French Quarter Zoning Debate

The New Orleans Planning Commission voted down several zoning changes that would have expanded live music in the French Quarter to allow for more public debate. 

Photo: John Davisson
MagnoliaFest, Spirit Of The Suwannee Music Park, Live Oak, Fla.

Although business owners support the plan, residents say it could ruin life in the neighborhood. One proposal presented by Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey would allow all restaurants in the French Quarter to provide live entertainment as long as certain noise-lessening provisions are followed. Live music already is permitted at restaurants citywide but prohibited in the French Quarter except on portions of Bourbon and Decatur streets.

Ramsey’s most controversial amendment to the current zoning ordinance would eliminate a citywide policy that requires bars to keep their windows and doors closed during music performances and allow French Quarter bars, restaurants and clubs to have music outdoors, which is currently prohibited. Neighborhood groups were united in their opposition to both proposals, saying that allowing bars to have outdoor music would make the French Quarter unlivable and drive out the remaining residents.

The New Orleans City Council’s next meeting is July 9. It can choose to ignore the advice of the planning commission and pass Ramsey’s proposed zoning changes.