Tier 1 - WE DID IT!

What exactly has Tier 1 done? (see email from Tier 1 below)

Currently the first round of sub area plans for the SA Tomorrow planning process are taking place to assist in planning for the future with 1 million more people. Despite this, they’ve kept their 20-30 year old neighborhood plans alive (Monte Vista’s plan is 30 years old!). Plans that have very general land use plans that do not correlate with any zoning policy, and do not connect land use to transit, walkability, or neighborhood connectivity. They kept alive neighborhood plans that work in isolation from each other – there isn’t any comprehensiveness about the plans. Most of the plans call for the downzone of duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes back to single family residences – so tier 1 is cheering to keep exclusionary zoning practices alive. Many of the plans get way off topic of issues related to planning…i.e. discussing policies on stray dogs and park programming, these are not appropriate for community plans. None of the neighborhood plans are aware of the reality of population growth or aware of the market forces at play with development of the city.

SANE is not sure why they are celebrating. These neighborhood plans should be washed away with new plans that consider population growth, land use connection to transit and walkability, housing affordability, integration of diverse groups of people in all neighborhoods, diverse housing choices, and promotion of inclusionary land use and zoning practices from the 21st Century.

--------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Cynthia Spielman <cspielmanbhana@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, May 17, 2018, 2:40 AM
Subject: WE DID IT!
To: Tier One Neighborhood Coalition <t1nc.sat@gmail.com>


We’ve done it together!

 Because of our voices that insisted on the inclusion of our neighborhood plans into the SA Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan it has happened. After all of our hard work and commitment, our plans will be intact as promised. This is a moment to be proud of! Congratulations Tier One Neighborhoods for speaking out!

Councilman Roberto Trevino deserves our thanks in insisting that our voices be heard by the City and that our neighborhoods be protected.  Please send him a thanks and perhaps copy your own councilperson. I am attaching the addresses below. 

It is important to remember that this "change" in process is really only a reflection of promises that were made all along to neighborhoods and all that neighborhoods were asking for - respect for the work that was done on the neighborhood plans by residents of those neighborhoods and consistent with the language in the original ordinances that neighborhood plans would be periodically reviewed and updated. 

This change will actually improve the process of the sub-area planning as most of the neighborhood plans already provide the information that the Planning Dept has said it is seeking through the planning process while greatly improving the relationship between neighborhoods and the Planning Dept.

We would encourage neighborhoods to prepare for their role now that they are being given the opportunity to review and update their plans. We’ve attached some suggestions on how neighborhoods can best prepare. 

Congratulations Tier One!


Roberto.Trevino@sanantonio.gov,      Council.District1@sanantonio.gov,

cruz.shaw@sanantonio.gov,      Council.District2@sanantonio.gov,

rebecca.viagran@sanantonio.gov,     Council.District3@sanantonio.gov,

Rey.Saldana@sanantonio.gov,           Council.District4@sanantonio.gov,

Shirley.Gonzales@sanantonio.gov,    Council.District5@sanantonio.gov,

Greg.Brockhouse@sanantonio.gov,   Council.District6@sanantonio.gov,

Ana.Sandoval@sanantonio.gov,         Council.District7@sanantonio.gov,

Manny.Pelaez@sanantonio.gov,        Council.District8@sanantonio.gov,

 John.Courage@sanantonio.gov,        Council.District9@sanantonio.gov,

Clayton.Perry@sanantonio.gov,         Council.District10@sanantonio.gov


Ron.Nirenberg@sanantonio.gov,       Mayor.ronnirenberg@sanantonio.gov

Green Building Isn't Enough, We Need Green Zoning

"Given that we know single-family zoning is a root cause of two major crises - affordability and climate - its staying power says a lot about human nature." Dan Bertolet of Sightline

Did you know that most San Antonio neighborhood plans done almost two decades ago call for the conversion of duplexes, triplexes and four plexes in neighborhoods back to SF homes? This promotes segregation, displacement, and sprawl, is exclusionary and is bad for the environment. 

Green building isn't enough; we need green zoning.

How can cities that have green building codes have zoning bylaws that protect low-density single family housing? These days it seems that everyone is fighting over zoning. Housing costs in many cities are unaffordable but the great proportion of the cities are locked into single-family zoning and building anything but a detached house seems almost impossible.

Supply and demand of housing

Anyone that has taken economics 101 knows that when you increase the supply of some good that the price of that good will fall. But many fail to see this connection with housing. 

Over the last year, we have seen the supply increase in Boston, Washington DC, and Seattle reduce the rents in these cities. Well, this is recently true in Portland, OR, as well..

The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis (Oregon.gov) writes:

"The continued supply of new apartments is beginning to result in a rising vacancy rate, and the flattening of rents. In fact 7 of the 20 submarkets covered in the report saw rents decline. For renters and the overall economy, this is a welcome respite from the affordability problems in the past decade."

Integration Now, Integration Forever - NYT Article, Neighborhood Integration

"A renewed integration agenda would mean building public housing in low poverty areas, eliminating exclusionary zoning laws, and yes, accepting gentrification (a recent U.C.L.A. study finds that gentrification is increasing diversity in District of Columbia public schools). Then schools could be integrated through the back door by using socioeconomic status as a factor in student assignment."

San Antonio has a long way to go with integration of neighborhoods. Exclusionary zoning, in the form of single family zoning, is prevalent in higher opportunity and higher income neighborhoods, reducing the ability for multi-family housing, which is where most younger, lower income families get started. When neighborhoods are faced with an affordable, multi-family development, they often come out in strong opposition. This was apparent with a recently proposed mixed-income development in Highland Park. One resident stated "a “mixed-income” project will move poverty into the area...[it is an] effort to help the neighborhood is just political correctness...the project will bring more property and violent crime to the neighborhood while decreasing quality of life and property values." This is a common sentiment in many San Antonio neighborhoods, and one that is rather discriminatory and promotes the income segregation that we see. Highland Park is seeing rising property and home values, which makes it the perfect location to build more affordable units, reducing the risk of displacement for lower income residents.

Opinion | Integration Now, Integration Forever

If you had pulled somebody aside in the mid 1970s and asked him to predict how racially integrated America would be in 2018, he would probably have said: pretty integrated. American schools were integrating very quickly back then. The subject of racial integration was on everybody's tongue.

Anti-Developer Sentiment Drives Anti-Development Sentiment

Survey: Anti-Developer Sentiment Drives Anti-Development Sentiment

New research from Paavo Monkeonen and Michael Manville at the University of California, Los Angeles shed light on the nature of community opposition to proposed developments. That kind of insight is valuable to anyone who tasked with listening and responding to the concerns of members of the public, like planners, or have a critical project to deliver through the approvals process, like planners.

"Their findings complicate simple stories of NIMBYism, often emphasizing the negative externalities of new housing. When residents oppose new housing because they believe it will congest their streets, they are acting in their own self-interest: working to prevent their own loss. When residents oppose new development because a developer might earn a large profit, they are opposing someone else’s gain. This action suggests a separate dimension of NIMBYism, centered less on risk aversion and more on enforcing community norms of fairness. The power of these norms, furthermore, might help explain the popularity of regulations like linkage fees, exactions or inclusionary zoning ordinances. These policies are increasingly common, but estimates of their efficacy are at best mixed. These programs impose certain costs on developers, but deliver uncertain benefits to their intended targets. If residents derive satisfaction from seeing developers punished, however, the persistence of these programs in the face of ambiguous evidence about their efficacy becomes less mysterious."

Suburbanization of Poverty in San Antonio...Housing + Transportation Costs

Peter French (@pfrench99), a local San Antonio housing developer that focuses on increasing middle housing in inner urban areas of the city, recently pointed out the suburbanization of poverty when considering Housing plus Transportation costs, H + T index. When you combine the costs of housing and transportation as a percentage of income, San Antonio is less affordable than other large cities, such as San Francisco and Washington DC. With the average household spending close to 50% of their income on housing and transportation.

Housing is considered affordable if it doesn’t exceed 30% of a household’s income. CNT adds that transportation plus housing should consume no more than 45% of a household income. The average Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) for households in San Antonio is about 20,200, compared to 10,300 in San Francisco, and 12,300 in Washington DC.

From the fact sheets provided by CNT related to access to jobs, transit performance score and compact neighborhoods, San Antonio scores quite low compared to other large cities. Scoring an average of 5 out of 10. (Washington DC scores an average of 9 out of 10)


 CNT analysis of H + T for San Antonio

CNT analysis of H + T for San Antonio

 CNT analysis H + T for San Francisco

CNT analysis H + T for San Francisco

 CNT analysis H + T Washington DC

CNT analysis H + T Washington DC

Walkable cities reduce blood pressure and hypertension risk, study finds

We already know that the walkability of a city can influence public health outcomes. This is another study showing the scientific connection between walkable places and improved health outcomes.

San Antonio has a long way to go before it is walkable, and there seems to be lacking knowledge among policy makers, city staff and council on how to create walkable built environments. It takes much more than just sidewalks and crosswalks. We need density, proximity of amenities, less priority on cars, reduced traffic speeds, road diets, and much more!

 San Antonio #32 for Walkscore for Texas cities.

San Antonio #32 for Walkscore for Texas cities.

Walkable cities reduce blood pressure and hypertension risk, study finds

The largest-ever study of the link between city walkability and blood pressure has been held up as evidence of the "intangible value of urban design" in improving long-term health outcomes, say researchers.

What happens when you ease parking requirements for new housing

This article is relevant for San Antonio as the IDZ Task Force and Council will soon make a decision on whether or not to require parking with IDZ zoning. Parking waivers incentivize more housing units, better infill development, and more walkable places. Reduced parkign requirements also make units more affordable.

Back in mid-2015, Minneapolis changed its zoning code to allow residential projects near transit to be built with less off-street parking. Before the change, housing projects outside of downtown and the University district required one parking space for each housing unit. After the change, projects near transit with 50 or fewer units had their parking requirement reduced to zero, and projects with more than 50 units had it cut in half to one parking space for every two units. 

The results over the years - as the parking spaces were reduced, the number of housing units built increased. Housing developments with more parking (surface or underground) were more pricey than housing developments with reduced parking.

What Happens When You Ease Parking Requirements for New Housing

These projects had a similar formula. They were large, at least half a block with hundreds of units in each. They also had lots of parking spaces in extensive structured ramps, with a couple notably ugly parking podiums in downtown towers, and lots of excavation for underground ramps outside of downtown.

Could a Housing Bill Fight Segregation in San Francisco?

The article highlights how low-density zoning reinforces long-standing housing segregation and exacerbates displacement and income inequality, and hampers economic growth.

After the Fair Housing Act did away with redlining and deed restrictions, cities began implementing low-density zoning to ensure certain families could not afford or have access to their communities. Red lining was replaced by land use regulations mandating single-family homes, minimum setbacks, minimum lot sizes, and parking requirements. Low density zoning was created for the purpose of exclusion. This is apparent in San Antonio where much of our higher opportunity neighborhoods are zoned single family and exclude and segregate.

"SB 827 [introduced in California] would help people of all income levels to be able live near transit. It promotes racial justice by preempting low-density “snob” zoning in wealthy suburbs with strong transit access.

It would also help ease the disproportionate burden for building currently on low-income POC communities by encouraging multi-unit construction in low-density wealthy white neighborhoods. Zoning for density makes building new homes in place of single-family homes more cost-effective replacing existing apartments."

Could a Housing Bill Fight Segregation in San Francisco?

Senator Scott Wiener recently announced Senate Bill 827, which would enable denser housing construction around major transit stations and frequently used bus stops. Most California communities limit the number of Californians who can live near public transportation through low-density zoning. SB 827 is a major blow to low-density zoning, which

$200,000 is the New Affordable [for San Antonio]

A recent San Antonio Biz Journal highlights the 2017 year of real estate for San Antonio after the real estate community gathered to assess how 2017 went and 2018 outlooks.

Based on data and research, speakers prominent in the housing community and economy brought up the shortage of housing inventory and under supply and how it is negatively impacting home prices. Experts expressed that San Antonio needs more housing, particularly apartments. Single family homes built have risen steeply but they haven't been able to keep up with growth and the supply of housing necessary for all groups of people. Most housing expansion has occurred in San Antonio's far west side (past 410).

The article also highlights that income growth has not kept up with housing prices, so housing is becoming less affordable.

This is not news to Yes in My Back Yard Advocates or the National Association of Realtors - both groups know there is a housing under supply crisis nationally. The biggest surge of housing has been single-family homes, mostly because zoning regulations in huge swaths of cities outlaw multi-family housing (exclusionary zoning through single family zoning regulations). We cannot build our way out of the crisis with single-family housing. Many people cannot afford or are not ready for home ownership. Many young people or new families do not want to be tied down to a home.

We need to build way more apartments in inner urban areas and more middle housing (duplexes, townhomes, triplexes to six plexes) throughout neighborhoods. This is how we will solve the housing shortage and stabilize home values so they do not rise so quickly and disproportionately, ultimately leading to more displacement and segregation. To incorporate fair housing values and inclusiveness, we also need to do away with single-family zoning, if the market warrants it, it will still be built! We need to not allow NIMBY's to oppose and prevent new new multi-family housing from being built. Homeowners cannot be allowed to dictate everything that happens in a neighborhood or city.





Inclusionary Zoning: The Most Promising-or Counter-productive-of All Housing Policies

Imagine two towns, both committed to helping their low-income residents but short on funding for social services. Both decide to require retailers to sell 5 or 10 percent of their wares at steeply discounted prices to families who qualify for benefits: milk, jeans, refrigerators, whatever. But they do it two different ways.

This article provides a great explanation on why developers can not just "eat the costs" of inclusionary zoning, if there are no incentives provided. Neighborhoods and residents believe that developers are greedy and making so much money on housing. But the reality is there is a risk-reward ratio for housing developers where the risk becomes much greater with mandated inclusionary zoning. If done correctly, inclusionary zoning can help integrate neighborhoods by class and race and improve the ability for lower income households to live in high opportunity neighborhoods (this helps them prosper and build wealth). If the policy is put together poorly, inclusionary zoning can inflate home/rent prices because developers will build fewer housing units due to costs and risk. SANE hopes Mayor Ron Nirenberg's housing task force gets this policy recommendation right.

How ‘Not in My Backyard’ Became ‘Not in My Neighborhood’

How 'Not in My Backyard' Became 'Not in My Neighborhood'

In Seattle, the neighbors don't want apartments for formerly homeless seniors nearby. In Los Angeles, they don't want more high-rises. In San Jose, Calif., they don't want tiny homes. In Phoenix, they don't want design that's not midcentury modern.


An important question is who does get to speak for the community as a whole and decide what does and doesn't go into a neighborhood? Currently in San Antonio (and most other cities), homeowners, middle to upper middle class older adults, and people with time to attend meetings dictate decisions on what is and isn't allowed in a neighborhood. If we are planning and making decisions for the future and future residents, shouldn't we be engaging younger people? Shouldn't we be engaging renters that have just as much stake in the future of their community? Shouldn't we be engaging lower income residents that often don't have access to neighborhoods with rich amenities?

Why millennials are facing the scariest financial future of any generation since the Great Depression.


The section of the article on housing is brilliant (half way through article).

Generation Screwed

WHOA! Like everyone in my generation, I am finding it increasingly difficult not to be scared about the future and angry about the past. I am 35 years old-the oldest millennial, the first millennial-and for a decade now, I've been waiting for adulthood to kick in.

"for homeowners there is no such thing as a housing crisis; Because when property values go up, so does their net worth. They have every reason to block new construction. And they do that by weaponizing environmental regulations and historical preservation rules. They force buildings to be shorter so they don’t cast shadows. They demand two parking spaces for every single unit. They complain that a new apartment building will destroy “neighborhood character” when the structure it’s replacing is… a parking garage. (True story.)"

"All this extra hassle means construction takes longer and costs more. Which means that the only way most developers can make a profit is to build luxury condos. So that’s why cities are so unaffordable. The entire system is structured to produce expensive housing when we desperately need the opposite."

Supply Skepticism: Housing Supply and Affordability

By Vicki Been, Ingrid Gould Ellen, Katherine O’Regan

NYU Furman Center, NYU Wagner School and NYU School of Law



The arguments skeptics advance in opposing increases in the supply of housing are inconsistent with the evidence, and if successful in defeating most proposals for additional housing, are likely to result in significant harms. They do, however, underscore the need for some governmental intervention in housing markets to require or incentivize a balanced approach to new development.

A considerable body of research shows that additions to supply are critical to moderate price increases, allow workers to move to areas with growing job opportunities, and help subsidy dollars serve more low- income families.

Broader effects of limiting housing supply, including market rate housing:

1. Restricting supply imposes environmental and other costs related to auto mobile dependence - sprawl, auto dependence, poor air quality, increase greenhouse gas emissions

2. Restricting supply exacerbates income and racial/ethnic segregation - there is evidence that shows a connection between land use restrictions and segregation.

3. Restricting supply reduces economic productivity and increase inequality -

Supply restrictions that prevent people or businesses from locating in the neighborhood they prefer can result in lower productivity and deadweight losses; there is strong evidence that businesses thrive and workers are more productive when tehy are located in large, dense cities with lots of diverse economic activity. Constraints on housing supply in a city inihibit the growth and diversity that is essential to productivity.

Further, to the extent that land use regulations restrict the supply of housing and raise prices, they make it more difficult for workers to move to the cities with more productive businesses.

Want to reduce the energy used by buildings? Make cities denser.

Want to reduce the energy used by buildings? Make cities denser.

For many years, urbanists have been singing the praises of urban density. Done well, density can increase economic output, increase per capita productivity, increase disposable income (by reducing heating, cooling, and transportation costs), and improve physical and mental health. Compact, walkable cities - or walkable areas within cities - are delightful.

Density is a critical tool to reduce energy usage and combat climate change. Urbanists and environmentalists should be working together on development of cities and density. The study also highlights why one cannot be and environmentalist and anti-density at the same time - they are contrary to each other.  

"Density gets you slightly more reduction in building energy use than efficiency does, if you do it right.

If you do both, you get the best result:

For the high urban density and advanced efficiency scenario combination, the annual building energy use for heating and cooling first plateaus around 2030 and then decreases after 2040, settling just below 45 [exajoules] in 2050."

These 6 Cities Are Smarter Than Portland About Housing

These 6 Cities Are Smarter Than Portland About Housing

In Portland, housing costs are like the weather: Everybody complains, but nobody does anything about it. Nearly a year ago, Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly entered City Hall on platforms promising to tackle Portland's affordable housing shortage. Soon, the City Council will wade into its latest plan.

Montreal is a great example of how cities can have low to mid density throughout all neighborhoods to increase affordability for everyone. The city is the second most populated in Canada yet all neighborhoods remain diverse by race and income. San Antonio could learn from Montreal with policy on housing and development. 

"Montreal is a city of low-rise apartment buildings. They're much cheaper to build than high-rise apartments. You can build it fast, and you can build it cheap."

Montreal is now the second-most densely populated large city in Canada. And average monthly rent last year in the city of Montreal was $658 U.S., according to the latest Canadian census data."

The Great American Single-Family Home Problem - NYT Article

The Great American Single-Family Home Problem

Even with a flurry of legislation, economists are skeptical that California can dent home prices anytime soon. Housing takes years to build. And five of the new housing bills included a union-backed measure that requires developers to pay prevailing wages on certain projects, something that critics say will increase the cost of construction.

If we really want to keep up with growth and housing demand, we need to build more housing in single-family neighborhoods; otherwise most of the single-family neighborhoods will out of reach for most. 

We need duplexes, triplexes and smaller apartment buildings to be built in all neighborhoods throughout San Antonio. These are the type of homes where many younger families get their start, and enough of them are not being built. 

One of the comments in the comments section of the article:

"Cloudy - Glad to see the article featured a planning debate in Berkeley, aka the People’s Republic of Berkeley, where the Christmas decorations on Telegraph Avenue used to include a banner with a tinsel hammer and sickle. But the dirty little secret being hidden here is racism disguised as environmentalism. Liberals will talk your ear off about equality, about how much they gave to Hillary Clinton, on and on, until you start talking about housing density. Which they are all for. They love Jane Jacobs. They want to see dense housing. In San Francisco, or Oakland. Or even better, Los Angeles. But change the large lot zoning in the hills? Or even the single family zoning in the flats? Oh, hahaha, that’s a completely different matter. Why, if you were to tear down these bungalows (mostly interwar and not architecturally notable) and build apartments, you KNOW what kind of people would move in, don’t you? They SAY it will be for college students and seniors, but we all know the truth, don’t we, nudge nudge wink wink? But of course that is never openly stated. It’s all the environment. Why, people would drive cars! (just like the white residents do) And there would be smelly noisy public transit. And it would all lead to global warming. Or climate change. Or felling redwoods, or something. Not racism at all. Of Course. Not."

My Seattle experience changed how I thought about prioritizing building density.

Anonymous SANE member blog post.

November 17, 2017

I have lived in Seattle off and on for most of my life, beginning in the late 70s. I've seen it change, I've voted for the mass transit fixes that never get done (until it became a crisis), and I've seen the older homes in single family neighborhoods be bought, torn down and committed to denser uses.

Admittedly, this is very jarring for someone who has nostalgia for the way things were. The last time I lived there, I wasn't sure how I felt about seeing the single-family homes taken down and replaced. At the same time, I was being pinched by rising rent and home prices, because there was an insufficient supply of housing to meet the demand.

Most of the dramatic changes in neighborhoods happened in the areas that were traditionally working class and communities of color. The most effective opposition to density came from the high income "decent people" who lived in the nicest neighborhoods. They were always the loudest to object to mass transit coming through their neighborhoods. They were always loudest to object to rezoning (upzoning). They always had some excuse. At the end of the day, they were the ones who ended up benefiting the most, because their property values skyrocketed, and they got to keep their views of the water and the mountains and downtown, etc. Meanwhile, the rest of the real estate is being sold to the highest bidder, whether or not it is really even a habitable home. The main problem with anti-gentrification advocacy is that it fails to address the problem of property owners selling the property at an inflated value. Once someone is willing to pay $300,000 for a shack, there is nothing that you can do to prevent the rest of the properties around it from being sold for that same price or more.

That is what really bothers me about what I see here. The City of San Antonio is trying its best to responsibly plan for population growth. The city planners can see what is coming 20 years down the line. Some homeowners want to keep things the way they are (for myriad reasons), even if it means preventing the recycling of land for better uses. Sometimes this means defending the continued existence of substandard housing, claiming that it is at least affordable housing. This is just crazy. They are actually creating gentrification by doing that, not preventing it. 

I feel that there are good intentioned people who believe that "saving their neighborhood" will actually preserve the area the way that they remember it. But this is a pipe dream. Once someone will pay $300,000 for a 3/2 that is falling apart in Beacon Hill, no one is going to accept less. If you have lived there for 40 years, nothing will prevent the city from raising your taxes. The only way to stabilize prices is to make many, many more units of housing available. Then there will be enough housing to satisfy demand.

On the other hand, there are people with other agendas - mainly their own greed. They bought in these neighborhoods when they were dirt-cheap. Some fixed up their homes, others just let them be. Both groups will see a huge increase in their property values without them having had to make any investment or effort to merit their profit. Do they want to have to compete at resale time with a new housing unit? No. They want to keep new housing out, so that they can sell high without having to lift a finger to actually improve their own property. 

I've seen this happen before, and it is sad. Should I really care? As a homeowner who bought relatively recently - no, it is against my economic interest to keep housing prices low - I should try and maximize my own profit. But this attitude negatively affects the rest of the community, especially the young families who are looking to buy homes closer to downtown.

The HBO miniseries "Show Me a Hero” exactly describes this attitude and the fear that it generates among the "decent folk" of a middle class community.


Who has voting power in San Antonio?

Who Votes For Mayor? | San Antonio

New York City Oklahoma City Palm Beach County Zone 4 Palm Beach County Zone 6 Philadelphia Phoenix Portland San Antonio San Diego San Francisco San Jose Seattle St. Paul State College Tallahassee Washington, DC Wichita

Who turns out to vote and who has voting power in the City of San Antonio translates into who turns out to neighborhood associations and has power in the decision-making around neighborhoods and growth. There is a stark under-representation of the 18-34 year old age group.

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