Score the Project SA: Development Scorecard as a Bridge to Consensus

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Courtesy / San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Team Urbanization presents its project as part of the Alexander Briseño Leadership Development Program.

The projected growth of San Antonio is well-documented, and there is no shortage of conversation around its challenges and opportunities. Many speculate as to how growth can be accommodated while maintaining the charm and character of our friendly, culturally rich city.

One challenge at the forefront of the conversation involves new development and how it fits within the surrounding community. Of course, there are other aspects of development, such as affordability, sustainability, and safety, that are also important to neighbors. When our nine-person action team was assigned the topic of urbanization during the 2018 Alexander Briseño Leadership Development Program, we immediately knew we wanted to focus on bridging the communication divide between developers and the community.

Developers are generally encouraged to engage with the surrounding community early in the process, whether the project requires discretionary approval or is nearly entitled. The City notifies registered neighborhood associations of certain hearings regarding projects within 200 feet of their boundaries, such as zoning cases and land use plan amendments. However, residents commonly call for a more consistent feedback loop when it comes to development in their neighborhoods. Beyond what’s required by the City, how else can residents weigh in on projects happening nearby?

What if there was a tool that could transparently evaluate a project, identifying areas of agreement and points of departure? What if this tool could assign a score to projects based on their alignment with stated community goals?

Our team began by meeting with neighborhood and community leaders, elected officials, and City staff. Based on our research and stakeholder feedback, we developed Score the Project SA, which takes into account criteria from six categories: affordability, beautification, community involvement, safety, sustainability, and walkability. Scoring each category can highlight, for both the community and the developer, where a project’s strengths lie and where more conversation may be warranted.

Since this is an optional community input process, not a requirement of City code, success relies on reward rather than regulation. Those projects that utilize the scorecard and achieve an overall “B” rating or higher would receive a Score the Project logo to be affixed to the building, signifying a successful community conversation. In future phases, the scorecard could result in financial incentives.

Accessibility and ease of use were of the utmost importance in developing this tool. We wanted a resource that could be used by anyone, anywhere. The scorecard is intended for use without prerequisite knowledge or extensive vocabulary related to development. It would be available in print, with an online option, and in both English and Spanish.

Admittedly, this level of accessibility required some simplification of complex issues. We recognized that the scorecard alone would not achieve consensus on every project, nor would it address bigger-picture concerns of each neighborhood. However, it would start and steer the conversation. The scorecard can help fill a widening gap of understanding and trust between residents and developers, bringing them together in a meaningful and mutually beneficial way. As one stakeholder stated, bringing the developers and community together already is a success.

What elements would you want captured in a simple, user-friendly development scorecard? Would a scorecard be useful to you and your neighbors?

The Urbanization Team is made up of:

  •  Adrienne Alcazar
  • Bianca Garcia
  • Brittany Alonzo
  • Erika Ragsdale
  • Hugh Farr
  • Jennilee Garza
  • Marissa Rodriguez
  • Stephanie Flores
  • Steven Zumaran

3 thoughts on “Score the Project SA: Development Scorecard as a Bridge to Consensus

  1. Your article didn’t mention whether you visited with the business owners that would be purportedly burdened by this scorecard. I wonder how excited they would be about having another layer of obligations stand in the way of their business plans, beyond the already existing and fairly extensive regulations & public hearings. Odd that a Chamber leadership program would propose a process to further burden business.

  2. “The projected growth of San Antonio” implies that upcoming leaders will not question the impacts & outcomes from a heavily subsidized “urban planning” model, having an economic growth agenda in market-ready areas, where success is measured in business terms by working in sync with the commercial real estate industry. Where is the “strategic” idea here, given our status as the nation’s No. 1 ranking in economic segregation? Having these views & values is not being anti-business; we simply need accountability in the use of heavy public subsidies.

    There no greater “impact conceptualization” project than critically examining the city’s long-term “vision”, which calls for fast growth, annexation, & density, leading to gentrification, rising costs of living, displacements & heavier stress on water resources, environment, infrastructure, & air pollution. Why not teach the ecological & economic difference between natural urbanization & subsidized “growth” to become a metroplex? Why not learn about socioeconomic metrics as our measure of success?

  3. How does the The Urbanization Team (Adrienne Alcazar, Bianca Garcia, Brittany Alonzo, Erika Ragsdale, Hugh Farr, Jennilee Garza, Marissa Rodriguez, Stephanie Flores and Steven Zumaran) and this concept (Editor’s note: The San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Alexander Briseño Leadership Development Program is aimed at cultivating leadership through strategic planning, change management, teamwork, sustainability, and civic engagement. Last year the program accepted more than 60 professionals, placed them on teams, and tasked them with conceptualizing impact projects related to local issues in San Antonio.) coalesce with the other stake holders within Bexar County or tha San Antonio SMSA?

    How much of this input is from outside the private sector, such as politicians, government bureaucrats, academics and other areas that are not experienced in paying for their recommendations or having to deal with the consequences of their recommendations, regulations, laws and the advocacy groups that may have local membership but which are really centered in Austin, Washington, DC or other progressive power centers far from our area.

    This “Score the Project SA is much like CoSA’s Climate Plan and other pollyanish proposals I have seen proposed since we moved in in 1977: lofty but unrealistic, while looking for outcomes wanted by those with no “skin in the game” and no money out of their wallet.

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