Tulsa City Council

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A quick Tulsa traffic quiz: Are drivers allowed to use bicycle lanes as turn lanes? How much room must drivers give when passing a cyclist?

The City of Tulsa is developing a public education campaign so more people know the answers to those questions. (No, drivers can't use bicycle lanes as turn lanes, and they must give cyclists 3 feet while passing them.)

A potential way to address some of Tulsa’s affordable housing shortage is now before the city council for adoption, possibly by the end of the month.

A neighborhood infill overlay could be added to the zoning code for many neighborhoods near downtown but outside of the Inner Dispersal Loop. Travis Hulse with the Tulsa Planning Office said those communities have a lack of affordable housing units for a variety of reasons.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A coalition of local organizations told city councilors they want to see transparency and community engagement as Tulsa spends its allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act over the next two years.

ACTION Tulsa Project Organizer Christy Emig said the $88 million the city is receiving from the coronavirus relief package represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve the lives of Tulsans who are worse off just because of where they were born or the color of their skin.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Updated Aug. 25, 11:35 p.m.

Lacking the votes to immediately implement a new mask mandate, Tulsa city councilors supporting the proposal asked their colleagues on Wednesday to join them on a nonbinding resolution strongly encouraging people to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That resolution passed unanimously Wednesday night.

Ten Tulsa breweries are asking city councilors to reinstitute a citywide mask mandate on Wednesday.

The breweries are American Solera, Cabin Boys, Dead Armadillo, Eerie Abbey Ales, Heirloom Rustic Ales, Marshall Brewing, Neff Brewery, Nothing’s Left, Pippin’s Taproom and Renaissance Brewing — collectively, the Tulsa Craft Brewery Alliance.

City of Tulsa

While Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart were clear that they believe Tulsans should be following the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommending universal masking regardless of vaccination status due to the current surge in COVID-19 infections, neither would comment Thursday on whether they support an ordinance currently working its way through the city council that would mandate the wearing of them.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The City of Tulsa will continue not to have a mask mandate until at least Aug. 25.

A special meeting Monday night to consider a proposal for those 4 years and older to wear masks in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 went without a vote after a procedural motion to call one failed to get the required two-thirds majority.

The five councilors agreeing to call a vote were Mykey Arthrell-Knezek, Lori Decter Wright, Vanessa Hall-Harper and Kara Joy McKee. The four opposed were Jeannie Cue, Connie Dodson, Jayme Fowler and Phil Lakin.

Tulsa Fire-Facebook

As city councilors continue monitoring public safety staffing, the Tulsa Fire Department reports they’re down 60 firefighters because of retirements and being unable to hold academies last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The situation is being exacerbated with 15 firefighters out with the illness. A couple are in the hospital with it.

Deputy Chief of Field Operations Brent Goins said around 20 firefighters a day are working overtime to meet minimum staffing requirements, meaning 48 hours on and 24 off rather than the other way around.

The Tulsa City Council will hold a special meeting Monday night to consider a new citywide mask mandate.

The original mask requirement expired at the end of April and was instituted in July 2020. It first applied to adults, then anyone 10 or older.

Councilors Lori Decter Wright, Vanessa Hall-Harper and Kara Joy McKee are proposing a mask requirement for anyone 4 years old or older, citing a high local rate of COVID transmission, low vaccination rate, strained hospital system and mounting calls for action.

Members of an oversight committee in Tulsa’s search for mass graves holding victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre expressed to city councilors their displeasure over last week’s reinterment of remains.

The committee held a meeting July 27 after being invited to a reburial ceremony at Oaklawn Cemetery and voted to postpone it. The reinterment happened last Friday.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

As the Tulsa City Council begins consideration of a 4% employee retention bonus to be paid for with federal coronavirus relief funds, a signing bonus has been tacked on to the proposal.

The retention bonuses would spend about $8.7 million from the city’s $87.8 million allocation of American Rescue Plan funds. Those would go to employees with at least one year of service by the end of 2021.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Days after volunteers helped move the last residents out of a condemned apartment complex, the Tulsa City Council announced a new working group to look into potential policy solutions.

Councilor Phil Lakin says the Residential Rental Property Habitability Working Group is not meant to go after the 90% of landlords he believes are doing right by their tenants.

EMSA

There’s a nationwide shortage of paramedics, and there’s no exception to that in Tulsa.

According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, the nation will have 42,000 fewer paramedics and emergency medical technicians than it needs by 2030. EMSA is currently 12 paramedics short of its staffing goal and keeps job postings up 365 days a year.

Wikimedia

Tulsans really enjoyed their fireworks over the Fourth of July holiday, even though setting them off is illegal within city limits.

Councilor Lori Decter Wright described what she saw that night to her colleagues during a discussion last week. 

"There were up-in-the-air fireworks, 360-degree view; from [I-244] along [U.S.] 169, a haze of sulfur smoke everywhere. And then, even upon arrival to my house, you know, all kinds of things going off well into the wee hours," Decter Wright said.

Updated July 18, 7:40 a.m.  

The City of Tulsa is now the proud owner of 30 undeveloped acres near 71st Street and U.S. 169, land that will eventually be combined with 27 adjacent, city-owned acres for a new park.

City Chief of Culture and Recreation and Parks Director Anna America started working toward a new park there when she was the District 7 city councilor from 2014 to 2018. She said there isn't enough access to parks and green space in the densely developed area.

Lori Decter Wright

The City of Tulsa and housing nonprofits are still trying to relocate residents of an apartment complex near 61st and Memorial a city councilor described as being like a "third-world" country.

The redistricting process began in earnest Friday for the City of Tulsa.

The five-member Election District Commission charged with redrawing city council districts based on the 2020 census met for the first time. The commission is made up of two Republicans, John Eagleton and Rick Westcott; two Democrats, Sharon King Davis and Joe Williams; and one independent, Susan Neal. Eagleton, Neal, Westcott and Williams are former city councilors.

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Plans are on hold to remake a south Tulsa hotel into a development that includes a hotel, apartments targeted to older veterans and daytime senior care.

Veteran Services USA withdrew their application for the project hours before a city council vote on it this week, saying they wanted to allow more time for discussions with the community.

The process to start collecting a 3% assessment on certain hotels across the city is before the Tulsa City Council.

Councilors approved a resolution Wednesday telling the city to file an assessment roll for the Tourism Improvement District and set a July 21 public hearing on the matter. The assessment applies to hotels with 110 rooms or more, and funds will go toward marketing efforts that should help them attract business.

A council working group tasked with finding ways to improve trust and accountability for the Tulsa Police Department is still developing potential policies, but it has made one suggestion: business cards for every officer.

During a recent visit with Sand Springs Police, working group members learned every officer there carries business cards with their name and contact information on them to give to people they encounter. 

Councilor Lori Decter Wright said that would be an easy way to humanize officers in situations that can be stressful for people who don’t trust them.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The City of Tulsa and Tulsa City Council have finalized grants totaling $6.5 million to 74 local nonprofits helping with COVID-19 recovery.

The funding is going to a wide range of projects and organizations to help with things like food security, child development, housing, mental health, and prison and jail re-entry programs. Grants will be given through reimbursements, but City Coronavirus Relief Funds Program Manger Clay Holk said because it has taken so long into the pandemic to award funding, situations where money is needed up front will be considered.

Oklahoma Historical Society

Updated June 3, 10:10 a.m. to reflect Councilor Kara Joy McKee's response to Greg Robinson during the meeting.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa City Councilors are set to consider a resolution Wednesday to apologize and commit to making tangible amends for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and for discriminatory policies that followed and caused further harm to north Tulsa.

That work includes setting up a process for the community to develop recommendations to aid reconciliation. 

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The Tulsa City Council announced Friday it would consider a resolution at its upcoming Wednesday meeting that would formally apologize for the past and ongoing harms caused by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and launch a process to evaluate recommendations included in a 2001 state report that included an endorsement of reparation payments. 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

City councilors do not appear to support a colleague’s proposal for a mask mandate trigger based on COVID-19 trends. 

District 4 Councilor Kara Joy McKee suggested some kind of trigger last week and said she still has concerns about the pandemic ahead of Tulsa’s mask order expiring April 30.

"We can’t control how infectious the virus is, but we can control our behaviors," McKee said during a Wednesday council committee meeting.

Josh Larios

Tulsa city councilors are still mulling over updates to regulations on backyard chickens.

In their latest round of proposed changes discussed last week, the minimum distance for a chicken coop to be from a residence is cut from 40 feet to 35. A significant portion of the city is zoned residential with lots a minimum of 60 feet wide.

District 4 Councilor Kara Joy McKee said fresh eggs can make a big difference in some Tulsans’ diets.

City of Tulsa

Several city councilors said Wednesday they are concerned about Tulsa’s mask ordinance expiring April 30, but an extension is not currently on the table.

In Tulsa County, COVID-19 hospitalizations are manageable and new cases rates are back to levels seen before the ordinance was enacted last summer. Despite those trends, District 4 Councilor Kara Joy McKee is not ready to drop the mandate. Wastewater testing has detected at least one coronavirus variant in the city, and McKee said not enough people are fully vaccinated yet to get rid of a proven mitigation strategy.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Updates to Tulsa’s animal ordinances were on track to prohibit roosters over eight weeks old in residential areas, but city councilors may have figured out a way to avoid the ban.

Downtown Coordinating Council

The Tulsa City Council has voted to waive application fees for sidewalk cafés and parklets for another year.

The outdoor spaces have provided an option for restaurant patrons wary of lingering indoors during the pandemic, helping businesses in the process as they dealt with plummeting sales. Downtown Coordinating Council Executive Director Brian Kurtz says with a lot of employers within the IDL still having employees work from home, businesses haven’t fully recovered.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

 

Tulsa city councilors on Wednesday night approved outgoing Tulsa County GOP Chair Bob Jack’s nomination to an infrastructure board on a 5–4 vote.

Mayor G.T. Bynum’s nomination of the construction executive for the Infrastructure Development Advisory Board had been criticized by some councilors and citizens, in part because of disparaging comments about Black Lives Matter and north Tulsa he made last year. Councilor Kara Joy McKee said political parties aside, that’s why she couldn’t vote for Jack.

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