Broken Arrow housing study moving forward amid growth, demographic changes


By John Dobberstein, Editor

The Broken Arrow City Council appointed a special advisory panel and hired a consultant to study the city’s housing challenges and options, as city leaders face critical decisions about how to guide Broken Arrow’s growth moving forward.

The city will pay Moscow, Idaho-based Points Consulting $75,000 to work with the Advisory Panel to “recommend strategies for increasing housing affordability and choices,” in Broken Arrow. The work is seen as important because a team of city planners and committee members are also working on a proposed overhauling of Broken Arrow’s zoning codes.

Farhad Daroga, placemaking manager have the city’s Community Development Department, has been reviewing available data ahead of the study and noted the 62-square-mile has surpassed 40,000 households, which is much larger than when the last housing study was done in 2017..

The 2020 Census shows Broken Arrow’s population has gone beyond 116,000 and its unincorporated fenceline of 101 square miles has also seen proportionate growth.

City planners noted the median age of Broken Arrow residents has gone up from 26.9 years in 1980 to 37 years currently. About one third of the city's subdivisions were developed prior to 1985.

Daroga said the city’s median age since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has gone up by almost 2 years, which is a substantial change in a short time and points to more retirees choosing to live in Broken Arrow.

The study will, among many things, analyze travel patterns in addition to demographics and housing needs. “At one point we had more than 90% of people working outside of city limits. That figure has continued to shrink,” Daroga said.

Nationally, affordable housing has hit a critical point in recent years, including in suburban developments and rental properties.

Daroga said the study, which will take about 9 months, will give city staff and the City Council more information about what the city’s housing needs are so they can “decide the future pathway of development and what the next generation of homebuyers will be looking for.”

With planning to start next year on the next round of general bond obligations, City Manager Michael Spurgeon said the study’s finding will likely have a large impact on long-term decisions the City Council will have to make with streets projects and stormwater and wastewater treatment.

He also sees the Broken Arrow Public Schools (BAPS), Broken Arrow Chamber and the Broken Arrow Economic Development Corp. taking an interest in the findings.

The City Council also approved several appointments Tuesday for the Advisory Panel that will provide input during the study process. The Advisory Panel members proposed and approved Tuesday are:

  • Third Ward Councilwoman Christi Gillespie, City Council
  • Bob Goranson, Planning Commission
  • Kenneth Schwab, Assistant City Manager
  • Josh Driskoll, Broken Arrow Chamber
  • Jarius Daniels, Broken Arrow Young Professionals
  • Rosalyn Vann-Jackson, BAPS
  • Kirt Hartzler or Charlie Bushyhead, Union Public Schools
  • Stacey Bayles, Home Builders Assn.
  • Claudia Brierre, Indian Nations Council of Governments
  • Scott Case, Alternative Housing Development
  • Residential Development (unassigned)
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