A proposed city ordinance would change how sidewalk construction regulations are administered and could potentially provide Tulsa with more money to build and maintain sidewalks.
The city changed its zoning regulations last year to require that sidewalks be part of all new construction projects.
Prior to the change, the sidewalk requirement applied only to new subdivisions.
Implementation of the new universal sidewalk requirement has not come without a hurdle or two, however. Since November 2018, the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission has heard 18 applications to waive the sidewalk requirement, many from people building infill projects in neighborhoods where sidewalks do not exist. Three more requests for waivers are on Wednesday’s TMAPC agenda.
To address those situations where a developer would be required to build a stand-alone sidewalk, the proposed ordinance provides the option of paying a fee in lieu of building the sidewalk.
The fee — $8.05 per square foot — would be held by the city to be used for sidewalk maintenance and construction in one of 19 newly created sidewalk service areas.
The fee collected by the city could be spent only in the sidewalk service area in which the property owner or developer was given relief from the sidewalk requirement.
“The requirement will be triggered anytime someone comes in with new building permits, like new construction,” said Nathan Foster, senior planner with the Indian Nations Council of Governments. “Not remodels or additions, but actual new building construction.”
The proposed ordinance calls for creating two sidewalk designations — those in critical areas and those in noncritical areas.
Critical sidewalk areas are those fronting arterial or collector streets and those areas within 1/10th mile of an existing sidewalk or a pedestrian generator such as a school, park or transit stop. Developers or property owners in those areas wishing to pay a fee in lieu of building a sidewalk would have to seek permission from the city’s Streets and Stormwater Department.
If the request is denied, the decision could be appealed to the city’s Engineering Services Department, with final appeals going to the City Council.
People wishing to pay a fee in lieu of constructing a sidewalk outside of a critical sidewalk area could simply pay the fee.