As to why the University of Oklahoma and Norman Public Schools are exempt from the ordinance, Councilwoman Carol Dillingham said they are subject to state law, which supersedes Norman’s own laws.
The councilwoman described OU and NPS as “a higher entity on the chain than the city.”
“A lot of folks don’t understand that,” Dillingham said. “We can’t control them.”
Dillingham added that street lamps owned by OG&E, which are exempt from the ordinance, fall in the same category. OG&E is governed by the Corporation Commission, which also places it “above the law” when it comes to Norman’s codes.
Councilman Tom Kovach, Ward 2, said Flagstaff, Ariz., has a similar ordinance in place. He reported that crime hasn’t gotten out of control in that city and that business hasn’t been negatively affected.
“It’s important to look at the facts when you’re talking about an issue like this,” Kovach said. “This is an ordinance to improve quality of life in Norman, not to make it darker ... to make it safer.”
Many residents were upset with city officials because they didn’t have prompt answers to their questions during public comment Tuesday night.
Local businessman Greg Mattoon, like most others who own a business, said he was tired of the council “over-regulating” the very entities that provide Norman with tax dollars. He also was concerned when Susan Connors, the city’s planning director, didn’t know how much the city would have to pay to bring itself into compliance with the ordinance.
“You don’t even know what it’s going to cost the city, but you want poor business (to live with it),” Mattoon said. “You think it’s easy being in business in this city? People are barely hanging on.”