Retaliation is swift in these parts. Code enforcement was out to my house on Fat Tuesday and served me with a view obstruction violation, telling me that nothing can be more than 1 ft tall between the sidewalk and the street. . . although that’s not actually what the City Ordinance says that I was cited under., Chapter 53 Section 21 of the OKC Municipal Code actually has a 2 ft height restriction on the city’s easement — but only for 25 ft along each side of an intersection and 20′ on each side of a driveway.
So we are out with our chainsaws this morning, and by the time you read this 2 plum, 1 apple, 1 peach, 1 fig, and 1 mulberry tree will have bit the dust, together with our magnificent (and massive) Erfult rose, a few sand plums, and some of the native roses we have along the street. One of the plum trees is in full bloom.
What’s even more irritating is that before I planted so much as a dandelion I called the OKC planning department and asked, “What can I do between the sidewalk and the street on the city’s easement?” The reply? “Anything you want, so long as you understand that the utility people may come through to do work.”
Well, as it turns out, that answer was wrong. Maybe the employee in the planning department that I spoke with was just ignorant, maybe he was lazy, maybe he didn’t care enough to make sure he had the correct facts. He worked for Oklahoma City, after all — since the City Council doesn’t care about customer service, so why should the employees?
Considering how big a deal code enforcement seems to think this is, one would think that OKC would have something on its website to inform homewners of their responsibilities. Alas, that is not the case. Nothing can be found unless you know where to look in the City’s code. And we know how many citizens spend their spare time trollijng through the city’s municipal code. No doubt this is one reason why, on my trip this morning to get a new chain for the chain saw, I did not pass one corner that conformed to the city’s ordinance. I doubt there is one corner in this entire Gatewood neighborhood that conforms, well, except for ours which will be in conformance within an hour or two.
This is one more example, among many that could be cited (cf 45 minute waits to get a city permit), of the exceptionally poor customer service offered by Oklahoma City. If you’re a big energy company like Devon or Chesapeake, you’ll get all the customer service you want, they’ll even redecorate downtown to your expectations. But if you are an ordinary homeowner, good luck getting anything but the most mediocre customer service that can be delivered. Mick Cornett and Meg Salyer are way too busy taking care of their campaign contributors to pay much attention to constituent services.
I feel like I am on the Titanic, and being ordered to chop holes in the decks of the lifeboats.