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Should Property Owners Have to Pay the City Rent For Sidewalk Encroachments?

The city claims it's to prevent lawsuits, but some say it's a money-grab

In a story from The Advocate, members of a French Quarter condo association needing cosmetic repairs to their building got a surprise when they sought a work permit from the city: In order to begin work, they were told, they would need to pay the city $1,600 a year for a 200 square-foot gallery on the building overhanging the sidewalk.

It's part of a city policy unrolled in the last year, which dictates that owners of buildings with features such as galleries, balconies, stoops or fences that extend out on the public space must pay the city rent in order to get a work permit for the property—even for small jobs.

This is especially frustrating for owners of historic properties, such as the aforementioned condo association, whose encroaching features often predate the sidewalks on which they are encroaching.

The city claims this policy is to protect it from liability in accidents that can be blamed on encroachments, but property owners are calling it a "money grab" that can result property owners hiring under-the-table contractors, and unfairly benefits those buying properties strictly as profit-making ventures, not homes.

Do you think property owners should be on the hook for these encroachments?

Property owners in French Quarter, other areas protest steep city bills for sidewalk encroachments [The Advocate]