4 November 2003
I've mentioned before that I'm moving into one of Oklahoma City's Urban Conservation Districts, and that while some of the zoning restrictions therein might seem daunting, they were enacted at the request of a majority of the property owners therein, and, well, if I found them particularly onerous, perhaps I should have bought somewhere else.
Do districts of this sort, which in effect empower individual neighborhoods, threaten the status quo? Michael Bates certainly thinks so:
[M]y support for neighborhood empowerment (through the use of urban conservation districts) was why [the Tulsa World] wouldn't endorse me [for Tulsa City Council in 2002]. Averill [David Averill, of the World's editorial board] said that neighborhoods had opposed every good thing that had happened to Midtown, and they shouldn't be given any more clout to oppose progress. I cited several counter-examples to his assertion, but he was not interested in discussing the matter further.
The bottom line for the Whirled was this: If elected to the Council, I would be an obstacle to their vision for the redevelopment of Midtown, because I would work to protect the rights of homeowners and other property owners and make them a part of the decision-making process. I believe that we can accommodate growth and new development without endangering the character of our older neighborhoods, and with a minimum of red tape and regulation.
There are, of course, numerous examples where individual property owners have been given the back of the municipal hand, often to expedite the plans of politically-connected developers; the right of "eminent domain" is often abused. I don't know how well our little strip of the city will serve as any sort of bulwark, but it's a good thing that Oklahoma City is, at least for now, on our side and it's not so good that Tulsa's movers and shakers think so little of their residents.
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