Each topic contains a discussion of issues and goals, and describes how the City and its partners will go about accomplishing these goals.

Topic: Environment

 

The initiatives below relate to the environment. Click on any initiative to view a full explanation and related policies.

We will preserve rural character and grow efficiently by managing the growth of urban development. Without careful phasing of infrastructure extensions and development in new areas, we will continue to use existing infrastructure inefficiently while incurring the higher costs of extending facilities prematurely; create land use conflicts with existing farms; and change the character of land for people who built homes or made other investments based on rural character.

Urban growth will occur in many areas, but these new growth areas should receive infrastructure as the market demands, with incremental utility extensions contiguous to pre-existing urban development. This will require designing and implementing an infrastructure management system, possibly establishing sub-watershed districts which would be opened to development as required by land availability or economic considerations. New basins would be opened to development when existing areas with full services reach a certain percentage of development. In the meantime, areas that can feasibly receive urban infrastructure in the future should be reserved for urban development through the Urban Reserve LUTA.

Infrastructure financing techniques should recognize both the need to manage and direct the geographic extent of development, and the need for partnerships between the public and private sectors to extend services and utilities. For example, the City could provide front-end financing for infrastructure in a specific growth area, reimbursed or offset by impact fees and special service district assessments calculated on the basis of the yield of the area.

We will reinforce the character and quality of existing rural development and provide the ability for some very large lot development in some areas which are unlikely to receive infrastructure in the short term. Oklahoma City has a substantial amount of rural residential development within its city limits. The integrity and rural character of this development should be respected as previous investments in infrastructure are efficiently used. These rural areas also have a significant population that requires convenience and commercial services. Land use policies will provide for limited commercial development to address these specific service needs. The Rural LUTAs specifically recognize that maintaining character, using infrastructure efficiently, and providing supporting commercial are priorities.

While we can plan for sound, gradual expansion of the city through the Urban Reserve LUTA, we should provide existing landowners with the opportunity to realize a reasonable development return on their land. We will consider innovative techniques like Build-Through Acreages, allowing rural density development on a portion of a parcel with adoption of an overall master plan that achieves urban densities when utilities are extended.

Click to expand policy information.


Revise subdivision regulations to include connectivity standards and guidelines that require greater street connectivity, and provide allowances for pedestrian and bicycle connections when street connectivity cannot be made.

Establish access management requirements that limit driveways on arterials and collectors and increase connections between uses to improve safety and traffic efficiency.

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.

In order to accommodate desires for large-lot development in Urban Reserve areas, implement innovative techniques such as build-through acreages (otherwise known as shadow platting or ghost platting) that permit interim large-lot development of a site or a portion of a site with a master plan that achieves an overall future density target for urban development.

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.

Use one or more of the following methods to ensure infrastructure and facility capacities are adequate for proposed development:

  • Ongoing master planning to determine the necessary water, sewer, and road infrastructure to serve development.
  • An impact fee system that collects funds for specific areas as they develop and installs needed infrastructure in a timely manner.
  • Use of special service districts to ensure appropriate levels of service, sufficient revenue, and timely installation of infrastructure and facilities for each district.
  • Require developers to construct or fully fund infrastructure or other improvements needed to serve their development, with reasonable accommodation for future adjacent or nearby development.
  • Require developers to wait until the City (or the State as the case may be) constructs the infrastructure needed to serve their development.
  • For development proposed in areas not currently within one-half mile of existing water infrastructure, require a service area study to first be completed to determine the best method for providing water to the service area.

For development proposed in areas not currently within a sanitary sewer drainage basin, a drainage basin study should first be completed to determine the best method for sanitary sewer service.

Preserve existing rural residential character while pursuing optimal use of existing infrastructure in rural areas.

Ensure that development in rural areas is consistent with local design and scale and does not detract from the open character of the landscape.

Support limited amounts of commercial (one to two acres per use) in rural areas appropriate to the needs of rural residents. Commercial uses in rural areas should be located:

  • On major, uninterrupted arterials
  • In small clusters
  • At freeway interchanges

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.

We will protect key environmental features and use practices that minimize the impact of urban development. Resource protection follows two tracks: maintaining certain environmentally sensitive areas in predominately open uses and minimizing the impact of neighboring development. Policies for areas such as riparian areas and floodplains will preserve the integrity and general open quality of these features. Specific requirements should be fashioned around the characteristics of these resources. For example, floodways should be left as permanent open space, and floodplain development should be avoided.

The parallel track addresses development practices in areas that affect environmental resources. Examples include reducing densities, intensities, and impervious surface of development near environmental resources; incorporating buffers into project design; and prohibiting uses that present pollution risks in important groundwater recharge areas. These practices are discussed more fully in the greenokc chapter.

Land development regulations should advance these practices with both performance requirements and incentives such as conservation development. Conservation development techniques preserve resources within a project area by maintaining openness of sensitive areas and transferring their development potential to other parts of the site.

Click to expand policy information.


Pursue grants, partnerships, and programs that accomplish the following:

  • Restore tree stands and wildlife habitats in environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Acquire land or establish conservation easements in environmentally sensitive areas to reserve as permanent open space and protect wildlife and habitat.
  • Establish a comprehensive habitat management program.
  • Provide education and resources for proper use of pesticides and fertilizers, with special focus on encouraging integrated pest management and organic practices.
  • Provide education about land management practices that address fire suppression, invasive species, use of herbicides/pesticides, and overgrazing.
  • Promote the economic and aesthetic value of preserving Oklahoma City’s natural resources such as riparian areas, Cross Timbers forest, grasslands/prairie, bottomland forests, and wetlands.

Avoid under-grounding streams to the greatest extent possible. Where feasible, encourage the re-surfacing of buried streams. Limit the use of culverts or other structures that alter natural streams, and require designs that minimize impacts to stream health and function.

Using performance standards related to flow quantity, quality, and pattern, modify development regulations, codes, and policies to support the use of green infrastructure/low impact development techniques to mimic natural systems for developments within aquifer recharge zones with moderate or high vulnerability or in areas where streams and riparian areas have been channelized or developed (primarily in the Downtown, UH, and UM LUTAs). Low impact development techniques include but are not limited to:

  • Onsite treating or filtering of stormwater contaminants.
  • Discharging run-off as sheet-flow after passing through grassy or vegetated open space areas, rather than discharging run-off through concentrated outfalls.
  • Creating attractive open space amenities that double as stormwater detention, retention, and / or filtering systems.
  • Utilizing pervious pavement, pavers, or asphalt in appropriate locations (i.e. sidewalks, parking spaces, trails, patios, etc.).
  • Utilizing planters (at grade or raised), vegetated landscape strips adjacent to roads and parking areas, and alternative curbing designs (allowing stormwater to easily move from impervious areas to pervious areas), to encourage stormwater infiltration and temporary detention.
  • Rain Gardens
  • Bioswales
  • Green streets and alleys
  • Green roofs
  • Rooftop collection
  • Underground detention
  • Increased tree canopy preservation/tree planting
  • Land/open space conservation
  • Cluster development

Establish development regulations to help protect Oklahoma City’s water resources through standards that:

  • Require buffers, setbacks, and vegetation conservation requirements to protect riparian and littoral zones and filter waterborne pollutants from development activities and storm water runoff. Buffer widths should be based on water quality function and wildlife habitat needs.
  • Encourage natural drainage systems and methods for onsite infiltration and onsite sediment retention.
  • Require new developments to maintain or decrease the site’s pre-development runoff rate.
  • Allow low-impact development design features such as pervious pavement, rain gardens, landscaped parkways, and alternative curbing designs.
  • Reduce the amount of impervious surfaces allowed in buffer zones around Environmentally Sensitive Areas.
  • Restore watershed features such as forest, wetlands, and natural stream channels.

Revise policies, codes and development regulations to reduce the risk of damage resulting from flooding and preserve water quality and stream related habitat by avoiding alterations to the 100-year floodplain (as depicted on the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map). Allow these areas to remain in their natural state to the greatest extent possible. Revised policies should allow positive alterations, such as restoration of natural riparian areas with appropriate vegetation.

Preserve wetlands in their natural state to the greatest extent possible to increase water quality, minimize quantity of runoff, and increase groundwater recharge. Maintain wetland headwaters and avoid the alteration of surface or subsurface drainage patterns that would eliminate, reduce, or severely alter the frequency and volume of water entering wetland areas.

Develop a comprehensive watershed management strategy that identifies programs, partnerships, actions, and incentives that the City and partners can take to protect the city’s water resources and aquatic areas. The strategy should address the following:

  • Creation of a Stormwater Master Plan.
  • Update to the City’s sediment control program and establishment of performance measures.
  • Coordinated watershed restoration projects.
  • Preparation and implementation of Small Watershed Action Plans (SWAPs) and participation in studies to identify needs and opportunities for stream restoration, wetland creation and restoration, and storm water management.
  • Identification of opportunities to create wetlands to offset construction and other land development impacts.
  • Identification and utilization of “receiving lands” that can absorb storm surge overflows.
  • Public education on how to conserve water and minimize chemicals, pathogens, sediment, and nutrients in urban and rural watersheds.
  • Acquisition and protection of greenways, river buffers and flood prone areas.

Evaluate the City’s stormwater detention/retention requirements, including the current fee-in-lieu of program, and compare to current best management practices. Based on findings, modify codes, policies and development regulations to update stormwater detention/retention requirements. These requirements should focus on:

  • Reducing the risks of property damage due to flooding.
  • Managing runoff rates and minimizing stream bank erosion by ensuring that post-development runoff rates do not exceed pre-development rates, even in areas where risks of flooding have historically been low.
  • Maintaining surface water quality by managing the release of the first flush stormwater volume in order to encourage settling and filtering of particle and chemical pollutants before releasing water into adjacent water bodies.

Revise development regulations to require the following factors to be addressed in development and redevelopment proposals:

  • Preservation of existing natural resources, such as wooded areas, habitat areas, and floodplains.
  • Utilization of natural treatments and methods to stabilize or rehabilitate stream and river banks as a means to preserve downstream habitats.
  • Integration of a variety of native or compatible non-native, non-invasive plant species.
  • Mitigation of impacts of development on habitat, wildlife corridors, riparian and littoral areas, and water quality, through actions such as restoration or re-vegetation of disturbed natural areas and replacement of trees/habitat on-site or off-site.
  • Management of invasive plant and animal species.
  • Management and maintenance of natural areas, common areas and drainage areas.
  • Impact on surface and groundwater supply.
  • Impact on water quality caused by land uses and activities.
  • Impacts on floodplains, riparian and littoral areas and wetlands and areas with significant landforms.

In areas where standard on-site wastewater systems are not feasible (such as in areas with shallow or poor soils), require very low-density development or development that utilizes conservation design and a centralized treatment facility or other environmentally sensitive systems for wastewater treatment.

Develop a manual of best management practices that can be integrated into City codes. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Tree care and management.
  • Tree planting.
  • Tree protection.
  • Street trees (location, conflicts, maintenance, etc. – in addition to general tree care guidelines).
  • Placement of utilities (e.g., under streets vs. under park strips)
  • Low impact development techniques.
  • Habitat protection and restoration.
  • Conservation easements and/or subdivisions.

Revise the landscape ordinance to include the following:

  • Define terms such as invasive species, exotic/non-native species, and native/indigenous species
  • Require removal of invasive species from existing sites, and prohibit such species from being planted or maintained in new development.
  • Provide a reference list of native plants and drought-tolerant plants.
  • Provide incentives for using native and drought-tolerant plants and disincentives for using high-water plants and turf grass.
  • Establish requirements for using design practices that minimize the need for supplemental irrigation.

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.

Preserve mature healthy trees and incorporate them into the design of new development or redevelopment projects to the greatest extent possible. Include provisions and best management practices to ensure proper tree protection throughout the construction process. Best management practices include but are not limited to:

  • The use of proper pruning techniques;
  • Appropriate watering;
  • Installation of protective fencing at the drip lines of trees or groups of trees;
  • Designated material storage areas; and
  • Approved equipment and vehicle parking and maintenance areas.

Provide the public with resources, tools, and guidance to deal with environmental hazards, such as:

  • Information about safe disposal options for household contaminants such as motor oils, paints, computers, televisions, batteries, etc.
  • Information on environmental hazards, such as brownfield sites.
  • Information about funds available to assist with environmental cleanups.

Modify development and subdivision regulations, and City policies to minimize alteration of natural landforms and native vegetation and maximize retention of distinctive natural features for public and private projects.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Preserve overall landscape character and natural landforms (rolling hills, native vegetation, etc.) to the greatest extent possible.

Increase the amount of biodiversity-rich green space in urban and suburban areas by:

  • Integrating vegetation to support biodiversity in parks, gardens, trails, and green roofs. Native vegetation that provides food and habitat for native wildlife such as “micro prairies” and urban forests will have the greatest effect.
  • Encouraging optimal mowing practices on large lots that are adjacent to natural features.

Enrich natural biodiversity in agricultural areas by promoting practices that provide food, water, and habitat for wildlife and minimize negative impacts. Strategies to achieve the goal include:

  • Working with farmers, rancher, conservationists, sustainable agricultural organizations, and other stakeholders to develop a plan to conserve nature in farming and ranching landscapes.
  • Implementing optimal mowing strategies, which include harvesting grasses at a growing height of 10 plus inches; creating early successional habitat with burning, disking, and haying every 3-5 years; mowing from the center of a field outward to allow wildlife to escape the surrounding areas; adding flushing bars to mowing equipment to minimize bird injuries and death; leaving 4-6 inches of stubble after harvest to capture snow and water; harvesting or mowing after first frost to avoid disturbing bird nests and improve grass quality; and leaving portions of fields as standing crops.
  • Increasing nesting habitat.
  • Adopting best practices for fertilizer and pesticide applications.
  • Developing landscape conservation cooperatives.
  • Encouraging grassland ranching as an ecologically beneficial alternative to cultivation, particularly practices such as “mob grazing” that mimic natural grazing patterns.
  • Promoting ranching of bison, which benefit conservation efforts by dispersing seeds, increasing plant biodiversity, and enhancing groundwater recharge.
  • Restoring grassland on previously cultivated landscapes, particularly in buffer zones near natural features.
  • Encouraging and supporting agricultural parks that combine recreation and food production and foster appreciation for agricultural heritage.
  • Promoting sustainable intensification, which increases production and profitability while providing rich sources of habitat for biodiversity.

Protect and preserve natural resources, by:

  • Identifying and mapping valuable natural resources, such as, native prairies.
  • Maintaining a comprehensive inventory and assessment of natural resources and critical habitats.
  • Identifying opportunities to create an interconnected green infrastructure network throughout and beyond Oklahoma City’s municipal boundaries via existing trail and greenway projects, parks, stream corridors, and natural areas.
  • Seeking the voluntary sale of land or dedication of conservation easements on private land that is identified as critical habitat or is necessary to link wildlife corridors.
  • Pursuing protection of strategically identified natural areas by placing them in conservation easements or land banks, and reserving them for future use as open space and passive recreational areas.
  • Managing invasive plant and animal species.
  • Partnering with applicable State agencies and non-profit entities.

Strive to preserve natural open spaces, including native prairies, and re-plant native vegetation to take advantage of their drought tolerance and deep root structures that slow and adsorb stormwater runoff and reduce erosion by anchoring the soil.

Identify and protect critical habitats for state and federally listed threatened or endangered species.

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.

Modify codes to allow residential clustering in rural land use typology areas, provided water supply and sewage disposal requirements are met, and permanently preserve nearby open space through means such as conservation easements.

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.

We will provide good street connections within and between neighborhoods to provide a choice of routes and separate local traffic from major arterials. Good street connectivity has many benefits. By providing alternative routes for short distance trips, it indirectly increases the capacity of arterial streets. It also provides better quiet street opportunities for pedestrians and bicyclists, and improves the efficiency of delivering emergency access and city services.

Click to expand policy information.


Maintain the traditional grid street pattern where it currently exists, reconnect it where possible, and keep alleys open and functioning. When improving older streets in neighborhoods, maintain original street widths and curb radii.

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.

Revise subdivision regulations to include connectivity standards and guidelines that require greater street connectivity, and provide allowances for pedestrian and bicycle connections when street connectivity cannot be made.

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.

Maintain existing alleys or construct new alleys where feasible to provide trash collection service and parking behind primary buildings and minimize curb cuts along the primary street frontage.

Target specific areas of the city for enhanced safety and proactive enforcement. Selection of target areas will be informed by the Intelligence Led Policing program, with coordinated involvement from Police, Code Enforcement, Public Works Department, Planning, and community-based organizations.

Evaluate development proposals to assess design components that contribute to or detract from safety and analyze emergency response capacity and capability.

We will protect significant natural features. The boundaries of Oklahoma City encompass a variety of well-preserved natural features, such as grasslands, riparian areas, upland forests, and sensitive aquifers, which contribute to the landscape in a number of ways. They contribute to our economic strength by increasing the attractiveness of the city, which improves competitiveness in the global marketplace. They provide ecosystem services, such as filtering water, cleaning the air, and providing food and habitat for birds that eat insect pests, and bees that pollinate crops. Moreover, they contribute to quality of life for residents and visitors, providing the benefits of recreation, beauty, and distinctive character.

Protection of significant natural resources is based on a map of Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs), which has already been completed. The resulting regional inventory provides information for developers and property owners to use as they design developments to ensure they avoid impairing significant features. Using mapped ESAs as a baseline, we will elaborate a policy to protect ESAs that specifies methods to mitigate damage to natural features (see Chapter 2 for overview).

We will develop and protect a network of green spaces that preserves environmental assets and connects habitats for wildlife. An effective conservation plan will ensure not only that environmentally significant areas are protected, but also that they are connected via wildlife corridors, remain minimally fragmented by roads and other infrastructure, and represent the natural ecosystem diversity of the area.

Connectivity: Connections between protected areas maintain the viability of wildlife populations, enhance biodiversity by accommodating more species, and provide corridors that allow wildlife to move safely between habitats. Current development patterns often break connections between green spaces, particularly where they cross boundaries of ownership or development projects. We will identify opportunities to develop a connected network of ESAs and other green spaces using existing and potential trail corridors, greenways, open spaces, wetlands, forests, waterways, and natural areas. The resulting guidance for development will ensure that connections between green spaces are maintained.

Minimal fragmentation: Current practices allow large natural areas to be fragmented into multiple smaller areas by infrastructure, such as roads, fences, pipelines, and transmission lines. These features, as well as noise, disrupt the dispersal of plants and animals. Guidelines will be adopted to minimize fragmentation by directing infrastructure to locations with least impact, minimizing the amount of habitat disruption around the infrastructure, and utilizing best practices to restore damaged habitat.
Representativeness and heterogeneity: A strategy to protect ESAs will employ principles of representativeness and heterogeneity. Representativeness ensures that green spaces exemplify the range of natural diversity in our area, including diversity of species, ecosystems, and geology. Heterogeneity favors green spaces that include a mix of ecosystems closely grouped together, as these spaces are shown to harbor greater biodiversity than more homogenous green spaces.

We will develop a package of incentives and requirements to ensure developments near natural features minimize adverse impacts. The ESA inventory and green space network will be protected through a combination of requirements and incentives. Requirements will minimize disturbance of targeted areas with highest ecological value. In addition, because property owners and developers should not be penalized for responsible development of land near ESAs and corridors, we will establish tools and incentives for properties to be developed in ways that minimally impact natural areas and incorporate green features into their designs. For example, one such technique is conservation design, which preserves permanent open space while allowing an equal or greater development yield to that permitted by the site’s underlying zoning. Permanent open space is often protected through conservation easements, which may be donated to a public or nonprofit body in exchange for tax advantages.

Click to expand policy information.


Pursue grants, partnerships, and programs that accomplish the following:

  • Restore tree stands and wildlife habitats in environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Acquire land or establish conservation easements in environmentally sensitive areas to reserve as permanent open space and protect wildlife and habitat.
  • Establish a comprehensive habitat management program.
  • Provide education and resources for proper use of pesticides and fertilizers, with special focus on encouraging integrated pest management and organic practices.
  • Provide education about land management practices that address fire suppression, invasive species, use of herbicides/pesticides, and overgrazing.
  • Promote the economic and aesthetic value of preserving Oklahoma City’s natural resources such as riparian areas, Cross Timbers forest, grasslands/prairie, bottomland forests, and wetlands.

Support and incentivize the adaptive use of existing buildings, infill development, and brownfield development.

Establish development regulations to help protect Oklahoma City’s water resources through standards that:

  • Require buffers, setbacks, and vegetation conservation requirements to protect riparian and littoral zones and filter waterborne pollutants from development activities and storm water runoff. Buffer widths should be based on water quality function and wildlife habitat needs.
  • Encourage natural drainage systems and methods for onsite infiltration and onsite sediment retention.
  • Require new developments to maintain or decrease the site’s pre-development runoff rate.
  • Allow low-impact development design features such as pervious pavement, rain gardens, landscaped parkways, and alternative curbing designs.
  • Reduce the amount of impervious surfaces allowed in buffer zones around Environmentally Sensitive Areas.
  • Restore watershed features such as forest, wetlands, and natural stream channels.

Establish incentives such as a simplified permitting process, reduced application fees, and special recognition for projects that:

  • Utilize best management practices or other low-impact development methods for storm water management.
  • Bring buried streams to the surface and restore riparian habitat.
  • Install bridge systems instead of culverts for stream crossings to help maintain the natural ecosystem associated with the stream.

Revise policies, codes and development regulations to reduce the risk of damage resulting from flooding and preserve water quality and stream related habitat by avoiding alterations to the 100-year floodplain (as depicted on the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map). Allow these areas to remain in their natural state to the greatest extent possible. Revised policies should allow positive alterations, such as restoration of natural riparian areas with appropriate vegetation.

Preserve wetlands in their natural state to the greatest extent possible to increase water quality, minimize quantity of runoff, and increase groundwater recharge. Maintain wetland headwaters and avoid the alteration of surface or subsurface drainage patterns that would eliminate, reduce, or severely alter the frequency and volume of water entering wetland areas.

Develop a comprehensive watershed management strategy that identifies programs, partnerships, actions, and incentives that the City and partners can take to protect the city’s water resources and aquatic areas. The strategy should address the following:

  • Creation of a Stormwater Master Plan.
  • Update to the City’s sediment control program and establishment of performance measures.
  • Coordinated watershed restoration projects.
  • Preparation and implementation of Small Watershed Action Plans (SWAPs) and participation in studies to identify needs and opportunities for stream restoration, wetland creation and restoration, and storm water management.
  • Identification of opportunities to create wetlands to offset construction and other land development impacts.
  • Identification and utilization of “receiving lands” that can absorb storm surge overflows.
  • Public education on how to conserve water and minimize chemicals, pathogens, sediment, and nutrients in urban and rural watersheds.
  • Acquisition and protection of greenways, river buffers and flood prone areas.

Revise development regulations to require the following factors to be addressed in development and redevelopment proposals:

  • Preservation of existing natural resources, such as wooded areas, habitat areas, and floodplains.
  • Utilization of natural treatments and methods to stabilize or rehabilitate stream and river banks as a means to preserve downstream habitats.
  • Integration of a variety of native or compatible non-native, non-invasive plant species.
  • Mitigation of impacts of development on habitat, wildlife corridors, riparian and littoral areas, and water quality, through actions such as restoration or re-vegetation of disturbed natural areas and replacement of trees/habitat on-site or off-site.
  • Management of invasive plant and animal species.
  • Management and maintenance of natural areas, common areas and drainage areas.
  • Impact on surface and groundwater supply.
  • Impact on water quality caused by land uses and activities.
  • Impacts on floodplains, riparian and littoral areas and wetlands and areas with significant landforms.

In areas where standard on-site wastewater systems are not feasible (such as in areas with shallow or poor soils), require very low-density development or development that utilizes conservation design and a centralized treatment facility or other environmentally sensitive systems for wastewater treatment.

Develop a manual of best management practices that can be integrated into City codes. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Tree care and management.
  • Tree planting.
  • Tree protection.
  • Street trees (location, conflicts, maintenance, etc. – in addition to general tree care guidelines).
  • Placement of utilities (e.g., under streets vs. under park strips)
  • Low impact development techniques.
  • Habitat protection and restoration.
  • Conservation easements and/or subdivisions.

Revise the landscape ordinance to include the following:

  • Define terms such as invasive species, exotic/non-native species, and native/indigenous species
  • Require removal of invasive species from existing sites, and prohibit such species from being planted or maintained in new development.
  • Provide a reference list of native plants and drought-tolerant plants.
  • Provide incentives for using native and drought-tolerant plants and disincentives for using high-water plants and turf grass.
  • Establish requirements for using design practices that minimize the need for supplemental irrigation.

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.

Provide the public with resources, tools, and guidance to deal with environmental hazards, such as:

  • Information about safe disposal options for household contaminants such as motor oils, paints, computers, televisions, batteries, etc.
  • Information on environmental hazards, such as brownfield sites.
  • Information about funds available to assist with environmental cleanups.

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.

Modify development and subdivision regulations, and City policies to minimize alteration of natural landforms and native vegetation and maximize retention of distinctive natural features for public and private projects.

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.

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.

Preserve overall landscape character and natural landforms (rolling hills, native vegetation, etc.) to the greatest extent possible.

Increase the amount of biodiversity-rich green space in urban and suburban areas by:

  • Integrating vegetation to support biodiversity in parks, gardens, trails, and green roofs. Native vegetation that provides food and habitat for native wildlife such as “micro prairies” and urban forests will have the greatest effect.
  • Encouraging optimal mowing practices on large lots that are adjacent to natural features.

Enrich natural biodiversity in agricultural areas by promoting practices that provide food, water, and habitat for wildlife and minimize negative impacts. Strategies to achieve the goal include:

  • Working with farmers, rancher, conservationists, sustainable agricultural organizations, and other stakeholders to develop a plan to conserve nature in farming and ranching landscapes.
  • Implementing optimal mowing strategies, which include harvesting grasses at a growing height of 10 plus inches; creating early successional habitat with burning, disking, and haying every 3-5 years; mowing from the center of a field outward to allow wildlife to escape the surrounding areas; adding flushing bars to mowing equipment to minimize bird injuries and death; leaving 4-6 inches of stubble after harvest to capture snow and water; harvesting or mowing after first frost to avoid disturbing bird nests and improve grass quality; and leaving portions of fields as standing crops.
  • Increasing nesting habitat.
  • Adopting best practices for fertilizer and pesticide applications.
  • Developing landscape conservation cooperatives.
  • Encouraging grassland ranching as an ecologically beneficial alternative to cultivation, particularly practices such as “mob grazing” that mimic natural grazing patterns.
  • Promoting ranching of bison, which benefit conservation efforts by dispersing seeds, increasing plant biodiversity, and enhancing groundwater recharge.
  • Restoring grassland on previously cultivated landscapes, particularly in buffer zones near natural features.
  • Encouraging and supporting agricultural parks that combine recreation and food production and foster appreciation for agricultural heritage.
  • Promoting sustainable intensification, which increases production and profitability while providing rich sources of habitat for biodiversity.

Protect and preserve natural resources, by:

  • Identifying and mapping valuable natural resources, such as, native prairies.
  • Maintaining a comprehensive inventory and assessment of natural resources and critical habitats.
  • Identifying opportunities to create an interconnected green infrastructure network throughout and beyond Oklahoma City’s municipal boundaries via existing trail and greenway projects, parks, stream corridors, and natural areas.
  • Seeking the voluntary sale of land or dedication of conservation easements on private land that is identified as critical habitat or is necessary to link wildlife corridors.
  • Pursuing protection of strategically identified natural areas by placing them in conservation easements or land banks, and reserving them for future use as open space and passive recreational areas.
  • Managing invasive plant and animal species.
  • Partnering with applicable State agencies and non-profit entities.

Strive to preserve natural open spaces, including native prairies, and re-plant native vegetation to take advantage of their drought tolerance and deep root structures that slow and adsorb stormwater runoff and reduce erosion by anchoring the soil.

Identify and protect critical habitats for state and federally listed threatened or endangered species.

Identify migratory birds and their nesting sites prior to construction. Protect migratory birds and their nesting sites throughout the construction process and refrain from construction near nesting sites until migratory birds are no longer actively nesting and have moved on from the site. Verify compliance with Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

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.

In conjunction with City regulatory changes, such as significant modifications to zoning ordinances, building codes, or subdivision regulations, assess the effects of the proposed modifications on housing development costs and overall housing affordability, considering the balance between housing affordability and other objectives such as environmental quality, urban design quality, maintenance of neighborhood character and protection of public health, safety and welfare. This assessment should be integrated into the code amendment process, identify barriers to housing affordability, and include recommended mitigation.

Modify codes to allow residential clustering in rural land use typology areas, provided water supply and sewage disposal requirements are met, and permanently preserve nearby open space through means such as conservation easements.

Require that new development tie into the park and trail system by providing linkages to existing parks or dedicating new park land. Connect existing parks and neighborhoods to create a continuous system of open spaces, for example along stream corridors.

Enhance public park design standards to allow for public art and innovative design solutions regarding stormwater management, use of native vegetation, open space, and play areas.

Revise subdivision regulations to require development adjacent to parks and public open spaces to maintain open sight lines to parks and public open space.  Reduce/limit residential rear yards, fences, walls, and physical and visual enclosures around park and public open space perimeters.  Encourage designs that allow homes to face into parks or where side yards are located near parks.

Pursue all opportunities, including donations, conservation easements, inheritance trusts, naming rights, and developer incentives to accomplish the following:

  • Acquiring new lands for parks, open space;
  • Acquiring natural areas that provide greater opportunities for people to access nature;
  • Maintaining existing and future parks, open space, and natural areas;
  • Enhancing existing landscaping at parks and along trails by planting additional native vegetation.

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
  • Signage
  • Building location
  • Building appearance
  • Open space (passive and active)

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.

We will develop a comprehensive strategy to improve water quality in Oklahoma City’s major watersheds, including standards against which development and management practices can be measured. Most of Oklahoma City’s water bodies are impaired and do not meet state or federal water quality standards, which increases costs and has negative impacts on recreation, public health, and fish and other aquatic species. We will take a comprehensive approach to address development standards and management practices to reverse water quality trends and bring water bodies into compliance with clean water standards. The approach will specify the water quality goals to be achieved in each watershed, identify the contributors to impaired water quality in each watershed, and utilize a combination of development standards, management practices, and targeted projects to achieve specified performance targets. Because water quality impairments arise from contamination at multiple scales, from individual properties to full watersheds, solutions must also be identified across scales.

We will make maximum use of green infrastructure, on-site storm water management, and other best practices to reduce the negative impact of floods and other significant events on water quality. Most waterway pollution in Oklahoma City results when rainwater or irrigation washes across lawns, agricultural areas, and impervious surfaces such as streets and parking lots. As it moves, it picks up fertilizers, pesticides, heavy metals, and microbes and deposits these contaminants into waterways. Water is naturally filtered when it is allowed to seep into the ground, when it moves slowly enough that sediment settles out, and when it is taken up by trees and plants. However, while much of the infrastructure constructed to move stormwater, such as channelization of waterways and rerouting or disconnection of streams, is efficient at moving water, it also increases the volume and velocity of runoff. This creates additional problems such as polluting waterways, diminishing biological features, and even flash flooding.

Alternative solutions, such as green infrastructure and on-site stormwater management, are designed to address both flood control and water quality. Examples include vegetation buffers adjacent to lakes and streams, maintenance of natural drainageways, permeable pavement, low-impact development, and landscape designs to slow water runoff from parking lots and other large expanses of pavement. These methods can be incentivized or regulated in order to achieve specified performance standards. We will maximize the use of these practices, which conserve natural features and work with, rather than against, the landscape’s natural drainage patterns.

We will make maximum productive use of water resources by promoting appropriate and safe use of recycled water. Currently, most water that is used for irrigation comes from the drinking water supply or from underground aquifers. In the summer and during times of drought, irrigation on large sites, such as golf courses, depletes the water supply. Some cities have effectively used reclaimed water for large-scale irrigation. Reclaimed water is former wastewater that is treated to remove solids and impurities. Oklahoma City has tested this on a limited basis and found it to be safe and effective at limiting the use of water resources that are best reserved for other purposes.

We will restrict development densities or require community wastewater treatment in areas without sanitary sewer service. Most of the city’s territory outside the urbanized area lacks sanitary sewer service. Feasible sewer extensions will provide service that supports urban density to some of this area. However, much of the area lacks the population density or has topographic characteristics that make sewer extensions unlikely in the foreseeable future. In these areas, developments typically use on-site treatment systems, usually septic systems, to manage wastewater. These practices require large minimum lot sizes and are sometimes inadvisable because of soil conditions. In these areas, new development should either be limited to very low densities or required to use integrated conservation design with a centralized treatment facility or other environmentally sensitive systems for wastewater treatment.

Click to expand policy information.


Avoid under-grounding streams to the greatest extent possible. Where feasible, encourage the re-surfacing of buried streams. Limit the use of culverts or other structures that alter natural streams, and require designs that minimize impacts to stream health and function.

Using performance standards related to flow quantity, quality, and pattern, modify development regulations, codes, and policies to support the use of green infrastructure/low impact development techniques to mimic natural systems for developments within aquifer recharge zones with moderate or high vulnerability or in areas where streams and riparian areas have been channelized or developed (primarily in the Downtown, UH, and UM LUTAs). Low impact development techniques include but are not limited to:

  • Onsite treating or filtering of stormwater contaminants.
  • Discharging run-off as sheet-flow after passing through grassy or vegetated open space areas, rather than discharging run-off through concentrated outfalls.
  • Creating attractive open space amenities that double as stormwater detention, retention, and / or filtering systems.
  • Utilizing pervious pavement, pavers, or asphalt in appropriate locations (i.e. sidewalks, parking spaces, trails, patios, etc.).
  • Utilizing planters (at grade or raised), vegetated landscape strips adjacent to roads and parking areas, and alternative curbing designs (allowing stormwater to easily move from impervious areas to pervious areas), to encourage stormwater infiltration and temporary detention.
  • Rain Gardens
  • Bioswales
  • Green streets and alleys
  • Green roofs
  • Rooftop collection
  • Underground detention
  • Increased tree canopy preservation/tree planting
  • Land/open space conservation
  • Cluster development

Establish development regulations to help protect Oklahoma City’s water resources through standards that:

  • Require buffers, setbacks, and vegetation conservation requirements to protect riparian and littoral zones and filter waterborne pollutants from development activities and storm water runoff. Buffer widths should be based on water quality function and wildlife habitat needs.
  • Encourage natural drainage systems and methods for onsite infiltration and onsite sediment retention.
  • Require new developments to maintain or decrease the site’s pre-development runoff rate.
  • Allow low-impact development design features such as pervious pavement, rain gardens, landscaped parkways, and alternative curbing designs.
  • Reduce the amount of impervious surfaces allowed in buffer zones around Environmentally Sensitive Areas.
  • Restore watershed features such as forest, wetlands, and natural stream channels.

Establish incentives such as a simplified permitting process, reduced application fees, and special recognition for projects that:

  • Utilize best management practices or other low-impact development methods for storm water management.
  • Bring buried streams to the surface and restore riparian habitat.
  • Install bridge systems instead of culverts for stream crossings to help maintain the natural ecosystem associated with the stream.

Revise policies, codes and development regulations to reduce the risk of damage resulting from flooding and preserve water quality and stream related habitat by avoiding alterations to the 100-year floodplain (as depicted on the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map). Allow these areas to remain in their natural state to the greatest extent possible. Revised policies should allow positive alterations, such as restoration of natural riparian areas with appropriate vegetation.

Preserve wetlands in their natural state to the greatest extent possible to increase water quality, minimize quantity of runoff, and increase groundwater recharge. Maintain wetland headwaters and avoid the alteration of surface or subsurface drainage patterns that would eliminate, reduce, or severely alter the frequency and volume of water entering wetland areas.

Create a comprehensive wastewater program for areas not planned for service by the City’s sewer system. This includes:

  • Locating and mapping all existing decentralized sewage treatment systems.
  • Creating policies and regulations regarding septic system design, installation, maintenance, and testing.
  • Producing guidelines for alternative wastewater treatment, such as community wastewater systems.
  • Developing monitoring, testing, and inspection requirements and responsibilities.
  • Partnering with State agencies and other entities.

Develop a comprehensive watershed management strategy that identifies programs, partnerships, actions, and incentives that the City and partners can take to protect the city’s water resources and aquatic areas. The strategy should address the following:

  • Creation of a Stormwater Master Plan.
  • Update to the City’s sediment control program and establishment of performance measures.
  • Coordinated watershed restoration projects.
  • Preparation and implementation of Small Watershed Action Plans (SWAPs) and participation in studies to identify needs and opportunities for stream restoration, wetland creation and restoration, and storm water management.
  • Identification of opportunities to create wetlands to offset construction and other land development impacts.
  • Identification and utilization of “receiving lands” that can absorb storm surge overflows.
  • Public education on how to conserve water and minimize chemicals, pathogens, sediment, and nutrients in urban and rural watersheds.
  • Acquisition and protection of greenways, river buffers and flood prone areas.

Evaluate the City’s stormwater detention/retention requirements, including the current fee-in-lieu of program, and compare to current best management practices. Based on findings, modify codes, policies and development regulations to update stormwater detention/retention requirements. These requirements should focus on:

  • Reducing the risks of property damage due to flooding.
  • Managing runoff rates and minimizing stream bank erosion by ensuring that post-development runoff rates do not exceed pre-development rates, even in areas where risks of flooding have historically been low.
  • Maintaining surface water quality by managing the release of the first flush stormwater volume in order to encourage settling and filtering of particle and chemical pollutants before releasing water into adjacent water bodies.

Revise development regulations to require the following factors to be addressed in development and redevelopment proposals:

  • Preservation of existing natural resources, such as wooded areas, habitat areas, and floodplains.
  • Utilization of natural treatments and methods to stabilize or rehabilitate stream and river banks as a means to preserve downstream habitats.
  • Integration of a variety of native or compatible non-native, non-invasive plant species.
  • Mitigation of impacts of development on habitat, wildlife corridors, riparian and littoral areas, and water quality, through actions such as restoration or re-vegetation of disturbed natural areas and replacement of trees/habitat on-site or off-site.
  • Management of invasive plant and animal species.
  • Management and maintenance of natural areas, common areas and drainage areas.
  • Impact on surface and groundwater supply.
  • Impact on water quality caused by land uses and activities.
  • Impacts on floodplains, riparian and littoral areas and wetlands and areas with significant landforms.

Revise the landscape ordinance to include the following:

  • Define terms such as invasive species, exotic/non-native species, and native/indigenous species
  • Require removal of invasive species from existing sites, and prohibit such species from being planted or maintained in new development.
  • Provide a reference list of native plants and drought-tolerant plants.
  • Provide incentives for using native and drought-tolerant plants and disincentives for using high-water plants and turf grass.
  • Establish requirements for using design practices that minimize the need for supplemental irrigation.

Provide the public with resources, tools, and guidance to deal with environmental hazards, such as:

  • Information about safe disposal options for household contaminants such as motor oils, paints, computers, televisions, batteries, etc.
  • Information on environmental hazards, such as brownfield sites.
  • Information about funds available to assist with environmental cleanups.

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.

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.

Preserve overall landscape character and natural landforms (rolling hills, native vegetation, etc.) to the greatest extent possible.

Protect and preserve natural resources, by:

  • Identifying and mapping valuable natural resources, such as, native prairies.
  • Maintaining a comprehensive inventory and assessment of natural resources and critical habitats.
  • Identifying opportunities to create an interconnected green infrastructure network throughout and beyond Oklahoma City’s municipal boundaries via existing trail and greenway projects, parks, stream corridors, and natural areas.
  • Seeking the voluntary sale of land or dedication of conservation easements on private land that is identified as critical habitat or is necessary to link wildlife corridors.
  • Pursuing protection of strategically identified natural areas by placing them in conservation easements or land banks, and reserving them for future use as open space and passive recreational areas.
  • Managing invasive plant and animal species.
  • Partnering with applicable State agencies and non-profit entities.

Strive to preserve natural open spaces, including native prairies, and re-plant native vegetation to take advantage of their drought tolerance and deep root structures that slow and adsorb stormwater runoff and reduce erosion by anchoring the soil.

Identify and protect critical habitats for state and federally listed threatened or endangered species.

Identify migratory birds and their nesting sites prior to construction. Protect migratory birds and their nesting sites throughout the construction process and refrain from construction near nesting sites until migratory birds are no longer actively nesting and have moved on from the site. Verify compliance with Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

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.

Require that new development tie into the park and trail system by providing linkages to existing parks or dedicating new park land. Connect existing parks and neighborhoods to create a continuous system of open spaces, for example along stream corridors.

Enhance public park design standards to allow for public art and innovative design solutions regarding stormwater management, use of native vegetation, open space, and play areas.

Replace existing high-maintenance, high-water plant material with attractive native plants.

We will establish an urban forestry program, directed by a city forester, to manage and improve the city’s tree canopy. This program's primary function will be to preserve and manage the existing tree canopy, increase the area with tree cover, and ensure that new projects utilize landscape materials appropriate to Oklahoma City’s climate and environment. This will be accomplished by:

  • Monitoring and managing the City's "urban forest," the trees on public lands and right-of-ways;
  • Providing technical assistance and advice to private residents, businesses, and property owners; and
  • Developing enforceable standards and incentives through preparation of an Urban Landscape Guide and revision of the existing landscape ordinance. Ordinance revisions should improve landscape requirements and provide both requirements and incentives for tree preservation in new projects.

Click to expand policy information.


Establish incentives such as a simplified permitting process, reduced application fees, and special recognition for projects that:

  • Utilize best management practices or other low-impact development methods for storm water management.
  • Bring buried streams to the surface and restore riparian habitat.
  • Install bridge systems instead of culverts for stream crossings to help maintain the natural ecosystem associated with the stream.

Revise development regulations to require the following factors to be addressed in development and redevelopment proposals:

  • Preservation of existing natural resources, such as wooded areas, habitat areas, and floodplains.
  • Utilization of natural treatments and methods to stabilize or rehabilitate stream and river banks as a means to preserve downstream habitats.
  • Integration of a variety of native or compatible non-native, non-invasive plant species.
  • Mitigation of impacts of development on habitat, wildlife corridors, riparian and littoral areas, and water quality, through actions such as restoration or re-vegetation of disturbed natural areas and replacement of trees/habitat on-site or off-site.
  • Management of invasive plant and animal species.
  • Management and maintenance of natural areas, common areas and drainage areas.
  • Impact on surface and groundwater supply.
  • Impact on water quality caused by land uses and activities.
  • Impacts on floodplains, riparian and littoral areas and wetlands and areas with significant landforms.

Develop a manual of best management practices that can be integrated into City codes. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Tree care and management.
  • Tree planting.
  • Tree protection.
  • Street trees (location, conflicts, maintenance, etc. – in addition to general tree care guidelines).
  • Placement of utilities (e.g., under streets vs. under park strips)
  • Low impact development techniques.
  • Habitat protection and restoration.
  • Conservation easements and/or subdivisions.

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.

Preserve mature healthy trees and incorporate them into the design of new development or redevelopment projects to the greatest extent possible. Include provisions and best management practices to ensure proper tree protection throughout the construction process. Best management practices include but are not limited to:

  • The use of proper pruning techniques;
  • Appropriate watering;
  • Installation of protective fencing at the drip lines of trees or groups of trees;
  • Designated material storage areas; and
  • Approved equipment and vehicle parking and maintenance areas.

Provide the public with resources, tools, and guidance to deal with environmental hazards, such as:

  • Information about safe disposal options for household contaminants such as motor oils, paints, computers, televisions, batteries, etc.
  • Information on environmental hazards, such as brownfield sites.
  • Information about funds available to assist with environmental cleanups.

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.

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.

Preserve overall landscape character and natural landforms (rolling hills, native vegetation, etc.) to the greatest extent possible.

Protect and preserve natural resources, by:

  • Identifying and mapping valuable natural resources, such as, native prairies.
  • Maintaining a comprehensive inventory and assessment of natural resources and critical habitats.
  • Identifying opportunities to create an interconnected green infrastructure network throughout and beyond Oklahoma City’s municipal boundaries via existing trail and greenway projects, parks, stream corridors, and natural areas.
  • Seeking the voluntary sale of land or dedication of conservation easements on private land that is identified as critical habitat or is necessary to link wildlife corridors.
  • Pursuing protection of strategically identified natural areas by placing them in conservation easements or land banks, and reserving them for future use as open space and passive recreational areas.
  • Managing invasive plant and animal species.
  • Partnering with applicable State agencies and non-profit entities.

Identify and protect critical habitats for state and federally listed threatened or endangered species.

Identify migratory birds and their nesting sites prior to construction. Protect migratory birds and their nesting sites throughout the construction process and refrain from construction near nesting sites until migratory birds are no longer actively nesting and have moved on from the site. Verify compliance with Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

We will maintain our active brownfields redevelopment program. The Environmental Protection Agency defines brownfield sites as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” Many of these sites were occupied by industrial operations that used or produced hazardous materials, salvage yards, and some types of commercial uses. A lack of knowledge of the prior uses of these sites could lead to contamination of ground or surface water and other hazards to public health. Oklahoma City has an active brownfields mitigation program in place that maintains information on sites. The City will also continue to assist potential developers by identifying available financing options and other incentives, and helping to assemble funding packages that can encourage redevelopment.

We will require that sites with environmental hazards are properly cleaned up and mitigated before issuing development permits. The brownfields site inventory helps ensure that future reuse of these sites includes proper mitigation procedures. To this end, proof that hazards have been removed in compliance with federal, state, and local requirements will be required before the City issues grading, building, or any other type of development permit.

Click to expand policy information.


Initiate efforts to educate the public regarding programs that provide assistance for neighborhood clean-up efforts. Such efforts could include the following:

  • Provide assistance to residents to make housing and neighborhood improvements and provide training in property maintenance skills.
  • Develop and organize volunteer programs (such as adopt-a-street, adopt-a-park, and neighborhood clean-up days) and/or coordinate efforts to obtain grant funding to establish community clean-up programs in neighborhoods where inadequate property maintenance is prevalent.
  • Publicize Bulk Waste Days and/or explore the possibility of adding more days/increased frequency.
  • Develop a list of outside funding sources that could be used for property maintenance and make this information available to all citizens, especially those in targeted low-income areas.
  • Establish public educational programs and advertising campaigns to discourage littering. Education should begin at the elementary level and continue through the adult level.

Pursue grants, partnerships, and programs that accomplish the following:

  • Restore tree stands and wildlife habitats in environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Acquire land or establish conservation easements in environmentally sensitive areas to reserve as permanent open space and protect wildlife and habitat.
  • Establish a comprehensive habitat management program.
  • Provide education and resources for proper use of pesticides and fertilizers, with special focus on encouraging integrated pest management and organic practices.
  • Provide education about land management practices that address fire suppression, invasive species, use of herbicides/pesticides, and overgrazing.
  • Promote the economic and aesthetic value of preserving Oklahoma City’s natural resources such as riparian areas, Cross Timbers forest, grasslands/prairie, bottomland forests, and wetlands.

Support and incentivize the adaptive use of existing buildings, infill development, and brownfield development.

Establish incentives such as a simplified permitting process, reduced application fees, and special recognition for projects that:

  • Utilize best management practices or other low-impact development methods for storm water management.
  • Bring buried streams to the surface and restore riparian habitat.
  • Install bridge systems instead of culverts for stream crossings to help maintain the natural ecosystem associated with the stream.

Develop a comprehensive watershed management strategy that identifies programs, partnerships, actions, and incentives that the City and partners can take to protect the city’s water resources and aquatic areas. The strategy should address the following:

  • Creation of a Stormwater Master Plan.
  • Update to the City’s sediment control program and establishment of performance measures.
  • Coordinated watershed restoration projects.
  • Preparation and implementation of Small Watershed Action Plans (SWAPs) and participation in studies to identify needs and opportunities for stream restoration, wetland creation and restoration, and storm water management.
  • Identification of opportunities to create wetlands to offset construction and other land development impacts.
  • Identification and utilization of “receiving lands” that can absorb storm surge overflows.
  • Public education on how to conserve water and minimize chemicals, pathogens, sediment, and nutrients in urban and rural watersheds.
  • Acquisition and protection of greenways, river buffers and flood prone areas.

Evaluate the City’s stormwater detention/retention requirements, including the current fee-in-lieu of program, and compare to current best management practices. Based on findings, modify codes, policies and development regulations to update stormwater detention/retention requirements. These requirements should focus on:

  • Reducing the risks of property damage due to flooding.
  • Managing runoff rates and minimizing stream bank erosion by ensuring that post-development runoff rates do not exceed pre-development rates, even in areas where risks of flooding have historically been low.
  • Maintaining surface water quality by managing the release of the first flush stormwater volume in order to encourage settling and filtering of particle and chemical pollutants before releasing water into adjacent water bodies.

In areas where standard on-site wastewater systems are not feasible (such as in areas with shallow or poor soils), require very low-density development or development that utilizes conservation design and a centralized treatment facility or other environmentally sensitive systems for wastewater treatment.

Provide the public with resources, tools, and guidance to deal with environmental hazards, such as:

  • Information about safe disposal options for household contaminants such as motor oils, paints, computers, televisions, batteries, etc.
  • Information on environmental hazards, such as brownfield sites.
  • Information about funds available to assist with environmental cleanups.

Ensure clean-up and mitigation of contaminated sites is done prior to issuing new development permits.

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.

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

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.

Reuse brownfield, greyfield, and other vacant building sites to provide new opportunities for mixed-used and mixed-income housing.

Utilize existing natural streams as amenities in public parks, and regularly monitor and maintain stream banks for safety of park users.

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.

Click to expand policy information.


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
    • Waste
    • Safety
    • 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.

Click to expand policy information.


Enhance the City’s Landscape Ordinance by accomplishing the following objectives:

  • Add guidelines and recommendations for landscape design that minimizes the need for supplemental irrigation.
  • Clarify responsibilities and standards for landscape maintenance, including within public rights-of-way.
  • Incentivize the use of drought-tolerant and native plants.
  • Restrict the use of turf grass to the greatest extent feasible.
  • Evaluate existing landscape standards for parking lots and consider making revisions that would result in more landscape buffering on parking lot fringes and more internal landscaping.
  • Evaluate existing landscape standards to determine whether new standards should be adopted to help screen or buffer parking structures.
  • Evaluate existing landscape standards in comparison to best practices and peer cities to determine whether minimum site landscaping standards should be revised and/or restructured to result in increased landscaping.

Pursue grants, partnerships, and programs that accomplish the following:

  • Restore tree stands and wildlife habitats in environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Acquire land or establish conservation easements in environmentally sensitive areas to reserve as permanent open space and protect wildlife and habitat.
  • Establish a comprehensive habitat management program.
  • Provide education and resources for proper use of pesticides and fertilizers, with special focus on encouraging integrated pest management and organic practices.
  • Provide education about land management practices that address fire suppression, invasive species, use of herbicides/pesticides, and overgrazing.
  • Promote the economic and aesthetic value of preserving Oklahoma City’s natural resources such as riparian areas, Cross Timbers forest, grasslands/prairie, bottomland forests, and wetlands.

Support and incentivize the adaptive use of existing buildings, infill development, and brownfield development.

Using performance standards related to flow quantity, quality, and pattern, modify development regulations, codes, and policies to support the use of green infrastructure/low impact development techniques to mimic natural systems for developments within aquifer recharge zones with moderate or high vulnerability or in areas where streams and riparian areas have been channelized or developed (primarily in the Downtown, UH, and UM LUTAs). Low impact development techniques include but are not limited to:

  • Onsite treating or filtering of stormwater contaminants.
  • Discharging run-off as sheet-flow after passing through grassy or vegetated open space areas, rather than discharging run-off through concentrated outfalls.
  • Creating attractive open space amenities that double as stormwater detention, retention, and / or filtering systems.
  • Utilizing pervious pavement, pavers, or asphalt in appropriate locations (i.e. sidewalks, parking spaces, trails, patios, etc.).
  • Utilizing planters (at grade or raised), vegetated landscape strips adjacent to roads and parking areas, and alternative curbing designs (allowing stormwater to easily move from impervious areas to pervious areas), to encourage stormwater infiltration and temporary detention.
  • Rain Gardens
  • Bioswales
  • Green streets and alleys
  • Green roofs
  • Rooftop collection
  • Underground detention
  • Increased tree canopy preservation/tree planting
  • Land/open space conservation
  • Cluster development

Establish incentives such as a simplified permitting process, reduced application fees, and special recognition for projects that:

  • Utilize best management practices or other low-impact development methods for storm water management.
  • Bring buried streams to the surface and restore riparian habitat.
  • Install bridge systems instead of culverts for stream crossings to help maintain the natural ecosystem associated with the stream.

Develop a comprehensive watershed management strategy that identifies programs, partnerships, actions, and incentives that the City and partners can take to protect the city’s water resources and aquatic areas. The strategy should address the following:

  • Creation of a Stormwater Master Plan.
  • Update to the City’s sediment control program and establishment of performance measures.
  • Coordinated watershed restoration projects.
  • Preparation and implementation of Small Watershed Action Plans (SWAPs) and participation in studies to identify needs and opportunities for stream restoration, wetland creation and restoration, and storm water management.
  • Identification of opportunities to create wetlands to offset construction and other land development impacts.
  • Identification and utilization of “receiving lands” that can absorb storm surge overflows.
  • Public education on how to conserve water and minimize chemicals, pathogens, sediment, and nutrients in urban and rural watersheds.
  • Acquisition and protection of greenways, river buffers and flood prone areas.

Evaluate the City’s stormwater detention/retention requirements, including the current fee-in-lieu of program, and compare to current best management practices. Based on findings, modify codes, policies and development regulations to update stormwater detention/retention requirements. These requirements should focus on:

  • Reducing the risks of property damage due to flooding.
  • Managing runoff rates and minimizing stream bank erosion by ensuring that post-development runoff rates do not exceed pre-development rates, even in areas where risks of flooding have historically been low.
  • Maintaining surface water quality by managing the release of the first flush stormwater volume in order to encourage settling and filtering of particle and chemical pollutants before releasing water into adjacent water bodies.

Revise development regulations to require the following factors to be addressed in development and redevelopment proposals:

  • Preservation of existing natural resources, such as wooded areas, habitat areas, and floodplains.
  • Utilization of natural treatments and methods to stabilize or rehabilitate stream and river banks as a means to preserve downstream habitats.
  • Integration of a variety of native or compatible non-native, non-invasive plant species.
  • Mitigation of impacts of development on habitat, wildlife corridors, riparian and littoral areas, and water quality, through actions such as restoration or re-vegetation of disturbed natural areas and replacement of trees/habitat on-site or off-site.
  • Management of invasive plant and animal species.
  • Management and maintenance of natural areas, common areas and drainage areas.
  • Impact on surface and groundwater supply.
  • Impact on water quality caused by land uses and activities.
  • Impacts on floodplains, riparian and littoral areas and wetlands and areas with significant landforms.

In areas where standard on-site wastewater systems are not feasible (such as in areas with shallow or poor soils), require very low-density development or development that utilizes conservation design and a centralized treatment facility or other environmentally sensitive systems for wastewater treatment.

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.

Modify development and subdivision regulations, and City policies to minimize alteration of natural landforms and native vegetation and maximize retention of distinctive natural features for public and private projects.

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.

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.

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.

Protect and preserve natural resources, by:

  • Identifying and mapping valuable natural resources, such as, native prairies.
  • Maintaining a comprehensive inventory and assessment of natural resources and critical habitats.
  • Identifying opportunities to create an interconnected green infrastructure network throughout and beyond Oklahoma City’s municipal boundaries via existing trail and greenway projects, parks, stream corridors, and natural areas.
  • Seeking the voluntary sale of land or dedication of conservation easements on private land that is identified as critical habitat or is necessary to link wildlife corridors.
  • Pursuing protection of strategically identified natural areas by placing them in conservation easements or land banks, and reserving them for future use as open space and passive recreational areas.
  • Managing invasive plant and animal species.
  • Partnering with applicable State agencies and non-profit entities.

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.

Replace existing high-maintenance, high-water plant material with attractive native plants.

Adopt design standards to enable emergency management resources to be highly effective, such as resilient buildings, interconnected transportation networks, and other design considerations that help ensure community safety and recovery.

We will establish an awareness of agriculture in and around the city as important to both food security and open space preservation. We tend to think of farming around cities as a temporary use that disappears when development takes over. Yet our city includes rural land that is likely to remain in agricultural use. This gives us the unique ability to integrate farming into the structure of the city. We can build public awareness and appreciation of agriculture’s environmental, economic, open space, and food security benefits and provide assistance to farmers that address the challenges of agriculture within the corporate limits of a big city.

We will maintain the ability of agricultural operations to exist and thrive at different scales, from large farms to small urban gardens. Land use policies should support and encourage farming and gardening activities in rural parts of Oklahoma City and on small parcels in the city. The directions and policies contained in the Land Use Plan and the sustainokc element cluster rural residential development and discourage the spread of very low-density residential acreages into agricultural areas, preserving the integrity of farms. Similarly, we should discourage conversion of land designated as Prime Farmland to non-agricultural use, and ensure that these uses support agriculture and reinforce the rural quality of the landscape. Within the city, we should encourage use of vacant or underused sites for raising food, at least on a temporary basis, and identify sites where more permanent urban gardens may be established on civic land.

We will maximize healthy food options for all neighborhoods and citizens. We cannot require people to eat certain kinds of foods or restrict access to the wide range of items that the food industry produces. However, people should not be forced into unhealthy diets by gaps in the food supply system or lack of knowledge. Our strategies addressing the food system should follow two paths. On the supply side, we should increase the number of places that provide affordable healthy food options in under-served neighborhoods. On the demand side, we should increase awareness and knowledge of citizens about diet, health, and practical ways that they can incorporate healthy eating habits into their routine. 

A HEALTHY FOOD AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

An effective and far-reaching campaign that introduces people to the benefits of healthy eating and makes healthy food options available and affordable to all can help develop a market that the private and community sectors can economically satisfy. Elements of this campaign may include:

  • Strategies for selection and preparation of healthy food that is cost-and time-competitive with manufactured food.
  • Selecting and preparing nutritious food for use in schools, recreation centers, senior centers, technical/trade schools, farmers markets, and anywhere people might go to learn.
  • Linking training for unemployed people and welfare-to-work programs with opportunities for living wage jobs in urban food-related businesses.
  • “Edible Schoolyards”, a school-based program that integrates nutrition and gardening to connect healthy food choices and locally grown fresh produce.
  • Farm-to-school programs.
  • Farm-to-institution programs that offer healthy food choices to hospitals, universities, prisons, and businesses.

Click to expand policy information.


Establish development regulations to help protect Oklahoma City’s water resources through standards that:

  • Require buffers, setbacks, and vegetation conservation requirements to protect riparian and littoral zones and filter waterborne pollutants from development activities and storm water runoff. Buffer widths should be based on water quality function and wildlife habitat needs.
  • Encourage natural drainage systems and methods for onsite infiltration and onsite sediment retention.
  • Require new developments to maintain or decrease the site’s pre-development runoff rate.
  • Allow low-impact development design features such as pervious pavement, rain gardens, landscaped parkways, and alternative curbing designs.
  • Reduce the amount of impervious surfaces allowed in buffer zones around Environmentally Sensitive Areas.
  • Restore watershed features such as forest, wetlands, and natural stream channels.

Raise the level of public awareness of agriculture’s value to ecology, economy, open space, culture, and local food security by the following actions:

  • Organize training activities in a variety of settings (schools, colleges, health care facilities, continuing education programs) that demonstrate the history, importance and value of agricultural operations.
  • Improve the knowledge of current growers and motivate potential new growers.
  • Promote incentives offered by governments, banks, land-grant universities, and private businesses such as start-up capital, credit, crop insurance, horticultural and financial advice, soil testing, markets, subsidies, tools, and inputs such as seeds and soil alterations.
  • Promote farms as a destination stop for tourists and visitors.

Revise city codes and ordinances to allow urban agricultural operations and sales, including the following provisions:

  • Define types of urban agriculture.
  • Allow urban agriculture types in appropriate zoning districts.
  • Establish standards for operations within different zoning districts.
  • Allow a variety of retail options for locally grown produce.

Protect the ability of agricultural operations to exist and thrive at different scales, from large farms to small urban gardens through the following actions:

  • Protect land suitable for agriculture by maintaining parcels large enough to sustain agricultural production, and discourage conversion of existing agricultural lands to non-agricultural uses.
  • Encourage dwellings and other non-agricultural development to be ancillary to and compatible with agricultural uses. Such uses should be limited in size and grouped together to minimize disturbance to agricultural production.
  • Create incentives to protect soils designated as Prime Farmland by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
  • Facilitate the use of vacant and under-used urban lands for raising food.
  • Identify public lands in urban parks, and around municipal buildings, schools, public housing, hospitals, and other civic spaces, that may be used for food production with plantings of fruit trees, edible landscaping, and vegetable gardens.

Promote local and urban agricultural operations by establishing programs and partnerships to:

  • Lease publicly-owned land to farmers for sustainable urban agricultural use.
  • Encourage land tenure methods such as land trusts, leases, and policy initiatives to secure long-term commitment for community gardens, entrepreneurial farms, and other urban agriculture ventures.
  • Develop community-based farming infrastructure such as tool banks with equipment and supplies, community kitchens and other shared processing facilities, farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture projects, funding opportunities, and technical service providers.
  • Construct and operate a demonstration urban farm for education, outreach, and local food production.
  • Encourage the local agricultural economy and improve access to local foods by allowing city property (parks, city facilities, etc.) to be used for farmers markets and other public markets.

Strengthen the local food system and increase access to healthy food options using strategies such as:

  • Increasing the effectiveness of community gardens, especially in underserved areas.
  • Reducing access to low nutrition food (e.g. junk food, fast food).
  • Preserving agricultural lands for purposes of producing food, fiber, and fuel.
  • Participating in a local or regional food policy council.
  • Develop an incentive program that will assist convenience stores with providing fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy food items.
  • Develop a land bank to convert tax-reverted, vacant, and abandoned properties into community gardens or “satellite farms.”
  • Prioritize underserved areas when locating new grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and mobile grocers. Use financial incentives, technical assistance, and other services to improve the quality and selection of healthy foods available to underserved areas.

Create a Healthy Food Awareness campaign that includes:

  • Strategies for selection and preparation of healthy food that is cost- and time- competitive with manufactured food.
  • A uniform curriculum associated with selecting and preparing nutritious food for use in schools, recreation centers, senior centers, technical/trade schools, farmers markets, and anywhere people might go to learn.
  • Strategies to link training for unemployed people and welfare-to-work work programs with opportunities for living wage jobs in urban food-related businesses.
  • “Edible Schoolyards”, a school-based program which integrates nutrition and gardening to raise awareness about the connection between healthy food choices and locally grown fresh produce.
  • Expansion of farm-to-school programs.
  • Farm-to-institution programs that offer healthy food choices to hospitals, universities, prisons, and businesses.

Incorporate preventive health care and wellness education into public schools, recreation centers, senior centers, and technical/trade schools.

We will promote water conservation and waste reduction among users of municipal services. Based on research in applied conservation, we will use a combination of awareness messaging, personalized usage data, and comparative feedback to encourage households to use less water, particularly during times of water shortage, and produce less garbage. Initial efforts will be tested on heavy consumers of services, and a university partnership will be sought to determine effectiveness.

We will foster a culture of environmental stewardship in Oklahoma City. We will solicit partners to participate in a large-scale community initiative, similar to that used by wellness campaigns and safety councils, with emphasis on the goals of greenokc. This partnership will be recognized as a continuing effort, just as campaigns like traffic safety also require continuity. This program will be based on sound market research and demonstrated techniques to affect specific environmental outcomes. Research will include focus groups in Oklahoma City to determine what topics are of greatest interest and effect, and techniques will go beyond education, awareness, and crisis response to promote a culture of environmental stewardship. The program’s effectiveness will be monitored regularly and strategies continually refined for maximum impact.

Educational and awareness programs targeted to all age levels can be effective in changing behavior and addressing environmental problems created by our daily routines. The content of these campaigns could address such topics as:

  • Awareness of Oklahoma City’s natural features and resources
  • Water and energy conservation
  • Promoting walking and bicycling in lieu of automobile trips
  • Effective actions for high ozone days
  • Environmental, social, and economic impacts of local food
  • Proper use of pesticides and fertilizers
  • Minimizing household pollutants and safe disposal of household contaminants
  • Support for neighborhood-based disposal efforts and cleanups
  • Proper disposal of trash, debris, and organic material
  • Land management practices that address fire suppression, invasive species, appropriate use of herbicides and pesticides, and overgrazing
  • Agricultural benefits of crop diversification, grass-fed livestock, raising bison, nature-friendly mowing practices

Click to expand policy information.


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.

Provide the public with resources, tools, and guidance to deal with environmental hazards, such as:

  • Information about safe disposal options for household contaminants such as motor oils, paints, computers, televisions, batteries, etc.
  • Information on environmental hazards, such as brownfield sites.
  • Information about funds available to assist with environmental cleanups.

Ensure clean-up and mitigation of contaminated sites is done prior to issuing new development permits.

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

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.

Raise the level of public awareness of agriculture’s value to ecology, economy, open space, culture, and local food security by the following actions:

  • Organize training activities in a variety of settings (schools, colleges, health care facilities, continuing education programs) that demonstrate the history, importance and value of agricultural operations.
  • Improve the knowledge of current growers and motivate potential new growers.
  • Promote incentives offered by governments, banks, land-grant universities, and private businesses such as start-up capital, credit, crop insurance, horticultural and financial advice, soil testing, markets, subsidies, tools, and inputs such as seeds and soil alterations.
  • Promote farms as a destination stop for tourists and visitors.

Promote local and urban agricultural operations by establishing programs and partnerships to:

  • Lease publicly-owned land to farmers for sustainable urban agricultural use.
  • Encourage land tenure methods such as land trusts, leases, and policy initiatives to secure long-term commitment for community gardens, entrepreneurial farms, and other urban agriculture ventures.
  • Develop community-based farming infrastructure such as tool banks with equipment and supplies, community kitchens and other shared processing facilities, farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture projects, funding opportunities, and technical service providers.
  • Construct and operate a demonstration urban farm for education, outreach, and local food production.
  • Encourage the local agricultural economy and improve access to local foods by allowing city property (parks, city facilities, etc.) to be used for farmers markets and other public markets.

Strengthen the local food system and increase access to healthy food options using strategies such as:

  • Increasing the effectiveness of community gardens, especially in underserved areas.
  • Reducing access to low nutrition food (e.g. junk food, fast food).
  • Preserving agricultural lands for purposes of producing food, fiber, and fuel.
  • Participating in a local or regional food policy council.
  • Develop an incentive program that will assist convenience stores with providing fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy food items.
  • Develop a land bank to convert tax-reverted, vacant, and abandoned properties into community gardens or “satellite farms.”
  • Prioritize underserved areas when locating new grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and mobile grocers. Use financial incentives, technical assistance, and other services to improve the quality and selection of healthy foods available to underserved areas.

Increase the amount of biodiversity-rich green space in urban and suburban areas by:

  • Integrating vegetation to support biodiversity in parks, gardens, trails, and green roofs. Native vegetation that provides food and habitat for native wildlife such as “micro prairies” and urban forests will have the greatest effect.
  • Encouraging optimal mowing practices on large lots that are adjacent to natural features.

Enrich natural biodiversity in agricultural areas by promoting practices that provide food, water, and habitat for wildlife and minimize negative impacts. Strategies to achieve the goal include:

  • Working with farmers, rancher, conservationists, sustainable agricultural organizations, and other stakeholders to develop a plan to conserve nature in farming and ranching landscapes.
  • Implementing optimal mowing strategies, which include harvesting grasses at a growing height of 10 plus inches; creating early successional habitat with burning, disking, and haying every 3-5 years; mowing from the center of a field outward to allow wildlife to escape the surrounding areas; adding flushing bars to mowing equipment to minimize bird injuries and death; leaving 4-6 inches of stubble after harvest to capture snow and water; harvesting or mowing after first frost to avoid disturbing bird nests and improve grass quality; and leaving portions of fields as standing crops.
  • Increasing nesting habitat.
  • Adopting best practices for fertilizer and pesticide applications.
  • Developing landscape conservation cooperatives.
  • Encouraging grassland ranching as an ecologically beneficial alternative to cultivation, particularly practices such as “mob grazing” that mimic natural grazing patterns.
  • Promoting ranching of bison, which benefit conservation efforts by dispersing seeds, increasing plant biodiversity, and enhancing groundwater recharge.
  • Restoring grassland on previously cultivated landscapes, particularly in buffer zones near natural features.
  • Encouraging and supporting agricultural parks that combine recreation and food production and foster appreciation for agricultural heritage.
  • Promoting sustainable intensification, which increases production and profitability while providing rich sources of habitat for biodiversity.

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.

Incorporate preventive health care and wellness education into public schools, recreation centers, senior centers, and technical/trade schools.

We will work with developers, property owners, and neighborhoods to increase the amount of biodiversity-rich green space in urban and suburban areas. While protecting high-priority environmental features is critical to preserving Oklahoma City’s ecological heritage, there is also much that can be done in areas that have already been highly modified by human activity and development. Urban and suburban areas can support biodiversity, bringing nature closer to people and spreading its benefits throughout the city. In urban and suburban areas, natural areas can be integrated in the form of parks, gardens, trails, and green roofs. Each of these features can be enriched when planted with native plants to create urban forests and “micro prairie” environments that not only offer low maintenance green space but also create stepping stones for biodiversity by providing food and habitat for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Individuals and neighborhoods can engage in activities to support nature on their own properties by planting native trees and vegetation, especially those that serve as sources of food and shelter for indigenous fauna.

We will enrich natural biodiversity in agricultural areas by promoting practices that provide food, water, and habitat for wildlife and minimize negative impacts. We will convene farmers, ranchers, conservationists, and other stakeholders to develop a plan to conserve nature in farming and ranching landscapes. Some techniques are simple, such as implementing optimal mowing strategies, increasing nesting habitat, and adopting best practices for fertilizer and pesticide application. Intermediate strategies include developing landscape conservation cooperatives; promoting safe, controlled use of fire to mimic natural burn cycles; encouraging grassland ranching as an ecologically beneficial alternative to cultivation, particularly practices such as “mob grazing” that mimic natural grazing patterns; and promoting ranching of bison, which benefit conservation efforts by dispersing seeds, increasing plant biodiversity, and enhancing groundwater recharge. More challenging strategies with significant impacts on biodiversity include grassland restoration on previously cultivated landscapes, development of agricultural parks that combine recreation and food production, and sustainable intensification, which increases production and profitability while providing rich sources of habitat for biodiversity.

Click to expand policy information.


Pursue grants, partnerships, and programs that accomplish the following:

  • Restore tree stands and wildlife habitats in environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Acquire land or establish conservation easements in environmentally sensitive areas to reserve as permanent open space and protect wildlife and habitat.
  • Establish a comprehensive habitat management program.
  • Provide education and resources for proper use of pesticides and fertilizers, with special focus on encouraging integrated pest management and organic practices.
  • Provide education about land management practices that address fire suppression, invasive species, use of herbicides/pesticides, and overgrazing.
  • Promote the economic and aesthetic value of preserving Oklahoma City’s natural resources such as riparian areas, Cross Timbers forest, grasslands/prairie, bottomland forests, and wetlands.

Establish development regulations to help protect Oklahoma City’s water resources through standards that:

  • Require buffers, setbacks, and vegetation conservation requirements to protect riparian and littoral zones and filter waterborne pollutants from development activities and storm water runoff. Buffer widths should be based on water quality function and wildlife habitat needs.
  • Encourage natural drainage systems and methods for onsite infiltration and onsite sediment retention.
  • Require new developments to maintain or decrease the site’s pre-development runoff rate.
  • Allow low-impact development design features such as pervious pavement, rain gardens, landscaped parkways, and alternative curbing designs.
  • Reduce the amount of impervious surfaces allowed in buffer zones around Environmentally Sensitive Areas.
  • Restore watershed features such as forest, wetlands, and natural stream channels.

Revise policies, codes and development regulations to reduce the risk of damage resulting from flooding and preserve water quality and stream related habitat by avoiding alterations to the 100-year floodplain (as depicted on the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map). Allow these areas to remain in their natural state to the greatest extent possible. Revised policies should allow positive alterations, such as restoration of natural riparian areas with appropriate vegetation.

Preserve wetlands in their natural state to the greatest extent possible to increase water quality, minimize quantity of runoff, and increase groundwater recharge. Maintain wetland headwaters and avoid the alteration of surface or subsurface drainage patterns that would eliminate, reduce, or severely alter the frequency and volume of water entering wetland areas.

Revise development regulations to require the following factors to be addressed in development and redevelopment proposals:

  • Preservation of existing natural resources, such as wooded areas, habitat areas, and floodplains.
  • Utilization of natural treatments and methods to stabilize or rehabilitate stream and river banks as a means to preserve downstream habitats.
  • Integration of a variety of native or compatible non-native, non-invasive plant species.
  • Mitigation of impacts of development on habitat, wildlife corridors, riparian and littoral areas, and water quality, through actions such as restoration or re-vegetation of disturbed natural areas and replacement of trees/habitat on-site or off-site.
  • Management of invasive plant and animal species.
  • Management and maintenance of natural areas, common areas and drainage areas.
  • Impact on surface and groundwater supply.
  • Impact on water quality caused by land uses and activities.
  • Impacts on floodplains, riparian and littoral areas and wetlands and areas with significant landforms.

Modify development and subdivision regulations, and City policies to minimize alteration of natural landforms and native vegetation and maximize retention of distinctive natural features for public and private projects.

Preserve overall landscape character and natural landforms (rolling hills, native vegetation, etc.) to the greatest extent possible.

Increase the amount of biodiversity-rich green space in urban and suburban areas by:

  • Integrating vegetation to support biodiversity in parks, gardens, trails, and green roofs. Native vegetation that provides food and habitat for native wildlife such as “micro prairies” and urban forests will have the greatest effect.
  • Encouraging optimal mowing practices on large lots that are adjacent to natural features.

Enrich natural biodiversity in agricultural areas by promoting practices that provide food, water, and habitat for wildlife and minimize negative impacts. Strategies to achieve the goal include:

  • Working with farmers, rancher, conservationists, sustainable agricultural organizations, and other stakeholders to develop a plan to conserve nature in farming and ranching landscapes.
  • Implementing optimal mowing strategies, which include harvesting grasses at a growing height of 10 plus inches; creating early successional habitat with burning, disking, and haying every 3-5 years; mowing from the center of a field outward to allow wildlife to escape the surrounding areas; adding flushing bars to mowing equipment to minimize bird injuries and death; leaving 4-6 inches of stubble after harvest to capture snow and water; harvesting or mowing after first frost to avoid disturbing bird nests and improve grass quality; and leaving portions of fields as standing crops.
  • Increasing nesting habitat.
  • Adopting best practices for fertilizer and pesticide applications.
  • Developing landscape conservation cooperatives.
  • Encouraging grassland ranching as an ecologically beneficial alternative to cultivation, particularly practices such as “mob grazing” that mimic natural grazing patterns.
  • Promoting ranching of bison, which benefit conservation efforts by dispersing seeds, increasing plant biodiversity, and enhancing groundwater recharge.
  • Restoring grassland on previously cultivated landscapes, particularly in buffer zones near natural features.
  • Encouraging and supporting agricultural parks that combine recreation and food production and foster appreciation for agricultural heritage.
  • Promoting sustainable intensification, which increases production and profitability while providing rich sources of habitat for biodiversity.

Protect and preserve natural resources, by:

  • Identifying and mapping valuable natural resources, such as, native prairies.
  • Maintaining a comprehensive inventory and assessment of natural resources and critical habitats.
  • Identifying opportunities to create an interconnected green infrastructure network throughout and beyond Oklahoma City’s municipal boundaries via existing trail and greenway projects, parks, stream corridors, and natural areas.
  • Seeking the voluntary sale of land or dedication of conservation easements on private land that is identified as critical habitat or is necessary to link wildlife corridors.
  • Pursuing protection of strategically identified natural areas by placing them in conservation easements or land banks, and reserving them for future use as open space and passive recreational areas.
  • Managing invasive plant and animal species.
  • Partnering with applicable State agencies and non-profit entities.

Strive to preserve natural open spaces, including native prairies, and re-plant native vegetation to take advantage of their drought tolerance and deep root structures that slow and adsorb stormwater runoff and reduce erosion by anchoring the soil.

Identify and protect critical habitats for state and federally listed threatened or endangered species.

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.

We will institute neighborhood design guidelines and practices that build community in lower-density settings. We recognize that different people have different preferences. Many people seek new houses but still want the diversity and neighborliness of the best of established neighborhoods. Others seek the bigger lots and greater personal space offered by low-density development. But almost everyone wants an attractive living environment, a sense of belonging to a community, public space, and connection. As we move toward new standards that implement the land use plan, we should ensure that new development designs reflect patterns that create better communities. These include such items as encouraging lot clusters to maintain open space, even in low-density development; street connections for both community contact and public safety access; trail and pathway systems; and housing variety where appropriate. Planned unit developments should be used in their intended way, to encourage creative design by looking at developments in their entirety.

Click to expand policy information.


Revise subdivision regulations to include connectivity standards and guidelines that require greater street connectivity, and provide allowances for pedestrian and bicycle connections when street connectivity cannot be made.

Establish regulations that require pedestrian connections between new commercial development and adjoining residential areas.

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.

Establish a process for existing neighborhoods to request traffic calming, including how to evaluate the request, select the appropriate type of calming treatment, and fund recommendations.

Require sidewalks on both sides of all streets in urban LUTAs and in the Rural Residential LUTA for subdivisions with densities greater than 1 unit per acre.

Develop and adopt new standards/guidelines to promote new residential subdivision designs that orient residential neighborhoods toward adjacent complementary uses or features such as parks, schools, open space, and neighborhood serving commercial sites, promoting improved direct accessibility and more seamless community integration.

Define responsibilities and assurances for maintaining, repairing, or replacing community walls and fences. Consider creating programs for routine and consistent maintenance of fencing along arterial roadways that could include fencing assessment districts, long-term bonds, or assigned HOA maintenance of community fencing.

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.

Create places and opportunities for neighborhood events that allow neighbors to interact.

Strengthen existing businesses and business districts within and adjacent to established residential areas. Promote the development of new businesses to provide additional jobs and higher income opportunities for nearby residents.

Use established mechanisms/tools to allow property owners to provide for the perpetual maintenance, repair and reconstruction of private roads, sidewalks, trails, utilities, and parks in new housing developments by requiring funding mechanisms such as:

  • Maintenance bonds/escrows
  • Special assessment districts, such as Business Improvement District or Special Improvement District
  • Covenants requiring compulsory membership in an incorporated Property Owners Association whose members will be financially liable for any such maintenance, repair, or reconstruction costs.

Incorporate these financing options into the platting process (or zoning process in the case of PUDs).
Construct all private roads and utilities to comply with minimum design and paving standards as outlined in the City of Oklahoma City Subdivision Regulations, including those related to the appropriate Street Typology.

Modify codes to allow residential clustering in rural land use typology areas, provided water supply and sewage disposal requirements are met, and permanently preserve nearby open space through means such as conservation easements.

Maximize fire safety through actions such as:
Modifying regulations and guidelines to prevent subdivisions with a single point of access – except those with fewer than 10 homes.
Developing a vegetation management program targeting the wildland/urban interface, including rights-of-way in rural areas, and incorporating recommendations from the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise Communities initiative.
Requiring residential sprinklers for developments located in Rural Land Use Typologies.
Requiring exceptional, effective, and easy access to sites augmented by a thorough system of connections within and between developments.

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
  • Signage
  • Building location
  • Building appearance
  • Open space (passive and active)

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
    • Waste
    • Safety
    • 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.

Amend the zoning ordinance to better accommodate the integration of various residential densities, building types, and styles.

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.

We will update and improve the city's landscape ordinances. Improvements will address the objectives of improving community appearance, minimizing land use incompatibilities, improving air quality, and managing the city's micro-climate. These ordinances also must address the long-term by including maintenance in their requirements. This starts with requiring native trees and plants that are adapted to the central Oklahoma climate. Use of native and drought tolerant plants lowers irrigation requirements, lowers cost, and conserves water.

We will educate the public on the use of native materials and proper maintenance. Preconceived notions of an aesthetically pleasing landscape often lead to the use of high-maintenance materials like non-native grasses. To overcome these inclinations, educational materials, demonstration gardens, and targeted corridor improvement projects should advertise both the beauty and benefits of proper installation and maintenance of native landscapes.

We will develop better procedures for reporting, citing and enforcement of violations. The current system for enforcement of landscaping requirements is complaint based, resulting in inconsistent maintenance on private properties and along many public rights-of-way. Improved procedures for code enforcement affecting private properties and additional funding sources for public areas should establish a clear level of expectation across the city.

Click to expand policy information.


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 distinctive standards for different types and categories of walls and fences, emphasizing durability, aesthetics, and visual continuity in materials and design with particular consideration of zoning classification.

Initiate new efforts to reduce sign clutter and improve the aesthetics of signs, while allowing for adequate and visible business identification by the following potential measures:

  • Restrict new billboards and eliminate or reduce the number of existing billboards.
  • Require non-conforming signs to be removed or be brought into compliance with existing regulations within a specific timeframe.
  • Consider new standards in the Sign Ordinance to improve limits on the size, height, and number of signs.
  • Improve proactive enforcement of the City’s sign regulations to curtail the placement of illegal signs and ensure adequate maintenance of signs.

Incorporate natural features (such as ponds, lakes, streams, rock outcroppings, stands of mature trees, and/or sizable individual trees) into the design of all residential, commercial, and industrial projects rather than eliminating, hiding, or limiting access to those features.

Establish streetscape standards requiring attractive entry features and the provision of accessible common open space in new neighborhoods.

Develop and adopt new standards/guidelines to promote new residential subdivision designs that orient residential neighborhoods toward adjacent complementary uses or features such as parks, schools, open space, and neighborhood serving commercial sites, promoting improved direct accessibility and more seamless community integration.

Develop and adopt new standards to minimize the detrimental appearance of accessory utility equipment (i.e. transformers, cable cabinets, telephone cabinets, utility meters, valves, etc.) by integrating them into less prominent areas of the site design or by screening them with landscaping, artistic features, or architectural materials compatible with the primary structures. If not encouraged, artistic embellishment (creating urban ambiance with imaginatively designed/painted screens) should not be prohibited. Ensure that such facilities are situated so that they do not impede pedestrian access.

Enhance the City’s Landscape Ordinance by accomplishing the following objectives:

  • Add guidelines and recommendations for landscape design that minimizes the need for supplemental irrigation.
  • Clarify responsibilities and standards for landscape maintenance, including within public rights-of-way.
  • Incentivize the use of drought-tolerant and native plants.
  • Restrict the use of turf grass to the greatest extent feasible.
  • Evaluate existing landscape standards for parking lots and consider making revisions that would result in more landscape buffering on parking lot fringes and more internal landscaping.
  • Evaluate existing landscape standards to determine whether new standards should be adopted to help screen or buffer parking structures.
  • Evaluate existing landscape standards in comparison to best practices and peer cities to determine whether minimum site landscaping standards should be revised and/or restructured to result in increased landscaping.

Consider the adoption of improved requirements to screen parked vehicles from view with enhanced landscaping, berming, low screen walls, and existing or proposed buildings, or some combination of those elements.

Establish a funded beautification program and source of funding to provide facade and landscaping enhancements along targeted industrial corridors.

Improve landscape design, installation, and landscape maintenance compliance through the following actions:

  • Produce informational materials and work with local media to publicize the benefits of limiting turf areas (e.g. reduced water use, less mowing) and highlight the positive effects on property values and aesthetics that result from proper installation and maintenance of landscaping.
  • Develop a program, including informational outreach, to inform property owners of their responsibilities to maintain right-of-way areas, the procedures for enforcement, and the applicable fines.
  • Identify specific corridors with the worst landscape maintenance conditions and initiate coordinated clean-up programs in those locations.
  • Install demonstration gardens/landscapes in select civic/public locations to provide practical examples of how to integrate drought tolerant and low maintenance plants in commercial and residential installations.
  • Improve efficiency and effectiveness of the process for reporting, citing, and proactive enforcement violations for maintenance and compliance with landscape requirements.
  • Explore the establishment of landscape improvement/maintenance districts where property owners are assessed a pro-rata share of the costs to properly and uniformly maintain landscaping within the district boundaries.

Develop a Master Streetscape Program to improve the appearance along major arterial streets. The program should outline methods for establishing a uniform streetscape appearance (with distinctive designs for individual streets or classifications of streets) through appropriate tree placement, species, and spacing, and coordinating the location of street trees in proximity to utilities, sidewalks, street lights and structures, and appropriate sidewalk designs. Differentiation in streetscape designs could be designated by street typology, designated areas, or other factors.

Using performance standards related to flow quantity, quality, and pattern, modify development regulations, codes, and policies to support the use of green infrastructure/low impact development techniques to mimic natural systems for developments within aquifer recharge zones with moderate or high vulnerability or in areas where streams and riparian areas have been channelized or developed (primarily in the Downtown, UH, and UM LUTAs). Low impact development techniques include but are not limited to:

  • Onsite treating or filtering of stormwater contaminants.
  • Discharging run-off as sheet-flow after passing through grassy or vegetated open space areas, rather than discharging run-off through concentrated outfalls.
  • Creating attractive open space amenities that double as stormwater detention, retention, and / or filtering systems.
  • Utilizing pervious pavement, pavers, or asphalt in appropriate locations (i.e. sidewalks, parking spaces, trails, patios, etc.).
  • Utilizing planters (at grade or raised), vegetated landscape strips adjacent to roads and parking areas, and alternative curbing designs (allowing stormwater to easily move from impervious areas to pervious areas), to encourage stormwater infiltration and temporary detention.
  • Rain Gardens
  • Bioswales
  • Green streets and alleys
  • Green roofs
  • Rooftop collection
  • Underground detention
  • Increased tree canopy preservation/tree planting
  • Land/open space conservation
  • Cluster development

Revise development regulations to require the following factors to be addressed in development and redevelopment proposals:

  • Preservation of existing natural resources, such as wooded areas, habitat areas, and floodplains.
  • Utilization of natural treatments and methods to stabilize or rehabilitate stream and river banks as a means to preserve downstream habitats.
  • Integration of a variety of native or compatible non-native, non-invasive plant species.
  • Mitigation of impacts of development on habitat, wildlife corridors, riparian and littoral areas, and water quality, through actions such as restoration or re-vegetation of disturbed natural areas and replacement of trees/habitat on-site or off-site.
  • Management of invasive plant and animal species.
  • Management and maintenance of natural areas, common areas and drainage areas.
  • Impact on surface and groundwater supply.
  • Impact on water quality caused by land uses and activities.
  • Impacts on floodplains, riparian and littoral areas and wetlands and areas with significant landforms.

Revise the landscape ordinance to include the following:

  • Define terms such as invasive species, exotic/non-native species, and native/indigenous species
  • Require removal of invasive species from existing sites, and prohibit such species from being planted or maintained in new development.
  • Provide a reference list of native plants and drought-tolerant plants.
  • Provide incentives for using native and drought-tolerant plants and disincentives for using high-water plants and turf grass.
  • Establish requirements for using design practices that minimize the need for supplemental irrigation.

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.

Modify development and subdivision regulations, and City policies to minimize alteration of natural landforms and native vegetation and maximize retention of distinctive natural features for public and private projects.

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.

We will increase landscaping and design requirements in parking areas. Tree plantings and landscaping in parking lots have multiple benefits. Trees shade parking areas and decrease the heat island effect, help orient customers in large parking lots, manage circulation, and can be integrated into design elements that provide safe paths for pedestrians. In addition, parking lots should provide safe and pleasant paths from public walks and paths and transit stops to the front door of major projects and destinations. In some cases, parking lots can be designed for multiple purposes, acting as public spaces or markets during specific events. New parking design standards for Oklahoma City should incorporate contemporary practices for improved parking lot design.

We will integrate parking structures into primary structures. In appropriate high intensity settings, parking structures should be used to the maximum degree possible. When located along streets, parking structures should be activated at street level by storefronts, public art, or other details to avoid blank walls. The exterior facades of structures should be enhanced and complement the architectural features and materials of the surrounding area as a means to disguise the function of the structure and to minimize the detrimental aesthetic impacts of such facilities.

Click to expand policy information.


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.

Enhance the City’s Landscape Ordinance by accomplishing the following objectives:

  • Add guidelines and recommendations for landscape design that minimizes the need for supplemental irrigation.
  • Clarify responsibilities and standards for landscape maintenance, including within public rights-of-way.
  • Incentivize the use of drought-tolerant and native plants.
  • Restrict the use of turf grass to the greatest extent feasible.
  • Evaluate existing landscape standards for parking lots and consider making revisions that would result in more landscape buffering on parking lot fringes and more internal landscaping.
  • Evaluate existing landscape standards to determine whether new standards should be adopted to help screen or buffer parking structures.
  • Evaluate existing landscape standards in comparison to best practices and peer cities to determine whether minimum site landscaping standards should be revised and/or restructured to result in increased landscaping.

Develop and adopt new standards/guidelines that result in improvements to parking structure design including the following potential measures:

  • Design parking structures to be architecturally integrated with adjoining primary structure(s).
  • Include integrated storefronts or other active uses on the ground floors of parking structures that are adjacent to public sidewalks and other pedestrian plazas.
  • Enhanced exterior façades of structures by integrating architectural features and materials that complement the character of the surrounding area, or screening with vegetation.

Consider the adoption of improved requirements to screen parked vehicles from view with enhanced landscaping, berming, low screen walls, and existing or proposed buildings, or some combination of those elements.

Develop a Master Streetscape Program to improve the appearance along major arterial streets. The program should outline methods for establishing a uniform streetscape appearance (with distinctive designs for individual streets or classifications of streets) through appropriate tree placement, species, and spacing, and coordinating the location of street trees in proximity to utilities, sidewalks, street lights and structures, and appropriate sidewalk designs. Differentiation in streetscape designs could be designated by street typology, designated areas, or other factors.

Using performance standards related to flow quantity, quality, and pattern, modify development regulations, codes, and policies to support the use of green infrastructure/low impact development techniques to mimic natural systems for developments within aquifer recharge zones with moderate or high vulnerability or in areas where streams and riparian areas have been channelized or developed (primarily in the Downtown, UH, and UM LUTAs). Low impact development techniques include but are not limited to:

  • Onsite treating or filtering of stormwater contaminants.
  • Discharging run-off as sheet-flow after passing through grassy or vegetated open space areas, rather than discharging run-off through concentrated outfalls.
  • Creating attractive open space amenities that double as stormwater detention, retention, and / or filtering systems.
  • Utilizing pervious pavement, pavers, or asphalt in appropriate locations (i.e. sidewalks, parking spaces, trails, patios, etc.).
  • Utilizing planters (at grade or raised), vegetated landscape strips adjacent to roads and parking areas, and alternative curbing designs (allowing stormwater to easily move from impervious areas to pervious areas), to encourage stormwater infiltration and temporary detention.
  • Rain Gardens
  • Bioswales
  • Green streets and alleys
  • Green roofs
  • Rooftop collection
  • Underground detention
  • Increased tree canopy preservation/tree planting
  • Land/open space conservation
  • Cluster development

Revise development regulations to require the following factors to be addressed in development and redevelopment proposals:

  • Preservation of existing natural resources, such as wooded areas, habitat areas, and floodplains.
  • Utilization of natural treatments and methods to stabilize or rehabilitate stream and river banks as a means to preserve downstream habitats.
  • Integration of a variety of native or compatible non-native, non-invasive plant species.
  • Mitigation of impacts of development on habitat, wildlife corridors, riparian and littoral areas, and water quality, through actions such as restoration or re-vegetation of disturbed natural areas and replacement of trees/habitat on-site or off-site.
  • Management of invasive plant and animal species.
  • Management and maintenance of natural areas, common areas and drainage areas.
  • Impact on surface and groundwater supply.
  • Impact on water quality caused by land uses and activities.
  • Impacts on floodplains, riparian and littoral areas and wetlands and areas with significant landforms.

Revise the landscape ordinance to include the following:

  • Define terms such as invasive species, exotic/non-native species, and native/indigenous species
  • Require removal of invasive species from existing sites, and prohibit such species from being planted or maintained in new development.
  • Provide a reference list of native plants and drought-tolerant plants.
  • Provide incentives for using native and drought-tolerant plants and disincentives for using high-water plants and turf grass.
  • Establish requirements for using design practices that minimize the need for supplemental irrigation.

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.

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.

Modify development and subdivision regulations, and City policies to minimize alteration of natural landforms and native vegetation and maximize retention of distinctive natural features for public and private projects.

Improve parking provisions in neighborhoods that are near vibrant commercial corridors/areas by improving parking and corridor design, non-vehicular networks, transit, and signage.

Amend the landscape ordinance to increase the number of trees and landscaped islands required in parking lots.

Provide incentives for developers to build parking garages in high density areas. Include design requirements for projects receiving incentives.

We will use design features and materials that are attractive, economical, and sustainable in the long run, and recognize that parks are a canvas for human activity. Ultimately, parks are for and about their users and, except in rare circumstances, are brought to life by the people and the activities within them. Therefore, park design should maintain the flexibility to adapt and change – to be places for play, exploration, gardens, art, thinking, running, informal games, room for creativity and improvisation – without getting in the way of their users. And, as they change, they should use materials that work well and remain sustainable for the long run. For example, native plant materials may require some time and care to become established, but will save money and create more attractive and hardy landscapes over the long haul. Good and flexible design, public safety, social space, and environmental quality should converge as we rehabilitate existing parks and contemplate new ones.

Click to expand policy information.


Using performance standards related to flow quantity, quality, and pattern, modify development regulations, codes, and policies to support the use of green infrastructure/low impact development techniques to mimic natural systems for developments within aquifer recharge zones with moderate or high vulnerability or in areas where streams and riparian areas have been channelized or developed (primarily in the Downtown, UH, and UM LUTAs). Low impact development techniques include but are not limited to:

  • Onsite treating or filtering of stormwater contaminants.
  • Discharging run-off as sheet-flow after passing through grassy or vegetated open space areas, rather than discharging run-off through concentrated outfalls.
  • Creating attractive open space amenities that double as stormwater detention, retention, and / or filtering systems.
  • Utilizing pervious pavement, pavers, or asphalt in appropriate locations (i.e. sidewalks, parking spaces, trails, patios, etc.).
  • Utilizing planters (at grade or raised), vegetated landscape strips adjacent to roads and parking areas, and alternative curbing designs (allowing stormwater to easily move from impervious areas to pervious areas), to encourage stormwater infiltration and temporary detention.
  • Rain Gardens
  • Bioswales
  • Green streets and alleys
  • Green roofs
  • Rooftop collection
  • Underground detention
  • Increased tree canopy preservation/tree planting
  • Land/open space conservation
  • Cluster development

Establish development regulations to help protect Oklahoma City’s water resources through standards that:

  • Require buffers, setbacks, and vegetation conservation requirements to protect riparian and littoral zones and filter waterborne pollutants from development activities and storm water runoff. Buffer widths should be based on water quality function and wildlife habitat needs.
  • Encourage natural drainage systems and methods for onsite infiltration and onsite sediment retention.
  • Require new developments to maintain or decrease the site’s pre-development runoff rate.
  • Allow low-impact development design features such as pervious pavement, rain gardens, landscaped parkways, and alternative curbing designs.
  • Reduce the amount of impervious surfaces allowed in buffer zones around Environmentally Sensitive Areas.
  • Restore watershed features such as forest, wetlands, and natural stream channels.

Revise the landscape ordinance to include the following:

  • Define terms such as invasive species, exotic/non-native species, and native/indigenous species
  • Require removal of invasive species from existing sites, and prohibit such species from being planted or maintained in new development.
  • Provide a reference list of native plants and drought-tolerant plants.
  • Provide incentives for using native and drought-tolerant plants and disincentives for using high-water plants and turf grass.
  • Establish requirements for using design practices that minimize the need for supplemental irrigation.

Enhance the City’s ability to improve the appearance of existing parks through the following:

  • Targeted cleanup and beautification program;
  • Seek sponsors to donate funds to improve park signage and lighting;
  • Litter and graffiti abatement program.

Enhance public park design standards to allow for public art and innovative design solutions regarding stormwater management, use of native vegetation, open space, and play areas.

Explore the use of artificial turf, alternative materials and or other types of ground covers that do not require heavy maintenance or frequent mowing.

Replace existing high-maintenance, high-water plant material with attractive native plants.

Study the feasibility of allowing community gardens in some park areas and create a community garden pilot program.

Utilize existing natural streams as amenities in public parks, and regularly monitor and maintain stream banks for safety of park users.

Protect the health of park visitors by utilizing the most environmentally friendly least toxic means available of reducing weeds and other pests to acceptable levels.

We will plan for mid- to long-term solid waste service. The City should contribute to the development and completion of the long-range solid waste study and incorporate applicable recommendations and policies into planokc. A key element of the study should be addressing future landfill needs, with existing landfills scheduled for completion between 2022 and 2026. The study should consider whether service is best provided by private operators or municipal or regional entities. It should also address strategies to prolong the life of existing and future fills by reducing the waste stream.

We will encourage residents to divert waste from landfills. The City should implement aggressive programs to expand participation in recycling programs. These efforts should assess and improve the convenience of programs, making it as easy as possible for customers to participate on a routine basis; expand public relations and educational efforts on the benefits of recycling and the cost savings that can accrue to taxpayers. A waste reduction program should also coordinate with the county extension offices and neighboring jurisdictions to improve public outreach efforts about the benefits of backyard composting. Diverting recyclables and compost materials from the waste stream will lessen the strain on our landfills.

Click to expand policy information.


Upon the completion and adoption of the long-range solid waste flow and disposal plan, use any applicable recommendations to update planokc.

Coordinate with the county extension offices and neighboring jurisdictions to improve the public outreach campaign about the benefits of backyard composting.

We will achieve a significant reduction in the amount of water used per person. Water is not overly abundant in the Oklahoma City area and the effects of climate change are uncertain, but not likely to produce more annual rainfall. Therefore, it is likely that at best, obtaining water will become more difficult and rates will increase. Water conservation is a positive good to everyone and steps should be taken to stretch our resources. To this end, the City should identify and remove regulatory barriers related to such water conservation measures as rainwater harvesting, gray water irrigation, and other re-use strategies and practices. Public education programs should identify areas of unnecessary water usage and provide citizens with information on how to reduce individual usage.

The City can also lead the water conservation cause by example, by reducing potable water consumption at City facilities, such as City Hall or recreation facilities. Water conservation can be promoted through a combination of user education and facility modifications, such as installing low flow faucets.

Click to expand policy information.


Revise the landscape ordinance to include the following:

  • Define terms such as invasive species, exotic/non-native species, and native/indigenous species
  • Require removal of invasive species from existing sites, and prohibit such species from being planted or maintained in new development.
  • Provide a reference list of native plants and drought-tolerant plants.
  • Provide incentives for using native and drought-tolerant plants and disincentives for using high-water plants and turf grass.
  • Establish requirements for using design practices that minimize the need for supplemental irrigation.

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.

Identify and remove barriers related to water conservation practices, including rainwater harvesting, graywater irrigation, treated effluent re-use practices, and others.

Develop an inventory of water uses at City facilities. Identify opportunities to reduce water use while sustaining service levels to the public. Implement the most prudent opportunities.

X