On the afternoon of August 6th, 2014 several members of the Smart Growth Tulsa Advisory Board were introduced to a well-attended First Wednesday TulsaNow monthly meeting at Foolish Things Coffee Company.   We appreciate the hospitality shown to us by everyone at TulsaNow, their leadership and especially Carlos Moreno, President.

Since the beginning, TulsaNow has been supportive of Smart Growth Tulsa, being among the first organizations to become an affiliate.  Since we share many values and aspirations some have asked if SGT is duplicating services, a fair question.   During the question and answer portion of the meeting we attempted to answer that and a number of other questions as best we could.

Question: Three very similar questions asked; “How can we as individuals support Smart Growth Tulsa?” “What do we need to do to demonstrate our support for good land use policy?” and “What should we do now?”

Answer:  Visit our website: SmartGrowthTulsa.Com, save it to your favorites and become an individual member by signing up for our Newsletter.  While there, click the link to follow us on our SmartGrowthTul Twitter account and or receive our CSS feed.

Next, please visit and “Like” our Facebook Page.  Then rate our Facebook Page (5 stars of course), and consider writing a review about how our page provides you with timely and relevant information and advocates for the planning objectives you support.

If you are a member of any organization that could benefit from support by Smart Growth Tulsa, please contact their leadership and ask them to consider an affiliate membership with SGT.

Question:  “What does Smart Growth Tulsa bring to the table that does not already exist?”

Answer:  Until Smart Growth Tulsa came along there was no unifying organization seeking to leverage the unique assets of varied groups and organizations which share common core values.  By doing so, SGT enhances the credibility and reach of each individual organization and creates strength through numbers.

Question:  “What is the role of Smart Growth Tulsa?” What is its goal?

Answer: Our organization is growing at a rapid pace and as we grow we are seeking input from our friends, followers and affiliate member organizations.  Our Mission Statement is: To Advocate and Shape Smart Public Policy.  We presently see our role as focusing in two areas.

By organizing groups that share common values we will be supporting our member organizations, working collaboratively with them and amplifying their voice.  By sharing our affiliate’s messages and events we seek a collective voice that is stronger through unity, promoting each ones special area of focus.

Second, we also seek to educate policy makers, elected officials, business leaders and the public on the benefits of applying smart growth principles and practices.  The goal of course is to improve the quality of life for all Tulsans and to insure a more sustainable future.  To that end we seek a regulatory system that incentivizes smart growth development practices in the built environment, both public and private.

Question:  “What has happened to the Comp Plan; is momentum finally building?”

Answer:  Yes, although many would prefer a faster pace, progress has been made.  A Complete Streets policy has been adopted by the city.  A Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan is being developed.   Fast Forward, the Tulsa Regional Transportation System Plan was adopted in 2011.  A highly respected consultant and Citizens Advisory Team has been working over the past 3 years on the draft of an updated zoning code.  Several small area plans have been completed and adopted and others are in the works.  Capital funding for a high-frequency newly branded bus service has been approved along a major north south corridor.

Question:  “Developers and business interests in Tulsa seem to be the strongest in opposition to implementing and executing PlaniTulsa and formed based codes, why, and how can SGT work to get them on board?”

Answer:  Real estate development is a risky business; not for the feint hearted.  Smart Growth Tulsa advocates recognize and appreciate the challenges facing developers in finding opportunities, securing financing, navigating cumbersome regulatory restrictions and managing construction.

In spite of the fact that smart growth development practices actually simplify the process by making it more predictable, many old guard developers are highly resistant to change.  To be blunt, it’s doubtful that we will ever get some of them “on board.”

What we need in Tulsa is a new breed of real estate developers who embrace the global trend towards more people oriented development.  Those bright, forward thinking, creative and visionary potential developers are the ones we are targeting.  We will do everything we can to help them by encouraging our policy makers to incentivize smart growth development practices that provide maximum return on both public and private investments.

Question:  ‘Sometimes “Smart Growth” seems to be equated with liberalism, how does the conversation find common ground across political lines or other divisions?’

Answer:  There are an increasing number of high profile conservative leaders, conservative organizations and conservative think tanks that recognize the fiscal benefits of smart growth practices.  What can possibly be more conservative and more cost effective than utilizing existing infrastructure rather than create new thereby adding to the tax-payer’s burden?

Here are a few sites that help establish the “conservative” credentials of true smart growth principles and practices:  Smart Growth for Conservatives, Bacon’s Rebellion, Planetizen, Next City.

Question:  “It seems that branding smart growth and transit as attractive to the highly educated turns off the less educated; they look at it as a “liberal” idea instead of a conservative investment. Could we consider re-branding form-based-codes and smart development as a conservative investment of tax revenue?”

Answer: “Smart Growth is not a partisan issue; everyone wants positive development; even independents can get on board. The zoning code update will provide a new mixed use development tool.

Question:  “Are there specific projects Smart Growth Tulsa can highlight as examples of the kind of growth we want to have so people can see it before they buy in?”

Answer:  Every day the SGT Facebook Page provides numerous examples of what other communities are doing to employ smart growth development practices.  “Like” the page and watch your timeline light up with great models and illustrations of smart growth, both in principle and in practice.

Question:  “Can Smart Growth Tulsa work with developers that want to do small scale projects that exemplify the principles of Smart Growth?”

Answer:  While it is not the mission of Smart Growth Tulsa to work directly with developers we would welcome any opportunity to provide support for those willing to pursue smart growth projects.

Question:  “How do you select affiliate member organizations?”

Organizational memberships are by invitation.  We encourage any group interested in an affiliate membership to contact us at Administrator@SmartGrowthTulsa.Com.    We seek to partner with organizations that promote community building, respect for the environment, improved mobility options, better health outcomes, aging with dignity, safe spaces and routes to school for kids, more housing choices, sustainable development practices, historic preservation, accountable and transparent government, equity, security, inclusivity, diversity, equality,  human dignity and empowerment for all.

In closing we once again acknowledge the important role that TulsaNow plays in our community.  We encourage all of our members and supporters to visit their Website, “Like their Facebook Page, join their organization and be an active participant in their online forums.

 

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