Monday, November 23, 2009

Maybe we should revisit this idea.

Back in 2007, Carlos Guerra wrote about a "Lesser San Antonio Chamber of Commerce." I almost never agree with him, but this time I did--and do. He seems to have lost the thread, but he was right.

From that column:

What we're seeing isn't unlike Seattle's experience during the 1980s and 1990s, when Californians by the hundreds of thousands fell in love with its friendliness and charm — and moved there.

It prompted Seattle columnist (for three newspapers) Emmett Watson to name himself "press secretary" of the "Lesser Seattle Chamber of Commerce," an organization he founded to spread lies about Seattle, such as: "Seattle is Indian for 'Stay away from here,' and, 'It always rains here,'" so that his beautiful city wouldn't be "Californicated."

Alarmed by the destruction now visited by the rapid migration to our city — almost all of from legal aliens from the United States — I am forming the Lesser San Antonio Chamber of Commerce to counter the mindless growth long advocated by another organization of vacuous boosters that I will not dignify by naming

As the self-appointed executive vice president for communications of Lesser San Antonio, I am also asking that you send me true stories — or halfway believable lies — that we can spread about our city to discourage people from moving here.

For starters, I am e-mailing all my out-of-state friends the following: "Well, it's April now. Only a week left before the 100-plus-degree days start, and a month before the 100-plus-degree-plus nights begin!"

Please do your part before we are all overrun.

What brought this to mind more than two years later? This article in today's Express-News:

City South criticized for lack of growth

For the first time, we try to grow this city intelligently, and people piss and moan.

What really gets me is this part:

The organizers also have aligned themselves with Ernest and Jesús Chacon, brothers and landowners who with several others are embroiled in a federal lawsuit with the city to recover the value they believe they've lost because of a three-mile buffer zone established around Toyota. The city's original agreement with Toyota includes a nonbinding provision in which city officials essentially pledged to discourage residential development within the zone, deemed non-compatible with heavy manufacturing.

The emphasis, of course, is mine. I can't see a restriction on residential development around a truck factory as anything but a good idea. Otherwise you get the sort of problems airports typically have--people move in after the fact, and then start agitating because of the noise. Or, alternately, you wind up with problems like those surrounding Camp Bullis, where encroaching development threatens one of the city's major employers.

I grew up in San Antonio, on the south side. I live on the northeast side of town now, in a trailer park that, when I was a girl, was an empty field. It took me a long time to realize I knew this part of town when I moved back, because as a child there was nothing here.

It is exponentially worse on the northwest side of town. There's an ongoing amount of distress and drama concerning the 281/1604 interchange. It is far past capacity, and has been since I was a child. I have never understood why development in the area continued. You go west along 1604 and it's depressing if you knew this city during the '80s and early '90s. Developments have been dug into the rock, and the scars are fresh and ugly. There used to be the groovy little trees--we have a tree preservation ordinance, but it's a joke--and scrub brush, and it looked like the country, but now it's just a butt-ton of developments, and far too many people.

So I can't see at least the attempt at smart growth to be a bad thing.

More from the City South article:

As HOLA conducted its “Free City South” session Tuesday, Bill Manuel sat across the street at a meeting called by state Rep. Joe Farias, D-San Antonio. Part of Farias' aim was to gauge public opinion on City South.

Manuel, who owns 61/2 acres off Blue Wing Road, didn't know what to think about it until he dealt with the management board regarding a proposed zoning change near his property.

He found City South receptive, and he applauded its zoning rules because it means sprawling developments are less likely to creep up on his property.

“Without zoning, then anybody could come in and put up Section 8 housing,” Manuel said. “They could come in and put up low-cost housing. They could put in a junkyard.”

Garza said City South was designed to fit the needs of the existing residents but also foster sustainable, measured growth that translates not into just more homes but communities: The plan calls for homes with porches, walkable neighborhoods and tree-lined streets.

Now, I don't have a problem, necessarily, with low-cost housing. Still, though, I get his concerns. I imagine a lot of people who live south of SA proper moved out there to avoid the skyrocketing land prices and, well, all the damned people. It's certainly a large part of what makes the area appealing to me--you get south of Loop 410, and it just opens up. It's amazing. It's what SA used to be.

And yes, I know things change. I know the city is going to continue to grow and develop. But if we keep on the way we're going, we'll be interchangeable with Dallas. And do we really want that?


Dave said...

Great thoughts on this. For the life of me, I can't understand why people continue to move to the north along the 281 and I-10 areas, even I-35. If we ever leave our little piece of paradise in 78250, it will be south to Divine or some such place.

While I share his sentiment, I have bad news for Mr. Garza mentioned in the article: “Without zoning, then anybody could come in and put up Section 8 housing,” I live in the largest HOA in the city of SA and I assure you that zoning and deed restrictions have not stopped the flood of Section 8's. I think the intent of the program is awesome, the execution, not so much.

If City South can stick to the guns of planned growth, good for them. Let the whiners move to Stone Oak.

tom said...

It's worse if you knew San Antone in the early-mid 70s when it was less than 500,000 people in the whole metro area.

I lived in SA down the road from Bullis about 3 miles from mid 70s to late 80s. Everything is paved, subdivided, and strip malled for miles in every direction of the old house where we had trouble with the neighbor's cattle trampling the rose garden mom tried to keep up.

Only have one friend there anymore all these years later. Don't like even visiting. Not the town I knew. Helotes, same. Leon Springs, same. Boerne, Bulverde, New Braunfels, same.

I've been up here in the green hills 75 to 120 minutes drive to SA, depending of time of day and what part of SA you are going to and I now have neighbors that commute to jobs in SA. Boggles the mind. Being invaded by Austin from the East too. At least most of the SA folks that are moving here aren't dirty stinky hippy liberals.

Glad I have acres and am in the COUNTY not a town so they can't start trying to bring their big city government to bear on my on property shooting entertainment. Had one of them complain and the Deputies had to come out and explain to her that this was the COUNTY not San Antonio and it was LEGAL. If you don't like the sound of shots fired, do not buy a house on a property adjacent to a gunsmith...moron lady, though highly educated in academic fashions.

As to Dallas, I only go there if it's work related and I absolutely have to. Houston and SA, same. El Paso is still a nice town.

Texas Hill Country. Feel free to come visit us on the weekends and to dove and deer hunt, just don't forget to go home ;-)