Sandwich Shop in King William Gets Council Approval

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A City rezoning notification outside the future Casa Azul De Andrea restaurant. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Iris Dimmick / Rivard Report

A City rezoning notification is posted outside the Casa Azul De Andrea restaurant in March 2016.

Update: On April 28, City Council approved the zoning change that will allow Andrea and Raymond Garcia to open and operate their restaurant on 1036 S. Alamo St., despite the restaurant’s limited parking spots.

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Original story published on March 16, 2016:

Due to an oversight in the City of San Antonio’s permitting process, a small sandwich shop will provide only five on-site parking spots in the King William Historic District where it would typically be required to have more than double that. A zoning change, which will ultimately require approval from City Council, was unanimously approved by the City’s Zoning Commission on Tuesday essentially that waives parking requirements for the new restaurant.

Parking in King William and the greater Southtown neighborhood in San Antonio’s urban core has become an increasingly impassioned issue as its growing stock of restaurant, commercial, and residential offerings attract more people to live and visit.

Casa Azul De Andrea, owned by neighborhood property owners and residents Andrea and Raymond Garcia, will soon offer tortas, chips, guacamole, and other simple culinary treats at 1036 S. Alamo St.

“Like something you’d find in Mexico City,” local attorney Jorge Canales, who represents the Garcias and is a longtime friend, told the Zoning Commission on Tuesday.

This bright blue historic home in King William will soon become a restaurant, Casa Azul De Andrea. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

This bright blue historic home in King William will soon become a restaurant, Casa Azul de Andrea. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

The zoning change was needed to retroactively fix what city staff described as an “oversight” during the permitting process. The Garcias did nothing wrong. When the interior building plans were submitted for approval in August 2015, it was to convert the historic-home-turned-office-space into yet another new use, a small restaurant. Typically when structures change their use, a parking review is triggered. In Casa Azul’s case, for some unknown reason, that review wasn’t triggered by staff and so the Garcias received a permit to continue work.

After about five months and more than $70,000 worth of renovations, Canales said, he and the Garcias received notice that their building was in violation of local zoning rules because of the building’s lack of parking. The issue was brought to the attention of City staff by the King William Association, which firmly opposed the zoning change approved on Tuesday.

“There was oversight somewhere in the machine?” Commissioner Orlando Salazar (D4) asked of city staff.

“Yes,” came the reply.

“The gentleman did everything right. It was a snafu in the system and not only did he do everything right but he invested a significant amount of money,” Salazar said, and therefore shouldn’t be punished for the City’s mistake. “There’s not going to be any death involved … it’s just – in my opinion – making something right.”

Casa Azul de Andrea is located on the corner of Mission and South Alamo streets and has five parking spots on Mission Street, which is a one way. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Casa Azul de Andrea is located on the corner of Mission and South Alamo streets and has five parking spots on Mission Street, which is a one way. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Nearby places like Hot Joy, and B&D Ice House, and newly opened Frank were not required to undergo a parking review when permits were issued because there was no change of use – those buildings were previously restaurants and were therefore grandfathered in.

Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), whose district includes Southtown, said on Wednesday that permitting process is being updated to avoid situations like this in the future.

“(The Garcias) went about it correctly, they went through all the proper procedures,” Treviño said. “They did a beautiful job.”

The King William Association typically opposes almost all Infill Development Zoning changes in the neighborhood as they provide for more flexibility in parking, set backs, and landscaping – all things that historic neighborhoods would typically like preserved.

Neighborhood Association Executive Director Cherise Bell said the neighborhood’s top concern is noise and parking and spoke in opposition to the zoning change on Tuesday. Bell has nothing against the restaurant, she said, just the added strain to the neighborhood’s oft-filled street parking.

Councilman Treviño said his office is studying parking problems and solutions in the area.

“It’s a diverse strategy that we’re looking at (for parking). The success of King William is great and welcome, but there are other things we need to be thoughtful of,” he said. “We also want to protect the integrity (of the historic district).”

Treviño said he met with SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez to discuss a strategy that may involve sharing the district’s assets like Brackenridge High School’s parking lot. Rideshare, mobile applications like Lyft and Uber, and parking apps will also be part of the collaborative solution, he said.

“It sounds cliche, but it really just takes a partnership with everybody,” Treviño said. “We will continue to push for a better parking situation.”

An ongoing resident permit parking pilot program is being tested out on Arsenal Street by the Center City Development and Operations Department, the implications of which are pending.

“We’re just asking the City to implement tools it already has,” Bell said, like residential permits, special event parking, and restricted parking signs at certain intersections and sides of the street.

The parking problem in King William, said Commissioner Siboney Diaz-Sanchez (D1), is not one that can be solved by the Zoning Commission.

“Parking is always going to be an issue,” Diaz-Sanchez said. “It kind of comes with the territory, if you move in to (or live in) an area that has that active of a street. … Planning for more parking is not going to be the solution. The challenge of this commission is to consider various issues at different scales. It’s hard to talk about parking on one project when really it’s a greater issue.”

The entire city needs better public transportation options, she said, to reduce the need for more parking.

Parking isn’t the future for King William, added Commissioner Francine Romero (D8), “It’s going to have to be something besides people driving down there in their cars.”

Romero also noted that the simple menu is also something welcomed in a neighborhood with award-winning restaurants.

“That’s getting back to the spirit of King William. Not every restaurant has to be something listed in Texas Monthly,” she said.

 

https://rivardreport.wildapricot.org

 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified Orlando Salazar and Cherise Bell. Salazar is the zoning commissioner for District 4 and Cherise Bell is Executive Director of the King William Association, not the president.

Top image: A City rezoning notification outside the future Casa Azul De Andrea restaurant. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Related Stories:

Frank Finally Ready for Business in King William

King William Boutique Ore & Timber: A Collection of Globally-Sourced Goods

Downtown Parking: Is There Enough?

New App to Optimize Parking in Downtown San Antonio

An Experiment With Parking Comes to East Arsenal Street

19 thoughts on “Sandwich Shop in King William Gets Council Approval

  1. Making people walk a few blocks or ride a bike, instead of parking on site, is not necessarily a bad thing. I am a member of the King William Association, but I do not agree with the position they took on this one. We don’t need strip-center type parking in our neighborhood. If a business wants to risk losing business without more on-site parking – because people cannot stand even the thought of walking a few hundred feet away – then let them operate.

    • Neel, I don’t think it’s the people in the neighborhood that are driving a few blocks over to park up and down our streets. Like the Planning Commissioner said at the end of the article “Not every restaurant has to be something listed in Texas Monthly.” That’s what’s bringing most of the parking traffic through here. Not the folks who live in KW.

    • L – I agree we need decent, affordable options for locals and those who work or visit the neighborhood. However, as I understand it, the KWA opposed re-zoning to permit the opening of just such a place at this property because it did not have more parking spaces on site. More parking spaces = more cars = more traffic congestion.

  2. Many people in Texas have a mentality that parking is a right, not a privilege. If they have to walk more than 50 feet, they start whining. But ask anyone who has lived in bigger cities, like Paris, Chicago or Vancouver, about scoring an on-street parking spot. It’s like winning the lottery. And the folks who live there accept it as a fact of life.

    Do you want a cosmopolitan city or a parking spot? Your choice.

    • Unfortunately, Page Graham, I think most folks in SA would choose a parking spot. At least the ones who vote en masse, anyway. Sad.

  3. Reading Iris’s article about Houston, I have to think there’s an opportunity to build an underground parking lot north or south of the neighborhood with a park on top and have people walk from there. As someone who has lived in a neighborhood (South Congress) where visitors are constantly taking resident parking on the street, it is a very frustrating situation. However, if we could prohibit non-resident parking, increase the amount of perimeter parking garages/lots and encourage walkability, we might be able to push people out to walk farther or take an Uber. Unless you tell people they CAN’T park somewhere, they’re going to take the easy route.

  4. Why do KW residents feel so entitled to street parking near their homes? Why is there a special parking permit program for them? Almost all KW homes have driveways. That should be plenty of parking for them. As mentioned above, parking is a privilege, not an entitlement. If one or two parking spots in your driveway is not enough for you, move to a smaller less progressive town where parking is abundant.

  5. Residents should be able to park in front of their homes, and no John, many homes in KWA and Lavaca do NOT have driveways.

    I can’t speak for Paris or Vancouver, but Toronto, San Francisco, and Boston all have protection for resident parking via stickers in their historic neighborhoods. I think those cities are a wonderful blend of “cosmopolitan” and “historic residential” just like San Antonio should be.

    Why should residents who foot the property taxes for their neighborhood have to fight local “tourists” for parking in front of their homes?

    Resident Parking permits should be enacted in both Lavaca and KWA immediately, and digital Pay-stations and 2 hour parking should be implemented for restaurant and bar patrons.

  6. Why should residents who foot the property taxes for their neighborhood have to fight local “tourists” for parking in front of their homes?

    This. Property taxes are outrageous there; if you aren’t at least getting decent public schools out of it, you should at least have a place to park!

    Resident Parking permits should be enacted in both Lavaca and KWA immediately, and digital Pay-stations and 2 hour parking should be implemented for restaurant and bar patrons.

    Yes and no; stickers are great and a must-have for residents—many Texas urban core historic districts are going this route (Galveston’s districts, also one in Houston)—but don’t do a wastefully-expensive and unnecessary parking system for visitors. Let them park wherever they can that’s not a permitted zone. It works great in primarily-residential ‘hoods and only marginally affects businesses—people who want to patronize them will find a way to do so.

  7. A lot of venom on here towards “local tourists.” I don’t think San Antonio would be nearly as nice if we all just stayed in the little corner in which we live. Part of the charm is that each neighborhood has much to offer, and as a resident, you get to enjoy it all. Unfortunately, most neighborhoods’ residents alone cannot completely sustain its’ businesses… we need those “local tourists” to continue to spend money and keep local businesses thriving.

    • I have nothing against tourists but believe I have the primary right to park in front of my house that does not have a driveway. A residential parking program won’t deter them from coming or keep them from parking. It will simply control that parking to non residential streets.

      We can have both, with the proper city guidance and support for local residents.

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