Last (?) TMAPC hearing on PLANiTULSA tonight; small area plans

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Tonight, March 23, 2010, starting at 6 pm, is what may be the final session of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission's public hearing on PLANiTULSA, Tulsa's first comprehensive plan in a generation. If not everyone can be heard who wishes to speak, the TMAPC has the option to continue the public hearing on a later date, as they did following the March 10 session, but the members seem antsy to move on to the deliberation phase. If you have a comment on the plan and you can't be there in person, you can complete an online comment card or email your comments to and

The application of small-area planning -- a key component of PLANiTULSA -- continues to be a point of controversy, with the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa requesting that the use of the small-area planning process be restricted to "Areas of Change." It appears that the HBAGT wishes to preclude any planning process that might lead to adjustments in zoning for an area that they see as a target for redevelopment. The HBAGT also objects to using small-area planning in greenfield areas. Here (PDF format from original Microsoft Word file) are the HBAGT's comments on PLANiTULSA submitted by Paul Kane, CEO of the HBAGT, back on March 8, 2010.

In a nutshell, it would seem that the HBAGT doesn't want PLANiTULSA to change anything about the way they do business. It would seem that the HBAGT has no problem with other aspects of PLANiTULSA -- mixed-use development, redevelopment in north Tulsa and areas like the Pearl District, new, denser types of residential development -- because they don't have any plans to participate in those types of development.

Here is a link to the consolidated log to which Kane refers. (This link takes you to a collection of links to all submitted PLANiTULSA comments to date.)

I can't be at tonight's meeting, but I submitted a comment today urging the TMAPC to retain the original PLANiTULSA language regarding the use of small-area plans and not to accept language that would limit their use only to areas the HBAGT doesn't care about:

I am writing again to urge adoption of the PLANiTULSA vision and policy documents as our city's new comprehensive plan and to urge that they be adopted without substantial modification. If you choose to make substantial modifications, I urge you to forward both the original version (with minor scrivener's errors corrected) and the TMAPC-modified version for the City Council's consideration.

I am writing specifically to object to any modification that would rule out the use of small-area planning for Areas of Stability. Tulsa has already used the small-area planning process to develop an infill plan for Brookside, which covers an Area of Stability (residential) and the Area of Change (the business corridor along Peoria) it surrounds.

The same process would be useful for both Areas of Change and Areas of Stability: Define an area, identify the area's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, define the desired development for the area, define an implementation plan (zoning, infrastructure, capital improvements, incentives, etc.), approve the plan (via TMAPC and City Council). The process may be simpler and require less planning manpower for an area of stability than for an area of change, but the same general steps would be involved.

On p. 62, the PLANiTULSA Land Use document says, "A small area plan is any plan that addresses the issues of a portion of the city." Saying we will only use small area plans for Areas of Change would rule out the city's ability to work with area stakeholders to define such a plan to protect the desirable characteristics of a stable area from being undermined by destabilizing influences.

Blueprint Denver, a comprehensive plan developed by Fregonese Associates, identifies as criteria for selecting areas for Small Area Plans "stabilizing conditions that threaten Areas of Stability" and areas where there are "opportunities for substantial infill or redevelopment." Clearly, there are Areas of Stability in Tulsa where there are opportunities for substantial infill and where there are conditions that threaten stable areas. It is appropriate in such circumstances to gather area stakeholders and work with them to define the area's challenges and strengths, define the area's desired characteristics, and define an implementation plan to achieve those characteristics.

How small area plans for stable areas would be implemented in zoning is a matter for discussion and refinement during the implementation phase of PLANiTULSA. It is crucial, however, that at this phase we do not remove a useful tool -- small area plans -- from our planning toolbox and that we not restrict its use.
I also urge retaining the ability to use small area plans for greenfield development. It is crucial for traffic flow and for pedestrian and bicycle access to consider the development of new subdivisions in the context of abutting development, rather than in isolation. Tulsa has suffered from disconnected subdivision development patterns which force local traffic onto arterial streets and make it impractical for people to walk or bike to shopping, jobs, and recreation.

I regret that I will not be able to attend tonight's meeting in person. I would welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have.

I also made a suggestion for clarifying language regarding the use of small area plans in Areas of Stability. These ideas are scattered throughout the plan, but rather than be coy about these aims, we should say plainly what our goals are and how small area plans can help us reach those goals in a way that is predictable and stable for both homeowners and developers.

"We value our walkable traditional neighborhoods and commercial districts. Not only do we want to build more of them, we intend to protect the handful that have survived from before World War II and the dominance of auto-oriented development. We also value the stable, mature residential areas that have given Tulsa claim to the title 'America's Most Beautiful City.' Although these are in Areas of Stability, they are vulnerable to destabilizing influences.

"We intend to define objective design standards for infill development in these areas, standards that allow new development while protecting the attractive characteristics of these areas, and to incorporate those standards into our land use ordinance. We will use the small area planning process, involving area stakeholders at each phase of the process, to develop infill standards for these areas. Because these areas are developed and stable, an abbreviated version of the small area planning process will be used to plan these areas, which will not be as lengthy, intensive, or demanding on city planning resources as small area plan development for Areas of Change."

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Bob said:

Michael, looks like the Tulsa Metro ChamberPots prevailed on the TMAPC to leave the public commentary period open until April 28, nearly the entire 60 day delay that they requested.

Are the MetroChamberPots just slow readers, or is it because they've had everything their way for so long.......

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 23, 2010 5:22 PM.

PLANiTULSA notebook: Denver, small-area planning in areas of stability was the previous entry in this blog.

PLANiTULSA TMAPC hearing reaction is the next entry in this blog.

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