We will adopt land use and development practices that reduce the distance people must drive to meet their daily needs. In Oklahoma City, transportation is the principal cause of our most significant air quality problems. The policies included in the land use and transportation elements of planokc, which promote more compact development, mixed use, and improved transportation choice, will have a beneficial effect on automobile emissions. While cars will continue to be the primary means of transportation in Oklahoma City, even small changes in the number of miles driven, combined with greater fuel efficiency and technologies that reduce emissions, will substantially improve air quality.
We will coordinate initiatives and regulatory changes with local, regional, and state agencies to reduce motor vehicle emissions. In addition to reducing the number of miles that each person must drive, we need to make the vehicles that we use more efficient. We will improve overall fuel efficiency and reduce emissions by taking actions alone or in concert with other agencies that will increase use of alternative fuels in public and private car fleets, and consider new legislation and implement educational programs to reduce unnecessary emissions.most significant air quality problems. The policies included in the land use and transportation elements of planokc, which promote more compact development, mixed use, and improved transportation choice, will have a beneficial effect on automobile emissions. While cars will continue to be the primary means of transportation in Oklahoma City, even small changes in the number of miles driven, combined with greater fuel efficiency and technologies that reduce emissions, will substantially improve air quality.
We will develop incentives and adopt regulatory standards to reduce transportation emissions. In addition to reducing the number of miles driven, we must also improve vehicles fuel efficiency and emissions standards. Working in collaboration with local, regional, and state agencies, we will seek to increase use of clean fuels in public and private automobile fleets, consider new legislation, and implement educational programs.
We will preserve forests and encourage tree planting to improve air quality. Vegetation, particularly trees, plays a large role in both regulating and improving air quality, especially in urban areas. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and other gases, while replenishing the atmosphere with oxygen. They also help trap particle pollutants that can damage human lungs. We will improve our landscape ordinance to more effectively increase tree cover, reduce airborne pollutants, and reduce surface temperatures in the summer. We will also preserve existing trees and forested areas and encourage new tree plantings associated with development and streetscape projects.
A QUICK CALCULATION
Oklahoma City has about 227,000 households, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Most studies and trip generation estimates indicate that the typical household generates 10 trips daily. In Oklahoma City, this equals about 2.3 million trips. Estimates of the percentage of trips under two miles range from 25% to 40% of the total. For OKC, this ranges from 575,000 to 920,000 trips per day. If only one-quarter of these trips were made by active transportation modes (on foot or by bike), between 143,000 and 230,000 trips would be diverted from cars – the total number of trips on two of our busiest freeways. Assuming an average trip length of one mile, this means that in a course of a year, Oklahoma City residents would drive between 52 and 84 million fewer miles per year! According to the Environmental Protection Administration’s report on Average Annual Emissions, a typical car emits .81 pounds (368.4 grams) of carbon dioxide per mile driven. So if one-quarter of short trips in our city were made by walking or biking, we would reduce CO2 emissions per year by between 42 and 68 million pounds annually.
BENEFITS OF TREES
Trees absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses such as sulfur dioxide from the air and release oxygen that humans, and other species, need for survival.
According to the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension, trees provide the following benefits related to air quality and air pollution reduction:
- One large tree can supply a day’s supply of oxygen for four people.
- A healthy tree can store 13 pounds of carbon each year. For an acre of trees, that equals 2.6 tons of carbon storage.
- Each gallon of gasoline burned produces almost 20 pounds of carbon dioxide. For every 10,000 miles driven, it takes 7 trees to remove the amount of carbon dioxide produced if the vehicle gets 40 miles per gallon (mpg); it will take 10 trees at 30 mpg; 15 trees at 20 mpg; 20 trees at 15 mpg; and 25 trees at 12 mpg.
Improve the functionality and efficiency of the street network by:
- Providing direct connections from residential developments to nearby places and to each other.
- Providing street and sidewalk stubs to adjacent vacant land in anticipation of future development.
- Connecting new development to existing street and sidewalk stubs, and to existing trail, open space, and bicycle networks.
- Reducing block sizes and use of dead-end streets.
- Maintaining the existing street grid to preserve connectivity and mobility options.
Prioritize opportunities to restore and reconnect the street grid.
Prioritize construction of pedestrian and bicycle facilities that improve connectivity and eliminate gaps in the transportation network.
Identify areas that could be used to establish a greenbelt network throughout the City that connect major employment centers, commercial sites, parks, and key locations within major residential neighborhoods. Use the greenbelt as the backbone for a bicycle trails network which all other bicycle trails feed into.
Market the trails system as a transportation and recreation system to residents and visitors.
Change subdivision regulations to determine the number of entries into a residential development based on number of lots in order to improve connectivity of the roadway network and emergency response.
Support the creation of a regional transit authority and pursue the establishment of a dedicated funding source, such as sales tax or property tax to achieve long term transit service goals.
Increase frequency and time of transit operations to ensure adequate, convenient and safe service for visitors, employees, and residents.
Implement policies and strategies recommended in the 2013 COTPA Transit Service Analysis.
Develop an urban rail and/or bus rapid transit system to connect downtown with strategic corridors and nodes.
Work with the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments to implement the Early Action Compact to mitigate air quality issues.
Support and incentivize the adaptive use of existing buildings, infill development, and brownfield development.
Preserve natural habitat, maintain wildlife food sources, and reduce the risk of propagating invasive plant species by utilizing vegetation native to Oklahoma, preferably central Oklahoma, for all mitigation and habitat restoration efforts associated with new development and redevelopment projects, public and private, to the greatest extent possible.
Establish an Urban Forestry Program and City Urban Forester position to achieve the following:
- Measure and monitor tree canopy coverage and habitat on a regular basis so that any policies, programs, and regulations may be adjusted accordingly as situations change. Establish a process to maintain current data.
- Develop and maintain regulations, policies, processes, and programs that focus on protection and preservation of native trees.
- Provide assistance with proper tree selection, location, and maintenance to prevent power outages, reduce property damage, and coordinate emergency response during natural disaster events (excessive snow and ice, tornadoes, etc.), address the urban heat island effect, and reduce energy costs, etc.
- Establish programs such as tree give-aways, neighborhood planting programs, and education workshops.
- Provide resources to the public about tree selection, management, and care.
- Seek grant funding for community tree planting to improve City parks, publicly maintained rights-of-way and other areas of the city.
- Inventory the City’s street trees and develop a tree replacement program.
- Partner with volunteer and nonprofit organizations to recruit volunteers for tree planting and maintenance and to coordinate community-wide tree planting efforts.
Develop and adopt a tree preservation ordinance that achieves the following:
- Defines methods of preservation;
- Defines situations where preservation of trees is mandatory versus optional;
- Establishes incentives for tree preservation;
- Establishes mitigation options if preservation cannot be accomplished; and
- Establishes penalties for unauthorized tree removal.
Pursue methods to reduce the impact of the urban heat island effect on Oklahoma City by:
- Establishing a minimum canopy coverage requirement over paved surfaces such as parking lots.
- Instating a “continuous canopy” requirement for new streets and street reconstruction projects.
- Promoting the use of building and roofing materials that reduce heat island effects.
Coordinate with local, regional, and State agencies to pursue initiatives and regulations that help reduce automobile emissions, such as:
- Transitioning commercial and City fleets to alternative-fueled and hybrid vehicles;
- Determining the feasibility of an idling restriction ordinance for all vehicles.
Promote improved air quality and reduced ground-level ozone levels by developing a public education program that will inform residents about the air quality benefits of:
- Proper automobile maintenance
- Proper maintenance and use of gas-powered lawn and garden equipment
- Limiting car idling times
- Alternative fuels
- Alternative / active transportation modes (public transit, walking, biking, car-sharing, etc.)
- Reducing vehicle-miles traveled (VMT)
- Employer sponsored emission reduction programs (carpooling, work from home, telecommuting, etc.)
- Native landscaping (requiring less maintenance)
- Energy efficient housing / buildings
Study of the public health and environmental impacts of degraded air quality on sensitive populations living near highways.
Establish strategies, procedures and policies for City construction projects to achieve higher energy efficiency, including:
- Implementing an energy management plan for City facilities.
- Monitoring energy consumption of City facilities, tracking conservation progress, and communicating results to City administrators, employees, elected officials and the public.
- Assessing water use in City facilities to identify opportunities for conservation and implement appropriate measures.
Develop an enforcement mechanism for the City’s Building Energy Code. Develop a healthy building code to support construction of durable, health-promoting and energy efficient buildings that incorporate proven green development practices, locally-sourced and environmentally responsible materials, water conservation fixtures, innovative design and construction techniques, and low waste construction practices. Incentivize their use with shorter approval procedures, priority permits and inspections, and reduced fees.
Partner with agencies, non-profits, and private entities to:
- Implement a sustainable development online forum – an educational and networking resource that will inform the public about local opportunities and the benefits of sustainable development while increasing builder and developer participation.
- Educate citizens on energy and water conservation opportunities both at work and at home.
- Encourage appropriate re-use and reclamation of water in new development and redevelopment to reduce the reliance on potable water use.
- Provide detailed cost-benefit information about green building practices to encourage increased use of such practices in Oklahoma City.
- Reduce reliance on electricity produced by fossil fuel by encouraging the use of renewable energy sources in new development and redevelopment.
- Explore mechanisms (incentives, regulations, programs) to divert demolition debris from landfills and redirect to facilities that can reuse these materials.
- Establish a promotion/award program to showcase innovative development that utilizes low-impact development practices and energy-efficient building techniques / equipment, conserves riparian buffers, and extends greenway networks with hiking/biking trails.
Establish strategies, procedures and policies that prevent degradation or loss of critical habitat and sensitive areas, such as Cross Timbers, upland forests, wetlands, wildlife corridors, groundwater recharge zones, and riparian areas. Protection methods should ensure that placement of lots, alignment of roads, and installation of structures and infrastructure minimize disturbance of the environmentally sensitive areas using tools such as:
- Directing development to appropriate locations;
- Greenbelt preservation;
- Assurance of no development in protected open space;
- Clustering / conservation subdivisions;
- Pervious surface treatments;
- Density transfers; and/or
- Conservation easements.
Ensure that strategies, procedures, and policies incorporate principles of connectivity, minimal fragmentation, representativeness, and heterogeneity.
Encourage redevelopment and infill development on vacant, underutilized, and brownfield sites in urbanized areas.
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.
Establish development regulations that help improve air quality, including:
- Specifying construction controls that reduce airborne dust;
- Increasing landscaping and tree planting to absorb carbon dioxide and air pollutants; and
- Encouraging development patterns and densities that support alternative modes of transportation in the urban LUTAs.