Tulsa mayor: Licensing for apartments needed
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
1/30/13 at 8:29 AM
Correction: A Tuesday Tulsa World story incorrectly reported the sale date for Fairmont Terrace apartments. This story has been corrected.
Get the latest news on the Fairmont Terrace homicides: Read coverage of the apartment complex killings and on other homicides in the area nearby.
A licensing proposal that would force apartment complexes to improve their safety in the wake of this month's quadruple homicide at Fairmont Terrace apartments will be drafted within weeks, Mayor Dewey Bartlett said Tuesday.
Bartlett wants the City Council to consider requiring multifamily residential rental properties to meet a series of safety requirements - possibly including increasing security and requiring background checks for renters - in exchange for a city-issued operating license.
The city would attempt to close unlicensed apartment complexes.
Such a "fear factor" might be necessary for owners of low-income apartments, who are often based out of state and have little incentive to improve their properties, Bartlett said during a televised forum addressing poverty and crime in the 61st Street and Peoria Avenue area.
"If they have to get a license to do business in the city of Tulsa, there will be standards they will be held to," he said. "If they don't conform, they might be out of business. They will lose their customer base. They will lose their revenue base. If they feel that's in jeopardy, you bet they're going to (be involved)."
Bartlett said his office began working on the proposal days after the Jan. 7 fatal shootings of four women at Fairmont Terrace. He said he anticipates presenting a draft to the City Council and community stakeholders within weeks and hopes for its quick adoption.
"I think in the month of February, unless something blows up that I'm not aware of, we will have a licensing procedure put into place," he said.
The forum, which will air on various television channels and online at a later date, sought to address possible solutions for economic and social conditions that have contributed to decades of increasing crime near 61st and Peoria.
The area has four "project-based" apartment complexes containing affordable housing subsidized through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 8 program.
Fairmont Terrace, with 335 subsidized units, is the largest. It is owned by two California limited liability corporations: DK Ukiah Properties and 1574 Pacific LLC, property records show.
Forum participant Lanny Endicott, a nearby social worker and Oral Roberts University professor, said that Fairmont Terrace's owners appear to be working to improve the complex.
But he and the forum's other participants - Deputy Tulsa Police Chief Dennis Larsen and Marshall Elementary School Principal Kayla Robinson - agreed that some out-of-state owners of low-income apartments have at least indirectly contributed to crime in the area.
Such owners are notorious for being ambivalent to the deteriorating conditions of their properties and seem to avoid contact with residents and local officials, the participants said. Endicott added that it is even sometimes difficult to find out who owns a complex.
"The point is getting a hold of them and bringing them to the table is a big, huge issue," he said.
From a police perspective, "absentee owners are our biggest headaches" because their properties tend to be safe havens for career criminals, Larsen said.
He said he would like to see all apartment owners increase security, improve lighting and promise to evict anyone who allows a felony to be committed in their apartment, such as selling drugs.
"You put those three steps in ... you'll clean that place up in less than six months, and as long as those rules are in place, it will stay clean," he said.
Bartlett said his licensing proposal would include at least two of those steps.
Increased security, eviction requirements and criminal background checks will likely be among the requirements, he said.
However, apartment owners and community leaders would have an opportunity to suggest changes before implementation, he added.
61st and Peoria forum
Participants: Mayor Dewey Bartlett, Deputy Tulsa Police Chief Dennis Larsen, Marshall Elementary Principal Kayla Robinson and ORU professor and social worker Lanny Endicott.
Where to watch: Tulsa Community College TV, Cox channel 21; and TGOV, Tulsa Government Television, Cox channel 24; Cox On Demand and Video On Demand ( tulsaworld.com/tgov).
When: To be decided
Original Print Headline: Licensing for apartments proposed
Zack Stoycoff 918-581-8486
Adam Paluka of Fox 23 TV (left); Jerry Wofford of the Tulsa World; John Durkee of KWGS; Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett; Deputy Police Chief Dennis Larsen; Kayla Robinson, principal of Marshall Elementary School; and Dr. Lanny Endicott, president of the South Peoria Connection Foundation; participate with area residents in a forum at Tulsa Community College on Tuesday. The televised forum about the 61st Street and Peoria Avenue homicides and the neighborhood was hosted by Bartlett and involved police, media, residents and educators. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett listens to Deputy Police Chief Dennis Larsen during a forum at Tulsa Community College in Tulsa on Tuesday. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World