Parking Madness Champion Tulsa Moves to Limit Surface Parking Downtown

Tulsa ran away with the "Golden Crater" award in our Parking Madness competition. Now local leaders are taking steps to help build a healthier balance for the city's downtown. Image: Google Maps

Just last month, we were shaming Tulsa, Oklahoma, with our “Golden Crater” award for the downtown most riddled with surface parking lots. But today, we applaud the city for taking steps to reverse the plague of excess parking.

Tulsa World reported Friday that our Parking Madness competition winner is moving forward with a ban on new surface parking lots. The Tulsa City Council has extended a temporary moratorium on new surface parking through September. Between now and then, Tulsa will be working to prepare permanent changes to the city’s zoning code that will help contain the tide of surface parking lots and, hopefully, set the stage for some redevelopment.

The legislation is being championed by City Councilman Blake Ewing, who gave a shout out to Streetsblog in his remarks to the newspaper.

“Ewing pointed to a recent online contest by a nonprofit transportation advocacy publication in which Tulsa was named the worst city in the country for parking craters’ — areas of historic downtowns that have been bulldozed for surface parking,” wrote Tulsa World reporter Zack Stoykoff.

Tulsa is in the early stages of the same program the city of Denver took on to repair its woeful surface parking lot problem two decades ago. We’ll be featuring a story about that city’s dramatic reversal later today.

We’re proud that, by shining a light on the damage caused by Tulsa’s excess parking, Streetsblog was able to help catalyze change. Whether by highlighting best practices or worst practices, we’re thrilled when we can inspire cities to re-think their priorities and plan for a more sustainable future.

If this kind of reporting makes you proud too, make a donation today. We rely on donations from our readers to make this kind of thing possible.

  • Andy

    Kudos to Streetsblog!

  • This should have been done years ago. It’s way too late now. The damage is done.

  • Apparently part of the problem was a tax on building square footage to help pay for a downtown stadium. Until that changes, there will be little incentive to rebuild.

  • Wow, so I guess we should never stop the direction we’re going in order to improve?

  • Anonymous

    Since I doubt that there’s much income to be made from surface parking in a place where there’s so much already, the only reason to demolish a building is that the cost of upkeep is higher than any use for that building. Which is sad, but it’s not really something that can be solved by forbidding surface parking.

    Instead, I’d ask: Are there ways in which the city actually encourages demolition? For example, if it taxes an existing building at a higher rate than a parking lot, that’s a tacit encouragement for the owner to demolish.

    Likewise, is it possible that the city is preventing the buildings from being used to their full potential? In a situation like this, it seems to me that one of the greatest advantages of the area is low cost, where old buildings can be used creatively for new purposes. In that case, regulations which promote structured parking may be counterproductive, since they drive up the cost of doing anything, which hobbles one of the few advantages this area offers. You can end up with excellent rules that permit fantastic urbanism, and absolutely no one building anything, because there’s no demand for it in this particular place at this particular time. Instead of narrowly defining what is required to be successful, cast the net wide, and invite a variety of uses.

  • Anonymous

    They should have a tax on stadiums to help pay for downtown buildings.