Analysis: At times government and media listen. Well some of it, at times, maybe. In this case, city staff and the City Council offered an ordinance to restrict private property rights in the core of downtown Tulsa. It is a bad plan from a good thought – to preserve older buildings other people own because they are visually old/historic, some would then deny owner’s freedom.
The concept offered by the Tulsa Planning Department with some council support, restricts a property owner from turning downtown land into a surface parking lot. Board of Adjustment approval would henceforth be required. Surface parking lots in the area would be allowed only as an accessory use of the property and would have to be on the same property as the principal use. Under the proposal, downtown owners would have to show a building is unsafe or that there is a construction permit and zoning approval to replace the demolished structure with a new building.
This writer wrote on the issue here two weeks ago. Now, it appears that Mayor Bartlett and the Tulsa World Editorial Writers are agreeing with the Tulsa Today analysis. Did the earth’s magnetic center go astray? Don’t be worried, councilors may yet show themselves to be argumentative blowhards.
It is a recurring theme. Some people at all levels of society believe they can make a better world if only they had power over everyone else’s lives and property. The enduringly popular science fiction movie “Serenity” extrapolates the same concept. Top down control freaks always have a better plan.
Back to the present in Tulsa, the Planning Commission voted against the proposal 10-1 as significant numbers of property owners spoke against it at the Commission meeting, but that won’t stop the ordinance as the City Council could approve regardless. Thus Mayor Bartlett’s office has let it be known that he opposes the plan. The story is in today’s Tulsa World, click here for that story by Kevin Canfield. Bartlett was trying to avoid a public fight with Council.
Canfield does a straight up news story covering both sides, but in the same edition of the paper the Tulsa World Editorial Writers agree with the analysis posted on Tulsa Today. Yes, we are in shock. Headlined “Editorial: Don’t further restrict downtown property use,” the opinion piece may be reached by clicking here.
They write, “The Tulsa City Council should listen to the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission – and the expressed concerns of downtown landowners – and drop plans to further restrict land use within the Inner Dispersal Loop.”
Both editorial offerings suggest that this issue is not about surface parking (the catch phrase of proponents). Specifically Tulsa Today suggests that if the majority of Tulsans take personally the principle that any restriction on the rights of one reduces the rights of all then the Improve Our Tulsa proposals and individual campaigns for office could be impacted.
As today’s Tulsa World story details, Mayor Bartlett and his administration will stand for individual property rights – a conservative position. Former-mayor and candidate again, Kathy Taylor has not made a statement on the issue as of this posting, but from the record of her previous administration she is unlikely to support any restriction on government power.
The case for the proposal comes from Councilor Blake Ewing who asserts “the ordinance was intended to empower the city to preserve historic buildings after decades of watching its skyline erode.”
As we wrote two weeks ago, “Ewing may be registered Republican, but his comments reflect a typical Leftist. The skyline is not owned by elected city officials or their staff; it represents multiple individual and corporate investments. The greatest barriers to development in downtown Tulsa are taxes and fees with ever expanding permitting and regulation requirements.”
City staff and the Council should drop this proposed ordinance like the hot potato it has always been. We told you two weeks ago. The Mayor and the Tulsa World told you today and Tulsa Today is reinforcing the point.
So how arrogant will Council proponents appear if they continue to push this doomed plan? Unfortunately, we may soon know. Some are stubborn and often wrong.