The City of San Antonio (COSA) unveiled the Westside Community Area Plan which covers neighborhoods Avenida Guadalupe, Collins Garden, Prospect Hill, San Juan Gardens, and West End Hope in Actionlast week at a series of open house meetings held at the Maestro Entrepreneur Center on S. Laredo Street. The plan, which includes a focus on protecting neighborhoods and encouraging growth and development on the Westside,is meant to help to guide future growth and developmentthroughpositive community investment, updated accessible infrastructure and environment and thecelebration and protection of the culture, history and resources of the Westside.
COSA sent 45,000 English and Spanish mailers direct to residents on the Westsideto invite them to weigh in on future growth of the area.Approximately 120 community members and stakeholders partook at the community open houses, where planners were available for questions and input for a total of 12 hours over three days, according to COSA Planning Administrator Chris Reyerson. Attendees were invited to “walk through” a series of detailed maps highlighting transportation and mobility, current and future land use, community amenities, natural systems, public investments, and opportunity zone areas (a tax incentive program designed to encourage long-term investment in low-income communities).
Comment cards and Post-It notes were available for attendees to leave observations on and will be consolidated and reviewed by the planning team. Graciela Sanchez, director of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center a community-based cultural arts/social justice organization weighed in, sharing that she “really felt facilitators listened and reflected back Community voices. However, OZs (opportunity zones) are so unknown and seem to have little if any oversight and (I’m) concerned that strategic plan will be ignored. The City has to ensure that all of our work is honored and respected and not a waste of our time and even more importantly, don’t destroy the cultural fabric of our working-class community.”
“Many concerns were expressed about mobility, transportation, and access issues related to missing or poor-quality sidewalks, desiring better bus stops and shelters, and neighborhoods that still need proper curbs and drainage. Other prevalent themes included concerns about development and housing, including how the area is changing and the potential for displacement of long-term residents, how to proactively deal with vacant lots and abandoned structures, and needing more robust education about and funding for home rehabilitation programs. For the first time during this process we also received a number of comments about food deserts and food security concerns on the Westside,” said Reyerson.COSA is expecting more to submit comments over the phone or online about how to best protect the culture and character of the historically Mexican American neighborhoods, promote economic opportunities and improve overall quality of life for the area.
“For being one of the oldest communities in San Antonio, the Westside has not had a comprehensive land use map for the future (and) there is an appetite for much more detailed land use throughout City of San Antonio,” says COSA Planning Assistant Director Rudy Niño. COSA continues to urge community members, business owners and all stakeholders to “participate, be engaged so it (the plan) really reflects the community. Engagement and participation is important,” says Niño.
For more information on the Westside Community Area Plan, please visit https://westside.sacompplan.com/or contact Iris F. González, Special Projects Manager with the COSA Planning Department at 210-207-5454 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.