The Front Yard Initiative, the UC's response to excessive yard paving, is a project working to improve New Orleans’ safety, stormwater management, and beauty.
The Front Yard Initiative is UC’s response to excessive yard paving. Rampant front yard paving is a community issue that has broad and significant effects on the city of New Orleans from stormwater to safety.
The Front Yard Initiative is an incentive program that reimburses eligible homeowners $2.50 per square foot of paving removed- up to 500 square feet- for a max of $1,250.Click Here!
Paving in excess of 40% of your front yard (and side yard on corner lots) is illegal in most New Orleans neighborhoods under the new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO). Since no permit issuance is required to pave a front yard area, the practice is widespread. Property owners replace their green spaces in favor of concrete and other impermeable surfaces in an effort to provide additional parking and/or reduce yard maintenance. These hard surfaces affect more than the single lot on which they sit.
To deter future excessive paving and to minimize after-the-fact confusion and adjudication, the Urban Conservancy proposed that the city require a permit for yard paving. We continue to advocate for this permit.
Learn more about problems caused by excessive paving.
Watch how FYI creates Green Sector job opportunities!
Excerpt from Lutheran Disaster Response U.S. (LDR)’s summary of their visit to New Orleans where they met with UC board member, Amy Stelly, and FYI participant Kristy Hitchcock:
Kristy Hitchcock, a single parent, moved to New Orleans four years ago after her daughter graduated from the University of New Orleans. “She told me she wasn’t coming back because she loved New Orleans so much,” said Hitchcock, who quit her job, sold her house and relocated.
In New Orleans, paving yards was once a popular way to create additional parking spaces and reduce property maintenance demands. When Hitchcock bought her house, her entire front yard and about 40% of her backyard had been paved with concrete, which restricted water from sinking into the ground, increasing the burden on drainage systems. “When it rained, I couldn’t even go out in my yard without rain boots,” she said.
Hitchock decided to apply for the Front Yard Initiative… She has created an oasis in her yard and has helped mitigate the street flooding in her neighborhood. “I started it because I love to garden and I wanted to be outdoors,” she said.
Hitchcock sees the project as “something for your own home that you will enjoy, that is going to be benefiting your neighbors and, ultimately, benefiting the city too if this water that I’m trapping doesn’t go down the drain.”
New Orleans claims 1,450 square feet of road surface per person; the highest ratio of pavement per person in the country.
The majority of our transportation infrastructure was built in the 1960’s with population projections of 1 million residents. The city currently has less than 400,00 people. We are taxing ourselves to maintain an over-sized street system.
Reducing the sizes of roadways provides space for municipal water management installations and multi-modal transportation opportunities.
Front Yard Initiative Program Manager, Jenny Wolff, discusses the importance of permeable surfaces in an urban environment in this video from TRUEGRID. Here in New Orleans, business owners have installed TRUEGRID pavers as a solution to the problem of parking lots: they cover a large amount of surface area with impermeable concrete.
Missy Wilkinson spoke with our Executive Director, Dana Eness, about what goes into green infrastructure installations, especially those with permeable pavers, and how this can affect cost in this nola.com feature.
Last month FYI saw recognition in two news spotlights!
Dr. Aimee K. Thomas from the biology department at Loyola University New Orleans gave a shoutout to the Urban Conservancy and FYI in this interview on WWL First News with Tommy Tucker about living with water!
FYI also got shine this month in a segment on WWLTV! Our executive director, Dana Eness, and two FYIers, Kristy Hitchcock and Rob Owens, spoke about the importance of onsite water management and going gray to green during these increased instances of flooding. Watch the video here!
“We can all become stewards of the water by doing what we can to ‘slow it down, spread it out, and soak it in.’ If we do, a more hopeful and constructive spirit will permeate (pun intended) our city departments, universities, churches and workplaces.” Check out this op-ed by FYI’s former Project Manager, Felice Lavergne written in June in partnership with the New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition.
On August 21, 2019, The Urban Conservancy and our partners, LCI Workers’ Comp, LaunchNOLA, and StayLocal, hosted an event at Parkway Bakery and Tavern dedicated to inspiring, informing, and connecting people interested in learning about what’s happening in stormwater management. FYI participants, contractors and businesses, and all others interested in living with water and green infrastructure were in attendance and talked over po-boys and our signature cocktail of the evening, Permeable Punch!
We’re pleased to announce the Urban Conservancy + partners SOUL, Green Light New Orleans, and Launch NOLA have received funding to work in the Hoffman Triangle for the next two years from the Southeastern Sustainability Directors Network.
“USING FRONT YARDS TO ADDRESS FLOODING”
CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
“Investment: $298,800 Project Partners: City of New Orleans, Urban Conservancy, Sustaining Our Urban Landscape (SOUL); Launch NOLA Green; Green Light New Orleans Project Summary: New Orleans partners will prioritize green infrastructure projects in the Hoffman Triangle, one of the neighborhoods most vulnerable to repetitive flood loss, and also increase capacity of local community members to identify opportunities for green infrastructure in their neighborhoods. Connecting a green jobs training program, faith-based leaders and local community members, the project will use innovative tools to address stormwater and flooding issues, while at the same time scaling up highly effective green infrastructure retrofit techniques.”
We’ve been here in New Orleans for 300 years. We wouldn’t still be here if we didn’t have the ability to adapt. But we don’t like change. We still reminisce about long-closed drugstores, bakeries, and supermarkets. And, 300 years later, we’re still on the brink of flooding when it rains for an hour.
The Urban Conservancy is on both sides of this street. They want to keep things as they are, and they want change. They want you to support your local small retailer, and they want you to bust up the concrete in your yard and make a garden to help stop street flooding.
THIS PROGRAM IS PAYING CITY RESIDENTS TO DITCH CONCRETE IN FAVOR OF FLOWERS
Pavement in New Orleans is everywhere, especially in the suburbs. Those areas — some of the lowest-lying in the city — are where water is meant to drain from the higher elevation areas, such as the French Quarter. But the excess of pavement covering such neighborhoods has transformed permeable land into impenetrable surface. As a result, water that should flow to the suburbs at a pace slow enough for the city’s drains and pumps to manage it is moving too quickly. And there’s just too much of it.
But a city-backed initiative is helping city residents manage flooding on their properties. The project, Front Yard Initiative, reimburses homeowners to tear out pavement in their yards and replace it with rain gardens, local plants that can absorb large amounts of water and rain barrels. So far, the Front Yard Initiative has been adopted by 43 homeowners in three New Orleans neighborhoods, and city planners have argued that the project — if adopted by enough people — might help reduce flooding throughout the city.