The New Orleans Index at Ten Collection: No More “Planning by Surprise”: City Planning in New Orleans Ten Years after Katrina

Report by Robert A. Collins
June 24, 2015

The city planning process in New Orleans during the decade following Hurricane Katrina was arguably one of the most challenging periods of city planning in any city, at any point in U.S. history. The first five years were spent primarily in recovery planning phase, and the second five years were spent dealing with complexities and conflicts of the comprehensive zoning process. The challenges were made more daunting by the fact that before the storm the city lacked a history of strong traditional urban planning practices. As a result, most processes had to be constructed from scratch. Despite few financial resources and a series of stops and starts, New Orleans now has a Master Plan as of August 2010, and a Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance as of May 2015. The New Orleans recovery experience can inform other communities about what to do and perhaps more importantly, what not to do when planning to rebuild after a disaster.