“Where are they going to go live?” City ordinances regulating building materials spark controversy

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - The Oklahoma Home Builders Association says small towns are cracking down on housing ordinances and it could price people out of living there.

Cities across the state are starting to regulate products that are used to build new homes.

“They’re going after regulating small homes which is what we call affordable homes, or houses that help people that are in the lower socioeconomic brackets being able to purchase their first home,” said Mike Means the Executive Vice President of the Oklahoma Home Builders Association.

Means is talking about new ordinances popping up in small cities across the state.

Cities like Tuttle, who recently passed a new ordinance banning the use of vinyl siding.

“Before we did this, we reached out to a lot of our builders, a lot of our developers locally. We got zero push back. Every one of them said this was a great idea,” said Tuttle's Mayor Aaron McLeroy.

The Home Builder's Association argues that by regulating the materials used to build a home, the prices of these homes will rise.

“For a small town to say we have to have so much brick... that raises the prices two thousand, three thousand dollars. I mean that’s all it may raise and we all go 'that’s not too bad,' but you’ve just priced 4,500 families out of that market. Where are they going to go live? Are we going to drive them back to apartments? Are we going to drive them back to rental houses?” said Means.

Mayor McLeroy says although that may be the case, when you use a product like vinyl siding, later on, the upkeep becomes more of a hassle than the original cost.

“For example, three-tab shingles have a 60 MPH wind rating, well how often does Oklahoma wind get above 60 MPH?" said McLeroy. “But for an extra couple hundred dollars on these affordable homes that we’re talking about, they could get a roofing product that has 110 MPH wind rating on it.”

The Home Builders Association worried first-time homebuyers will be priced out of the market.

“Almost every elected official will tell you, one of the best things about homeownership is stability it brings to neighborhoods, that it brings to families, that it brings to schools, that it brings to communities so we want to see the barriers to homeownership easier… make it easier to get in,” said Means. "First-time homebuyers, workforce housing, our teachers, our policemen, our firemen, the plumbers, the waiters... what about those people and the kind of home that they can buy?”

Tuttle city officials say they are hoping to steer people toward buying houses they are able to maintain.

“We’re looking for products that can withstand the Oklahoma climate and Oklahoma weather. Is the house really affordable if they can’t afford to do the maintenance and upkeep on the house when you are using products that can’t withstand Oklahoma weather?” said Mayor McLeroy. "We’ve actually left options for aesthetics we just want to make sure that we are getting a high-quality home that people can afford to live in long term… not only affordable on the day that they purchase it but affordable for years to come.”

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