That was the message sent by more than a dozen residents gathered Thursday to protest a proposed “blue and yellow” limited service Marriott Springhill Suites hotel in Deep Deuce.
The same message was sent by property owners in Film Row who protested a two-story structure that they fear would have looked too much like a suburban homestyle office building.
And for the first time in 20-year plus history of city's design ordinances, a city council member representing downtown showed up and sent a message saying design matters.
Yet in a curious twist, the message sent by the city's planning staff on this very day was: these projects meet the minimum standards. Approval is recommended. Much to the relief of the protesters, the design committee members who volunteer their time to mediate such matters did not give their blessing to either project.
So what went wrong, what went right, and what can be learned?
The first application, for a six-story Springhill Suites, came with the sort of renderings and designs typically needed for consideration by the committee, which must grant approval before an applicant can obtain a building permit.
The building plans, being developed by Edmond surgeon Dr. Atul Patel, horrified nearby residents, who argued the surface parking, the blue and gold design, and generous amounts of synthetic stucco exterior made it a bad fit for the rapidly developing neighborhood.
One woman warned that she was ready to kill a contract to buy a town home building built across the street.
Another protester, Peggy Free, bought a town home at The Hill last year for $381,000 after she moved from California as part of the relocation of Boeing operations to Oklahoma City. She was visited by Mayor Mick Cornett and other civic and business leaders, and was convinced Oklahoma City was a community where design standards mattered.
Now she's worried about looking across the street at a yellow and blue hotel and hearing delivery trucks at dawn.
Patel did not attend the meeting, but design committee members agreed with Ward 7 Councilman John Pettis that his project should not be heard again until after he meets with the residents. Committee members also warned the designs, as submitted, will not be approved.
A similar diversion took place with attorney John Hunsucker, who is hoping to build a two-story law office at 600 W Sheridan Ave. The hand-drawn designs by suburban homebuilder Scott Coleman were quickly rejected by the design committee, noting even if the dimensions met the technical requirements of the ordinance, they did not meet the spirit of the law.
Unlike Patel, Hunsucker did reach out to neighbors and concerned parties after seeing criticism online. He removed a garage that was to face Sheridan Avenue and replaced it with a retail space. He also removed a suburban style pitched roof.
But the designs — which were not representative of what is typically presented to the committee — remained a concern. The committee members argued they cannot risk a homestyle office building like those being built throughout the suburbs.
Hunsucker also was encouraged to hire an architect with experience in urban design.
All this still leaves the question of why planning staff recommended designs that stood no chance of approval.
Some blame can be placed on the diminished numbers of assistant planners at City Hall.
Both numbers and experience are down considerably this past year. With one seasoned planner on vacation, Hunsucker did not get the sort of guidance he might have enjoyed from the department just a year ago.
But one can also look at the statutes, which outline only minimum design standards — standards that, if one were to look at wording alone, were met by both projects. But the design committees are given discretion as to where to set the real standards. The question out of this meeting might just start with the ordinance minimums set at a time when downtown was desperate for the sort of development that is now occurring nonstop.