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Tulsa City Council Takes First Step to Bring Neon Back to Route 66


Tulsa City Council kicked off a process Wednesday to encourage a distinct look along Route 66.

"I think Route 66, obviously, with its history is a great opportunity for us to dress it up a bit, and nothing does that better than neon signs all through the route," said City Councilor Blake Ewing.

The council has initiated a zoning code overlay to relax sign regulations along the corridor. As it’s currently written, the overlay will let businesses put up signs 50 percent larger than they’re currently allowed based on their building fronts if they use a certain proportion of neon lights.

"For example, if someone previously had been given 100 square feet of signage, they’ve now been boosted to 150 square feet as long as 25 percent is neon," said INCOG Land Development Planner Nathan Foster.

Those details could change after public meetings are held.

"In this process, we’re going to have some neighbors residentially who have some concerns about potential property owners putting up much taller, much brighter signs along the Route 66 corridor," Foster said. "So, as we hear those concerns, we’re going to have to obviously mitigate within our draft to take care of those neighbors as well."

The overlay would apply to nearly all of Route 66 in Tulsa, including stretches along 11th Street, Admiral and Southwest boulevards, Mingo Road, and 193rd East Avenue with extensions at major intersections. It would not apply to downtown, however, as there's a prohibition on zoning overlays within Tulsa's Central Business District.

A zoning overlay has been used to set design standards along the Arkansas River corridor and is being considered for part of north Tulsa.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.