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Start a Neighborhood Association

Description

Registering a Neighborhood Association is an important step to connect with many city resources, and more importantly, can help your neighbors build connections with each other. Unlike Homeowners Associations, joining a Neighborhood Association is voluntary, and anyone living in its boundaries can join, whether they rent or own. Some neighborhood associations have a minimal membership fee to cover activities, and some do not.

Registering with the City allows your neighborhood to participate in a number of City programs, including neighborhood dumpster days, the neighborhood identity sign program, assistance with block parties, occasional neighborhood leader training sessions, and more. 

While the process to become a recognized Neighborhood Association is fairly straightforward, it does come with some responsibilities. City staff is happy to talk you through this to make sure this is the right step for you.

What is the difference between a Neighborhood Association and a Homeowner’s Association?

A Homeowner’s Association (HOA) is created by a developer when a subdivision is being planned. Membership is mandatory for all homeowners in the subdivision, and annual membership dues are typically required to pay for the maintenance of common areas and amenities. HOAs have specific rules known as covenants that all homeowners are required to follow, and if the rules are not observed, the association may levy fines, fees, and liens against the property. HOAs act as a hyper-local form of government.

In contrast, a Neighborhood Association is a voluntary organization open to anyone living within a certain neighborhood or area, whether homeowners or renters. Neighborhood Associations may ask for small membership dues, but many do not. This type of association does not have any legal authority to levy liens or fees, or to compel residents to follow covenants.

Both types of associations provide opportunities for neighbors to meet, collaborate on projects to improve the neighborhood, share ideas and concerns, and have fun.

Components of an Effective Association

  • Leadership and Defined Roles
  • Inclusion of all residents
  • Volunteers
  • Clear Goals
  • Public Input and Structured Meetings
  • Partnerships with local businesses and organizations
  • Funding

Steps 

  1. Meet your neighbors. Gather contacts and make connections. Discuss with your neighbors to get consensus that you want to form a recognized Neighborhood Association, and develop some common goals.

  2. Decide on a name and boundaries for your association, and who will serve as leaders or representatives for the group. View the City’s map of registered neighborhoods to see if any surrounding neighborhoods have already organized and established boundaries.
  3. Apply for recognition with the City. See Neighborhood Liaison contact information to the left.
  4. Hold regular meetings that your neighbors can participate in.
  5. Before the first meeting, organizers should establish some ground rules for the group. Common rules include: acting for the benefit of the whole association, being respectful and welcoming, tracking meeting attendance and contact information, and accepting decisions when they aren’t the same as your own. Keep in mind that the people attending meetings and serving on boards are volunteering their time to improve the neighborhood.
  6. The best neighborhood meetings include a well-known meeting location (schools and libraries often host), an agenda to keep everyone on topic, and an opportunity for neighbors to share concerns, advice, and ideas. It’s also a good idea to start a group or page on Facebook or another social media platform so your neighbors can connect digitally and you can share meeting notices and other information easily.
  7. Invite Speakers. You can invite your city councilor, speakers from City departments, or organizations like Crime Stoppers, the Metropolitan Environmental Trust, or the Tulsa County Master Gardeners.

Once you’re organized, you can tackle projects together, including:

  • neighborhood clean-up
  • block parties
  • design a neighborhood sign
  • start a neighborhood tool library
  • start an Alert Neighbors program
  • plant and care for trees
  • plant a rain garden
  • host fundraisers for these projects
  • Make sure you update contact information for your Association any time your group’s leadership changes so your group continues to receive information, assistance, and opportunities from the City.

Potential Speakers

Your City Councilor
tulsacouncil.org or 918.596.1990

Tulsa Police Department
tulsapolice.org/content/public-education.aspx
The Tulsa Police Department offers safety presentations to community and school groups.

Tulsa Fire Department
cityoftulsa.org/government/departments/fire/request-a-truck-or-station-tour/

Life and Fire Safety Presentation — Fire officials can cover many different life and fire safety topics: Fire prevention in the home or workplace, injury prevention, child passenger safety, disaster evacuation, etc. Call 918.596.9420 to request.

Touch a Truck — School or community event organizers may request an appearance by firefighters and a fire truck. Personnel will talk with your group about the job and the trucks they use. Visits generally will be a maximum of two hours.

Streets & Stormwater Department
stormwaterquality@cityoftulsa.org
918.591.4325

Programs include a variety of hands-on activities and topics that highlight the importance of healthy local streams. Presentations can be customized to fit your group’s educational needs.

Code Enforcement
A code enforcement officer will attend your neighborhood meeting and answer questions about code violations. Contact the Neighborhood Liaisons to schedule.

Crime Stoppers
tulsacrimestoppers.org
918.585.5209

Neighborhoods and groups can request presentations on a number of topics, including fraud prevention, Alert Neighbors, Alert Businesses, senior safety, personal safety, holiday safety, distracted driving, active shooter, and more.

Metropolitan Environmental Trust (M.e.t.)
metrecycle.com
918.584.0584

The M.e.t. has experienced speakers that are able to entertain anyone from five years old and up about environmental issues including recycling and composting.

Tulsa County Master Gardeners
tulsamastergardeners.org

A master gardener will attend your meeting and present for 30-45 minutes on a topic of your choice (see website for options).

Animal Welfare
cityoftulsa.org/government/departments/working-in-neighborhoods/animal-welfare
918.596.8000

Staff will visit your meeting (with a dog or cat if desired) to discuss spay/neuter education and the homeless animal problem in Tulsa, and offer ways to help make Tulsa a place where every dog, cat, and domestic animal finds a loving, permanent home.

Resources 

The City’s Working in Neighborhoods department has Neighborhood Liaisons that can walk you through the process of registering your new association. They can also help with other neighborhood programs, including the neighborhood dumpster program, block parties, and more.

Neighborhood Liaisons

Joel Hensley
jhensley@cityoftulsa.org
918.576.5634

Alisia Myers
amyers@cityoftulsa.org
918.596.9336

General Contact
918-596-1292
neighborhoods@cityoftulsa.org

Website
cityoftulsa.org/government/departments/working-in-neighborhoods/neighborhoods/

Map of Registered Neighborhoods
https://maps.cityoftulsa.org/neighbors/

Tips for Effective Meetings
nacok.org/association-tools/effective-meetings/ 

The Neighborhood Alliance of Central Oklahoma offers helpful tips for running effective meetings and making them meaningful and interesting.

Free Email Newsletter Tools
These tools make it much easier to manage your association’s emails and subscribers, and track their effectiveness.