Residents from three Tulsa neighborhoods push back against planning commission

TULSA, Okla. — Residents of three Tulsa neighborhoods near downtown spent Wednesday afternoon fighting to protect the historic character and features they said make their parts of town unique.

Residents of Owen Park, Tracy Park, and Burns Vista neighborhoods pleaded with the Tulsa Metro Area Planning Commission not to approve a special infill overlay district meant to encourage the building of new structures when lots become free, a property is sold to a new developer, or a structure needs to be changed.

The overlay would make it easier to build townhomes, duplexes, multi-unit home dwellings, and other types of structures currently not in place in these areas of town.

Residents had been speaking out against the overlay for months in meetings with city planning workers, and before any of them had a chance to speak at the meeting where approval would be considered, TMAPC commissioners were already planning to exclude the three neighborhoods from a zoning change.

Some residents, including those not living in the neighborhoods seeking exclusion but nearby, asked that their neighborhoods be included in the new overlay because outside of the three neighborhoods said they need help filling in vacant lots and repurposing rundown buildings.

Residents of Owen Park and Tracy Park said they were under the impression that their status on the National Register or Historic Places offered them some legal protections when it comes to keeping the character of their neighborhoods the same as they’ve always been. They encouraged TMAPC to work with them instead on historic zoning codes that protect their homes, and if someone wishes to change a property, they take it case by case and one at a time.

A common concern was also that adding more residences to these neighborhoods would cause parking concerns that their small neighborhood streets cannot handle once a multi-tenant facility is built and runs out of parking spaces on their site.

While Wednesday’s battle is considered a small victory for opponents of the change, the real battle will come in October when the issue is before city councilors for final approval. Wednesday’s decision by TMAPC to exclude the three neighborhoods is viewed as a big endorsement to their feelings about their side of town.