INCOG is not TMAPC -- once more again s-l-o-w-l-y

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There's a good article by Mike Easterling in the brand new edition of Urban Tulsa Weekly about the possibility that the City of Tulsa will establish its own in-house planning capability to replace the work it currently outsources to the Development Services department of the Indian Nations Council of Government (INCOG).

Easterling spoke to Tulsa City Councilors John Eagleton, Bill Christiansen, and G. T. Bynum, INCOG executive director Rich Brierre, urbanist / developer Jamie Jamieson, city Chief of Staff Terry Simonson, County Commission deputy Mark Liotta, TMAPC chairman Bill Leighty, former TMAPC member Elizabeth Wright, and me.

What was striking about the story was how often people who should know better confuse the TMAPC and INCOG, and confuse the various roles that INCOG fulfills with respect to the City of Tulsa. If I weren't a trusting fellow, I might think that those who wish to preserve the city's contract with INCOG for planning services were deliberately trying to confuse the issue.

Last March, I wrote a detailed explanation of INCOG's multiple roles, its relationship with the TMAPC and the City of Tulsa, and how that arrangement differs from the situation in other cities. It's worth reading in its entirety, but here's the gist:

The vital point here is that the City of Tulsa's relationship with INCOG as Metropolitan Planning Organization and the COG for the Sub-State Planning Area, its relationship with INCOG as provider of land planning services, and its relationship with TMAPC are not legally or logically interconnected. The City could choose not to renew its contract with INCOG for land use planning services and instead staff TMAPC and BoA internally. The City could move to a city planning commission like Oklahoma City's, while continuing to contract land use planning to INCOG. The City could even retain INCOG for land use record keeping but give City of Tulsa planners the job of analyzing and making recommendations on zoning applications and comprehensive plan modifications.

All of those choices are independent of each other, and none of them would affect Tulsa's relationship with INCOG as the COG for the sub-state planning area or as the Metropolitan Planning Organization for regional transportation planning.

So keep that in mind as you read the comments of Brierre and Liotta, both of whom make frequent reference to the TMAPC, which is not the organization under discussion.

Both Liotta and Brierre suggest that the current arrangement is a good deal for the taxpayers of the City of Tulsa. But if that's true, it's a rotten deal for the taxpayers of the Tulsa County residents of Broken Arrow, Skiatook, Owasso, and the other municipalities, all of whom are not only paying for their own planning staff and planning commission, but they're paying for the City of Tulsa's as well, with no benefit to themselves.

Liotta said the issue may be worth examining, and he said the county is certainly to open to anything that saves the taxpayers money. He just doubts that would happen in this instance.

"Probably not, would be my guess," Liotta said. "But that's something they need to study before they make that decision."

Brierre believes the city receives great value for its money under the current arrangement.

"If you look at (financial) support, it's a bargain for the city of Tulsa," he said. "The vast majority of the caseload is the city of Tulsa, but at this time, the county of Tulsa is providing the majority of funding to support the TMAPC.

Brierre said the city's share of the funding for the Planning Commission comes to only 40 percent, though approximately 90 percent of the cases that come before the TMAPC concern sites in the city.

If Liotta and his County Commissioner bosses are looking out for Tulsa County taxpayers, they should end this subsidy immediately, and they should be glad that the City of Tulsa wants out.

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1 Comments

JW said:

The problem is no one is united on one goal. There are two goals here. Pick one and deal with the other later. Do you:

1. Want to have control of your own development destiny? If yes, then withdraw from TMAPC and form a CoT Planning commission. Continue to contract services from INCOG.

2. Want to save costs on planning and development services? Do not rennew contract with INCOG and instead form a planning group within CoT.

I vote that everyone unite on 1, and achieving goal 2 can happen later. However, I think any new commission needs to be constructed in a way so that elected officials are held accountable. a commission member needs to be a surrogate of the councilor who is in turn at the mercy of his constituents. The current TMAPC is WAY too buddy buddy with the development lobby. There also needs to be new criteria for membership. It is time to rid the commission of people well connected to the development lobby.


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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 2, 2011 6:46 PM.

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