City Council unanimously voted Thursday to wait until August to consider amending the City’s land use categories as part of the implementation of the SA Tomorrow comprehensive plan.

The Council did, however, approve adopting the latest series of national and international building, fire, and electrical codes.

According to Council members Roberto Treviño (D1) and Rebecca Viagran (D3), many constituents in their respective districts are still not fully aware of the proposed land use changes and of how those revisions would affect their neighborhood plans.

Treviño and Viagran both serve on the Comprehensive Plan Committee. Viagran said Thursday that residents in several District 3 neighborhoods want more time to study the proposed land use changes.

Treviño echoed Viagran’s sentiment, adding that there appeared to be some conflicts between proposed Unified Development Code (UDC) revisions and neighborhood plans. Treviño recently had been stressing the importance of keeping older, urban core neighborhoods in the loop regarding the implementation of SA Tomorrow.

“We need a more robust discussion that includes neighborhoods and all interested stakeholders,” Treviño said.

“This is an important process. I hope that we can try to create a strategy to make sure that everybody feels comfortable. There [are] too many people not feeling comfortable with what we’re doing.”

Thursday’s Council vote also called for the Council’s Comprehensive Plan Committee to take another look at the proposals. The Committee is next scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. July 18 at the Municipal Plaza Building.

The entire document of draft revisions can be viewed here.

Collectively, the new and revamped categories are designed to reflect and cover the wider variety of development that is already happening or that the City hopes to spark in different parts of town through SA Tomorrow.

Existing descriptions for the categories of high-density residential, office, mixed-use, business/office park, and public/institutional are proposed for deletion from the UDC.

City officials previously have said the new and revised land use categories also could help streamline planning and zoning, which would benefit platting and rezoning applicants as well as the City commissions that those applicants would face.

While land use was tabled, the Council did approve the adoption of the 2018 issuance of the International Code Council’s building-related and fire codes, and of the 2017 National Electric Code.

Terry Burns, executive committee chair of the Alamo Sierra Club, applauded the City’s efforts to adopt many of the newest codes, but voiced concern the ICC’s building code only makes solar-ready residential construction optional, not required.

Burns said many other communities around Texas and throughout the nation are already requiring new residential construction to be able to accommodate solar power features. He encouraged San Antonio to make it a requirement in its code.

Burns added this is important in the larger effort to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. The City last year adopted the Paris climate change agreement. President Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the accord by November 2020.

“This is a terrible missed opportunity, which I urge you to correct,” Burns said. “Thousands of housing units have already been constructed since 2015 without include solar-ready features. We urge you to require that these be included.

“We must find ways to overcome the affordability issues that solar requirement might raise so we can expand solar infrastructure.”

Edmond Ortiz

Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.