On February 2, 2023, the New Orleans City Council adopted an ordinance modeled after that of the City of Baltimore, Maryland, wherein properties found to be “chronic public nuisances” may be prohibited from holding occupational licenses for a period of up to two years. The ordinance does not apply to residential properties. The so called “padlock” ordinance defines a “chronic nuisance property” as follows:
“Chronic nuisance property” means any property or group of adjoining properties under common ownership that, on three or more separate occasions within a one-year period, were used:
- By persons who assemble for the specific purpose of illegally administering or ingesting of a controlled dangerous substance;
- For the illegal manufacture or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance or drug paraphernalia;
- For the illegal storage or concealment of a controlled dangerous substance or controlled paraphernalia in sufficient quantity to reasonably indicate under all the circumstances an intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled dangerous substance or drug paraphernalia;
- For storage or possession of stolen property;
- For storage or possession of unregistered firearms;
- In furtherance of a crime of violence, as defined in La. R.S. 14:2; or
- For criminal gang activity.
The Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department (“NOPD”) will determine whether a property constitutes a chronic nuisance and will notify the “person in charge” of the property accordingly. The person in charge will be given an opportunity to work with NOPD on strategies to abate the nuisance activities. If the person fails to respond to the notice, the matter will be referred to the City Attorney for prosecution. If a court determines that the property is a chronic nuisance property, the court may order the property closed and secured against all unauthorized access, use, and occupancy for a period of up to two years, in addition to civil penalties.
The Superintendent will report to the City Council twice per year with information regarding all properties found to be chronic nuisances, the reasons for the conclusion, the dates of NOPD service calls and reference numbers, the notice sent to the person in charge, any agreed abatement plan, a status update, penalties assessed, and the demographic information of the person in charge.
Any judgment finding a property to be a chronic nuisance may be filed in the public records and will run as a covenant with the land. Such judgments will be effective against third parties. For good cause shown, if the City believes that the nuisance is not likely to continue, the chronic nuisance judgment may be released. No particulars were adopted as to the release process.