City Planning and Zoning Commission
Records relating to the creation of the 1929 Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance

City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Date range: 1910-1929 (bulk 1927-1929)
Size of collection: 3 boxes; maps; photographs; 12 volumes
Terms of Access: Available to registered researchers by appointment

Historical Note

In 1918, the Louisiana legislature passed Act 27 authorizing municipalities with over 50,000 residents to define and regulate the kind, style and manner of construction of buildings within their limits and to permit or prohibit the establishment and operation of businesses within designated areas. Subsequent legislation in the next few years extended the power for comprehensive zoning to all municipalities over 5,000 in population and provided for the creation of planning and zoning commissions to establish municipal guidelines for construction in residential, commercial and industrial districts. By the mid-1920s, the authorization to zone was firmly established by state law and by court rulings in various suits brought to test the new legislation.

Prior to 1918, New Orleans had passed several hundred "spot" or "piecemeal" zoning ordinances governing construction of buildings or operation of businesses in certain blocks, streets or areas. By the 1920s, the result was a confusing, sometimes contradictory assortment of regulations, inconsistently enforced. In 1923, in response to this confusion and to a "plan movement" developing nationwide, the Commission Council established the City Planning and Zoning Commission (Ordinance 7353 CCS) to act in an advisory role to the Council on planning and zoning matters. In 1926, following the passage of the State Zoning Enabling Act (Act 240) and the City Planning Enabling Act (Act 305), the Behrman administration provided funding for the CPZC to hire the St. Louis firm of Harland Bartholomew and Associates to prepare a complete city planning survey, including plans for a comprehensive zone ordinance.

Bartholomew and Associates submitted a tentative zoning ordinance to the CPZC in June, 1927. Subsequently, the CPZC studied and revised the ordinance during thirty meetings held between June and October, 1927. The tentative ordinance was released to the public in late October, in preparation for 10 public hearings conducted by the CPZC in 8 public hearing districts between December 1, 1927 and January 19, 1928. The CPZC received 415 petitions from property holders and recommendations from various associations, all of which were numbered and mapped, listed and later studied by the CPZC Committee of Five on Zoning and the CPZC itself.

Between September 1928 and January 1929, the Commission Council held a series of 11 public hearings on the tentative ordinance and considered the ordinance in additional executive sessions. Finally, the comprehensive zoning ordinance, 11,302 CCS (cal. 11,105) was passed on June 1, adopted on June 6, and became effective at midnight on June 11, 1929.

(NOTE: For a detailed description of zoning process in New Orleans, see City Planning and Zoning Commission. Handbook to Comprehensive Zone Law for New Orleans (printer's dummy, 5th revision), 1929, cataloged as AQ311 1929h in the City Archives' city documents collection.)

Scope Note

The records are various materials gathered or created by the City Planning and Zoning Commission and/or Harlan Bartholomew and Associates in connection with the preparation of New Orleans's first comprehensive zoning ordinance, adopted by the Commission Council on June 6, 1929. Included are petitions, correspondence, and photographs submitted by citizens during the CPZC's public hearings on the tentative zone law; maps prepared for these hearings, for public information during the time when the tentative ordinance was under study and review, or for the use of the Commission Council during its deliberations on the ordinance; compilations of previous "piecemeal" zone ordinances; multiple drafts of the ordinance prepared for public review or for the use of the Council; newspaper copies of the proposed ordinance printed in the city's official journal; correspondence and reports produced by or for the City Planning and Zoning Commission on specific aspects of the ordinance; and stenographic records of the meetings held by the CPZC and public hearings conducted by the CPZC and the Commission Council.

Original photographs included among the petitions submitted for CPCZ public hearings have been filed separately in the Municipal Government Photograph Collection. In the records, the photographs have been replaced by photocopies. Similarly, the deteriorating manilla folders in which the petitions were filed, which included detailed descriptions of the folders' contents, have also been replaced by photocopies; the original folders were discarded. Various other deteriorating labels to files or reports have also been photocopied and sometimes discarded.

The folded, oversized maps included in this series are, for the most part, brittle and very fragile (some are done on badly deteriorating tracing paper; others are tearing along fold lines) and the archivists reserve the right to limit use. Maps of the various public hearing districts prepared by the CPZC show the owners of property within districts.

Researchers using these records may also wish to consult the City Planning and Zoning Commission's Annual Reports and Minutes for the time period involved, the Official Proceedings of the Commission Council, and voluminous newspaper coverage of the zoning process.

Detailed Description of the Records

Box 1

Material gathered in connection with public hearings on the proposed Comprehensive Zone Law:

Clue showing numbers given to petitions and communications #1-415
New Orleans newspaper zone map publicity
Petitions affecting the city at large
Districts 1 & 2: Map showing owners who signed petitions for and against business at corners of Napoleon Ave. and Claiborne Ave. and vicinity
Petitions and correspondence from property holders in re comprehensive zone law:
District I (23 folders)
(Folder 11 includes 4 photographs taken on S. Carrollton Ave., at the corner of the current location of the Nix Branch of NOPL)
District II (12 folders; map of district 2)
District III (2 folders)
District IV (6 folders)
(Folder 2 includes 15 photographs taken on N. Broad St., in the vicinity of St. Bernard Ave.
District V (4 folders)
(Folder 3 includes 2 photographs of the 1800 block of St. Roch Ave., including a portion of the St. Roch Cemetery)

Box 2

District VI (16 folders; map of district 6)
(Folder 4 includes 5 photographs: New Basin Canal (2 photos); Orleans Lumber Co.; Delgado Trades School; unidentified slum housing)
(Folder 11 includes 11 photographs of the Shreveport Oil Co.)
District VII (2 folders)
District VIII (1 folder)

Strengthening Zone Ordinance Amendments

Vieux Carre Data
(A list and general description (number of stories, significant features, construction material, etc.) of existing structures in the French Quarter, with 29 photographs of various structures)

Zone Text Studies and Drafts
1 Letter from Harland Bartholomew to City Attorney re need for Zone Board of Adjustments (6/24/1929)
2 Unlabeled opinion on pending city-wide zone law (possibly by City Attorney Bertrand I. Cahn)
3 New Orleans Real Estate Board letter to Mayor and Council re zoning law (2/5/1929)
4 New Orleans Homestead League recommendation (5/10/1928)
5 Undated notes by John M. Walker in re architects suggestions for changes to proposed height limitations in Main Business District
6 1932 text changes to zone law (13746-13760 CCS)
7 June 17, 1929 publication (11302 CCS) (6/6/1929)
8 First and faulty publication (published 6/12/1929) (11302) (6/1/1929)
9 Letters from Earl O. Mills (of Harland Bartholomew) to Myron D. Downs of City Planning Commission (1927-1928)
10 Proposed text for public hearing before Council (9/10/1928) including tentative corrections by Commission Council through 5/4/1929 ("Secretary's Copy")
11 Proposed text for public hearing before Council (9/10/1928)
12 Proposed text for public hearing before Council (9/10/1928) as printed by Commission Council for public information
13 Preliminary zone ordinance (6/27/1928) as sent to Commission Council with typographical corrections
14 Proposed zone ordinance for public hearing (9/10/1928) as formally drawn to suit requirements of Clerk of Council on form
15 Preliminary zone ordinance as revised by City Planning and Zoning Commission and referred to City Attorney Cahn

Box 3

16 Preliminary zone ordinance as revised by Zoning Committee of Five through June 8, 1928
17 Preliminary zone ordinance as revised by Committee of Three
18 Preliminary zone ordinance, second official revision presented by Mr. Downs
19 Preliminary zone ordinance, submitted by Mills (7/2/1927); studied by Zoning Committee of Three
20 Preliminary zone ordinance, submitted by Mr. Mills and the Bartholomew association (7/2/1927)
21 Preliminary zone ordinance, field representatives revisions of 8/1927. (Myron D. Downs)
22 Preliminary zone ordinance, unlabeled draft
23 Preliminary zone ordinance, with tentative corrections by Commission Council through 5/4/1929

Zoning Maps
5 "clue maps" -- # 1, 2A, 2B, 3, 4 -- showing consultants recommendations; changes by City Planning and Zoning Commission Committee of 3; 415 petitions; CPZC recommendations, etc.

Compilations of zoning ordinances
Old Set-back ordinances
Piecemeal Zoning laws--10/26/1910 + 6/18/1918
Piecemeal Zoning laws--10/26/1910 - 6/18/1929
Compilation of Set-back ordinances and piece-meal zoning laws (1929)

Thirty-nine meetings held in re comprehensive zone ordinance of New Orleans by City Planning and Zoning Committee of Five and to include joint meetings with City Planning and Zoning Commission (2/20/1928 - 7/3/1928) ("Special bound duplicate set with notations and corrections by Secretary) (Also, unbound copy with no notes)


Report of Public Hearings by Commission Council on Tentative Zone Ordinance (11 vols. bound in 3 books) (Note: Also available on microfilm, filed under call number AQ305 1928z)

Oversized maps:
1. CPZC Zoning--Public hearing districts with dates, places of hearings, and areas outlined
2. Map hung in CPZC office for information of the public
3. Map used by Council for Public information and display, and later during their Executive Sessions; and filed in CPZC fireproof vault by Commissioner Klorer after law passed, for preservation as a record
4. Map showing proposed extensions of restricted building district sponsored by the Louisiana Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (prepared for Commission Council)
5. Copy of above (without notes)
6. District map ("Zoning No. A-15"); approved 5/15/1926

Digest of 415 Communications and Petitions received by City Planning and Zoning Commission, with map showing outlines of Public Hearing Districts (2 copies)

Piecemeal Zoning Ordinance adopted prior to Comprehensive Zone Ordinance but after State Zoning legislation (sequence list, 1919-1929)

Alphabetical Index to Piecemeal Zoning Laws and Some Special Laws, ca. 10/26/1910 - 4/24/1929 (previously cataloged as AQ310 1910-1929)

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coded: 6/29/1999
coded by: Irene Wainwright

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