Assessor Yazel plots plats; time-lapse picture of Tulsa growth

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Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel has added a cool new feature to his office's already very useful website.

It's a Google Maps application showing boundaries of Tulsa County subdivision plats filed between 2001 and 2010. A subdivision plat defines blocks, lots, and easements for streets and utilities. It establishes a simple way to define a parcel for purposes of establishing ownership, value, and tax status. Much easier to refer to Lot 5, Block 3 of Shady Acres subdivision than to use metes and bounds as the legal description for a piece of property.

Subdivision plats also serve as a useful proxy for new development. Clicking on the years in sequence reveals where the interest and activity has been -- and what areas have been passed over.

Most of the plats represent brand new subdivisions on previously unplatted land. Some represent resubdivisions of previously developed land -- for example, the gated communities or townhouse developments that have sprung up in the Midtown money belt replacing single-family ranch-style homes on large lots.

The application allows you to pick and choose individual years in any combination and whether to look at commercial, residential, or tax-exempt plats, or any combination of the three. The developer is to be commended for providing that degree of flexibility. Since it's a Google Maps app, you can zoom in and switch between satellite and map view.

Thanks again to Assessor Ken Yazel and his team for this increasingly helpful website.

FURTHER REFLECTIONS:

1. Despite all the development activity in the Midtown money belt over the last decade, and despite the fact that more often than not, new development appeared to be denser than what it replaced, Council District 9 lost population, which suggests that all infill development is not created equal when it comes to maintaining the city's population and sales tax base. My suspicion -- the new Midtown housing is much more expensive than what it replaced, targeted to DINKs and empty-nesters, out of reach for families with kids, particularly families paying private school tuition or homeschool expenses rather than moving to suburban schools. The discrepancy between plats and population could also mean that the new developments simply didn't sell.

Keep in mind that a plat is just a definition of lots; it doesn't guarantee that streets or homes will be built. Max Meyer (Lewis Meyer's "Preposterous Papa") platted part of his land near Kellyville in Creek County, but the imagined subdivision was never built. In the days before ubiquitous satellite map imagery and the Census Bureau's TIGER database, I could always tell the lousy map companies because they showed platted but non-existent streets in east Tulsa. (Some of the map makers even assumed that Mingo went all the way through between 11th and 31st St, likely mistaking the imaginary north-south section line for an actual street.)

2. The year-by-year table of plats and lots shows 2006 as the peak for new residential development, a 50% increase in lots over the previous year's level. The number of lots fell off by 20% sharply in 2007, but was still higher than the 2003-2005 plateau. I wonder if that rang any alarm bells in the development community. It certainly didn't seem to penetrate through to the budget planners at City Hall.

3. Most residential subdivision development in the Twenty-Naughty-Naughts occurred outside the Tulsa city limits, around Broken Arrow, Bixby, Jenks, and Owasso. This explains why homebuilder association support for a Tulsa City Council candidate should be viewed with suspicion. They don't necessarily have the City of Tulsa's best interests at heart. It also explains why homebuilders objected so vehemently to the Gang of Four's (Henderson, Medlock, Turner, Mautino) insistence that City of Tulsa resources should be used to build infrastructure to develop the City of Tulsa.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 13, 2011 7:15 PM.

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