Tulsa City Council

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.

Tulsa Flag

Tulsa city councilors and the mayor’s office met virtually on Wednesday for their annual retreat to lay out priorities for the coming year.

Many big plans from 2020 are still on the table because they got derailed during the coronavirus pandemic. Those include neighborhood revitalization, raising all city employees’ pay to at least $15 an hour, and making permanent a joint mental health response team that includes Tulsa police, fire and mental health professionals.

Tulsa city councilors met Wednesday with what’s become a rare controversial nominee for a city authority, board or commission.

Mayor G.T. Bynum picked construction executive Bob Jack for a seat on the Infrastructure Development Advisory Board. Jack is chair of the Tulsa County Republican Party.

Chris Polansky

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said Thursday he would welcome direct federal coronavirus relief funding from the federal government to help address the city's projected budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year caused by the pandemic. 

Tulsa City Hall

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announced Thursday that applications are open for up to $6.5 million in grants for nonprofit organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tulsa City Council

The Tulsa City Council unanimously approved a resolution imploring employers to allow for telework as much as possible due to the ongoing severe risk of contracting COVID-19 locally.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Tulsa City Council wants to give the Muscogee (Creek) Nation two more years to decide whether it can commit $16 million dollars to building an Arkansas River Dam near 101st Street.

The deadline for that was Dec. 31 of this year. The council voted last week to extend the deadline to Dec. 31, 2022. Councilor Phil Lakin said the additional time will ensure everyone’s budgets have recovered from 2019’s spring floods and the coronavirus pandemic and will give Tulsa officials time to meet with Muscogee (Creek) officials about the matter.

Rental Realities

Tulsa city councilors will consider a resolution this week supporting a right to counsel for people facing eviction.

The resolution also encourages tenants, landlords, mediators and courts to find solutions that will allow time to get rent paid, including through assistance programs.

Councilors Kara Joy McKee and Lori Decter Wright are behind the resolution. They said they hope the resolution will send a message to judges and help steer more renters toward available, free representation.

City of Tulsa officials took their oaths of office Monday on an inauguration day with limited attendance because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor G.T. Bynum’s uncle, Judge William LaFortune, administered his oath in Bynum’s office. It was broadcast online. After the two bumped elbows, Bynum gave a short speech calling on Tulsans to overcome divisive forces, especially as the city approaches the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre centennial.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Tulsa City Council convenes next Monday for its inauguration, where all nine councilors will be sworn in.

Afterward, the council will hold a special meeting to elect the chair and vice-chair. Despite the worsening pandemic, that will all happen in the city council chambers.

Councilor Lori Decter Wright said they don’t have much choice.

Laurie Avocado

The coronavirus pandemic may lead to a new feature at Tulsa marijuana dispensaries: a drive-thru.

City Councilor Crista Patrick is pursuing a zoning code amendment to allow them.

Patrick told fellow councilors this week that in conversations with the Tulsa Planning Office, she found drive-thru service is currently prohibited because the city’s marijuana ordinance treats all businesses the same, which wasn’t a problem when it was written before the pandemic.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa County’s active COVID-19 infections are at a record high, but the Tulsa City Council’s working group on the pandemic said on Wednesday no new restrictions are planned at the moment.

"What we saw roll out last March are the tools in the toolbox. Right now, the tool that we have that we want people to use is masking, washing your hands and watching your distance. We don’t want to limit gatherings. We don’t want to impact our community’s economic recovery right now," Councilor Lori Decter Wright said during a council committee meeting held virtually on Wednesday.

Chris Polansky / KWGS

Tulsans returned several elected officials to office on Tuesday, but not all of them.

Oklahoma House Democrats Denise Brewer, Meloyde Blancett and Melissa Provenzano claimed wins on election night, with Provenzano in the closest race in her south Tulsa district.

Brewer said Democratic lawmakers have to focus on digging out of a hole Republicans created.

"We're going to focus on education, health care, and we're going to force Gov. Stitt to step up and deal with COVID-19 based on science," Brewer said in a victory speech at Democrats' watch party at ONEOK Field.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa’s city council this week begins the process of officially adopting a plan to levy increased property taxes largely for housing improvements in north Tulsa neighborhoods.

The Peoria-Mohawk Project Plan would establish four tax increment financing, or TIF, districts at the business park of the same name. Officials estimate the increased property tax values they capture will bring in almost $43 million, and they plan to put nearly $35 million toward housing.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The City of Tulsa could soon adopt a new special taxing district that benefits residents directly rather than a developer or company.

The plan calls for four distinct tax increment financing, or TIF, districts at the Peoria Mohawk Business Park, with one encompassing Muncie Power Products truck part plant to be activated immediately. Officials estimate the TIFs will bring in $42.6 million over the next 25 to 35 years.

City of Tulsa

Tulsa City Councilors are less than thrilled with the new Arkansas River pedestrian bridge after their latest look at it.

The Gateway Bridge will replace the old railroad bridge at Zink Dam. Previous renderings showed a structure built on a $35 million budget. That’s since been pared down to a design based on just the $27.4 million in public funds available.

At a presentation Wednesday, Councilor Crista Patrick quickly complained about the absence of shade.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The Tulsa Park and Recreation Department will spend October soliciting citizen input and participation with a series of surveys and online community meetings.

Let's Talk Tulsa Parks will include an online survey, a call-in hotline, and nine virtual community meetings -- one for each Tulsa City Council district with their respective councilors.

www.vperemen.com / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike

The Tulsa City Council adopted on Wednesday three changes to an ordinance requiring residents to wear masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The main one makes masks mandatory for children 10 and up.

A waiver of rules to consider the changes on first reading, the changes themselves and an emergency clause passed on 8–0 votes. Councilor Connie Dodson was absent.

The city has required adults to wear masks indoors in public places and outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained since July.

Flickr User Nez, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Tulsa City Councilors say interest in raising chickens for eggs and meat has increased as citizens have been cooped up during the pandemic, and the council is considering pecking away at limits on the number of chickens allowable under law and the minimum distance of shelters from homes.

At a Wednesday meeting of the council's urban and economic development committee, Councilor Kara Joy McKee said this is a food access issue.

Facebook / Tulsa City Council

In a 9-0 vote, the Tulsa City Council voted Wednesday to amend the city's penal code to include sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as protected classes for the purposes of the enforcement of hate crimes.

While the state of Oklahoma and federal government both have hate crimes statutes on the books, they do not cover those four classes.

Councilor Jeannie Cue asked city attorney Mark Swiney if such an ordinance would violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, providing equal protection, a concern she said she had heard from constituents.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Saying the science is clear that children 10 and older can spread and be sickened by the novel coronavirus, the director of the Tulsa Health Department recommended the Tulsa City Council amend the city's COVID-19 mask ordinance to apply to those 10 and above rather than just those 18 and above.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Tulsa City Council will consider adopting a hate crime ordinance with protections for sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.

State law covers crimes motivated by race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin or disability.

The ordinance was proposed by Councilor Crista Patrick. She said as isolating as the past several months have been for many Tulsans, it would be good for everyone to hear that they are safe.

"I think that it’s important that all of our residents hear from us, the city leaders, that we are standing against hate," Patrick said.

City of Tulsa

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum won a second term Tuesday night, taking 51.9% of the votes, according to the Oklahoma State Election Board's unofficial results.

Candidates in Tuesday's elections needed more than half the votes to win outright. Contests where no candidate received more than half the votes will go to a runoff between the top two.

Community organizer Greg Robinson, Bynum's main challenger, won 28.8% of the votes. Project manager Ken Reddick, who painted himself as a more conservative option than Bynum, got 13.8% of the vote. All other candidates got less than 3%.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, just ahead of the August 25th mayoral, city auditor, and City Council election, we conclude our series of conversations with candidates seeking the office of Tulsa mayor. Our guest is Mayor GT Bynum, who's running for a second term at the helm in City Hall. As noted at the Mayor's campaign website: "The globally competitive and globally renowned Tulsa of today looks quite a bit different than it did four years ago.

Two weeks ago, members of the Tulsa City Council voted to postpone a decision on what action, if any, to take regarding the "BLACK LIVES MATTER" street mural painted in the days leading up to Juneteenth and President Trump's controversial rally in Tulsa. 

On Wednesday afternoon, they again reached no consensus, leaving the matter for a future meeting.

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