in the Quarter

The French Market in the French Quarter
Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

During a town hall with NOLA.com’s Stephanie Grace on Wednesday afternoon, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said that now was the time to “reimagine” the city’s French Quarter with no cars, multiple pedestrian malls, and more investment in its outdoor spaces.

Responding to a viewer’s question about the possibility of making the French Quarter a pedestrian mall, Cantrell responded “you’re speaking my language.” She said she has put together a team looking at “exciting recommendations” for a project she’s calling “No Cars in the Quarter.” The changes would likely require local ordinances for traffic/parking regulations and land use, which the Mayor can propose but ultimately require approval from the New Orleans City Council.

“This is the city’s time to reimagine how we live, how we move about, how we enjoy the fabric of our city,” Cantrell said, noting that some parks and recreation spaces grew out of pandemics historically. As it looks to cities around the world for pilot projects to consider, Cantrell said her administration will work with the public about where those pilots would take place, particularly for the location of “parklets” to allow for more outdoor restaurant and bar seating. This follows her announcement earlier this month that restaurants could expand outdoor seating into sidewalks and parking lots.

In addition to parklets, considering “multiple” pedestrian malls, and eliminating car traffic, she said the team is evaluating policies and procedures around street performers and musicians “to spread out our culture bearers” and “give them their fair share and space.” Cantrell added that this was not short-term thinking, emphasizing that new priorities related to the COVID-19 pandemic have created an opportunity for “our revolution.”

During the town hall, Cantrell also told Grace that 144 New Orleans businesses have been noted as not complying with city guidelines under Phase One. She said she’ll meet with “code enforcement” later today about whether or not any of those will be shut down. Check back with Eater for updates.

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