July 20, 2008

Tulsa World, Okla., Action Line Column

By Phil Mulkins, Tulsa World, Okla.

Jul. 20--Dear Action Line: My neighborhood doesn't know about Tulsa's Neighborhood Inspections section so please re-run your column about it. My neighborhood needs a refresher course before the Mayor's Action Center summons the inspectors for a citation field-day. -- L.A., Tulsa.

Neighborhood Inspections: This is a section of Tulsa's Working in Neighborhoods Department and enforces our nuisance and zoning ordinances. It helps prevent deterioration of neighborhoods; maintains health and safety standards for residential, nonresidential and vacant properties in Tulsa; and helps preserve our property values.

Yard and lot maintenance: Property owners must maintain vegetation on their properties and on rights-of-way abutting them. Grass may not exceed 12 inches. Healthy trees, shrubs or produce for human consumption (in tended gardens) are OK if not blocking motorists' view of streets. Weeds, poison ivy, oak and sumac must be removed.

Trash, junk, debris: These must be disposed of properly: auto parts, appliances, furniture, building materials, tires, paper, cardboard, plastic and tree trimmings.

Inoperable motor vehicles: These must be stored in enclosing structures. Vehicles must appear to be legally operable

-- no flat tires, missing vital parts, etc. Such vehicles may not be used for storage or be stored in the yard, street or driveway.

Driveway parking: Cars and pickups are permitted on residential lots only on legal driveways or parking areas made of all-weather material such as asphalt or concrete, or in garages. There are limits to the ratio of yard area to driveways. Call the Indian Nations Council of Governments for more information.

Street parking: Vehicles parked in the street must be operable and may not remain in one spot longer than 24 hours, without being red-tagged and towed 24 hours later. Report violations to the Mayor's Action Center, providing the closest address, the color, make, model and tag number. Tulsa Police officers investigate these reports.

Outdoor storage: It is a violation to store equipment, materials or furnishings outdoors that would ordinarily not be used outdoors: indoor furniture, household appliances or auto parts. You may store building materials outside if neatly stacked, as well as firewood, grills, lawn furniture, hoses, tools, child play equipment and lawn-mowers.

Vacant, unsecured structures: Property owners must maintain and secure windows and doors that can be readily opened from the outside. They must board up vacant structures that were broken into and attempt to reduce their accessibility to vandals, criminal activities and public nuisance violations. The city can order such structures demolished.

Illegal business: Home occupations and cottage industries that attract the public to residential neighborhoods violate the zoning code. Call INCOG.

Commercial equipment, recreational vehicles: These may not be parked in residential areas unless within an enclosing structure -- box vans, dump trucks, semi-trailers. RVs may be parked in residential areas with proper view-shielding (Title 42, Section 402.7).

Illegal fencing, screen-walls: Front-yard fencing may not exceed four feet in height and side and backyard fencing may not exceed eight feet. Call INCOG for more information.

Dead trees: Damaged or dead to the extent any part could fall, posing a hazard to the public, violate the code. The city can deal with these as emergencies.

Complain: Make a complaint online at


or by calling the Mayor's Action Center. Department inspectors investigate 22,000 violations of nuisance and zoning ordinances brought by 14,500 complaints annually. Be prepared to provide the street address of the violation, the nature of the violation, all pertinent information and your name and phone number for follow-up calls (kept confidential). The violation is visually verified by section inspectors who also confirm the addresses and property ownership. A process is begun that can take one to many weeks -- the property owner can clean up his mess economically or wind up paying a city contractor to do it, paying a $100 processing fee and risk being labeled a "chronic violator."

Phone numbers: Mayor's Action Center at 596-2100 and INCOG at 584-7526.Submit Action Line questions by calling 699-8888 or by e-mailing [email protected] or by U.S. mailing it to Tulsa World Consumer, PO Box 1770, Tulsa OK 74102-1770.


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Copyright (c) 2008, Tulsa World, Okla.

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