Time for an adjustment


Tulsa City Councilor Jim Mautino has proposed a significant change to the process of land use regulation. The usual suspects have reacted with shock and horror, breathing threats of vengeance. It fits the template I posted a couple of days ago: A city councilor makes a proposal to address a need or concern that has been around for a long time, but which has been ignored by previous councils. The city establishment responds as if it is being subjected to medieval torture.

Mautino wants citizens to be able to appeal Board of Adjustment (BoA) decisions to the City Council, rather than having to hire an attorney and go to District Court to reverse or amend the decision. Homeowners say that some BoA decisions can have a negative impact on neighboring properties, but the cost of appealing those decisions is beyond the means of many property owners. Developers are concerned that putting the City Council in the loop will politicize land use decisions and adds a degree of uncertainty and delay that would make many projects uneconomical.

To my eyes, that looks like the starting point of a discussion about what the real problems are and the fairest way to answer both sets of concerns. But for snarling loonies like Tulsa Metro Chamber Bob Poe, it's one more reason to destroy these city councilors.

In another post, I'll get into the technicalities -- what the Board of Adjustment does, how it differs from the planning commission, and some of the problems that have led Councilor Mautino to propose this change. My feeling is that this proposal would be just another patch on another heavily patched and broken land use system that doesn't fit Tulsa's needs any more, as we transition from developing open space to redeveloping in already developed neighborhoods. We need to find an approach that offers more certainty to everyone involved in the process, rather than making the outcome dependent on the skill of lawyers and the whims of unelected board members. We need a system that protects us against land-use situations that really do create problems, while allowing the creativity of the market freedom to work. We need a system that will help us build the kind of city we want to live in. It's time to have that conversation.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 8, 2004 6:26 AM.

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