San Antonio On Track for Most 2020 Community Goals, But Transportation Issues Worsen

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SA2020 CEO Molly Cox gives opening remarks during the 2018 Impact Report.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

SA2020 CEO Molly Cox addresses community leaders during the organization's presentation of its 2018 annual report.

San Antonio is on track to meet or exceed most of the goals the community set for citywide prosperity by 2020, according to a report released Tuesday, but several indicators show there’s plenty of work to do – especially in the transportation sector.

SA2020 uses data to track progress made in 11 areas of community well-being and economic growth as measured by 61 indicators, such as voter turnout, the unemployment rate, and digital access. Almost three-quarters of those indicators – 70 percent – are headed in the right direction, according to the annual report. That number has stayed the same since 2012.

Click here to download the 154-page report. Year-over-year comparisons for each indicator, where data is available, can be found online at SA2020’s interactive website.

SA2020 acts as a central hub of data surrounding those 61 indicators and coordinates community partners – from small nonprofits to city programs to international groups – that work towards achieving better outcomes. The initiative was started by then-Mayor Julián Castro as a series of community workshops; SA 2020 separated from the City in 2012 when it became a nonprofit.

“There is no other large city in this entire country that has a vision that was created by the community itself,” SA2020 Director of Community Impact Kiran Kaur Bains said. The nonprofit is “results driven and data informed.”

As noted in the report, the data doesn’t tell the whole story, but it helps show what it’s like to live in San Antonio for thousands of people, and not all are stories of success.

“… We are one of the top cities for college-educated millennial growth and number one in income segregation,” SA2020 President and CEO Molly Cox and Board of Directors Chair Ryan Kuhl stated in the report’s opening letter. “… Our tech industry is booming and our underemployment rate remains flat, well below our goal. … We will double our population in the next 20 years and over one-third of our current population is burdened by housing costs.”

Four out of five indicators in the transportation sector are flat or getting worse. Vehicle miles traveled, commute time, and traffic fatalities and serious injuries are on the rise and the use of alternative transit is going down. Alternative transit use – when people aren’t commuting alone in a car and instead use carpools or public transportation – has dipped to 13.2 percent – below the baseline of 14.2 percent established in 2010.

However, San Antonio is still making progress towards its goal to triple the number of miles of “complete streets” – streets designed to ensure safe travel for motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transitto 6,465 miles. In 2017, there were 2,395 miles of such streets, compared to 2,155 in 2010.

Meanwhile, ConnectSA, a nonprofit formed by Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff last year, is developing a 21-year comprehensive multimodal transportation plan. Public and stakeholder input meetings are scheduled to take place over the next two to three months to help shape the policy framework.

The SA2020 goal to decrease housing-cost burden indicated progress in 2017 (based on 2015 data) when 34.2 percent of housing units cost more than 30 percent of the residents’ income. In the report released Tuesday, that percentage increased slightly to 34.7 percent (based on 2017 data). The goal is 29.5 percent.

Housing is considered affordable if it does not cost more than 30 percent of a household's income.

Courtesy / SA2020

Housing is considered affordable if it does not cost more than 30 percent of a household’s income.


More than 750 business, nonprofit, and community leaders attended a luncheon hosted at the Henry B. González Convention Center on Tuesday to assess SA2020’s progress and recognize areas in need of improvement.

“How do you change a city?” Cox and Kuhl wrote. “You ask the people there what matters to them. You listen. You plan. And then you move – together.”

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said it was fitting that the report was released during DreamWeek, an ideas summit dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

“I’m just the third mayor that’s been involved in this process,” Nirenberg said. The SA2020 “dream” of a better city persists “because we believe in San Antonio.”

10 thoughts on “San Antonio On Track for Most 2020 Community Goals, But Transportation Issues Worsen

  1. I would hardly say SA is “progressing” towards it’s Complete Streets goal. We’ve only adding 240 miles over the last 17 years. To meet our goal we would need to add 4,070 additional miles of Complete Streets just this year!

  2. I’d argue the flaw in logic is that making progress on those transportation goals (reducing VMT, eliminating serious traffic injuries and deaths, reducing commute time, and increasing alternate transportation use) is fundamentally a transportation problem. However, seems it is more a city design problem than a transportation problem.

    Our daily destinations are too far apart, and the assumption that every trip will be in a car results in essentially a mandate that every trip is by car. To make progress on those goals, city design has to be different. More complete streets and more buses won’t help much if your house is still 3 miles from school that is built on a highway, work is 20 miles away, and every destination is connected by arterial roads with 80 feet of right of way. Smaller roads that make a compact, connected network with denser housing and business development can make walking, cycling or transit the preferred transportation choice will lead to progress to these metrics. Sure driving will be slower, and by most metrics we accept today, less convenient. But, the outcome will be less distance traveled by car, and more use of other modes. Slower driving speeds results in fewer fatalities. Urbanization moves us toward these transportation goals, more suburbanization does not. At least that remains the theory, and 80 years of past development practices continue to support that theory.

  3. I was down town last Wednesday night, 16 Jan and will tell you DT was a Ghost town. Understand why focus on creating Transportation Solutions- issue is how to fund and orientate public to embrace Transportation Solutions. I rode VIA from CR P&R because I Have Time! (took 1.5 hours longer if I had driven)

  4. San Antonio has a long way to go before the it can be considered to have a good quality of life for the vast majority of its citizens. Poverty, homelessness, and economic segregation are all too prevalent on the city’s west, south and east side.

    The city and its public policies are directly responsible for creating and perpetuating poverty and inequality. Although city officials talk a good game about equality and justice, they vote for policies that deny funds for the homeless and then turn around and give hundred of millions for tax breaks for developers and new rich residents of downtown neighborhoods. These privileges are directly subsidized by poor residents whose neighborhoods and houses are in vast need of rehabilitation. When do these neighborhoods get a significant investment from the city.

    Let’s stop acting like San Antonio is making all this great progress for ‘citywide prosperity’’ when opportunities are so limited for way too many people.

  5. Thank you Opportunities for All for a good dose of negativity today. That is what far too many people thrive on. Of course we are not where we should be, but in making an effort, we are improving. If the city is so bad, why are so many people moving here, with a doubling of population within twenty years? It may not be rosy red, but the situation is not gray-black either. Lighten up.

  6. No negativity here only a realistic view of conditions in San Antonio for many, many local residents.

    If things are really going to change we need to wake up and deal with the structural barriers that keep people poor. Barriers such as institutional racism and inadequate education to name a few. (Yes, these do exist in San Antonio.). Otherwise nothing changes for the working class and poor in our city.

    People are moving here because the city provides vast incentives to move into increasingly gentrified neighborhoods. This is all at the expense of local development and rehabilitation of our run down neighborhoods.

    The city needs to take care of all its residents and not give special attention to those who are moving here with money and privilege.

  7. I’m getting so tired of hearing about the “poverty” on the city’s “West, South and East” sides. If the citizens in these areas are going to continually vote for people like Connie Prado to run their school districts, then why should other taxpayers be concerned? The South San School Board recently voted to look into re-opening three schools, which were closed for a very good reason. When School Districts are run like fiefdoms by Ms. Prado and her crooked crew and voters don’t do anything about it…they’re getting what you pay for.

  8. Economic segregation. What’s that? Take two families. One is a couple, both with advanced degrees and working long hours in their professions. The other is a single woman with children living on welfare. How do you deal with that.

  9. Drive-by reactions to serious economic public policy challenges aren’t going to cut it. Our city’s SA Tomorrow “vision” is very limited, narrow, & designed to focus on the built environment, where success is measured in business terms, not in socioeconomic terms. The city does not have this expertise; it’s planning functions are limited to their “urban planning” model. It bills itself via marketing campaigns to be a “world class” city, yet ranks nationally as a poor, economically segregated city.

    We are growing thanks to heavy subsidization for the private sector in market-ready areas, rather than where our needs are greatest. Our relatively low-costs of living is transitioning into a city of haves & have-nots. We supposedly have “national talent” in the city mgr’s office, yet we see no response to our socioeconomic realities. Unless you’re dedicated in the CED profession to address these matters, drive-by opinions dissipate into the thin air. The status quo remains until the underlying “vision” changes in serious ways & more citizens influence City Hall.

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