Here is a selection of items on the agendas for this week’s meetings of the City and Parish councils (the meeting is Wednesday). To see the full agendas, check out the links below:
Community Development & Planning
Community Development & Planning shapes how Lafayette grows. What gets built and where is guided by the PlanLafayette and the Lafayette Development Code and governed by several appointed bodies, including the city and parish planning commissions.
Cuts to Bayou Vermilion Flood Control. PO-7 moves $500,000 of parish ARPA funds from BVFC into a new project to replace a well in Water District North. LCG learned last summer that ARPA funds can’t be used for most of the project’s $81 million budget. The council removed $3.9 million from the drainage project’s ARPA funding at its last meeting, but replaced only $2 million of that with local tax dollars. Wednesday’s ordinance would not replace funding for BVFC, further lowering parish government’s appropriation for the project to $13.1 million. At least $50 million is estimated to have already been spent on the project.
More money for LCG’s long-awaited drainage plan. PO-8 transfers $250,000 from the parish’s Stormwater Management Fund to the budget for LCG’s long-awaited Comprehensive Drainage Plan. The plan, which was bid out to CSRS in Baton Rouge, has been in the works since early 2021 and was already budgeted to cost at least $500,000 in city tax dollars.
No significant items.
Short-term rentals. The City Council will discuss how short-term rentals (like Airbnb and VRBO) are regulated in Lafayette. The issue has led to a lawsuit and local legislative gridlock over the last three years, since Lafayette’s Development Code is ambiguous about where they are allowed and how they must operate. Recent bids by neighbors to classify the rentals as commercial activities, which would put them under stricter scrutiny in residential areas, have failed. In 2021, the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustment determined LCG has the power to allow short-term rentals in residential areas. A lawsuit seeking to overturn that decision was shot down by a local judge in November and is currently under appeal.
ARPA swaps. CO-12 swaps $360,000 worth of city parks and recreation projects between the city’s ARPA funds and local tax dollars, without changing how much of each funding source is spent.
Public records fee fix remains in limbo. An initial effort to undo Mayor-President Josh Guillory’s $1-a-page public records paywall will be pulled from Wednesday’s agenda because a solution hasn’t been reached, Councilwoman Nanette Cook says.
The ordinance was first introduced at the end of last year, after Guillory quietly installed the paywall and initially enforced it only against news outlets. But the council’s plan was withdrawn after pushback from the administration. Because it deals with LCG operations as a whole, a similar ordinance would have to be passed by the Parish Council to take effect. A lawsuit filed by The Current and The Acadiana Advocate last year over the newly created fees has been paused pending action by the councils.
Pavement markings. Ordinance JO-7 recognizes LCG’s receipt of a $1.6 million federal grant to improve pavement marking on non-state roads and approves $400,000 in local tax dollars ($392,000 city vs. $8,000 parish) for the project’s required match.
News + Notes
State freezes $15M in dispute over LCG retirement
Billed as a way to save millions, LCG’s withdrawal from the state municipal pension system has been a drawn-out, messy affair that’s now headed for court.
City Council passes Guillory investigation to legislative auditor
The council’s contracted auditor turned over its findings, which will remain confidential until and unless the LLA decides to release them.
Registration requirements likely for Lafayette short-term rentals
Requiring short-term rentals to register with the city is a likely compromise, but operators and opponents remain divided on restrictions like conditional permitting.