SANE Letter on District 1 IDZ and Multi-family CCRs sent to Council and Mayor

August 27, 2017

Roberto C. Trevino
P.O. Box 839966

San Antonio, Texas 78283


Dear Councilman Trevino:
San Antonio Neighborhoods for Everyone (SANE) is a coalition that supports building a city where all neighborhoods are welcome and open to everyone - young and old, rich and poor, renter and homeowner, healthy and frail, citizen and immigrant, migrant and lifelong resident.

We are writing regarding the priorities you have articulated through CCR’s in recent months. They seem to represent a narrow set of interests, and the way they contradict each other relays that they are not written based on principles or a coherent vision for the future. We want you to know that we will support you and stand by you if you choose to take a principled and coherent approach to development regulation and housing policy that actually reflects Council’s commitment to equity and inclusiveness. However these CCR’s appear random and reactive, and will lead us toward less equity.

Since April 2017, you have submitted two CCR’s (4/12/17 IDZ & 8/22/17 MF/RM Zones) that appear to lead the city towards limiting housing choice and housing affordability for future generations, and you have not led or signed onto any CCR bringing the Housing Commission’s Affordable Housing Policy Recommendations to consideration by the Council. Why does your agenda appear to be focused on helping existing homeowners achieve the most predictable and profitable returns on their home investments, while allowing affordable housing policy recommendations to languish?

The IDZ CCR states that the designation allows for too much guesswork and does not encourage developers to design for community compatibility, and the density increase, lack of parking and visual concern ‘stresses neighborhoods’. What stresses neighborhoods is lack of density and diverse housing types, too much parking, and setbacks that value parking over walkability. On the other hand, the MF33/RM4 CCR states that the development review processes in these base zones does not come with the “benefits” provided by the process required for IDZ rezoning. So which is the problem, too much
discretion, or not enough?

The IDZ was introduced in order to help inner-city areas compete with areas on the fringe of our city that are less expensive for developers to build on, but cost the city much more to service. The IDZ is directed at buildings and sites that are vacant and underutilized by the current development community. The IDZ has helped much in this regard. If anything, the IDZ has not gone far enough. We are in support of the IDZ review, if the goal is to expand its reach even further, reducing the costs of dense, walkable infill development to expand affordability in the face of our rapid population growth.

The UDC’s stated purpose for RM 4 begins: These districts provide areas for medium to high-density residential uses where adequate public facilities and services exist with capacity to serve development…In any case, the fundamental purpose of RM-4 and MF-33 zones is to allow more housing for more people to live in, and to designate places where it can be built without being subjected to discretionary (costly) approval processes.

We urge you to consider how changes to the IDZ, MF-33, and RM-4 standards and approval processes will increase the cost of housing construction, limiting affordability, diversity and inclusion over the longterm Housing is where people live and will live for generations. Why do your priorities focus on limiting its construction and density? Changes to the IDZ could also provide tools for a vocal minority of neighborhood residents to kill projects they don’t like based on personal bias, projects that would benefit our inner-city neighborhoods and city as a whole.

We ask you to broaden your agenda to fight for income desegregation and mixed-income housing in all neighborhoods of the city, and instead of mostly catering to voting homeowners that tend to have the time and resources to demand attention, be proactive to learn from and build relationships with marginalized communities that may be affected by these policy changes. Given the priorities you have articulated through these CCR’s, your and your Council colleagues recent statements about elevating equity in City policy seem insincere.

Public debate and council consideration of community issues is part of healthy local democracies. As you request council’s consideration of IDZ, MF-33, and RM-4 zoning issues brought forward by the homeowning constituents, please expand the discussion by successfully championing a CCR for Council to consider the Housing Commission’s Affordable Housing Policy Recommendations.

Thank you for considering our concerns.