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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.
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 transit – to 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.
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.”