French Quarter considers 3-part voluntary security fee plan - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

French Quarter considers 3-part voluntary security fee plan

Tired of crime and worried about manpower shortages, French Quarter residents and business owners appear poised to try take matters into their own hands. They are unveiling a voluntary, three-part plan to provide additional security.

In the Quarter, there are victims like Brittany Thomas, killed in last month's mass shooting, and there are survivors. Peter Bennett said he recently escaped being a victim of a mugger on a bike.

"About the time he turned back, he saw the dog," Bennett said. "Then he turned around. I came this close to being mugged."

Now he and other residents and business owners are being asked to pay for extra officers.

"We're talking about seven extra officers at any time in the peak periods," said Bob Simms, with the French Quarter Management District.

The district is proposing three levels of security fees for the Quarter. The first would cover the 200 to 700 block of Bourbon Street with businesses paying about $200 per week for extra patrols between noon and 6 a.m.

"We're the economic engine for the city," Sims said. "The Bourbon Street shooting went around the world due to international media."

Another plan would cover residents who live between the 800 and 1300 blocks of Bourbon and Chartres streets. The estimated cost would be $50 per week for extra 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. coverage. And if it works there, it could be expanded.

"I had not heard that number, but I'm certainly willing to pay for additional security in the Quarter," said Bennett.

A third plan would cost $70 a week for businesses on Royal and Chartres between Iberville and St Ann, where at least one business owner - already facing a doubling of rent - is not in favor.

"As far as I know, Royal Street has never needed it," said Massoud Dalili.

This isn't the first time a French Quarter security district has been proposed. Four years ago a different plan went down in defeat.

Plan proponents say times have changed.

"Police staffing is so low," Simms said. "Eighth District was 150 officers four years ago. Now we're around 100."

Many say they're willing to give the plan consideration, though some, like Dalili, are angry that their taxes aren't already covering security needs - or things like paved streets in his Lakeview neighborhood. He said the roads were never fixed, and he said he will never support another extra tax or fee.

"I understand that, I would like that too, but we're at where we're at," Simms said.

And Simms said he's hoping French Quarter property owners give this new security plan a chance.

There will be a special meeting to discuss the plan Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel.

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