Residents who wish to talk directly to San Antonio City Council during their public meetings in downtown San Antonio can now get their parking validated.

A pilot program, which launched earlier this month, provides an all-day validation for parking in City Tower Garage located less than a block away from City Hall and the Municipal Plaza building where meetings take place.

Validations are available for the 5 p.m. Wednesday public comment sessions and the 9 a.m Thursday “A Sessions” during which council votes on various items.

Attendees can sign up to speak and request a parking validation online or in person at the meeting location. Those who sign up in order to give their time to other speakers also qualify for validation.

The City Tower Garage, formerly Frost Bank, is located on the 100 block of North Main Avenue.

“The purpose of this pilot program is to determine whether offering parking assistance and/or free transit through VIA Metropolitan Transit would incentivize residents to participate in public comment sessions and engage with their city government,” Assistant City Manager Jeff Coyle told a Council committee last week.

City staff expedited the pilot program and extended it to include A Sessions at the request of the Community Health, Education, and Environment Committee.

During the first week of the pilot, 17 people requested parking validations and 10 used them.

The city has started spreading awareness of the new service through social media as well as conversations with neighborhood groups and council district offices, Coyle said, and will soon have signage up around the city complex to inform visitors.

The VIA transit pass system is still in development, he said. “VIA is working with our staff to fine-tune some of those details, but the expectation is that they’ll be able to launch that portion of the pilot later this month.”

The city will monitor the program for four months and come back to the council committee in April with an analysis.

The pilot program was formally suggested by Councilwoman Ana Sandoval (D7), who chairs the committee, but it was the “brainchild” of Councilman Mario Bravo (D1), she said.

Bravo suggested it to her office before he was elected.

“It’s really exciting to have an idea, take it to a council member, and then when you get into office, be able to see it come to fruition,” Bravo said.

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org