SB 1324 is still lurking

| | Comments (2)

Please join me in urging our State Representatives and State Senators to kill SB 1324, which would infringe upon local control of zoning and land-use decisions. The bill is still alive. Its author, Sen. Brian Crain, tells me that it is headed for conference committee, although I find nothing in the House or Senate Journals online to indicate that this step has officially been taken, and the conferees from each chamber have yet to be named.

This bill has its roots in the frustration of one developer, John Bumgarner, who didn't get everything he wanted as quickly as he wanted when he built a bank and parking lot that encroached upon a historic preservation overlay district and resulted in the demolition of three contributing homes to that district. He knew what the rules were when he bought the land, and he could have chosen to develop within those rules. By seeking a zoning amendment, he should have been open to the possibility that his request would be denied or accepted only on certain conditions. Had he been willing to compromise with the concerns of homeowners, who have their own investments to protect, he would have been able to start building much sooner.

But rather than work in a spirit of cooperation, he has sought to have the rules changed, not by our local legislature, who is in the best position to strike the balance between competing interests in the overall best interests of Tulsa, but by state legislators from Oklahoma City, Altus, Slapout, and Bugtussle. I was disturbed to learn that no Tulsa city councilors were consulted about this bill at any point in the process.

The threat is twofold. First, that other provisions of our zoning code would effectively be voided by legislative action -- possibly the provisions that you rely upon to protect the value of your home or business. Second, there is a continuing threat to historic preservation districts and urban conservation districts (OKC has the latter; Tulsa doesn't), because it appears to take design review out of the hands of the committees established for that purpose and gives it to the Board of Adjustment, then requires that all appeals of those decisions must involve expensive attorney's fees.

Please call your state legislators today and urge them to kill SB 1324. There is nothing in the bill worth salvaging.

To repeat from an earlier entry:

To find your State Senator and his e-mail address and phone and fax numbers, click this link and enter your address in the form.

I'd also encourage you to contact Sen. Brian Crain, the Senate sponsor of the bill, and respectfully register your concerns with him. Sen. Crain is a Republican representing near-eastern Tulsa. He has been a champion of homeowners' rights with regard to eminent domain, and I think he'll come down the right way on this if he understands our concerns.

To see the status of this bill and find links to the text of the bill, visit this page and enter "SB 1324" (without the quotes) in the "Measure Number(s)" box. Here is a Rich-Text Format file with the House-amended version of the SB 1324. If the Senate accepts it, it goes to the Governor.


CGHill Author Profile Page said:

The Mid-City Advocate, a weekly in central Oklahoma City, put HB 2559 and SB 1324 on the front page (albeit below the fold), and Crain is interviewed.

"What we're concerned about," he said, "is providing flexibility to cities and towns with zoning codes. What we have now is an inability to redevelop some existing areas because the zoning codes are so inflexible. They don't allow city councils to make any variances. So the first part of the bill allows communities more flexibility in zoning, and the second part just clarifies that if you have to appeal from the board of adjustment, you go to district court."

Sen. Bernest Cain (D-OKC) noted that building owners in Oklahoma City can take their proposals to the city council, but it's an arduous process - "and [this bill] would have sent a message to a lot of people that they could go through a process and not be under the restrictions of historic preservation."

And residents of historic districts in Oklahoma City, says the article, are "wary" of the bill. Janet Seefeldt of Gatewood:

"Allowing people to 'opt out' of complying with the stricter zoning in an historic preservation protected area would do nothing more than contribute to the destruction and decay that is continually creeping into inner cities all across our country."

Charles, thanks for posting that. It's almost verbatim what I remember Crain telling me over the phone when describing SB 1324. His rationale for the first part of the bill doesn't seem to match the actual language.

If a zoning code is too inflexible to allow redevelopment, the City Council has the power to change that. I'd be more persuaded if he cited some examples of developments that didn't happen because of the zoning code, or if he could say that city councilors approached him asking for help in fixing state law. In fact, he told me he had had no conversations with city councilors about the bill.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 12, 2006 6:48 AM.

Sun rises in the north? was the previous entry in this blog.

A tad triumphalistic? is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]