We have a plan…
Tulsa’s comprehensive plan was approved by the City Council in July of 2010. Since them we have observed a chorus of malcontent bordering on disgust at the perceived anemic pace of its implementation.
During the PlaniTulsa process, Tulsans clearly expressed the desire for change in the form of neighborhood revitalization, expanded housing choices, a diverse and strong economy, and more and better transportation choices in moving around town.
The plan is a product of unprecedented public engagement, developed by a leading consultant with guidance from thousands of Tulsans, and a volunteer citizen’s team. It is a sound business strategy that provides the framework for screening and evaluating public investment proposals.
It has arguably not enjoyed a robust advocacy under the present administration who continue to pursue outdated strategies that have become discredited and are being abandoned by more forward thinking communities across the country.
Locally it is clear the initial excitement and enthusiasm of the PlaniTulsa process has been lost and a sense of frustration and disillusionment has set in among many of the plan’s supporters. They say we must be less reactive and become more proactive, and more aggressive in implementing our plan.
We need to find a way to fund the small area plans and the grant writing capabilities that are key to successfully implementing our comprehensive master plan.
Tulsa enjoys some of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the country but the variety of housing options has been limited. As baby boomers continue to age there will be an increasing demand for alternatives to single family detached homes in favor of more multi-family homes. A better supply of economically diverse and healthy neighborhoods will help Tulsa attract new businesses, people, investment and jobs.
Smart Growth Tulsa advocates for quality and affordable housing in safe neighborhoods for people of all income levels. There is growing demand nationwide for housing in walkable neighborhoods with access to public transportation, parks and civic spaces. The entire community benefits when we create a wide range of housing choices whether it’s garden apartments, row houses, or traditional suburban homes.
A National Association of Realtors and Smart Growth America survey revealed that Americans favor communities with shorter commute times and more places to walk more than sprawling communities.
Building that kind of community will be a complex, long haul endeavor. The city will have to balance our short-term spending needs with our long-term desire for savings and efficiencies, which will require additional up front investments. That will necessitate a reorientation and better understanding of what it takes to build a competitive 21st Century city.
A diverse mix of housing options in smart growth neighborhoods including single-family homes of all sizes, duplexes, small and large apartments, studios above garages or shops, condominiums, and lofts – means people with different housing needs can all live in the same neighborhood. Those residents can remain in a neighborhood even if their housing needs change. This strategy helps homes retain and increase their value.
Smart Growth Tulsa supports a growth model that allows us to become financially strong and resilient while countering economic stagnation and decline with land use practices that force a dependency on public subsidies.
The inefficiencies of past policies have left many cities financially insolvent and unable to pay the maintenance costs of their basic infrastructure.
The current approach to growth has encouraged investments in new infrastructure to serve or induce new development. This outdated culture uses public dollars inefficiently, and destructively subsidizes one type of development over another, leaving massive maintenance liabilities to future generations.
Smart Growth seeks a higher return on existing infrastructure investments. We can no longer simply disregard old investments in favor of new ones but should focus instead on making better use of that which we have already committed to publicly maintain.
These Smart Growth goals are worthy of pursuit:
- Tulsa strives to become financially solvent in order to meet both near term and long term obligations. Seeking new suburban growth as a way to pay for current financial imbalances is not sustainable. Key Smart Growth Investments must not come at the expense of deferring much needed maintenance of existing infrastructure.
- Tulsa strives to grow the tax base and resources to cover long term financial commitments. Tulsa strives for a strategic capital improvements plan, that provides for basic infrastructure maintenance, and new public investments that are consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan
- Tulsa strives for age diversity so more population is added than what is lost. For planning purposes Tulsa provides for all generations.
- Tulsa strives for broad based economic diversity, vibrancy and employment opportunities favoring local entrepreneurship. Businesses should be added at a greater rate than they are being lost. Tulsa strives to provide access to capital and strong support systems for small businesses. Tulsa is careful not to misuse tax subsidies to artificially attract businesses.
- Tulsa has the vision, the courage and the leadership to plan for long term economic viability. Our community comes together to support our popularly conceived comprehensive plan.