Tulsa City Councilors Discuss Storm Shelter Permit Fees - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Tulsa City Councilors Discuss Storm Shelter Permit Fees

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The Tulsa City Council is asking for clarification on why the city charges more to permit a storm shelter than any other city surveyed by News on 6. The Tulsa City Council is asking for clarification on why the city charges more to permit a storm shelter than any other city surveyed by News on 6.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

The drive to create more safe places during a tornado and whether Tulsa is discouraging home safe rooms.

After a News On 6 story about the high cost of permits for home safe rooms, the Tulsa city council started questioning whether that fee should be lowered. It came up during a discussion of community shelters.

6/5/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Resident Surprised By Hefty Fee For Building Storm Shelter

While a lot of people think there should be open community shelters, the tornadoes last month illustrated the danger of trying to outrun a storm. Instead, an expert told the city council today that government should encourage people to stay home, with one exception.

The tornadoes around Oklahoma City created new interest in storm shelters, and new questions about the wisdom of public shelters, after so many people died in traffic, trying to get away.

Tulsa's emergency manager told the city council that large public shelters are not a good idea, when people are usually safe in their own home.

"Our opinion, and the general opinion of emergency managers in Oklahoma, is the best thing you can do in a tornado is to shelter in your home; don't leave a place of safety to get in your car and go somewhere else," Tulsa Emergency Management Director Roger Joliff.

In Shawnee, cars were no better than mobile homes, which were crumpled, and Tulsa's council plans to discuss requiring community safe rooms in mobile home parks, which emergency managers say they would welcome.

"It's just reality that if you live in a mobile home, you're 15 to 20 times more likely to die in a tornado than in a regular house," Joliff said.

Safe rooms provide excellent protection in a tornado, but they cost several thousand dollars, and Tulsa adds an expensive permit on top of that. The permit fee charged by the City of Tulsa is the highest one we've found.

In Oklahoma City it's $70, in Moore it's $24.50. Claremore's is free. In Owasso it's $29, but the Jenks and Broken Arrow fee of $60 is nothing compared to Tulsa, which can be as much as $260.

Several city councilors think that fee is out of line.

"Our permits are based on the cost of the structure, plus the review cost and inspection cost," said Harold Tohlen, of the City of Tulsa.

City Councilors Gilbert, Lakin and Patrick all wanted more information about the fees, so it's going to come up again at City Hall.

Meanwhile, a credit union told us today they're getting a lot of interest in a low interest loan. TTCU has a 2 percent interest loan for storm shelters.

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