News Column

Top 10 City Code Violations

May 23, 2013

By PHIL MULKINS

The city of Tulsa's "Top 10 Most Common Code Violations" lists the things neighbors are discouraged from doing, to help preserve the value of property citywide.

Yard/lot maintenance standards: These standards are the responsibility of every property owner including plant material in rights of way abutting the property. Grassy ground cover cannot exceed 12 inches in height, except healthy trees, shrubs or produce in tended gardens. Residential plants also cannot block the view of turning motorists.

Trash, junk and debris: Such material cannot be left in the yard but must be disposed of properly. This includes junk auto parts, appliances, furniture, building materials, tires, paper, cardboard, plastics, tree trimmings and limbs.

Inoperable motor vehicles: These must be stored in enclosing structures or, if parked, appear operable and capable of being driven. "Inoperable" includes flat tires or missing parts. Such vehicles can't be used for storage or parked in yards, streets or driveways.

Parking: Parking is permitted on residential lots only in garages or on legal driveways or parking areas made of approved all-weather surface material (asphalt or concrete) meeting city code. In certain zoning situations, there are limits to the amount of yard that can be used for driveways or parking. Vehicles parked on streets must be operable and not remain parked in the same space for extended periods.

Outdoor storage: Equipment, materials and furnishings not intended for outdoor use may not be stored outdoors: indoor furniture, household appliances, auto parts, etc. Building materials and firewood may be stored outside when neatly stacked. Grills, lawn furniture, hoses, tools, children's play equipment and lawn mowers may be stored outside.

Vacant structures: Property owners must maintain it, including securing windows, doors or openings so they cannot be opened from the outside. Those damaged by break-ins or fires might need to be boarded up. Vacant structures are targets for criminal activity, detracting from neighboring property values. When deterioration poses public health and safety risks, such structures can be demolished at owner expense.

Illegal business: Some businesses are permitted in residential areas by right, others are permitted by special exception. Most are not allowed: auto repair, ongoing sales, etc.

Commercial and recreational vehicles: These may be parked only in enclosing structures. Not permitted are box vans, dump trucks and semi-trailers. RVs may be parked residentially only under specific conditions (Customer Care Center 918-596-2100).

Fences and walls: Front yard fences may not exceed 4 feet in height. Side and backyard fences may not exceed 8 feet, and restrictive covenants often limit height to 6 feet.

Dead trees: Trees damaged or dead to the extent that limbs, tree trunk or parts could fall, posing hazard to the public, are violations. See tulsaworld.com/NeighborhoodInvestigations

Zoning codes keep the order in residential areas

The city's Zoning & Property Restrictions ordinance - referred to as the "zoning code" - is intended "to conserve the value of buildings and encourage the most appropriate use of land," by governing "the residential use of property." See the code at tulsaworld.com/zoningpropertyrestrictions

Neighborhood inspections: This section of the city's Working In Neighborhoods Department enforces nuisance and zoning codes "to help prevent deterioration of neighborhoods and to help maintain the highest safety and health standards for the many residential, non- residential and vacant properties in Tulsa."

Code violations: Neighborhood inspectors pursue 22,000 code violations annually, identified through 14,500 complaints. Violations can be reported online at tulsaworld.com/CodeViolations or called in to the Customer Care Center at 918-596-2100. It requires a physical address, your name and other information pinpointing the problem, but your name will be kept confidential.

Reporting problems: Once on the "reporting problems" page, click on any of the following: potholes; graffiti; property maintenance; illegal dumping; advertising signs; waterline breaks; sewage line breaks; abandoned, disabled or illegally parked vehicles; barking dog; file a police report (for misdemeanor offenses involving property where there is no physical evidence or any suspect).

Complaint process: Calls or online reports generate open cases assigned to neighborhood inspectors who conduct on-site investigations. When violations are confirmed, legal notice is mailed to property owners and other interested parties giving them 10 days to comply with notice requirements. Owners may pay for up to two extensions of time for $32 each. Each extension gives them 10 more days to comply.

Failure to comply with orders results in a city contractor being assigned to abate the nuisance for which owners must pay plus a $300 processing fee. Emergency abatements are performed without prior notice where imminent dangers are present.


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Source: Copyright Tulsa World 2013


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