Bartlett proposal would require owners of apartment complexes to be licensed by the city
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Saturday, January 12, 2013
1/12/13 at 6:57 AM
Get the latest news on the Fairmont Terrace homicides: Read coverage of the apartment complex killings and on other homicides in the area nearby.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett wants to require that owners of multifamily residential rental properties be licensed by the city as a way of ensuring that the properties are properly maintained.
"You don't want to make it onerous. I am not trying to do that at all - absolutely not," Bartlett said Friday. "I simply want the ability to make certain that all properties are safe, clean, up to a reasonable standard, and that if there are problems - both legal and otherwise - they can be dealt with."
If property owners fail to meet the standards set out by the city, the mayor said, "the city would have the ability to order a facility to cease business immediately."
Bartlett's licensing proposal is one of several crime-prevention measures he has discussed since Monday's quadruple homicide at the Fairmont Terrace apartments near 61st Street and Peoria Avenue.
The others include working with the state Legislature to amend existing law to make it easier for municipalities to gain control of vacant or abandoned property, and asking ministers to be available to residents who want to share information about crimes.
Bartlett said giving the city the ability to shut down an apartment complex provides a "hammer" the city does not have.
Addressing problems at apartment complexes is especially difficult when the owner lives out of state, Bartlett said, noting that often the legal battles can drag on for years.
"By having the ability to shut down a business, I assume we would have the ability to catch somebody's attention," he said.
The mayor said he doesn't think the licensing requirement would lead to the city's being seen as unwelcoming to property owners.
"For most, if not all, law-abiding individuals and companies that do business in this city, it is not a problem to them," Bartlett said.
Currently the city must go through a cumbersome, time-consuming and expensive process before it can gain control of a vacant or abandoned property, he said.
"In the meantime, the property has become a haven for a lot of bad things going on in the neighborhood," Bartlett said. "And it really is the beginning of a really serious growth of cancer in a neighborhood.
"It expands into the block, it expands into the next block and so on."
Bartlett said he has no intention of putting any minister "on the hot seat any more than they already are," but he said he will work with willing church leaders to remind residents that the information they share will be kept confidential.
Some residents "would probably feel more at ease with their pastor if they wanted to give information about something," he said.
The mayor said it is important for Tulsans to remember that while Monday's quadruple homicide was a tragedy, the city's overall homicide rate has declined over the past decade. He had high praise for the Police Department.
Bartlett did not back down from his stated belief that it is appropriate to call apartment complexes such as the one where Monday's killings occurred a public nuisance - even if they may not be in violation of any of the city's public nuisance ordinances.
"As far as I am concerned, when four people get killed in an apartment on a Monday morning in the city of Tulsa, it has to be addressed in some manner," Bartlett said. "If going to court and raising a stink and calling this a public nuisance is a possible solution, then that is where we will go."
In Sunday’s paper
The Tulsa World takes an indepth
look at the decline of the
area surrounding 61st Street
and Peoria Avenue in Tulsa.
Residents, political leaders
and community organizers
have tried for years to fix the
area, but some efforts failed
through no fault of their own.
They say they aren’t giving
up, and the slayings of four
women last week has given
the cause new urgency.
Original Print Headline: Apartment-owner licensing urged
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
Mayor Bartlett: He wants all properties to be "safe, clean, up to a reasonable standard."