Tulsa Zoning: February 2005 Archives

The entry over at HFFZ is more cautious and circumspect in its conclusion, but it seems clear to me that Acting City Attorney Alan Jackere was in error in stating that the Oklahoma Constitution requires daily publication of notice a charter amendment for 21 days at least 20 days in advance of an election. The constitutional requirement applies to adoption of a charter, not to amendments, and the requirement gives cities the option of three publications in a weekly paper or 21 publications in a daily paper. Moreover, Mr. Jackere's opinion notwithstanding, there is nothing that forbids cities with a daily paper from opting for weekly publication.

Yet another misguided City Attorney's opinion overrules the law and the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives. His misjudgments always seem to promote the aims of the selfish development lobby. To be clear: There are plenty of good folks in the development business, but the people who control the Home Builders Association seem to believe they have the right to build anything they want, anywhere they want, and they have no respect for the property values of hundreds of thousands of people who own the homes they built and sold once upon a time. The selfish development lobby doesn't have any respect for the rules and procedures that were designed to protect everyone's property rights.

So when will Mayor Bill LaFortune let Mr. Jackere take his rightful place as a developers' attorney in the private sector and give us a City Attorney who believes his job is to serve the interests of all Tulsans? Probably never.

The mistake wasn't fatal?

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From tonight's Tulsa City Council meeting, about the proposed charter amendment to restore the zoning protest supermajority, a protection for property owners against arbitrary rezoning: Homeowners for Fair Zoning counsel Steve Denney just told the Council that the statute regarding the publication of a municipal election changed in 1996. The new requirement is three consecutive weeks, according to Denney, which is 15 days, not 22 days. So there is still time for proper notification. Alan Jackere, acting City Attorney, who seems to think that the City Attorney's office is a branch of zoning attorney Charles Norman's law firm, took issue with Denney's interpretation and said that there was a constitutional provision overriding the statute that Denney cited. Councilor Chris Medlock raised the possibility of seeking injunctive relief to allow the election to go ahead, given the clear and unanimous intention of the Council and the Mayor in support.

(UPDATE: You'll find links to the relevant statutes and constitutional amendments at this entry on HFFZ's news log.)

Brad Colvard, HFFZ president: "The Mayor's failure to stand up for Tulsa's citizens is noted." Colvard said he committed to support the bond issue, and still will, but asked if the city can't manage to get a simple measure on the ballot, why should Tulsans trust the city with $250 million.

Interesting: Chris Medlock noted that a speaker (Chris Jennings, if I heard the name correctly) against the charter amendment sat down next to Chamber CEO Jay Clemens and got an "attaboy". (Update -- 9:15 pm -- Bill Christiansen objects to Medlock pointing out what happened in the audience. Objection noted, Bill. We've all got your number, ducky.)

8:53 pm: Council just voted unanimously to move ahead with the bond issue on April 5th.

8:55 pm: Bill Christiansen wants to put the charter change on the next city-wide election, not in May -- can't afford another $100,000, he says. I think the $100,000 ought to come out the paychecks of whoever screwed this up. Starting with the Mayor.

Susan Neal is talking about "just folks" -- not just members of the development community -- who wanted to have a voice on the charter change proposal. Funny that none of these "just folks" are speaking out publicly.

Councilor Jack Henderson is saying that this sends a wrong message to the public -- that the Council can take a vote, but have it undone because of a clerical mistake.

A glossary of zoning terms


A friend from the Kansas City area sends along this cynical dictionary of land use and zoning phrases. Some samples:

Campaign Contributions: The first step in the zoning process.

Citizen Groups: Rabble.

City Council: A governing body representing developers.

Developer's Attorney: 1. A golfing buddy of city council members. 2. A campaign manager for city council members.

Eminent Domain: A developer's philosophy: "What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine."

Landscaping: The installation of trees, shrubs, and other plant materials in lieu of enforcing the proper zoning.

Master Plan: A fairy tale, updated yearly, which doesn't begin with "Once upon a time" and never has a happy ending.

Public Hearing: Private meetings between the governing body and developers--sometimes interrupted by uninvited citizens.

Zoning: The intended use of a land before a developer says otherwise.

A rumor has reached me that Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune may veto the charter change proposal that was passed unanimously by the City Council last week, which would keep the proposal off the April bond issue ballot. The proposal would restore the ability of property owners affected by a zoning change to file a protest petition. A sufficient petition would require the zoning change to receive supermajority approval by the Council. The charter change would restore a long-standing protection against arbitrary and capricious changes which can damage property values, a protection that was removed by a slanted City Attorney's office ruling -- a ruling that had to do more with positioning for a lawsuit than with fair interpretation of the law.

If Bill's going wobbly again, it means his developer buddies, who are used to getting whatever zoning change they want, have been beating down his door, probably threatening to come after him like they've gone after Councilors Medlock and Mautino. If you want the chance to vote to restore this protest petition protection, you need to let the Mayor know you expect to see it on the ballot, and if it isn't there you'll feel betrayed. As Brad Colvard pointed out to the Council, the charter change proposal will help the infrastructure bond issue pass, because it represents a promise to the people that the City has kept. If the proposal is taken off the ballot, it would be a breach of faith with the citizens of Tulsa, and I believe it will damage the bond issue's chances -- as well as Bill LaFortune's future prospects.

Someone has said that Bill LaFortune is like a pillow -- he bears the imprint of the last person who sat on him. I'd like to believe that assessment is wrong, but it's up to the Mayor to demonstrate otherwise. You might wish to give him some encouragement in that direction: MayorLafortune@ci.tulsa.ok.us

Homeowners for Fair Zoning has posted an announcement for its annual meeting on February 21. In addition to organizational business, there will be an update on the lawsuit over the City's improper rejection of the 71st & Harvard zoning protest petition. That entry includes a proposed rewrite of the group's mission statement, making it more about general principles -- the current statement is focused on the 71st & Harvard case.

The HFFZ news blog also takes a shot at the Tulsa Whirled for David Averill's Sunday op-ed ("Big lies from a sad little paper"). Visit the HFFZ home page to find links to video and audio clips of key City Council and planning commission meetings which illustrate the contempt in which ordinary citizens and their rights are held by many of our elected and appointed officials.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa Zoning category from February 2005.

Tulsa Zoning: January 2005 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Zoning: March 2005 is the next archive.

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