The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city and region by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.

Encino Park will always remind me of what a great childhood I had. My mom was a stay-at-home mom to me and my younger sister, and the three of us were always out and about in the neighborhood and venturing to other parts of the city, taking advantage of activities at the museums and public libraries.

My family has lived in this neighborhood since 1996, and I remember when U.S. Highway 281 was just two lanes going north and two going south. There used to be a small H-E-B at 281 North and Evans Road where my sister and I would flip through Archie comics while our mom did the grocery shopping. We’ve since gotten a larger H-E-B on the other side of 281 and the building where the small H-E-B once was now houses an immigration services office and a Planet Fitness. The Whataburger on Evans Road that was the hangout spot after high school football games is still there.

Development in recent years is bringing more people to Encino Park and more apartments. I think it’s great to have more options for people at different income levels to enjoy this neighborhood and its schools. I know I’m grateful for the education I received at Reagan and Johnson high schools and know families who moved into apartments in the area just for the schools.

Alyssa Arredondo lives in Encino Park with her mother and two dogs. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

The addition of the Encino Library was a game-changer for our community. When I was in school, my mom had to take us to the Thousand Oaks Library or the downtown library. Now kids have this great resource right in their community.

I’m also happy to see the neighborhood becoming more diverse. We now have an established Muslim population served by the Northside Islamic Center of San Antonio. The Islamic center recently purchased a 7-acre property adjacent to its current location where it plans to build a masjid and school.

As far as places to eat, we’ve seen a lot more chain restaurants open up in the area, and I’m hoping to see more small businesses soon. One local spot that I love is Coffee Crush. Their delicious coffee and pastries draw crowds despite being located near both a Starbucks and a Dunkin’ Donuts.

Alyssa Arredondo enjoys going for walks with her two dogs, Bentley (left) and Troy, through Encino Park. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

My mom is a big walker, so you’re likely to run into her on her daily walks around the neighborhood. I’ll often join her to walk my dogs, and some of my favorite memories are of us walking together and watching the neighborhood change. As it changed, we got a lot of new neighbors. Our wonderful next-door neighbors have been here since around 2006 and we’ve grown close with them, looking out for each other and bringing each other souvenirs from our travels.

Though I haven’t seen it in quite some time, one event I always looked forward to as a kid was our neighborhood Fourth of July parade. My sister and I would decorate our little red wagon and parade down the neighborhood streets, one year with our pet guinea pig. Now that we’re seeing more young families move in, I hope to see some traditions return or perhaps start new traditions that will help make this neighborhood as special for the kids growing up here as it was for me and my sister.