Tulsa City Councilors Approve Zoning Changes Designed To Bring More Housing Options

Wednesday, October 20th 2021, 9:34 pm

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Tulsa city councilors voted Wednesday night to approve zoning changes designed to bring more apartments and condos to downtown.

The goal of this zoning change is to give property owners and developers more options to build duplexes or townhomes and add properties to vacant lots, without as many hoops to jump through.

City councilors approved the Neighborhood Infill Overlay that cuts down on restrictions for developers and property owners in several neighborhoods near downtown.

Neighborhoods had the option to opt out and three of them chose to do that. 

Many people in the Riverview neighborhood were divided on the issue. Those in favor of the plan say it will bring more affordable living and diversity to the neighborhood, along with some much-needed growth and change.

Related Story: Some Tulsa Residents Express Concerns Over Proposed Zoning Changes

The Neighborhood Infill Overlay would affect five downtown Tulsa neighborhoods; Greenwood Unity Heritage, Crutchfield, The Pearl District, Riverview/Cherry Street, and Owen Park/Crosble Heights in Blue.

Travis Hulse, principal city planner, said his office has been asking residents for feedback since last year. He said the idea is to reduce restrictions for developers to bring more multi-family housing for downtown Tulsa, something he said downtown has been lacking. 

He said the city's goal is not to disrupt or destroy neighborhoods, but to add housing where it's needed, primarily in any vacant lots or properties. 

"The change and the historic character of neighborhoods surrounding downtown is not something we support," Hulse explained. "Throughout the development of the Neighborhood Infill Overlay, we hope that this provides options for development of housing in a variety in areas that are currently lacking and where we have vacancy."

People against it say they believe it will hurt the history and charm of the neighborhood and think it'll create a parking disaster. Plus, they're worried about apartments being built next door to homes.

City councilor Kara Joy McKee said the plan has been in the works for a year and has been well researched. She thinks it's the best option for a thriving and diverse downtown.

"I heard so many neighbors who said the kind of housing you're welcoming with the missing middle overlay, is the kind of housing my family needs," McKee said. "That we would be priced out without these options."

McKee said there is still opportunity to make changes to the plan going forward.