Tulsa Zoning: May 2009 Archives

This week in Urban Tulsa Weekly, I've covered a variety of topics: First Presbyterian Church's exciting plans to replace a surface parking lot with a beautiful new addition to their downtown complex, whether the BOK Center should charge a per-ticket fee to cover Tulsa Police Department overtime relating to event nights, and a few parting thoughts on the PLANiTULSA process.

That's right: parting thoughts. This issue contains my last column for UTW, at least for now.

I had written a brief farewell at the end of the column, but it was edited out, presumably for space reasons, so I'll post it here:

And with that I'll say goodbye for now. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have been part of the UTW team for almost four years. Many thanks to the UTW readers who took time to read my words, who wrote in with praise and with criticism, and who voted my blog, batesline.com, Absolute Best of Tulsa two years in a row. Best wishes for continued success to the staff, management, and advertisers of Urban Tulsa Weekly.

I'm sad to be leaving but pleased to have made a significant contribution to UTW and, I hope, to the public debate. By my count, starting with the September 15-21, 2005, issue, I produced 194 weekly columns -- without a break -- plus several extra op-eds, cover stories on Tulsa bloggers, the 2006 city election, the history of our plans for the Arkansas River, and PLANiTULSA, and a few other feature stories and news items, and even a handful of photographs.

In the process, I've had the pleasure of working with some very creative and talented people, attended a dozen or so editorial meetings, met a lot of interesting Tulsans in many walks of life, spent a lot of time at the Coffee House on Cherry Street and Shades of Brown, and even handed out candy in the Boo-Ha-Ha parade. It's been fun, and there's a lot I'll miss about it.

It's no small feat to start an independent weekly paper and to keep it going for 18 years, and Keith Skrzypczak and his wife Julie (who oversees the paper's operations) are to be admired for their achievement. I'm thankful, too, that Tulsa's alt-weekly truly is an editorial alternative to the daily paper, publishing free-market and pro-life voices alongside the left-wing columnists and cartoonists more typical of the alternative press.

So why will I no longer be writing for UTW?

Recently UTW established a "freelancer's agreement," a standard contract for all freelance contributors, including writers and photographers. The agreement includes a "work made for hire" provision, which means that UTW would own all rights, including the copyright, to anything I submit for publication during the term of the agreement.

For many freelancers, that won't be a cause for concern, but to borrow a phrase from Roscoe Turner, "I've got a problem with that." By giving up all my rights, I could be setting up problems down the road should I want to incorporate into future projects any of the material I would write under the agreement.

In my weekly column, I've researched and analyzed current local issues and tried to put them into historical and political perspective. I've discussed urban design and planning concepts used elsewhere and applied them to Tulsa's circumstances. Beyond the immediate value of a column to the public conversation in the week it's published, I think there's some long-term value as well.

That value might take any number of forms, such as a book or a documentary on the history of Tulsa in the early 21st century or on Tulsa's post-World War II transformation. Such a project is many years in the future, I suspect, which is all the more reason for me to avoid agreeing to something now that creates obstacles for me in a decade or two. What if UTW is sold to a chain of weeklies or goes out of business? (God forbid on both hypotheticals.) Those possibilities seem very remote today, but a lot can happen in 10 or 20 years, and if they happened, who would own the rights to my work under the agreement? Would I be able to get permission to use my own work? Who knows?

At the very least, I would want to continue to retain enough rights for anything I write to be able to keep it accessible on the web.

There are no hard feelings here. UTW is doing what it deems prudent in requiring a standard agreement from all freelancers. I'm doing what I deem prudent by choosing not to submit work under those terms.

I will continue to post news and vent my opinions here at BatesLine on a fairly regular basis, along with interesting links (on the left side of the homepage) and the occasional tweet on Twitter. (My latest 10 tweets can be found on the right side of the BatesLine homepage.)

As for long-form commentary, I'm exploring some possibilities, but for the immediate future I will be using my now-free Sunday afternoons and evenings to catch up on chores around the house. I've been thinking about doing a podcast. (If that's of interest to you, let me know. I'm not much of a podcast listener myself, but I know many people prefer it to reading articles online.)

I wish the staff, management, and ownership of Urban Tulsa Weekly all the best for the future.

About 500 Tulsans turned out at Cain's Ballroom last night for the debut of the PLANiTULSA "Which Way, Tulsa?" survey. There were audio problems: The speakers were hard to hear. The music after the presentation was good but too loud for conversations. I found myself in front of Cain's, standing in a light mist and talking about parking requirements, then continuing the conversation over a beer at the Soundpony, then, on my way to my car, bumping into some friends in front of Lola's, where I was invited inside by another friend to join the planning team and some of my fellow members of the citizens advisory team. So the loud music drove the conversation about PLANiTULSA out into the surrounding neighborhood.

The survey is online, along with a lot of background information. I haven't cast my ballot yet -- still studying the options. These detailed scenario maps go beyond those printed in the survey, showing locations of the types of development that were used to calculate the population, employment, and infrastructure numbers for comparing the scenarios. (I'd like to see a version that allows me to zoom in and turn layers on and off.)

A friend suggested holding a public discussion group about the pros and cons of the scenarios -- not as big as a forum, small enough to have a real conversation. I'll keep you posted if one is held.

Tonight at Cain's Ballroom, 423 N. Main, from 6 to 8, the PLANiTULSA "Which Way Tulsa?" survey will be unveiled tonight. Four different scenarios for future growth and development will be on display, and Tulsans will have the opportunity, online or on paper, to rank the scenarios according to preference. The results of the survey will guide Fregonese Associates in the preparation of a new comprehensive plan for the city, which will ultimately go before the City Council for final approval.

You can read more about the scenarios and the survey in my column in the current issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly.

The Tulsa metropolitan area is projected to grow by 164,000 people and to add 53,000 jobs over the next two decades. The scenarios provide different answers to the questions that are at the heart of a comprehensive plan: How much of that growth do we want the City of Tulsa to capture? What do we want that growth to look like? Where in the city would we like it to go?

There's a related question Tulsans need to answer: How much of the roughly $2 billion that will be spent on new transportation infrastructure during the next 20 years should go to street and highway widening and how much toward various forms of mass transit?

How we answer those questions and the development policies we adopt as a result will influence the kind of city our children and grandchildren will experience.

Today's Tulsans are living with the impact of planning decisions made more than 50 years ago, when our expressway network was mapped out and a development pattern for new neighborhoods was established. That pattern of single-use development, segregating where we live from where we work, shop, worship, study and play, was enshrined in our vintage 1970 zoning code.

MORE: Also in the current week of UTW, nominations have begun for this year's Absolute Best of Tulsa awards, which has an expanded music section for 2009.

From the City of Tulsa Planning Department, notice of a meeting to gather public input on how best to use Tulsa's share of federal historic preservation funds:

The Tulsa Preservation Commission invites Tulsans to participate in the development of the City of Tulsa's Annual Certified Local Government Program.

A meeting will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 14, 2009 to receive public input. The meeting will be held on the 10th Floor of City Hall @ One Technology Center, located at 175 E. 2nd Street in downtown Tulsa. Parking is available at the southeast corner of 2nd & Cincinnati.

A portion of the U.S. Department of the Interior's Historic Preservation Fund is allocated for participation in the Certified Local Governments program. Each year, the Tulsa Preservation Commission uses this money to facilitate preservation within our City. Citizens can provide assistance in identifying ways to best use the 2009-2010 funds.

Funds can be used for such projects as:

  • Inventory and/or National Register Nomination of historic resources within the community;
  • Increasing public awareness of historic preservation; and
  • Preparing amendments or updates to the Tulsa Historic Preservation Plan and Historic Preservation zoning program.

With your support we can continue to build on Tulsa's preservation achievements.

Please contact Amanda DeCort, City of Tulsa Planning Department, at (918) 576-5669 for more information.


Here's a very insightful comment by someone with the handle "innercityartisan," posted next to my column about the PLANiTULSA small-area workshop for Forest Orchard, about the way expressways and other barriers to pedestrian and auto traffic on surface streets can blight a neighborhood. It also provides a picture of living in and near downtown a generation ago. (Emphasis added.)

I was there at the meeting. And I grew up in this area in the 50's and 60's. The more I think about the idea of removing the east leg of the IDL, the more I like it!

As kids, we walked or took the bus downtown to the movies. I walked to Central H. S., my gym class played field hockey in Central Park. At noon we students ran around a very busy downtown for lunch and did all our teenage shopping in the department stores and record store. We knew all the "secret" ways to get from one building to the next and across alleys. We were at home downtown, we felt safe and in a way we were supervised by the tens of thousands of people that lived and worked in the inner city.

My grandfather, a geologist, had his office in the Mid-Continent Building. We went to parades, enjoyed the Christmas lights and explored eateries with him.

I am now involved with the Pearl District and where I grew up and work in my home between the Gunboat Parks within the IDL. I am also involved with the Brady Arts District and the East Village at 3rd and Lansing. All these areas suffer because of the "Great Divide."

As has been recognized by other more recognized writers and activists, any city area that runs up against a large "dead" tract of land such as an expressway right-of-way, with no through foot traffic, tends to die and shrivel away. Large parking lots such as those around Hillcrest Hospital or cul-de-sacs and turnarounds that stop through traffic and long chain link fences can mean blight to a neighborhood.

After all, how can your neighborhood become an area that people discover and want to visit or live in if no one ever goes into or through it? And how can you feel safe living, walking or playing with no one around to keep an eye on things?

The only people to "discover" the Brady district have come for events at Cain's and the Old Lady on Brady and most of them don't stay. The Brady area is not so "alive" with activity in many continuous storefronts that a person can feel completely safe walking alone at night. Few people live there. Visitors don't tend to stop and explore. Hopefully the Ball Stadium will increase the number of buildings and residents.

I'm concerned that the vision for the Pearl District with shops and restaurants, small grocery stores, dry cleaners etc. will not happen in development areas placed next to the IDL. This condition also effects the "East Village" or "East End" which is directly across the IDL from the Pearl district. And yet these two neighborhoods could exponentially increase, the interest, excitement and potential resources available for walking residents and visitors if they were actually more connected and accessible to each other. The existing few overpasses between these areas feel long, exposed and very windy!

Get rid of the IDL or cross it with overpasses that have buildings on them. Something that encourages people to hang out and provide a friendly safe environment.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa Zoning category from May 2009.

Tulsa Zoning: April 2009 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Zoning: June 2009 is the next archive.

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