The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

10 January 2005

Preservation act

Tulsa's historic preservation ordinance is excessively weak, says Michael Bates:

HP overlay zoning can only be applied to residential areas — commercial buildings can't be covered. If a property owner wants to demolish an HP-zoned home, the most the City can do is delay demolition for four months, in hopes that the owner can be persuaded to sell it to someone who will keep the building standing.

Oklahoma City, conversely, applies the pertinent zoning overlay to an entire district, including both commercial and residential buildings within that district, and there are various gradations of overlay, from Historical Landmark (the most stringent) on down.

The point of an HP ordinance is to preserve the investment of homeowners who restore and improve their homes. When you demolish three historic homes to build a parking lot, you not only lose a part of a neighborhood, but homes that once were buffered from commercial development and major streets are now exposed, and they lose some of their value in the process. This can trigger a gradual erosion of the neighborhood from the outside in.

The criteria for demolition are stricter here also. (The Oklahoma City Municipal Code is kept in database form and can be searched.)

But the key to the issue, says Michael Bates:

[T]he Council should be working on improving our zoning code so that it recognizes the difference between 15th & Utica and 71st & Memorial. What works in one type of neighborhood may be destructive to another.

As we learned, more or less the hard way.

Posted at 8:00 AM to Soonerland