WHERE DID LAKE VISTA'S BUILDING RESTRICTIONS COME FROM?
First, you need to know that the Lake Area communities, including Lake Vista, were created by the construction of the seawall and backfilling approximately one-half mile back to the original lake shore with sand dredged from the lake. This was done by the Levee Board starting in the 1920’s. When the Levee Board created the land, it carefully designed its signature neighborhood and safeguarded it with covenants signed by all purchasers of property in the newly created subdivisions; the covenants are servitudes (legal restrictions that override the normal right of property owners in some aspect). Servitudes are a binding condition on the transfer of ownership of your property.
We all know there are building restrictions that limit what can be constructed in Lake Vista. While most of us follow the restrictions, some do not; those who do not may find themselves the target of other neighbors, the Lake Vista Property Owner’s Association, the Levee Board* or the City of New Orleans. Some neighbors ‘want what they want’ when it comes to making changes to their property and ignore the restrictions when they prohibit ‘doing what they want.’ This is not really a ‘good neighbor’ policy!
It is very important to understand from where the restrictions come. If you visit the City of New Orleans Real Estate Archives, where files on each piece of property in Lake Vista are maintained, you will find the original conveyance and Bill of Sale from the Board of Commissioners for your property that explains the origin and purpose of the restrictions. You will see that the original purchaser entered into a contract to purchase the parcel and executed additional terms and conditions.
“It is the desire, purpose and intention of the Board of Levee Commissioners of the Orleans Levee District to create a select residential subdivision in Zone Two of the Lake Front Improvement, wherein the property herein conveyed is located, and in order to carry out the purpose and intention and to afford mutual protection to all purchasers of lots in this subdivision, it is necessary that this property be conveyed with certain conditions and restrictions. Therefore, the property herein conveyed is sold and transferred subject to the express conditions and restrictions hereafter named, and the purchaser binds himself, his heirs, assigns and successors forever to comply with said conditions and restrictions and to make no use of said property in violation thereof.
“Said conditions are enumerated in the printed form of restrictions which is attached hereto and made part hereof, as though written herein in extensor, the same being signed by the purchaser and paraphed by the undersigned Notary, which said restrictions constitute a servitude running with the land being conveyed.”
The original purchaser additionally signed a copy of the Building Restrictions which was notarized and attached to the Bill of Sale.
As you can see, the original intent was to transfer your property only under certain terms and conditions to ensure that the new owners, and all future owners, would conform to and build only that which was envisioned and carefully planned by the Commissioners. The restrictions so signed by the owners were clear and unambiguous in their intent to establish rules to ensure control over what can be built. The result is a neighborhood that maintains its ‘character’ over time. The character of Lake Vista has been maintained for 70 years and we should all support continued adherence to the restrictions.
For those who want to build or remodel outside the restrictions, they should be encouraged to visit the Archives and see that the original conditions and restrictions apply to all Lake Vista properties.
*What is commonly referred to as the Levee Board is actually the Board of Commissioners, Orleans Levee District, a division of the State of Louisiana. After Hurricane Katrina, the lake area communities were segregated from the levees and flood control structures (assets) and the recreational and real estate assets are now administered by the Orleans Levee District, Division of Non-flood Assets, also known as the LAKEFRONT MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY (LMA).