As the $596 million 2012 Municipal Bond comes to a close on time and on budget, citizens and City leaders in San Antonio have already begun scoping out projects for the record-breaking $850 million 2017 Municipal Bond. As usual, the bulk of capital investments will be in basic infrastructure, but new this year is an almost $20 million affordable housing bond – a kind of pilot program that City officials hope will help revitalize “distressed” neighborhoods and properties across the city.
The unprecedented $850 million will now be divvied up into five categories for Council-appointed committees – and the public – to weigh in on before the list of projects goes before City Council for approval in January 2017 and ultimately voter approval in May. Those categories/committees are: Streets, Bridges & Sidewalks, Drainage & Flood Control, Parks, Recreation & Open Space, Facility Improvements, and Neighborhood Improvements. The latter includes the housing bond.
Each committee will have five meetings, which are open to the public and will include opportunities for citizens to speak directly to committee members, over the next three months. With the exception of the Facility Improvements Committee meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4, all meetings will run from 6-8 p.m. Click here to view the full schedule.
Discussion of the next five-year bond intensified after City Council approved the three-pronged SA Tomorrow comprehensive master plan, and a 2017 fiscal year budget that reinforces the plan’s goals and priorities for growth and development while funding plan implementation. The bond, too, will be a direct reflection of the goals and priorities of SA Tomorrow, Transportation and Capital Improvements Director Mike Frisbie told City Council during a project list briefing on Wednesday.
“Every project in the bond has to do with SA Tomorrow,” Frisbie said. “Every single project.”
From the $250,000 for Harlandale Park in District 3 to the $43 million for the emerging Broadway corridor in Districts 1 and 2, which is expected to have citywide benefits, the bond follows a “rough proportionality” across each district, he said.
But this list is far from final. Now it’s the community’s turn to have its say, Mayor Ivy Taylor said.
“This is a community-driven process,” Taylor said, “but it has to start somewhere.”
Most Council member questions had to do with the housing bond as it is the newest and most complicated element of this bond cycle. Technically, by order of the City Charter, the City can’t use bond money for housing. Instead, it has to distribute funding for projects through its urban renewal agency, the Office of Urban Redevelopment San Antonio (OUR SA). In order to do that, it must first develop and approve an “urban renewal plan.”
City staff recommended 12 neighborhood investment areas which are subject to committee, community, and Council edits.
This Friday, the second annual Mayor’s Housing Summit will take place at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, and City officials are expecting a packed house with 350 participants. A wait list for registration has begun to form here.
Top image: Mayor Ivy Taylor. Photo by Scott Ball.