Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / Rivard Report
City staff and outside consultants will be combing through five employment hubs in San Antonio as well as the near Westside community over the next few years to develop plans and policy recommendations as part of the citywide SA Tomorrow plan.
Council unanimously approved Thursday a $1.045 million contract with California-based Moore Iacofano Goltsman, Inc. (MIG) to carry out the first round of regional and community plans – the next step toward implementing SA Tomorrow. MIG has worked on initial plans for the Broadway Corridor, Zona Cultural, and Hemisfair Park.
University of Texas at San Antonio, Medical Center, Midtown, Downtown, and Brooks City Base are five of 13 regional centers that host more than 15,000 jobs each. SA Tomorrow anticipates that about 60% of the population growth – 1.1 million people to the area by 2040 – will occur in these centers. To prepare for this growth, the consultant team will look at current zoning and land use, housing, park access, infrastructure, amenities, and other area components to see what priorities each center should have. These recommendations will compose a 10-year work plan.
MIG will also develop a community plan for the near-Westside, one of 17 five-year community plans for the City that will fill in the gaps between regional centers. While regional centers are more focused on job and housing growth as well as connectivity to other hubs, the community plans typically cover more ground. The near-Westside community plan covers 16 square miles.
These plans will use existing neighborhood plans, should they exist in a particular area, as the foundation to inform land use in changing and stable parts of the city. One of the biggest concerns many neighborhood association representatives had during the SA Tomorrow development process, Mayor Ivy Taylor said, is that the plans they developed on a neighborhood level would be set aside.
That won’t happen, Department of Planning and Community Development Director Bridgett White reassured Council on Thursday. The regional center plans and community plans will include chapters of neighborhood specific action plans and will include input from the representative neighborhood.
“The neighborhood plans that exist will continue to be the fundamental building blocks [of SA Tomorrow],” Councilman Ron Nirenberg (D8) said. “We need to make sure they are not trampled over by these new plans.”
The accelerated schedule and increased budget for SA Tomorrow implementation was approved with the fiscal year 2017 budget. Taylor initiated the planning process in 2014. Public engagement in the process officially launched in April 2015.
A key component of each plan will be community input, White said, which will be gathered through the SA Tomorrow steering committee, stakeholder meetings, and other public forums. The website will be updated with future input opportunities soon.
Councilman Alan Warrick (D2) noted that some Eastside residents feel “left out” of the process. City staff and MIG should start reaching out to communities slated for subsequent phases sooner rather than later, Warrick said.
SA Tomorrow has allocated funds for awareness and community engagement in its budget, White said, as does the agreement with MIG. The request for proposals for the next phase of plans will go out later this year and will also require that consultant to have an engagement strategy, White added.
The entire city footprint will be covered with such plans by the end of 2022, according to the planning department’s timeline. MIG and planning staff will be working in tandem with various City departments and agencies to align their efforts with other ongoing strategic plans. For instance, Council also approved Thursday a $340,000 contract with Bender Wells Clark Design for the development of the Parks and Recreation System Strategic Plan.