PLANiTULSA survey summary released

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Over the last month, the Austin-based opinion research firm Collective Strength has been polling Tulsans, conducting in-depth interviews with about 90 civic leaders and elected officials and then did a thousand-person telephone poll, using U. S. Census data to stratify the results. The aim was to create a "values framework" for the Comprehensive Plan process -- to find out what Tulsans of all areas, races, and income levels are worried about and what their priorities are for the city, and to use that information to be sure that there isn't a disconnect between the concerns of Tulsans and the outcome of the planning process.

A "prefinal" version of the research presentation has been released. The PLANiTULSA prefinal research presentation, a 204 KB, 48-page PDF, includes both the Powerpoint slides and the notes, which includes some of the "crosstabs" -- how respondents in different parts of town and of different races answered the questions. There are a lot of specifics I'd like to bring to your attention, but for now, I just want to make it available for you to peruse. Later this month, we should see a full data dump released to the public.

On Tuesday morning, KFAQ's Pat Campbell interviewed Collective Strength's Robin Rather about the results of her polling. It's an informative interview: Pat asks great questions, and Robin has solid answers, presenting a good summary of the most important findings from the survey. They discuss the highest priorities -- the consensus over a "basic services agenda," starting with streets -- and the recurring concerns about the disconnect between ordinary Tulsans and our leaders and about the dominance of wealthy and powerful interests in local decision-making. It's also interesting to hear Pat and Robin exchange personal observations about Tulsa, as both of them are new to the city.

After I heard Robin's presentation of her preliminary findings last month, I borrowed a dental metaphor head planner John Fregonese used and wrote in my June 25 column, "Rather is tapping Tulsa's teeth, and her probing has hit several sore spots."

I hope Tulsans will use these findings as the starting point for some honest community dialogue. I'm concerned because I'm already hearing that city officials are asking the planning team to downplay the widely-held concerns that the wealthy and powerful will wield too much influence over the plan and its implementation. I've been told that local officials wanted to downplay the poll result that Arkansas River development was a high priority for only 31% of those polled. (In north and east Tulsa, it polled as a high priority for 22% and 20% respectively.)

I didn't catch this, but someone told me that at last night's TulsaNow event, Fregonese glossed over the final two "worries" about the disproportionate influence of the wealthy and about Tulsa's leaders being out of touch with the needs of the citizens. This same person said he inquired of a city employee about this and was told that there was concern that raising these issues would "open Pandora's box."

It's about time we did.

After the jump, a few key summary slides from early in the presentation:

Perceptions Versus Reality

  • Reality: Tremendous consensus exists.

    • Clear and unified vision of top priorities - these revolve around a basic services agenda - street repair, education, health care

      • Need for new jobs, training and support for entrepreneurs

      • Balanced transportation investment and need for choices

      • Widespread understanding of which areas need resources and attention first

  • Perception: Big disconnect between city leaders, stakeholders and various segments of the City

People in Tulsa are Worried:
  • About the future
  • About keeping young people in Tulsa
  • About the economy
  • That those with money have too much influence
  • That city leaders don't understand their needs

In Depth Interviews: Key Themes

  • Paradox between Tulsa is perceived as a friendly city that has a generous spirit but is also seen as intolerant, "old school" and resistant to change

  • Well intentioned "oligarchy" is out of touch

  • Inclusivity is a significant problem

  • Fragmentation of the city along racial, class and geographic lines

  • Lack of unity - seems to be no way to pull it all together

  • Implementation of plans as envisioned and funding them are perceived as serious problems

  • Fatalism about lack of zoning and code enforcement and special favors for the wealthy

  • Economic stagnation and lack of identity

  • Competition with Oklahoma City - let alone the rest of the global economy

  • Fixing the streets - funding infrastructure investments generally

  • Too car oriented but not sure what alternatives are best in what combination

  • Preservation of historic architecture and traditional neighborhoods

  • Not a green or sustainable city - and have a long way to go to get there

  • Pride in the City - want the "swagger back"

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JW said:

"North Tulsa Leads as Priority For Future:
Downtown and Midtown Follow"

That right there is BS. According to the answers it is west Tulsa that follows. Stragely enough midtown wasn't even included in the preceeding results.

And this was just one example where the conclusions didn't follow the results.

Something tells me this process is already tainted.

Paul said:

I'm also concerned that city officials might be asking the planning team to downplay the widely-held concerns that the wealthy and powerful will wield too much influence over the plan and its implementation. I did see a man outside the OSU Tulsa auditorium with protest signs over the fact that there are no advisors from District 3.

I don't think John Fregonese glossed over the survey "worries" about the disproportionate influence of the wealthy and about Tulsa's leaders being out of touch with the needs of the citizens. He and Gary Reddick acknowledged that it's a problem in Tulsa. But keep in mind that they both have lived for many years in Portland, where community groups are much more included in the planning process. However, Fregonese did seem to hesitate at the notion that the final Comp Plan ought to be approved by Tulsa's electorate, even after Tuesday night's audience gave the idea a thundering round of applause.

Tyler said:

Isn't Robin Rather Dan Rather's daughter?

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 16, 2008 10:58 PM.

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