9 thoughts on “Impassioned Southtown Neighbors Consider New Parking Program

  1. A general two-hour limit ALL DAY seems to be too restrictive; during the daytime on weekdays there is no need for this limit, and probably there is no need Monday-Thursday evenings. It would help if the city would supplement VIA to provide a free shuttle bus running frequently (every 10-15 minutes) in the evenings (if there MUST be a 2-hour restriction Mon-Thurs evenings) and on weekends that would allow people to park downtown or in non-restricted areas further out. Otherwise, the proposed restrictions are going to squeeze a lot of the life out of these neighborhoods. (The latter what the homeowners would like, but it would be a loss for the city in general.)

    • Actually, the two hour limit on weekdays is probably the most significant concern for a few streets (Lavaca and Labor Streets in Lavaca, and 1-2 streets in KW). Downtown workers, restaurant workers from downtown and Southtown, construction workers from Hemisfair, and SAISD employees use free street parking in the neighborhoods during the weekdays.

      For some, the inability to park in front of their house on a weekday is a problem (though driving through these streets this week, many had open spaces). The most obvious solution is to restrict parking on the most affected streets, then worker parking there starts to disperse to multiple other streets. No one street becomes the next problem, as the parking spreads out. There’s also a point at which people will pay to park to avoid walking too far. Unfortunately, the proposed plan covered ALL of Lavaca to Carolina St at the highway, more than one mile away from Lavaca St. The vast majority of streets in Lavaca are not congested, and this blanket approach is overkill. The fear that new construction will just intensify the problems unfounded. In 14 years, we’ve seen very little additional parking on our street, and any new, high density units can be required to provide parking for their residents wrapped into the rent (so no incentive to opt out).

      King William faces similar issues, though the layout of the streets is a bit different. Already one street has 2 hour limits, but no one street is highly congested on weekdays. Cars are dispersed. The plan also covered all of KW, even though many streets don’t have an issue and many residents don’t want restricted parking.

      There are those residents, however, who don’t like to have outsiders park near their houses. The vast majority of residents in Southtown, as determined by door-to-door interviews and at last Thursday’s meeting do not have a problem with that and would prefer more available street parking since there is minimal alternative. The vast majority of residents also strongly support the Southtown businesses and want them to continue to thrive.

  2. I think shared parking with public entities in the area could relieve some of the parking issues. Maybe a dedicated tram/trolley that takes a route hitting other public entity parking lots (making them shared parking as well) would relieve even more parking issues. The service would only run on evenings/nights of expected need. Charge a modest fee that goes to the public entity and also pays for the tram/trolley service, a fee that is reasonable enough to cover expenses but that patrons would be willing to pay for easy parking despite not parking nearby.

    But there are way too many cars in the area on a Friday nights still so plenty would look for free parking on the streets until it is filled up regardless of time limits and shared public entity parking lot options. Streets that would have public parking available should go to parking meter parking on one side of the street with the other side being dedicated to residents. Have 1 digital meter at the end of the block. Modern meters can be very aesthetic these days when done correctly. Some cities have metered parking that is paid via a phone app so that a physical meter isn’t even needed. The metered parking can only be in effect on designated days and times such as only on Friday evenings. As long as the parking is free to the public, there will always be issues.

    Finally, residents need to understand that without some type of permit system, they and their guests will always have to battle the public for parking spots. And a fee needs to be put in place to keep some residents from taking advantage of the system to sell their extra permits to the public at a profit that isn’t shared by the neighborhood.

  3. I see businesses, like Tito’s, Madhatter’s, The Friendly Spot, B&D BBQ, Casa Azul, Liberty Bar, Beethoven Hall, Franks, The Blue Star Complex, Azuca, Alamo St. Eats & Bar, all being affected by limited parking. If there is no where to park for these businesses, then they will lose customers and eventually close down, but maybe this is what the cronies in the King William area want. La Tuna lost many of it’s parking spaces when the Southtown and Cevallos Lofts were constructed. It doesn’t seem to do the business like it did in the past. What’s going to happen during Fiesta when the King William Fair rolls around? Where will people park to attend the fair? No one goes to the King William Fair for just 2 hours. I bike, so I will just get around this King Willy mess by biking to Southtown. Watch, then they will outlaw bicycles in the King William area.

  4. Great article, Iris!

    Quick favor: next time you run into Edith Stockhardt will you ask her for my security deposit she refused to refund? My roommate would probably appreciate the same as well. We’ll gladly donate whatever monies you recover to the Rivard Report.

    Thanks!

  5. This is what KILLED he St Mary’s strip…Residents complained too much and now their neighborhood is all trashed out instead of bracing the change….if parking is not free the southtown will die as St Mary’s Strip did

  6. I like the article except for the assertion that Southtown was some kind of danger zone ‘more than 10 years ago’. As a mainly car-free resident of Probandt roughly 15 years ago (before La Tuna had a cafe, before better sidewalks on parts of S. Alamo, before the Mission Reach, etc) and regular Southtown goer, it was a safe and happening place (Bar America! Madhatters! First Fridays! La Tuna fire pit!) . . . and possibly better connected with the rest of downtown back then, given the frequency of VIA’s old blue trolley route and other routes.

    It’s likely hard for newer-timers to picture how much better public transit service was in greater downtown San Antonio 15 years ago. Yes, it was a little gimmicky and could be a rough ride, but people used the four color-coded loop, 50 cents a ride, propane-powered greater downtown trolley mini-bus system regularly (you knew where buses were going and that another one was coming soon), and it helped to make Southtown a destination for tourists and locals BEFORE some major investments there and even as parts of King William resisted better bus access.

    I think the new VivaVIA buses are likely the wrong size and I would have preferred if VIA had gone for an electric mini-bus option (where Dallas is headed in selling their used 40 ft buses to San Antonio) instead of betting it all on CNG powered big buses for our future, but the Southtown parking situation could be at least partly relieved with minor changes to current VivaVIA routes:

    1. Run the VivaVIA Missions (40) route along and add stops on Probandt & Alamo Street (versus running it express on South St Mary’s ); run the new route late night.

    2. Loop part of the current VivaVIA Culture (11) route – which replaced the blue trolley – by running it Alamo Street to Centro Plaza via Frio Street (passing UTSA) and to Five Points and across town (crossing Main Ave and the St Mary’s Strip) to the Pearl and Broadway.

    3. Expand the current VivaVIA Centro (301) route east – following a a loop similar to the Luminaria special event service – and possibly west to Ave. Guadalupe, including to make Centro Plaza a stronger connection point for Southtown and other VivaVIA service.

    These changes will create more bus overlap, frequency and transfer possibilities at high activity areas along Alamo Street as well as Probandt in Southtown. It will also improve bus access to and from areas like St. Mary’s Strip, the Pearl and the inner eastside that are highly car-dependent currently.

    BCycle stations at Centro Plaza and Five Points (long planned but not implemented by VIA), within the St Mary’s Strip and surrounding area (on Main and McCullough), at UTSA downtown and at Ave. Guadalupe could also support more car-free access to and from Southtown.

    Some of the areas of San Antonio most popular with young people and visitors and where there has been the most housing growth are the most car-dependent currently. If the City can ‘bail out’ BCycle leadership with a funded position in recent years, it can invest in more BCyclce stations ($60-75k each) and re-routing VivaVIA to better serve and link key bar, entertainment and housing districts in greater downtown – Southtown as well as Five Points, Main Ave, St Mary’s Strip, Pearl, the inner eastside and Ave. Guadalupe.

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    • How could there be an entire article about parking conflicts in Southtown and not one mention of VIA? The VivaVIA routes that launched in June don’t seem to be delivering the Southtown access that was hoped for . . . likely as most people who ride VIA buses downtown and hope to get to Southtown don’t pass by the Alamo (or even Broadway).

      At a minimum, there needs to be a one-bus option (no transfer) from Centro Plaza to Southtown, and supported by a BCycle station at Centro Plaza. The 51/54/82 buses could also potentially be renamed and better branded to promote the downtown-Southtown service they offer, with BCycle stations needed on St. Mary’s and Navarro near major bus stops south of Travis and north of Villita to further supplement car-free access to and from Southtown.

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