Updated Zoning Code Needed for the Future
Commentary By DEWEY F. BARTLETT JR.
Mayor of Tulsa
PLANNING FOR DEVELOPMENT: The City of Tulsa is currently working on an updated zoning code that includes strategies for mixed-use development, such as the GreenArch development in the Greenwood District, pictured above, parking, and transitions from commercial to residential corridors with a focus on preserving unique neighborhood characteristics.
Courtesy City of Tulsa
Tulsa has come quite a ways since the ‘70s. Our city is more sophisticated and complex than it was 45 years ago and along with that comes new challenges.
In 2010, thousands of Tulsans recommended new directions for future growth in the city’s Comprehensive Plan update, PLANITULSA. This included recommended policies to promote a more livable, pedestrian-friendly and cost-efficient city. An updated zoning code will further position Tulsa to compete with other cities.
The proposed zoning code update includes strategies for mixed-use development, parking and transitions from commercial to residential corridors with a keen focus on preserving unique or desirable neighborhood characteristics. Our zoning code update will not affect the zoning designations of existing properties in Tulsa. It will allow property owners to have more options for their properties and the tools they need to make it easier to do so.
It’s also important to know, if a property is zoned currently for single-family, it will remain so after the update. Property development regulations won’t change in fundamental ways. However, nearby changes could be substantial over time. For example, a strip mall owner may want to redevelop and request a rezoning-to-mixed-use development. Upon notification, nearby property owners can weigh in before a decision is made.
We also must take into account that Tulsa’s future growth will occur more often on previously developed land. This type of infill development presents challenges that don’t occur in new suburbs: land can be expensive with smaller parcels, and neighbors’ concerns must be considered. We need to ensure infill growth is a feasible, compatible and competitive option for Tulsa.
Our city planners and the Citizens Advisory Team have drafted a new ordinance for zoning updates. It’s been a work in progress with opportunities for citizens to submit questions and ideas – both online and in group meetings. We’ve received more than 1,700 citizen interactions that will help us grow and prosper.
Duncan Associates of Austin, Texas, has worked more than two years on the zoning code update with city officials. They’ve also helped to update the city’s subdivision regulation, which is how a property’s shape is carved. Once our zoning code update is finalized, it will go to the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission and the Tulsa City Council for adoption. Both bodies will hold public hearings to provide more opportunities for comment and consideration before calling for a vote.
This is an exciting time for Tulsa. I’m looking forward to seeing our new zoning plan implemented to bring us up to modern times and positively impact our city’s future growth. For a look at our Zoning Code Update, please visit planitulsa.org.