Why Is San Antonio Still Building a 20th-Century City?

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Pedestrian, vehicle, and scooter traffic navigate through the Pearl District.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Scooter riders navigate through the Pearl District.

The conversation about engineering a city for the future has never been more robust in San Antonio. Elected officials, city planners, infill developers, and neighborhood leaders are talking about the kind of transformation needed to retain our best and brightest young people and attract talented individuals and young families seeking a livable, prosperous city to call home.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff sent a jointly signed letter to the ConnectSA tri-chairs with a Dec. 21 deadline for the working groups to submit proposed transit solutions that can be placed on a ballot in November 2019. Yet the initiative is vehicle-focused rather than people-focused, and looking at key players in Connect SA, I see a cohort that consists largely of leaders 60 or older who do not live in the urban core or use bicycles as a mode of transportation.

If city leaders and planners really want to address worsening traffic congestion, they should design a more robust incentive plan to support greater urban density and a reduction in vehicles on surface streets.

Streets and surface parking make up 30 percent or more of the built environment, yet 10 years after then-Mayor Julián Castro launched the Decade of Downtown, not much has changed on our urban streets.

I am all for bus rapid transit on our expressways, but the conversation assumes everyone still needs to be in a motorized vehicle.

Everything around our urban streets is changing, but not the streets. City leaders have not built a network of protected bike lanes. There isn’t even a plan or dedicated funding to build such a network. Leaders seem to lack the vision or political will to do what other cities are busy getting done.

My worst fear is that San Antonio, for all its progress, will miss its moment.

Nothing typifies the current mess more than the arrival of wildly popular electric scooters. They take vehicles off urban core streets, and they infuse an element of joy and fun to urban life, connecting many of us to our inner child. Yippee! Our team of reporters and photographers navigate downtown assignments with greater speed and efficiency and fewer parking garage charges. Yet in San Antonio, the scooters are unsafe to operate on many streets, and when operated on sidewalks or the River Walk, as they commonly are, they make pedestrian spaces unsafe for the elderly, children, and people with disabilities.

So San Antonio seems to be talking about being a 21st-century city at almost every turn, even as it stubbornly clings to 20th-century development practices that encourage people to stay in their vehicles when they should be walking, pedaling, or moving in ways that make for a healthier lifestyle. We pledge to build a city with activated streetscapes for our children and their children and then continue to design and build a city for people and their cars.

Two recent keynote speakers, Toronto-based 880Cities founder Gil Penalosa at San Antonio CityFest and San Francisco-based Nelson/Nygaard’s Jeffrey Tumlin at an Urban Land Institute event here, delivered evangelical calls to action. San Antonio, they said, should embrace 21st-century practices and solutions to address its worsening traffic congestion, air quality, and unsafe streets for pedestrians, cyclists, and scooterists. Doing so would create more community, density, and sustainable economic development.

“Stop talking and start doing,” Penalosa told an audience at the Pearl Stable and again at the Southwest School of Art. “Your website says you have more than 200 miles of bike lanes. Where are they? I can’t find them.”

Painting white stripes or affixing bike decals on surface streets that also service vehicle traffic and on-street parking does not constitute a network of bike lanes, Penalosa said.

Are city leaders and planners listening? The emerging generations of workers and their families want livable, sustainable cities, and if we cannot deliver, other cities will. There is no reason why San Antonio cannot compete with Nashville, a metro area of comparable size. Both cities have unique profiles. Nashville is home to country music, San Antonio is the confluence of Mexico and the United States with a rich history.

Yet no one sees the two cities in the same league. Warehouse associate job openings at the Amazon facility in Schertz start at $10.50 an hour. The 5,000 Amazon jobs coming to Nashville will pay an average of $150,000 a year.

It is no surprise, then, that a Washington Post article published last week, The New Boomtowns, tracks the outflow of East Coast and West Coast smart workers to more affordable “secondary cities,” yet makes no mention of San Antonio.

That is unfair. San Antonio has made real progress and has much to offer. My list starts with the building of the 13-mile San Antonio River linear park and the still-expanding network of the Howard Peak Greenway Trails System, 65 miles and counting.

Next is the Pearl. Contrary to those who describe it as a playground for the elite, I would say its growing calendar of programs makes it more like San Antonio’s little Central Park, attracting individuals and families of all ages and backgrounds, many spending little money while having a lot of fun, drawn to free evening concerts, weekend festivals, the farmers markets, children’s playscapes, and the people- and pet-watching. Yes, the apartments, restaurants, and shops are pricey; so are the very same places around Central Park.

Parks, public spaces, and sidewalks are where we come together on equal footing, regardless of socio-economic status, political views, race, ethnicity, age, or sexual identity. And we come together on foot, safely. Life slows down to a more sensible and satisfying pace.

Southtown also ranks high on my urban transformation list.

Brackenridge Park, Hemisfair, a bustling tech-centric Houston Street, the planned expansion of UTSA’s Downtown Campus, the San Pedro Creek Improvement Project, the Zona Cultural, the near-Eastside redevelopment – all promise to eventually make downtown a great place at all four compass points. Except for the streets.

People on scooters turn onto East Houston Street.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

People on Lime scooters turn onto East Houston Street along the tech corridor.

Nirenberg and the City Council should fund learning tours for a team of city planners to travel to other regional cities to see what is being done to retain and attract smart workers and address affordable housing issues. My own extensive travel to other cities tells me they would see how dated our development policies and practices are, while also finding out that few, if any, cities are solving the housing problem.

A more competitive-minded team of city planners could accelerate efforts to transform our streetscapes and parks and, at the same time, pledge to make San Antonio a national leader in addressing the affordable crisis.

We can do both.

A commentary published here last week by Dawn Hanson, co-founder of San Antonio Neighborhoods for Everyone (SANE), titled The Opportunity Cost of Free Parking in San Antonio, cited the city plan to invest $7 million in the North St. Mary’s Street “Strip” as an example of planners listening more to business owners and developers than citizens. The plans call for more on-street parking and more unprotected “daytime” bike lanes; in other words, another “incomplete street” that planners disingenuously call a “complete street.”

City policies that require housing developers to provide minimum vehicle parking ratios only encourage more vehicle traffic and congestion.

There is $42 million in bond money to redesign Broadway, but city planners again are listening to some developers and local businesses and their hunger for on-street vehicle parking over the voices of citizens and the cycling community, led by City Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales (D5), a Vision Zero and safe cycling advocate. The project’s initial designs once again call for a bastardized version of a “complete street” without protected bike lanes.

As planned, I see it as the Broadway Tragedy.

“San Antonio needs to have an honest conversation with itself: Is it really going to be a Vision Zero city, or is it a city with zero vision?” asked Penalosa in his talk.

That’s a harsh question, perhaps the very kind of question we need to ask. Bringing some young professionals who commute by bike into leadership seats with ConnectSA would be a great start in our search for an answer.

99 thoughts on “Why Is San Antonio Still Building a 20th-Century City?

  1. Great article. I think this speaks to the general backwardness of S.A. Leaders here are afraid of change or that change they think will turn us into a city like all others, indistinguishable. Change if it is to occur needs to happen quickly because we are on the verge of forever being left behind ot as a secondary or 2nd tier city but becoming what I think I we truly are, a third tier city.

  2. The 20th century didnt have electric scooters zipping in and out of traffic
    The 20th century didnt have people worrying about offending others over having a statue
    The 20th century didnt have a city manager making more than the president would
    Is it just me or was the 20th century just better

    • Charlie, you and others should let go of the ridiculous canard that the city manager here makes more than the U.S. president. With a base salary of $400,000, and all food, lodging, transportation, and entertainment paid for by taxpayers, the president does very well, better than any city manager. Presidents also do very well for the rest of their lives. Long living former Pres. Jimmy Carter earns an annual government pension of about $275,000. That comes to around $10 million since he left office. –RR

      • I could not agree more with the remarks of RR. It is so much easier to remember the “good old days” as if they had fewer problems. They just had different problems. Although Bob professes no desire for elected office, I can hope that Mayor Ron will appoint him to lead those city officials to look at those cities who are trying to steal San Antonio’s future.

    • Good points. Not to mention bicyclists taking drivers’ and their own lives in their hands with their dangerously unpredictable moves. Motor vehicles and human powered vehicles were never meant to share the same roads. They were never designed or built for that. And no scooters taking even more chances.

  3. First, there is a lack of trust with the city planners here re. public engagement in their planning and design process. Second, why do we need to rebuild San Antonio for the millennials who, re ULI studies, will move to the suburbs for their families and dogs and finally, why are you not thinking about the 1 in 5 San Antonians who are seniors and have paid taxes to the City of San Antonio to protect their properties and lifestyle for more years than the millennials have been alive?

    Don’t sell out my city for what may happen, but protect and develop the city for it’s treasures…the people and neighborhoods that attract and encourage all people to live, work and play in them with respect for their history and current residents.

    • Barbara, San Antonio’s urban core is now home to unprecedented numbers of young adults, many with children attracted to the in-district schools and charters, both expanding to meet demand. More and more empty nesters also are moving into the heart of the city. Better sidewalks and protected bike lanes offer as much to seniors as millennials. Thanks for reading and commenting. -RR

    • Barbara, a city needs to plan for all ages and generations, not just boomers. If you look at the research on urban planning done by AARP, you will find that having a walkable, bikeable city with diverse housing choices in neighborhoods greatly benefits older adults, as they age. A large percentage of older adults want to age in place, but they’ve found that doesn’t mean in their large, single family home that needs lots of upkeep. They want to remain in their neighborhood but have the option to downsize to a condo, apartment or small home. They want good transit and walking options, as they lose their ability to drive. San Antonio has limited options here because it largely plans around single family zoning and auto-oriented development. ~80% of the land within the city dedicated to single family zoning. This is essentially a ban on apartments and does nothing to help older adults age in place (neighborhood), younger generations and future generations.

      When planning for a city, the needs of all ages and future generations are considered, not just the 80% of voters who happen to be boomers (http://www.whovotesformayor.org/cities/5755a0aedb1eab405dd5f183). Unfortunately, our elected officials only listen to the 80% of voters and don’t take into consideration younger and future generations. Minneapolis is about to pass a comprehensive plan that will allow triplexes on any single family zoned lot in the city, effectively doing away with a ban on apartments. They did this to help desegregate the city and create enough housing for future generations. San Antonio is nowhere near making these types of progressive policies, and, if they do, the policies are shot down before implementation from the lack of political will to carry them forward. It’s unfortunate, because our comprehensive plan policies affect the future of the city 10-20 years from now. I hope my children and grandchildren will have affordable housing options and a sustainable city to live in, which means we can’t keep the focus on single family zoning or auto-oriented development.

      Quoting another “imagine if our city’s zoning code prioritized the needs of the future over the entitlements of the past.” I am a current resident, and I would like to see a more progressive, inclusive, and sustainable city.

    • I don’t know what studies you’re looking at Barbara but everything I read about Millennials is that they are leading the charge to get out of the suburbs and back to the city cores. When I meet people moving into gentrified areas of the city center they are almost always Millennials or latter half Gen X. The Millennials were born and raised in the suburbs so they can’t move to where they already are. The suburbs became congested due to the Baby Boomers and Gen X choosing to move further from city centers.

      And yes, we should definitely keep our senior citizens in mind but you don’t spend billions on projects for them when many either won’t be around to enjoy those projects are will have health problems that don’t let them enjoy those projects. This part of the argument is not new and since mankind started grouping together and eventually forming villages, towns and cities, the old ways have always had to eventually give way to the new ways in order for progress to be made. Don’t get me wrong, as a Gen Xer, I yearn for the old ways of my youth but I’m also tired of SA saying we’re on the rise and about to turn that corner into a great city. I’ve been hearing that from city leaders since I was a kid and we still haven’t seemed to make it yet!

    • Well said, Barbara. And keep in mind that many see living in a brand new house in the burbs and driving their big SUV into the city as a good thing. They do not want to live in the city. Some move into our near downtown neighborhoods and become jaded and fearful because of regular gunfire, petty porch thefts, cars parked on the street broken into, and burglaries. To each their own. Let’s get to problem solving in the here and now while keeping an eye to the future. This doesn’t have to mean tearing down our existing neighborhoods to do it. That is a solution that only works for developers looking to make a quick buck on our near downtown neighborhoods and then get out – back to their gated communities in the burbs! LOL. There’s lots of room along our major thoroughfares to build high density infill. Let’s do that first.

    • Barbara, your mistrust of city planners is totally fabricated. You fail to recognize that all those planners you criticize all live in the same city you do and want it to be the best place possible for young people, families, and senior citizens alike. It’s one thing to have a different opinion about how the city should look in the future, but it’s something else to assume bad intentions on the people whose careers are devoted to making San Antonio more livable for people who will be here 25, 50, or 100 years from now. Just because your advice isn’t taken doesn’t mean it wasn’t heard.

  4. I’d rather not see my tax dollars spent on dedicated bike lanes. How about relocating to a bigger, better Airport instead? We lose out on big $$$ because of our airport.

    • I’d rather not see my tax dollars go to roads/highways…but, I don’t have that choice. Bike lanes take up a tiny, tiny sliver of tax dollars compared to the tax dollars dedicated to cars.

      • No you don’t have that choice directly. Voters, government agencies and elected leaders do. Moving @ 1,000,000 people from a to b to c every day as well as freight and foodstuffs every day requires roads, highways, buses etc. Could you imagine a functioning city without highways or roads? No. But a city without bike lanes? Yes.

        Best of luck to you in your efforts to get your dedicated bike lanes.

        • I see a city without bike lanes: It’s citizens are fat and traffic is ever increasing. I guess that’s functioning to San Antonio.

    • Do you honestly think the cost of dedicating bike lanes will compare to the gargantuan cost of a new airport in occupied city real estate? You’re talking a couple million against tens of billions.

    • I have to disagree with you on the airport, Mr. Taxpayer. We have a great opportunity to grow SAT, and it looks like it might actually happen. If you could grab light rail directly to downtown – not out of the realm of possibility – that would be the icing on the cake. We must start planning for rail solutions that will make getting out of your car attractive. That’s gonna be awhile yet, better start NOW.

      • Hope you like unfrosted cake. The transportation planners errr..the mayor & judge have decreed no rail in san antonio’s future. Created a committee and charged them with developing a transportation plan for our growing region, void of rail. They would probably support dedicated bike and scooter lanes from the airport to downtown!

  5. I have lived in San Antonio for 20 years. I have only had one or two jobs that did not require at least a 20 to 30 minute commute. When I did have a short commute it was because I intentially moved to the area to be closer to a job. I am now in my forties and I do not want to live in the Pearl or along Broadway. I want to live in a house with an actual yard and a neighborhood that is not flooded with the neon lights of the latest hip restaurant or trendy bar. San Antonio is still a small town in it’s heart and the city does not give the indication that it wants to be an upgraded urban/tech city. Your article takes the viewpoint of a younger demographic that is not the majority of the population. Concerning the desires of restaurants in the city to focus on parking for cars over that of bikes and walking I say this… Have you seen the average size of the vehicles in this city? Most families of four drive 3rd row SUVs or quad cab pick up trucks. If you are waiting for these people to get on board it will not happen. They will not give those vehicles up for public transportation and scooters. There is also a demographic divide in this city that will not allow the different classes of people to mingle with each other. It’s not because opportunities are not available. It’s because people don’t want to.

    • Precisely because they are unsafe and scarce. I try to commute with my bike as much as possible but find it difficult to do so anywhere further than two miles from my house since the bike lanes in this city are a joke and vehiclists don’t even respect them half the time. I know many other people who would be only too happy to use their bicycles as their mode of transportation if only San Antonio fixed its infrastructure to be friendlier towards cyclists.

  6. Thanks for not using the word “vibrant” in your article to describe your vision for downtown San Antonio. As someone who frequently walks downtown along the Riverwalk from the Pearl, I’ve often thought about how to get people out of cars. An article that I read recently told of a city in Brazil, I think, that banned motor vehicles from its downtown area with underground parking on its periphery. The popularity of electric scooters are an indicator that people want convenient short-hop ways to navigate downtown. It’s time to imagine the city center without cars, and with convenient, green transportation.

  7. I live in San Antonio and deeply regret moving here. Sure it’s fun and touristy but the low wage jobs, high renting costs, expensive car notes, and overall lack of progression make it horrible for the 20 and 30 something crowd. It’s a “city” full of people who want to hold on to the past. What will happen when the young people move away to Austin or elsewhere and the older generations who stay keep getting older? It’s eventually going to lead to a town that will never be able to catch up because while everyone else has evolved, SA stayed stagnant, which will not entice the future leaders and developers of the world to come here. Eventually the town will just die off with no sense where to go from there. I’m not going to wait through the remainder of my youth to see if they can turn things around. I’m going to Houston where the wages are higher and the cost of living is comparable. Sure its more populated, but more people live there for a reason. More people would rather live in a flood risk city than in San Antonio. Why do you think that is……When my lease is up here I can’t get out of this “city” fast enough. I won’t let the door hit me on the way out trust me.

    • And unfortunately, this is exactly what is happening to our beautiful city. This is sad to hear. As a young adult I find myself frustrated with why San Antonio cannot (for lack of better words) get it together. I’ve been to Nashville, Austin, Dallas, St. Louis, etc and it saddens me because we are indeed behind on so many levels i.e. metro city feels, pay, transportation, modernization, and the list continues on. Yes it is easy for others to say “well just move,” but truth is family is here and that is one of our core values we pride ourselves in…but to what extent. Still ranked as the 7th largest city in the nation, we are not progressively moving forward as a growing city should be. The article attached says it all. Tradition and core values we keep absolutely but we also do need to be competitive and in the know and the new. Wake up mi gente…estamos perdiendo.

    • You’re actually one of the reasons SA isn’t progressing. You’d rather run away from a problem than help solve the problem. I’ve lived in 75% of my life with the rest living in Austin and Houston. Houston became a big city because of the oil boom a century ago and then using that to help get off shore drilling going a few decades later. It also helped that they chose to build a shipping port and undercut port fees charged by Galveston around that same time frame. This port then led to thousand and thousands of migrants entering the country via ship into Houston. As for Austin, it was a sleepy community when I first moved there. There wasn’t much to do during a week night as far as entertainment and food were concerned unless you stuck to the original 6th street bar scene. It took a young group of people from the university area knowing their skill set in computing and refusing to move to silicon valley (or even Dallas or Houston) to put that skill set to use. They instead chose to put roots down in Austin and try to make that city the next big thing in tech and they succeeded and now are big players in that industry. That’s what then brought the huge development that Austin has seen in the past two decades. And this happened despite the city of Austin wanting to keep things weird, simple, homey and wanting to stay living in its past.

      Maybe the real problem is having people like Christian P. Fox as residents, who complain about problems and do nothing to work towards solving them because it’s easier to run away from those problems.

      • I’ve offered a lot of free / public service urban planning advice to San Antonio in recent years via online comments, etc., as a researcher and planner, so I might as well give it one more and final shot here — but noting that I’m like other commentators in this thread who have more or less given up on and moved away from SA (although the city has an incredible draw not limited to fantastic tacos).

        First, I’m disappointed to read that Bob is disillusioned with San Antonio urban planning and specifically the latest “Broadway Tragedy,” but all I can say is welcome to the family. If the promoted separated bike lanes on Broadway are ultimately scrapped as part of the estimated $42m public expenditure, it won’t be the first time SA has in recent years made pedestrian improvement promises that it hasn’t delivered once the check has been cashed, at the expense of the public’s trust and better public health and planning outcomes. See, as one example, connected Alazan and Martinez Creek paths linking with Apache Creek and the planned tens of millions to be spent on flood mitigation and other site improvement work along these West Side creeks by 2015.

        Just as tragic has been when San Antonio has actively chosen to ignore local pedestrian safety recommendations (see Alamo Area MPO) and has made pedestrian conditions worse with new development, such as by:

        – narrowing some sidewalks (thanks HEB, etc) and building new sidewalks to the barest allowable minimums, continuing to do that stupid turf filler, even along busy corridors (see Zarzamora);

        – allowing multiple new driveways and drive-throughs to interrupt the sidewalk line and pedestrian entrances to buildings (thanks Starbucks, etc.);

        – removing historic and once connected sidewalk awnings (thanks HDRC, etc.);

        – removing some pedestrian cut-throughs and rights-of-way remnant of the historic more “people-centered” street grid (in some cases to enlarge some blocks or seal off some public properties or to enable higher speed or more frequent freight rail movements through the center city) and designing new parking lots in ways that discourage walking;

        – building bus stops in ways that narrow and worsen the footpaths, along with building isolated (zero commercial services / mixed use), unwalkable and ridiculously expensive “park-n-rides” (thanks VIA);

        – allowing new fences and some buildings to be constructed with zero setback from the sidewalk;

        – building structured parking with public dollars (vacant most hours of the week and on weekends) at the expense of actual public transportation / mobility improvements — and then spending more public dollars to advertise this parking oversupply;

        – funding a bike share system that doesn’t serve major transit stops (Centro Plaza, Five Points transfer hub, etc), most grocery stores or the area of downtown with the highest density, the West Side; and

        – removing some bus-only lanes downtown, calling buses a source of congestion and framing VIA riders and “business people” as two separate classes that need to be segregated (thanks Judge Wollf, as quoted by the Express-News at the opening of Centro Plaza in November 2015: “For too long, we’ve used the downtown as the bus transfer station. It was not right for the passengers, it was not right for the business people downtown and it was not right for the congestion downtown” ).

        Over the years, San Antonio has brought in some of the leading urban planning talking heads, who have all said pretty much the same thing: with all the recent accolades for San Antonio and the big ticket public spending locally, WHAT HAPPENED to basic pedestrian conditions here? Where are San Antonio’s bike lanes? Why is public transit to and from the airport so unreliable and under-promoted? Why is walking, biking or taking a bus to a grocery store or college campus such an outrageous experience here? Why don’t more professionals, students and others ride bus to work (dropping in recent years)? Where the heck is Megabus anyways?

        I’m not as optimistic as Bob about the Pearl mainly as it’s not a place that’s easy or pleasant to visit using VIA (based on my last attempts but also comments from some visitors). The Pearl is more like Central Parking than Central Park (which has no parking lots … or condos), and Broadway is still advanced levels of Frogger for pedestrians. The same could be said about Hemisfair — hasn’t anyone else noticed that the Institute of Texan Cultures, downtown’s Smithsonian, started to fade when VIA stopped running an easy dollar a ride (and free transfer) trolley bus there every 15 minutes from 6am to midnight? That there’s no VIA service to the east entrance of the Convention Center and Hemisfair Park at all, when better transit and pedestrian access from all sides were meant to help “revitalize” Hemisfair Park and re-connect the East Side with the rest of downtown?

        By all means bring in more outside experts (I vote Jan Gehl) and do some study tours of other cities via mass transit. Megabus and light rail to either Dallas airport, Greyhound to downtown Laredo or Amtrak to El Paso could be as instructive as journeys anywhere else in the US. Please come to the San Francisco bay area / east bay, where I find I have much less to gripe about in terms of pedestrian conditions. I have a spare bike waiting. Come marvel at:

        – traffic yielding to pedestrians at each (and very frequent) painted cross;

        – max posted speeds of 25mph in most neighborhoods and urban commercial areas — as managed, in part, by frequent pedestrian crosses and on-street parallel parking.

        – using a local bus (or rail) to get to the airport or regional bus station;

        – having the option of biking directly to the airport;

        – signal lights timed to give crossing pedestrians a head start over turning traffic;

        – street lights — for pedestrians(!); and

        – not a stray dog in sight. Not one.

        These aren’t big ticket items and no place is perfect, but my read of San Antonio is that it is a city that’s not getting its money’s worth from substantial public spending — and that has a bad habit of breaking promises with / using pedestrian improvements only to sell or gain support for public plans and expenditures (as another example, Centro Plaza food truck park or farmer’s market anyone?).

        While it will be further disheartening if separated bike lanes are cut from the Broadway project, separated bike lanes seem to be most needed in areas of cities where traffic is intended to move faster than 25mph. What is the top speed planned for the new, more urbane Broadway? How many additional pedestrian crosses of Broadway (and pedestrian cut-throughs to Alamo and Ave. B) will be added with the $42m outlay? How many more on-street parallel parking spaces will be added? Will pedestrians be given a head start with crossing lights or priority at other crosses?

        This is not a call to reduce public spending but it is the humble suggestion to put pedestrian qualities, human health and safety and related environmental improvements at the heart of San Antonio planning. I believe that this is Bob’s aim with this article, and I hope San Antonio will some day get (back to) there.

        Alamo Area MPO has already offered much of the specific planning that simply needs to be enacted to make greater San Antonio more people-centered. Likewise, the City’s Hazard Mitigation Action Plan offers more recommendations and incentives to stop supporting car-dependent sprawl. However, if San Antonio feels that it must spend copious additional bucks to bring in outsiders to get more “fresh” ideas for local urban planning, you know how to reach me.

    • At 80, I guess I qualify as “senior,” but I challenge the idea that this has to be seen as a conflict of generations. Individual car ownership was very much the ideal of ;my generation, especially in terms of the independence it brought, and this thinking is admittedly alive and well in subsequent generations. Yet I often reflect on the sheer waste and inefficiency of transporting myself around in roughly two tons of steel, glass, and petroleum products, usually for very short distances, while that same two tons – my car – sits unused most of the time.

      So what – for me – is the alternative? Public transport isn’t yet convenient enough and often doesn’t extend to where I want to go. At my age, bikes and scooters aren’t the answer either, and though I love walking, neither is that a solution…especially as our climate gets hotter. But for someone who, like me, lives within the 410 loop (in a condo), shared vehicle use offers some promise. I haven’t done the math, but I’m guessing services like Uber and Lyft, or short-term rentals – measured in hours rather than days, might hold promise. I could still rent a car for longer, multi-day trips, and, on balance, I’m guessing it would be cheaper than full car ownership. If significant numbers of us went this route, it could reduce the number of vehicles on the road – and attendant costs – substantially.

      So am I going to sell my car tomorrow? Nope! But it’s something I’d consider, especially when driving is no longer an option. I’m suggesting that in planning for San Antonio’s future, it doesn’t have to be “either/or,” and you don’t have to throw us seniors under – or on – the bus.

      • Thank you, Barry. If our leaders design our city using “either/or” models, there will be friction. You don’t have to throw seniors, or any other group, “under – or – on the bus”. Just maybe in a decade most city people will not own big inefficient vehicles, but will use cars much like Uber or Lyft and thus not need big garages, etc.

  8. The problem with San Antonio is that most people other than millennials do not want to live downtown. Sadly the city focuses most of its crime prevention downtown! I moved back here for my husband to take a job at Rackspace. This is not the city I left years ago. It’s a city that has let the neighborhoods around downtown go in favor of building up the Austin like millennial havens downtown. This causing the mass exodus of urban sprawl reminescient is when I lived north of Dallas. No one wants to live in the city due to crime! The murder rate is high, drunk driving arrests and deaths are atrocious unsolved murders remain lost in a system that no one does anything about! I have been back here since 2010 and I’m fairly certain for most of that time the City under 3 mayors has yet to sign a contact with the Fire Department. Yet an article is written about how the city needs more bike lanes? Maybe before infrastructure can be improved the city needs to clean up the crime, care more about drunk driving than banning cigarettes for those under 21 and fix the fire depart debacle before banning plastic straws! It saddens me that San Antonio is a mockery of the city it once was! If you can’t fix the basic issues, how do you expect the city to stop wasting money on pet projects of those like Nelson Wolfe?

  9. Brilliant article, however I believe San Antonio has a problem with electing transformational leaders who are able to develop and implement a vision for this city’s future. I believe we give more of a voice to the naysayers who are only interested in inflating their egos and do not have a vision for moving this city forward. Therefore, we will remain second best to cities like Charlotte, Nashville, and Kansas City. Lastly, we cannot put all the blame on our politicians, the level of apathy among our citizens will allow the individuals who believe San Antonio should remain the quintessential “big city with a small town feel” and we will miss our moment to transform this city for our children and their children. Thank you.

  10. Robert, I understand your passion for bicycles and I am in favor of dedicated bike lanes. Building them will not, however, have a significant impact on traffic congestion. My (tongue-in-cheek) plan is to stop all street construction and maintenance and forbid all on-street parking. Eventually, it will become such a pain to drive that folks will flock to mass transit!

  11. Until San Antonio provides a reliable public transportation system it will not only remain out of the top cities of the future, but it will increasingly ghettofy the working class families of San Antonio. Right now buses hardly function as a model of transport to and from work for a few hours a day. I have seen dozens of buses running late, sometimes as much as an hour late; bus drivers knock over riders or slam their doors in the face of elderly persons trying to board a bus; and bus schedules that gave fewer buses per hour than many third world cities. Jeff Arendt, VIA Transit’s CEO, needs to do his job or San Antonio needs to replace him. The San Antonio City Council needs to prioritize public transportation or we need to replace them. Public transit is one of the best indicators of how a city treats its working class. San Antonio does not rank high.

  12. Bob, you make excellent points, but I really want to emphasize this one: “Leaders seem to lack the vision or political will to do what other cities are busy getting done.” They DO lack the political will. The fact is, OUR “city planners” are WELL aware of what Nashville et al have done, but nearly every time they try to do something like protected bike lanes or street calming measures here, either a council member or business organization has a fit, and the city manager’s office makes Transportation and Capital Improvement undo the plan. The removal of the Flores Street bike lanes and re-institution of two motor vehicle traffic lanes is a classic San Antonio example.

  13. Interesting article. I haven’t lived in SA for over 30 years. But the city is 2 decades behind in serious transit planning. Your highways are among the best designed in the nation, but with all that right of way, you were blind to the cheapest form of rail mass transit, that within a highway ROW. You bid for Amazon HQ2, but there is rail or subway transit to the airport. The city needs to fight for funds to bring inter-urban rail back, say between tech and university region in Austin and connect it to San Antonio, in so linking multiple university populations. I’d love to see San Antonio, now one of America’s Top 10 cities for 30 years, have a master plan to limit urban sprawl, and as you said, look towards density concentration, which breeds efficiencies for mass transit. San Antonio should have the transit that much smaller cities like Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia and other big cities of the 20th Century have enjoyed or even the light rail options the new big cities of the 20th Century have employed, including Denver, Seattle, even San Jose. If San Antonians continue to advocate for improvements in facilities and service at San Antonio airport, and there is no express service to get downtown to hotels and business appointments and conventions, those airport improvements will be ineffective.

    • Excuse me, but SA had the good sense not to bid for Amazon’s HQ, recognizing at the outset that it was just a disgusting contest to see who could give the most freebies to the most valuable company in the world.

  14. I’ve been a proud San Antonian since 1987. I’ve seen many first for this so called “Sleepy Mexican Village”. Alamodome, AT&T Center,Wolf Stadium-misplaced as it may be, River walk expansion, beautifully expanded Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, revitalized Houston and Broadway streets, numerous and very successful NCAA championships, over 6,500 with a goal of 10,000 inner city residences, and I could go on and on. The first several above mentioned got this town on the map, but building a strong inner city residential core is the most important in this citizen’s opinion. The more people living downtown, the better it will be taken care of. I believe like others that you don’t ____ in your own backyard. Tourism is huge in S.A., and a cleaner more attractive city core is what an overwhelming number of visitors mention that we need. Less visible trash, drug and prostitution activity, pan handling, and crime in general is what downtown needs and needs now. Let’s make downtown livable. You can start by not making rents unattainable to the longtime residents that would like nothing more than be able to walk or ride bikes to work, grocery stores and entertainment in the first place.

  15. It’s cheaper to live in Leon Valley and commute downtown than it is to live downtown and not drive. SUVs and trucks – or just having one’s own car handy – make people feel safer and more comfortable. If it’s more comfortable to drive, and cheaper to drive, bike lanes and public transport are just gimmicks that won’t be used by enough people to make them cost-effective.

    Gasoline taxes have been kept artificially low for decades to please our oil industry overlords. The city should support a coalition to break the industry’s hold on our economy at the state level. Until then, we’re treating the symptoms and not the problem.

    • Just because trucks and SUVs “make people feel safer” doesn’t make it true. More than 40,000 people die in our country every year—mothers, fathers, children, sisters, brothers—because of those trucks and SUVs. Building protected bike lines and transit isn’t about catering to some class or generation of people. It is literally about saving and improving lives.

  16. All I can say is that it’s dismaying to watch some “leadership” in this city lack skills, qualifications, vision, and (above all) the WILL to enact the tangible, sustainable changes many of us are desperate for. Having some experience “behind the scenes” here, I can say it’s an issue with CoSA department heads and “public-facing” officials alike. Many in leadership positions are far more concerned with “storytelling” and the PR/marketing than they are with enacting anything with teeth that will actually benefit our current and future citizens. There’s also an idolization of “out of town” professionals and consulting firms that’s tiresome when we do have actual talent here. A significant issue is that our top talent is routinely dismissed by civic, business, and other “leadership” (that is, if they even manage to get a seat at the table). For the ones who do get through, there is an undervaluing and hostility towards change from some at the top.

    Long ago, a mentor once told me that “the best consultant is the mediocre consultant”. What she meant by that is what I see far too often here in SA — those in power don’t want to deal with anything that actually “rocks the boat”. They want “yes men” and/or people who offer “incremental change” (that’s often 20 years behind) from questionable “experts”. They want to pay lip service and/or achieve the sheen of action without the acting. CoSA seems to get on board any action only after all the actual risk is gone. Mediocrity wins the day. There are certainly good people in power here, but it would be nice to see more substantial support for those who are doing the work and bringing actual vision and local expertise to the table.

    But therein lies the hopeful part — the MANY local people, young and old alike, who are working passionately “on the ground” for community sustainability and improvement… often with little or no financial support. From food banks to education to transportation to arts and beyond, we have wonderful, engaged citizens who love where we live and are in it for the “long haul”.

    But it really will take the whole village… every level and every ability… to move this city forward in a way that benefits everyone. Cynicism, disengagement, and moving away won’t help. Neither will local industry’s undervaluing work or experience (abysmally low wages), the city under-investing in the built environment, or the overall leadership forcing top talent away by ignoring change and the systemic issues facing our city.

    I don’t know what the answer is except to KEEP ON…

    • Absolute perfection, XYZ!!! The power play at the top of city government will never allow our city to experience REAL growth. There has to be a change at the top before change can be seen! Until that happens this city will continue to be controlled by a self-indulgent city manager, ex-mayors, the chamber, and mega-wealthy business owners waiting for a back scratch. It’s sad, because the city has a very special quality that attracts people in record numbers. Once people get here, they soon realize what is really going on regarding city leadership. The vote on Prop B, from a traditionally apathetic electorate, spoke volumes as to how citizens feel about the direction of the city. But it won’t change, it will just empower the city manager and crew to dig in deeper.

  17. Comparisons to other cities are invariably unfair and ill-informed. Nashville, which according to several contributors here, is much more forward-thinking than SA, recently had a referendum on a huge light rail plan. It was crushed at the polls. Yes, Nashville got a consolation prize in Amazon’s recent competition for the biggest civic giveaway in US history, but do you really believe that this was because of anything other than outrageous incentives and perhaps geographic location? SA has a long way to go, but let’s not lose sight of how far this city has come. We have a lot to be proud of.

  18. Robert, excellent article. Thank you.

    Let’s find a City Manager who can communicate and educate our City Council members on the right solutions.

    The recent referendum indicates that the public evaluated our City Manager as non satisfactory.

  19. Bob,

    You are most likely not going to read this, however I am going to put “out it out there” anyway. While I admire your enthusiasm about a utopian vision of young professionals and their families living in the downtown area, riding bicycles and scooters to work and play; it is an unrealistic vision that will NEVER be obtained in San Antonio. Yes, we all love progress, it is healthy and normal, but at what expense?

    What you and our revolving door of city “leaders” and “planners” are missing out on is this city is simply not set up to be Austin, Charlotte, or Nashville. We simply cannot maintain the infrastructure we have now, much less grow and provide adequate resources needed for our level of growth. Not more than one month ago, during the pre-election proposition rhetoric, you were praising our city leadership, primarily our city manager, about their progressive visions and how they are the “best” at what they do. Why the change in tone over the past three weeks? Why did you write a couple of days after the election that voters were fickle, unpredictable, and eluded to the fact they were misinformed after overwhelming approving Prop B? What you and the completely out of touch city leaders received earlier this month was a wake up call!

    San Antonio is a very unique city, unlike any other city it’s size in the nation. We have never possessed that progressive vision of bicycles, scooters, and Austin-like “vibe” that you and others pray we adopt. We are not that city! You and the “dreamers” promote a doom and gloom scenario of slowing growth, stagnant wages, and a mass exodus of young people seeking a “cool” city. That’s funny because all we hear is how the city is growing by 60 residents per day and everything is great; well it’s not!!

    The residents of this city do not care about scooters, bicycles, and the endless droning about the expansive growth of downtown. The “growth” of downtown is converting decades old warehouses into $500,000 two-bedroom condos and pushing people out of their historic homes to build more. That’s unrealistic in a city with a per capita individual income of $27,000 and family income of $49,000. What residents want at an absolute minimum Bob, is the city to maintain the infrastructure in place. This includes street repairs, aging pipes in the ground, mowing common areas, regular patrols to pick up strewn trash, proper drainage, sidewalks, clean parks, and adequate public safety resources!! I’m sorry, bicycles, scooters, and farmers markets are not on the minds of citizens , Bob.

    When I speak to public safety, it is the primary concern of EVERY cituzen, regardless of any city you travel to in this nation, not whether or not I can ride a scooter downtown, or ride my bicycle to HEB at Flores/Cesar Chavez to sip coffee on the tables out front. I can absolutely assure you, your readers, and citizens in this great city that our police department is NOT adequately staffed and will be facing very critical and troubling staffing issue in the next 5-10 years. The SAPD staffing narrative, controlled by city hall, is disingenuous to the citizens of this city who deserve the truth (which is frightening by the way), but unfortunately will never get it. The same applies to the annually underfunded city budgets that do not allow for the necessary repairs and maintenance of infrastructure, much less building anything new.

    Why can’t we get basic needs met, Bob? I have a theory. I challenge you or any other “visionary” to look at cities such as Austin, Charlotte, Nashville, Portland (that you bragged about earlier this year), or any top 25 city, and see if they have raised their property taxes the past 18 years or not? I bet you will find that taxes have been raised numerous times in those cities. The reason I mention this is every October, our “world class” city manager and weak mayor pat themselves on the back as they proclaim yet another year of “no new taxes!”. Tell me Bob, how does a city grow without generating funds to do it? Tell me, what good is a AAA bond rating for an individual who cannot walk on sidewalks in their neighborhood, drive around the same pothole (daily) big enough to swallow a Honda, weeds and trash growing around the roadways and culverts, waiting 45 minutes for an officer to come to my house that was burglarized while I was in the hospital? I understand it makes borrowing money cheaper, but you have to raise taxes to generate funds to pay for things you have and things you need. Yes, the electorate can be apathetic, but when they are educated on issues and do the research, you get the exponential voter turnout we saw on Nov 6th. Educate voters (truthfully) on why the city needs to raise taxes and they will get behind it and support it.

    Our “world class” city manager is going on her 13th year and has had ample opportunity to grow this city in the vision you proclaim in this article. The fact is Bob, Sheryl Sculley, while very talented at managing a city budget, is not the “second coming” and genius that you and a very small circle of supporters claim she is. I can say with at least a 60% voter certainty, that Sheryl is not the “world class” visionary that sits atop the unreachable pedestal that you and others have placed her on, especially at $550,000/yr. The voters, across all socioeconomic metrics, want a clean and safe city that they continue to embrace and call their own. San Antonians do not feel compelled to brag about bicycle lanes, scooters, and condos in the downtown area. There is something very unique about our city that continues to draw record amounts of people, let’s not lose focus of that intangible quality by worrying about scooters, bikes, cigarrettes, and plastic straws.

    Oh, and the Pearl reference to Central Park was probably the most amusing aspect of the article. I’ve been to Central Park, a repurposed brewery a Central Park does not make! Horrible analogy, Bob!

  20. Why didn’t you mention the RIM and the La Cantera area , it has been growing incredibly, “Six flags fiesta texas”, “La Cantera Mall”, “Ifly”, “Top Golf”, “ Andretti”, lots of new restaurants that have change the life style of people like “Uni’ko Japanese House” , “The Signature” , Rustic etc . its not fair you didn’t mention this area 🙁

    • Those areas are not mentioned because the desire is to create a city playground to benefit just a handful of the citizens of San Antonio. 1.5m people live in the actual city limits of San Antonio whereas 2.5 million live within the metropolitan area of San Antonio-many fewer live downtown. No investor or city council member is going to approve millions of dollars of investments that will benefit the few thousands of people who live downtown. No matter how much some people would like to create their utopia vision of city living, the money is not going to be spent to benefit a handful of San Antonio residents.

    • Rivard report is about downtown SA. No one cares about what new sprawl is opening by 1604. That type of development is a microcosm of what is killing our planet and our humanity. I hope you like beige.

      • Cb, while Rivard Report is indeed focused 90% on what is going on inside Loop 410, the leadership of the City must focus on all San Antonians. Yep, it is sprawling. I get hives every time I drive out to Boerne these days. The continuing assault on our Hill Country is a crime, in my opinion. Much of this is outside the scope of CoSA, unfortunately. As Jack Guerra and Bexar 2099 point out in their comments, a CITY WIDE solution is required. The SATomorrow plan is a great starting point.


  21. I found this article very informative while also very limited in perspective. But it’s a good start. Should we form a team and start interviewing our target population? Who are the individuals and households we’d like to attract to a unique San Antonio? Once we answer that, we can interview them and assimilate that information into a plan. We can all lead – it’s not so much a job title as a desire and effort to change. I’m game to help if anyone needs me.

  22. It is ok to talk about visions of thousands of city dwellers riding their bikes and ringing their bells peddling to work, church, and entertainment. However, when it comes to funding, the “funders” will want more details like what is my return on investment if we build the city of OZ? I have not read or heard from anyone what the cost/benefits of all these ideas are. I would recommend to those who are passionate about urban development to put pen to paper and demonstrate how the millions of dollars spent on the ideas will benefit the businesses and people who reside within the city limits of San Antonio. According to https://www.google.com/search?source=hp&ei=qB37W-mjKM34tAWkv4B4&q=population+of+san+antonio+and+surrounding+areas&oq=population+of+san+antonio+and+&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0j0i22i30l9.1739.10991..13434…0.0..4.1528.14375.1j4j2j6j6j5j2j2j1……0….1..gws-wiz…..0..35i39j0i131.evCVRpeR8Zs the population within the city limits of San Antonio is 1.5m and the population of the metro area is 2.4m so when you do your cost/benefit studies keep in mind just how many people will benefit from the investments.

  23. What happened to San Antonio? I remember moving to college at Trinity and riding my bike (until it was stolen)/taking the VIA everywhere! This was c. 1997. I think San Antonio is trying to be something it’s not and that is other cities. Instead of families gathering at grandparent’s houses now or Brackenridge Park, it’s like you have to go to the Pearl now and like San Antonio is trying to attract a workforce from out of state instead of investing in families that have been there for generations. That is what is causing the gentrification of neighborhoods and all the traffic…people don’t move here and then get rid of their cars…and the high rents. The culture is getting lost, too, and instead of living Tex-Mex style, it’s become more of a style put on a tee shirt to buy at a trendy shop at The Pearl or instead of making tamales at home, you go to a tamale fest at The Pearl. Maybe these live/work/play places are the problem. And you’re not going to get rid of them…you need to have places like back in the 80s and 90s where you stayed home and played and entertained in your yard or drove to the Flea Market or North Star Mall instead of having these events and programs to go to at the newest trendy development. Has San Antonio lost its soul by trying to keep up with the Jones instead of just focusing on educating the youth and making sure family traditions don’t die out; it seems so…sad.

  24. Fantastic article and very salient points. I’m a rare young professional who bike commutes. There can be more of me if we try harder! Get me on that Connect SA panel!

  25. Wow. Comments from soup to nuts, most not regarding safer choices for bicyclists. For what it’s worth, I would like to see more dedicated bike lanes integrated into our streets. Maybe they can get some of that Alamo boondoggle money and get some dedicated lanes into THAT plan. Why not?

    I do not believe that scooters will save San Antonio.

    I do not believe that $300,000+ condos 6 deep on what were once single family lots in our historic neighborhoods will save San Antonio.

    I do not believe that San Antonio is going “nowhere.” Are you kidding me? Calling BS on that one. For so many reasons.

    Finally, can we put that tired “sleepy Mexican village” crap away? I cringe every time someone says it. It’s just racist AF.

  26. SA doesn’t know what it wants to be, in my opinion. Pockets of the city are new and ritzy; the surrounding areas are structurally trapped in the late 70s and chock full of rundown strip malls, roads full of potholes, unsafe sidewalks, and poor housing conditions. I don’t know if extra bike lanes is the thing that will help solve the core problem of city leadership being stuck in the past. I’m a millenial who’s been trying for years to save up for a place of my own, but with the rising cost of living, job scarcity, and worsening traffic, I’m at a point where I just wanna get the heck out of here altogether.

  27. Enjoy your commentary’s, but, this one is off the mark. Downtown is not where the Other Population demographic of SA desires to live. What needs to occur is the current communities being built ( not City Center) need to incorporate multi transit neighborhood/city wide traffic solutions. This electric scooter/ pedestrian/ bicycle transit is small part of people movement. Please keep in mind the existing city plats. Finding/Funding Right of Way is too costly.

    • You are 100% correct, Bexar 2099. When will we begin to have serious discussions about this issue? Without a comprehensive transit program that is efficient and easy to use, people CAN’T get rid of their autos. Effective solutions are years out because the city lacks the political will to come up with a plan that everyone can get behind and vote to float bonds on. We should have done this at least 5 years ago, but we were busy talking about a streetcar route that was perceived as an expensive novelty at best, and traditional political back scratching at worst. Start somewhere that makes sense, say SAT to downtown with light rail, as a part of the update and expansion. It will be a success because it makes sense.

  28. San Antonio is a widely renowned historical place. How about we keep it that way? Yes improving is great, but instead of building, how about we revamp existing locations? San Antonio is already a perfect place to be. Don’t screw it up with fancy nonsense to be like everyone else. We are one of a kind, and I’m proud.

  29. What are kids educated in San Antonio equipped to do for work? Maybe work at the Pearl? You obviously love San Antonio but do you think that the city has really supported you to get ahead, or just exist? Why don’t we just hire all the local kids for the high paying jobs. Oh, right, our public schools are failing and continue to entrench a huge social and economic disadvantage.

  30. Hi Robert,
    Thanks for this article. I strongly agree with you, as a young, native San Antionan professional living near downtown. What advice do you have for individuals like myself who would like to take action on these issues.


  31. the defensive cringe of “the Pearl isn’t just a playground for the elite” is too funny man. yes it is lol. no one local stays in that $$$$$ hotel, the apartment rents are 2x the city average, restaraunts are pricy etc haha. talk about a blindspot, Bob.

    • no it isn’t
      i go there to watch the kids play in the fountain listen to live music for free
      throw a frisbee visit the twig and browse have a latte ride the trail hang out with the busker and his dijeree do chat with my buddy’s at the bike shop get back on broadway cruise down the boulevard or past the flying fish on the riverwalk
      oh yeah do yoga also interview people

  32. Improvements to Broadway are not being considered with the closure of Alamo Plaza and the improvements to Alamo at Hemisfair Patk are not coordinated to consider how South Town is linked to River North , through what will be a continuous knot of traffic.

    Now more than ever the city needs dedicated lanes for bike and scooter.
    In Fact , Area Real Estate is arguing for bike lanes on broadway to encourage alternate mobility access and improve retail access on the Broadway Corridor into River North.

    The city has been myopic in treating the downtown as just a destination,.
    Great downtowns link all neighboring communities and improve access in all ways …….welcoming all!

    Similarly our highways lacks HOV lanes which will become the means of encouraging shared vans and shared travel to downtown and to our city at large.

    There must be a clear and focused plan to unite our citizens through easy access , including future rail options serving beyond our city.

    But , you are right Bob.

    We need a plan that welcomes the transformative shift underway in mobility ….at all scales and all means of access .

  33. Thank you for keeping this conversation going RR. I sit on the planning committee for SATomorrow’s midtown regional center, or at least I did until a well organized group of outraged seniors lampooned our last meeting and put the process on hold indefinitely. There concerns: convenient parking and traffic congestion – even though we agreed in our early mission development that housing affordability and connectivity were top priorities. They effectively halted the planning process and redirected city resources to their own priveleged communities and (relatively) petty grievances. At 32, I believe I’m the youngest on the committee and it breaks my heart that the agenda is constantly redirected for the interests of a privileged few at the expense of our most vulnerable populations and our city’s future. Parking and traffic are important, sure. But PEOPLE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN CARS
    We have a housing affordability crisis on our hands right now!
    A large swath of people commute to work everyday without the benefit a car, right now!
    Alleged neighborhood leaders are robbing future generations right now!

    This is a much needed conversation indeed.
    Thanks again RR!

    • “They effectively halted the planning process and redirected city resources to their own priveleged (sic) communities and (relatively) petty grievances.”

      Max, your portrayal of concerned and engaged citizens is insulting at best. To suggest that their concern is about privilege and exclusionary of our most vulnerable populations couldn’t be more wrong. In your position, it smacks of disinformation.

      The SATomorrow plan is off to a great start. Let’s get it right. It is mostly there, and a few tweaks that have long been a part of the discussion are to be expected. It is far from a “derailing” event. Such hyperbole.

      Get out of your box and come have a conversation!

  34. I’ve lived in San Antonio since the 70’s left came back, left came back, left came back and always wondered what it was that attracted me to this place. One day I was at the Blue Hole, the headwaters of the San Antonio river, and a group of Native Americans were standing around the spring singing songs to Yanawana in their native language. Yanawana means ‘spirit waters’ or ‘peaceful waters’ and that day I learned that this place has been a sacred site and a pilgrimage destination for thousands of years. What we now call San Antonio came from those origins. What we now call Broadway Ave. was an ancient footpath between the headwaters (on the campus of UIW) and the rich alluvial valley which we now call downtown. Mother Nature herself was worshipped there in the form of that fountain spring shooting up from the ground (higher than a man on a horse according to one early Spanish chronicler) and nurturing all the different life forms, plants, animals, fish, birds, humans. From there the river flowed down forming a fertile alluvial valley joining with the San Pedro valley in the area that is now downtown. This was like a Garden of Eden for those early people, a forest and a valley and a gentle peaceful river and everything that they needed was provided for free and it was full of life – all different kinds of life.

    This is our heritage and as we endeavor to plan our future city it would be wise to remember where we came from or it’s going to be very difficult to figure out where we’re going. The Riverwalk and the Convention Center and the 26 million visitors a year are directly related to that heritage. Broadway Blvd. is the premier avenue of our fair city, it should be a cultural and economic mecca accommodating pedestrians, bicyclists, scooters, etc. not a transportation corridor full of cars. The same with our urban center. If we prioritize alternative transportation we will find ourselves in a livable, healthy, human friendly city that happens to be one of the most unique in the nation (if not the world). If we allow cars to dominate the landscape we’ll end up living in a place like Houston or Dallas. That would be a tragedy in my view and a disrespect to our 12,000 years of pre-history.

  35. I think articles like this are needed to push dialogues but let’s not put one generation against another. It’s important to listen to other perspectives from all ages…and that will help the community make better decision and move in a positive direction. ….Backstory: In the 1970’s, SA was BORING!!! LAME!!! SA lacked the market and critical mass for diverse foods, events, communities….and local investors who had a progressive vision. I remember when condos were seen as market failures because we didn’t know how to design them properly for LIVING in a mid/high rise….and because we didn’t know how design/build condos, the condo/urban market lagged in development even though there was a market for them…… …. Now, we have gotten better at these things. ……………. NOW: I think this article is about our city not lagging in terms of how we should develop inside Loop 410, and just importantly, to create ‘urban, walkable town centers’ outside the Loop—those communities need diversity too in terms of living choices (walk, transport, car, Single Family to Townhomes to Mid/High Rise Condos, etc). Overall, if we continue the discussion, we will get better at these thing too.

  36. The smart play was light rail. I10 corridor first, then prolly out to sea world. Let the tourists fund the rest. Instead, we got *(DURRR MUH TAXES)* , and are now stuck with the same turd sandwich as before. Bike lanes are not going to make a difference. There are just too many vehicles commuting everyday.

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