6 thoughts on “Commentary: In Defense of Two Different Zoning Decisions

  1. While I agree that the city officials handled this issue with professionalism, there seems to be a consistent face off between private vs. public interest when it comes to municipal growth.

    My hope is that the discourse here brings to light the impending opportunity costs of that growth, and solutions of public good are looked at with more care (a la street car).

  2. I’m afraid this commentary raises more questions than it answers.

    – “Majority of the arguments in favor of the rezoning addressed congestion and density in the area. This seems to be a transportation and infrastructure concern not land use.”

    I find it difficult to comprehend the logic of this statement. Are not land use issues inherently intertwined with transportation and infrastructure concerns? These seems like pretty fundamental and primary land use concerns to me. I’d be interested in understanding how “land use” policy can be articulated without taking into account transportation and infrastructure concerns.

    – “It is important to acknowledge that the house was on the market for 417 days before it was purchased and restored. Either no one wanted to invest in a residential property “sandwiched” between multifamily structures or take the risk purchasing the property, earning the community support and converting into a residential with a commercial use designation.”

    Doesn’t this history suggest that the appropriate “land use” of this property is not residential but rather commercial? Without this buyer taking the “risk”, the property would still be vacant it seems. Aren’t these valid issue for the zoning commission to take into consideration and don’t they argue for the rezoning, not against? Where are the analogous “land use” criteria supporting the high density zoning of the property in District 8.

    – “The applicant took the risk, while not understanding the process and thus, failed.”

    It difficult to not see the significant irony in this statement given how the owner of the land in District 8 acquired its property after the process for rezoning had already been initiated. The message from the City here, unfortunately, seems to be that small business owners are dispensable but that the City can’t afford to do anything that would upset larger business interests.

    – “as a city, we are constantly looking for enthusiastic San Antonio investors.”

    Unless, I suppose, they happen to be a small business owner wiling to take a risk in rehabbing a vacant deteriorating historic structure? What message does this send, along with recent cases involving small business owners where zoning hurdles created barriers (see, e.g., Commonwealth Coffee and the art gallery at French and Michigan.)?

  3. A house on the market means nothing by itself. What ChairmanShaw says about why the house didn’t sell is an assumption, as he states in the commentary. The fact is that the applicant did not follow city procedures and violated an ordinance.

    • I’m grateful for this article because the other media coverage raised a number of questions. As for the salon, I agree that the investor should have obtained the zoning change before investing any money in the project. The rezoning request was properly denied.

      I am, however, stumped by the suggestion that land use is divorced from transportation concerns. Of course, I’m just a “lay person,” not a city planner.

      Nonetheless, I can’t help but observe that current land use in the historic districts is creating a parking and transportation nightmare. It stands to reason that transportation is linked to land use in non-historic districts.

      As an example, many commercial properties in the historic districts are zoned IDZ, which does not require on-street parking. As a result, business visitors park on the residential streets. Many residential streets in historic districts are not wide enough to accommodate two lanes of travel and two lanes of parked cars. The situation is not a simple matter of convenience but of real safety: an ambulance in Southtown could not reach a neighbor having a heart attack. Luckily, the first responders rolled the gurney down the street, and the neighbor is doing well.

      But the situation is not acceptable. The city has hired a consultant to address this basic safety issue. Won’t the solution involve land use?

      • Perhaps I am reading too much into the comment, but you seem to suggest that the zoning relief was properly denied BECAUSE the person invested money into the project prior to seeking the zoning change. The same logic was hinted at in several places in Mr. Shaw’s article and warrants a rebuttal because it is not the zoning commission’s job to make an example out of people who do things that seem foolish–just like it is not the zoning commission’s job to make decisions based upon how welcoming they want to be to real estate investors.

        The zoning commission has a specific job to do and specific criteria they should look to, which should be designed to create a fair an impartial process. These criteria should primarily be based on sound land use planning criteria, which include transportation and infrastructure issues. Nearly absent from Mr. Shaw’s explanation is any discussion as to why these particular land uses and density were or were not appropriate based upon any land use planning criteria. The focus of these cases as reported in the media seemed to be exclusively on what some in the neighborhood thought (in the case of the hair salon) and what some in the business community thought (in the case of the downzoning case). While this is a good illustration of how business get done in San Antonio, it isn’t hard to see how this kind of reactive approach does not support an objective, fair or forward-looking land use plan for the City’s future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *