NEW ORLEANS - The battle continued over the creation of a new hospitality district in downtown New Orleans.
On Thursday, two opposing groups traveled to the state capitol to plead their case to lawmakers.
Vieux Carre property owners have been against the legislation from the start, saying that the measure is too vague when it comes to the power that a newly created Hospitality Board would actually have.
The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau said the legislation is a great opportunity to obtain additional funding and improve infrastructure in the French Quarter, Faubourg Marigny and Central Business District.
Tourism leaders wore red "Tourism Matters" shirts on their trip to convince legislators to vote in favor of the hospitality zone, a decision they referred to as the most important in industry history.
"It is going to improve the quality of life of every New Orleans citizen and every visitor that comes to the city. Things like street repairs, lighting, infrastructure improvement, all the things that we so desperately want that we're doing for the visitor areas are going to benefit those who live in those areas as well. And, it's going to give us much needed marketing funds to attract visitors to the city," said Kelly Schultz of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Residents and property owners said they are not against funding, but rather how the board controls the zone.
"No, we're not opposed to a dedicated funding source to maintain the infrastructure of the French Quarter. That's needed and necessary, and there's a way to do that and do it well. But the concern is that right now the board that would be making these decisions consists of 15 people, only one of whom has to be a resident of this zone. And, several of the neighborhoods that are in the zone, including Treme, Marigny, the Seventh Ward, the Central Business District and the Downtown Development District, don't have any seats on this board," said Meg Lousteau of the Vieux Carre Property Owners.
Both sides meet in Baton Rouge at 10 a.m. to explain their points to legislators at the Senate Local and Municipal Affairs Committee.