We will develop and implement new land development regulations that support the Land Use Typology Area system of integrated uses and greater flexibility and efficiency. Our current development ordinances date from a time when we valued low density and separation of different land uses higher than city life. The fact that low density increases the cost of services and infrastructure gives us pause. That, combined with our successes at building places that people want to experience has moved us in new directions. The zoning code, which divides the city into 26 single-use “base” districts, 7 special districts, and 16 overlay districts, discourages the trends toward new development forms. We must modernize these codes to implement the LUTA concept and provide both the flexibility and protection that benefit contemporary developers and their neighbors alike.
Despite its large number of specific districts, our zoning ordinance does not provide adequate protections for neighborhoods or guarantees to approving agencies on actual performance or design of projects. This forces the Planning Commission and City Council to use Planned Unit Developments (PUDs), tying developers to a specific project and building design. PUDs are actually intended for a different purpose – to encourage innovative, comprehensively planned developments– and are overly rigid when applied to more routine projects.
Revisions to Oklahoma City’s land development regulations could move in several directions, from modifying existing zoning districts with new performance and design standards to establishing a new structure that uses the Land Use Typology Areas as the basic development districts for the city. The LUTAs, as presented in Chapter Two, permit a variety of uses, but establish permitted ranges of development intensity. The LUTA system achieves compatibility between different types or intensities of uses by implementing performance standards, design guidelines, and transitional methods. These techniques give specific and predictable guidance to builders and developers, and address such areas as operating effects, traffic, parking, design, scale, and safety, avoiding the unnecessary overuse of PUDs. A LUTA-based system would incorporate the criteria for locations and supporting transportation and infrastructure established by this plan for individual land uses.
We will execute a smooth transition between the existing zoning code and new land development ordinances. Development ordinances are complicated and difficult to change because people have become accustomed to them, rough spots and all. Migrating to an alternative concept will take time and care. In the meantime, the City will evaluate using a hybrid approach, mixing the existing zoning districts with the LUTA/mixed use concept. One way of accomplishing this is to group the zoning districts that are consistent with the intensity and use ranges of LUTAs, and apply compatibility policies and design standards to developments within them. The existing zoning ordinance could then be modified to include these compatibility standards. New rezoning requests would be evaluated for consistency with the LUTA in which they are located. If the new project is adjacent to a different land use, the compatibility policies and standards would apply to the design of that project.
Coordinate the design, development, expansion, and/or investment in transportation projects with the Land Use Typology map.
Require the construction of new streets, streetscapes, and street widening projects to implement the design components of the assigned street typologies established in this plan.
Revise Subdivision Regulations and development standards to reflect the street typology standards.
Routinely assess the City’s development standards, design guidelines, and development review procedures to ensure that they reflect current trends in best-practice and allow for innovative design techniques and evolving methods in low-impact development.
Enhance existing development standards and establish design guidelines for areas outside of the City’s existing Design Review Overlay Districts. Development standards and design guidelines could include the following provisions:
- Minimize views and prominence of parking lots in relation to structures on a site.
- Sense of proportion (street width to building height, human scale)
- Pedestrian orientation of structures and architectural detailing/fenestration
- Terminated vistas
- Reduce the predominance of residential garages in the design of the front facades of single-family residences.
- Inclusion of front porches into the design of residential structures.
- Internal orientation of parking facilities and garages in multi-family developments.
- Improved pedestrian safety and enhanced pedestrian access through parking lots.
Develop a workforce housing program, particularly for projects in the UM, UH, and DT LUTAs, based on the following basic considerations:
- Partnerships with large employers;
- Density bonuses;
- Height bonuses; and,
- Transfer of development rights.
Reuse brownfield, greyfield, and other vacant building sites to provide new opportunities for mixed-used and mixed-income housing.
Catalyze the rehabilitation of abandoned structures by amending codes to facilitate the adaptive reuse of existing buildings for residential use.
Develop a City program to rehabilitate or redevelop dilapidated properties, including a land bank to receive donated properties from property owners who can no longer maintain their properties.
Create regulations/standards/guidelines that focus on design and/or compatibility principles which are sensitive to the surrounding urban form, especially in areas that are stable or improving and whose character is well-established. These provisions should also help ensure compatibility between lower- and higher- intensity land uses.
Add legislative priorities for state laws to:
- Strengthen the City’s ability to obtain specific performance of property owners cited for code violations.
- Speed up the demolition process for long-time boarded properties that cannot be rehabilitated.
- Strengthen the City’s ability to require property owners to rehabilitate or sell neglected, boarded-up properties.
- Expedite the clearing of properties involved in probate.
Ensure that safety is factored into the design of neighborhoods through the following policies:
- Incorporate development standards and guidelines into the Subdivision Regulations that integrate the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and increase safety and social interaction.
- Create a pre-development checklist with criteria to evaluate how safety is designed into a project.
- Establish a pre-development process wherein safety is considered in the design of projects.
- Involve the Fire and Police Departments in reviewing proposed development and redevelopment to provide input on any safety-related design concerns.
Adopt new citywide site design and building regulations that ensure new developments meet basic functional and aesthetic minimums related to:
- Walkability and bike-ability
- Internal and external street connectivity
- Integration of uses
- Building location
- Building appearance
- Open space (passive and active)
Encourage the integration and mixing of land uses in urban areas.
Mitigate negative impacts of compactness by:
- Updating nuisance code to better address noise, smell, vibration, property maintenance, panhandling, animal control, delivery hours limits, and other possible negative effects.
- Updating the sign ordinance to reduce visual clutter.
In order to promote compatibility between different uses, establish standards and guidelines that ensure all developments are pedestrian-friendly and human scale at street frontages and property lines.
Prioritize and concentrate development where facilities, infrastructure, and services have capacity and in areas where the Police and Fire Departments are best able to respond. Guide the location and timing of development through the proactive and strategic installation of infrastructure.
Encourage the integration of different land uses in urban areas through the following means:
- Promote the use of performance standards in place of existing zoning methods (which address incompatibility by separating uses). Performance-based regulations should focus on achieving compatibility between uses by addressing the following:
- Noise, odors and air quality
- Traffic and parking (allow flexible, but sufficient parking)
- Site layout and building design
- Lighting (glare control, placement, and shielding)
- Delivery hours
- Enhance transit service (bus and rail).
- Prevent large areas of concentration of any particular land use such as multi-family or commercial.
Ensure the ongoing compatibility and appropriateness of development in Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) and Simplified Planned Unit Developments (SPUDs) by:
- Exploring the establishment of expiration dates for PUDs and SPUDs that have not been initiated after a certain period of time;
- Establish a procedure to ensure PUDs build-out according to approved plans.
Enable increased densities as appropriate to individual land use typology areas by addressing financial incentives and disincentives through evaluating the feasibility of strategies such as:
- Impact fees and/or transportation utility fees that vary by district according to actual cost;
- Assessing solid waste charges according to actual cost;
- Private solid waste services where it is impractical for the City to provide service such as in rural areas.
Encourage unified planning for all adjoining land owned or controlled by a project’s developer to ensure proper circulation and land use relationships.
Evaluate existing regulations for effectiveness in promoting density and mixed-use development and in addressing surface parking. Develop a new urban design code for downtown and other key districts to promote healthy mixes of land uses that are compatible and complementary.
Adopt subdivision regulations that ensure new neighborhoods meet the basic needs of residents while supporting an efficient development pattern. Regulations should cover:
- Open space (passive and active),
- Demonstration of sustainable funding levels for common area and facility maintenance costs,
- Walkability and bikeability,
- Internal and external street connectivity,
- Block length,
- Integration of uses,
- Integration of a variety of home sizes,
- Integration of a variety of unit types, and
- Preservation of Environmentally Sensitive Areas.
Regulations could be based on a point scale to allow flexibility, while still requiring basic minimum thresholds be met.
New regulations should remove the existing requirement for development in Rural LUTAs to connect to water and sewer systems and establish a minimum one-acre lot size for lots with on-site sewer treatment.
Revise subdivision and zoning regulations to allow increased densities as appropriate. For example, density potential could be increased by allowing “cottage” or “pocket” neighborhoods and accessory dwelling units (additional dwelling units allowed on owner-occupied properties) where appropriate.