We will develop and implement new land development regulations that support the Land Use Typology Area system of integrated uses and greater flexibility and efficiency. Our current development ordinances date from a time when we valued low density and separation of different land uses higher than city life. The fact that low density increases the cost of services and infrastructure gives us pause. That, combined with our successes at building places that people want to experience has moved us in new directions. The zoning code, which divides the city into 26 single-use “base” districts, 7 special districts, and 16 overlay districts, discourages the trends toward new development forms. We must modernize these codes to implement the LUTA concept and provide both the flexibility and protection that benefit contemporary developers and their neighbors alike.

Despite its large number of specific districts, our zoning ordinance does not provide adequate protections for neighborhoods or guarantees to approving agencies on actual performance or design of projects. This forces the Planning Commission and City Council to use Planned Unit Developments (PUDs), tying developers to a specific project and building design. PUDs are actually intended for a different purpose – to encourage innovative, comprehensively planned developments– and are overly rigid when applied to more routine projects.

Revisions to Oklahoma City’s land development regulations could move in several directions, from modifying existing zoning districts with new performance and design standards to establishing a new structure that uses the Land Use Typology Areas as the basic development districts for the city. The LUTAs, as presented in Chapter Two, permit a variety of uses, but establish permitted ranges of development intensity. The LUTA system achieves compatibility between different types or intensities of uses by implementing performance standards, design guidelines, and transitional methods. These techniques give specific and predictable guidance to builders and developers, and address such areas as operating effects, traffic, parking, design, scale, and safety, avoiding the unnecessary overuse of PUDs. A LUTA-based system would incorporate the criteria for locations and supporting transportation and infrastructure established by this plan for individual land uses.

We will execute a smooth transition between the existing zoning code and new land development ordinances. Development ordinances are complicated and difficult to change because people have become accustomed to them, rough spots and all. Migrating to an alternative concept will take time and care. In the meantime, the City will evaluate using a hybrid approach, mixing the existing zoning districts with the LUTA/mixed use concept. One way of accomplishing this is to group the zoning districts that are consistent with the intensity and use ranges of LUTAs, and apply compatibility policies and design standards to developments within them. The existing zoning ordinance could then be modified to include these compatibility standards. New rezoning requests would be evaluated for consistency with the LUTA in which they are located. If the new project is adjacent to a different land use, the compatibility policies and standards would apply to the design of that project.