Planning Director 2015-10-16 at 12.04.43 PM

Dawn Warrick


Q: Why should people care that the zoning code has changed?

A: The zoning code establishes property rights and development opportunities for our property and our neighbors. It is important to understand how and what people can do with property and how it may impact others. In order to move Tulsa in the direction of our stated goals from the comprehensive plan (PlaniTulsa), we can’t continue to do things the way they have always been done since the early 1970s.

Economies, markets and society have all changed, leading to different expectations of our built environment. We have to take a bold step forward and enable the kind of development — the kind of future — Tulsans told us they wanted. Adjusting our land-use regulations is a huge step in that direction.

Q: What do you believe is the most important proposed change made to the zoning code? Explain why the change is significant and its impact on the community.

A: The introduction of mixed use-zoning. Having base zoning districts that allow a mix of complimentary uses reduces the need to rely on tools such as a Planned Unit Development, or PUD. The result is more predictable development for neighbors and a quicker administrative process for developers once an MX district is in place. I see that as a win-win-win for the applicant, neighbors and the city.

Q: What proposed change was not made to the code that you wish had been made?

A: Substantially improved/increased landscape requirements and more allowances for the use of low-impact development techniques. This was discussed at the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission hearing, and we will be doing some follow up on this matter in the coming months. Another topic that was not discussed much was transit. Requiring transit facilities such as stops, benches, stations and trail connections in and for large developments needs to be addressed. Land use and transportation networks must work together for cities to be successful.

Q: Do you believe the code changes have made developing a project in Tulsa easier or harder? Why?

A: Easier. This code offers a streamlined, reorganized and better illustrated document. Understanding how to access and use regulations is a large part of the challenge for property owners. This document is much easier to use. It will help applicants as well as staff. Also, regulatory changes to parking requirements will make developing infill sites much more attainable and productive. This change is substantive and will allow us to accomplish many of the goals of PlaniTulsa related to infill development, better use of existing infrastructure and sustainability.

Q: What issue in the proposed zoning code update would you encourage city councilors to examine most closely? Why?

A: The public comment. While every statement from the public may not have made it to the final draft of the code — there were more than 400 — I can’t stress enough the importance of the process that derived this document. We try to be very collaborative and inclusive, planning with the community. It can sometimes feel chaotic but without the voice from all interested parties, we run the risk of having unbalanced plans or regulations. There is value in hearing different points of view, balancing that input with adopted policy and trying to shape an outcome that is in the best interest of the city as a whole.

Q: If you were king or queen for a day and you could change one thing about the new code, what would you change?

A: It is hard to look at the multi-year process and wish for a different outcome. The code that has been crafted and vetted for consideration by the City Council represents a solid step toward implementation of PlaniTulsa. I appreciate the time and commitment so many have given to this project and believe it carries Tulsa forward substantially. I hope we treat this zoning code as the living and adaptable thing it is intended to be. If something just isn’t working for the community, we should acknowledge it and work together on a change that will better address whatever issue has been recognized without waiting decades to improve and codify appropriate edits.