Weekly Report

Historic Preservation Month – May
The Office of Historic Preservation is preparing for a series of Preservation Month events during May. This year’s theme is focused on connecting people with the places that are special to them. The planned events are designed to engage the community and encourage participation. Key events include the Kickoff/State of Preservation Press Event on May 1, Paseo por el Westside on May 2, the Amazing Preservation Race on May 8, the Amazing Preservation Race for Kids on May 16, Preservation Block Party (in conjunction with OPEN) on May 19 and a tax credit workshop on May 29, 2015.

Central Library partnership with American GI Forum
The Central Library, through a group of front line staff called “Central Library is for Everyone”, has been partnering with the American GI Forum since March 2014 to provide homeless veterans at the library an opportunity to connect with Supportive Services for Veterans and their Families (SSVF). SSVF has found housing and/or employment for 80 veterans through the outreach partnership that began a year ago.

2015 Ambassador Program
The application period for the 2015 Ambassador Summer Internship Program closed on March 31. Department of Human Services received 207 applications from students in every City Council District for 120 internship positions. A review committee, which includes staff from DHS, Parks, Library and Café College, is in the process of screening the applications making recommendations. The selected applicants will be notified the week of April 20 and program orientation will be held on May 22, 2015. Ambassadors will begin their 11 week internship on May 26. Employers include business organizations, non-profit agencies, and governmental agencies.

Morgan’s Safe House
Gordon Hartman through Sports, Outdoor and Recreation (SOAR) has agreed to construct an approximate 2,000 square foot structure and other amenities such as a bathroom and covered meeting space to serve as a facility to provide fire education to the children of our community. “Morgan’s Safe House” will provide education on fire safe practices in the home as well as demonstrate how to evacuate a smoke filled room. The facility will be located on the site of the existing San Antonio Fire Academy. The Safe House will be constructed through donations from the community.

Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) Funding
In FY 2013, Congress passed appropriation language that added more UASI funds with recommendations to fund the top 100 urban areas at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security. Homeland Security funded the top 25 urban areas. San Antonio ranked 32nd and did not receive funding. In FY 2014, the Homeland Security Secretary funded the top 39 and San Antonio received $1 million in funding. Homeland Security is being forced to fund fewer cities so the top 5 urban areas receive more funding. As an example, in FY 2010, New York received $158 million; today then now receive $180 million. The City’s Office of Emergency Management is working with the State of Texas to determine if the City can receive a direct allocation of $1.25 million form the State’s $21 million State Homeland Security 2015 award. The only opportunity for the City to receive UASI funding again is for our Congressional leadership to request Homeland Security to modify their risk formula or to request Homeland Security to fund the top 40 urban areas.

University Health System (UHS) Interlocal Agreement
Under the interlocal agreement, Metro Health agrees to have available to residents of unincorporated Bexar County certain emergency preparedness and population-based public health services. Metro Health proposed a three year extension, April 1, 2015 through March 31, 2018. UHS has indicated the agreement is scheduled for the UHS Board of Managers meeting on Tuesday, April 28. The item is scheduled to go to IGR City Council Subcommittee on Tuesday, April 28. The item is scheduled for City Council consideration on Thursday, April 30.

2015 Department of Transportation – Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant
The US Department of Transportation released the 2015 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant notice. TIGER is making $500 million available for surface transportation projects. The grant program will focus on capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation, while emphasizing improved connection to employment, education, and community revitalization. The minimum grant request is $10 M with a 20% match. Pre-application is May 4 and final application is due June 5, 2015. Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) is reviewing the Notice of Funding Availability and is coordinating with TCI for possible submission. IGR is also discussing with community partners to coordinate efforts for one regional application.

National Preservation Month

May is National Preservation Month and The Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) is offering numerous events and activities as part of our extensive education and outreach campaign on the Role of historic preservation in achieving economic, cultural and environmental sustainability.

Historic preservation has a demonstrated positive impact on economic development efforts in our community.  It is a tool for neighborhood stabilization and community revitalization that is connected to broader strategies of land use, smart growth, sustainability and job creation.

According to a recent study for San Antonio, historic preservation plays a major role in neighborhood stability and the overall economy and quality of life in the city. Historic neighborhoods also tend to outperform the city as a whole in terms of walkability, transit scores, proximity to parks, and bikeability. The study also revealed that historic buildings attract investment from small businesses and start-up firms which are a crucial component to local economics.

The heritage portion alone of San Antonio tourism industry is responsible for generating $2.5 billion in visitor expenditures, resulting in nearly 52,000 jobs and $1.7 billion in salary and wages. This impact can be attributed to the preservation historic resources that set San Antonio apart from other destinations.

Preservation is not about freezing time or resisting change.  It is about making careful decisions to protect our sense of place and preserve what makes San Antonio unique while supporting economic development.

Furthermore, the Office of Historic Preservation is a leader in the nation for active community engagement by a city preservation department. The Events held during preservation month are a major component to OHP’s education and outreach programs.

To kick off Preservation Month, OHP is hosting the State of Preservation Reception on Friday, May 1, at 11AM, at the Spanish Governor’s Palace.

A few highlights during Historic preservation month include.

  • The Amazing Preservation Race for Adults will take place on Friday, May 8th, which is a fun adventure
  • The annual Amazing Preservation Race for Kids will be held Saturday, May 16th, in the beautiful King William Historic District. This popular free event gives kids the chance to learn about history and buildings while solving clues and being active.
  • On May 19th, we will host the first preservation block party in conjunction with Open in St Paul Square and Downtown Tuesday.

Wrapping up the month, a workshop for using historic tax credits is scheduled for may 29 at sunset station. Sessions will include general information on the state historic tax credit and how to take advantage of the powerful rehabilitation program, which when partnered with the federal tax credit, can result in a 45% tax credit for qualified projects.

We wish to thank the many Sponsors and partners that make these events possible! For more information about all of the events and activities, visit the OHP website at www.sanantonio.gov/historic

Contract Negotiations and Safe Soil Update

This letter provides an update to my March 6 letter regarding two important issues:  the City’s contract negotiations with the San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA); and the third-party testing of the soil removed from the Convention Center expansion project site.

Negotiating sessions with the San Antonio Police Officers Association were conducted on March 17, 20, and 31. The police union offered a proposal on March 17, 2015. The City countered on March 20. However, on March 31 the police union did not offer a counter proposal, refusing to continue bargaining until after the City Council election. The general election is May 9, 2015; the run-off election (if necessary) is June 13, 2015. The City has made clear its willingness to negotiate, without regard to the elections and offered to continue meeting in April and May in order to reach resolution.  The San Antonio Police Officers Association has refused to offer any meeting dates and no further negotiating session is scheduled.

The City’s March 20 proposal is a fair and affordable wage and benefit package that meets the policy guidelines established by the City Council and addresses the union’s concerns regarding healthcare (with no premium for employee only coverage and a very modest premium for dependent coverage). As directed by City Council, the City’s proposal keeps public safety spending within 66% of the General Fund budget.  Plus, the average San Antonio police officer nets $14,154 over the three and a half year contract.

The union’s last offer on March 17 is nearly $45 million more expensive than the City’s March 20 proposal. The union’s proposal would allow public safety spending to grow to nearly 70% of the General Fund budget by 2018. Each percentage above 66% equals $10.5 million. Attached is a side by side comparison of the latest proposals of the City and the San Antonio Police Officers Association.

The fire union has yet to come to the table to negotiate.  Both the police and fire contracts expired on September 30, 2014.  However, all terms and conditions continue for 10 years under the “evergreen” provision of the existing collective bargaining agreements. The City challenges the constitutionality of this provision in the contracts because it makes them virtually perpetual and financially binds future city councils.

Regarding the testing of the soil removed from the Convention Center site, on April 7, 2015, the City’s Metro Health Department received the results of the Phase II Environmental Site Assessment Report conducted by Weston Solutions, an independent, third-party environmental services company. The study included laboratory analyses of 48 samples taken from 48 acres of City-owned property located at Highway 151 and Old Highway 90 where the Convention Center soil was transported. The soils were analyzed for metals concentrations, including arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium and silver. In addition, samples were analyzed for the presence of volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile compounds and total petroleum hydrocarbons.

The results confirmed the soil is safe and showed concentrations well below the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Protective Concentration Levels for both human exposure and groundwater protection. The results indicate the soil is safe for residential use, which is consistent with the data from two previous reports. In fact, the concentrations of chemicals in the soil samples were consistent with typical undeveloped agricultural property in the area.

These results clearly support the decision of the City to efficiently and safely relocate the soil, saving approximately $6 million in unnecessary landfill costs. According to the third-party consultant, additional assessment of the fill soil is not recommended. We are pleased to put this chapter behind us.

As always, please feel free to contact my office with any questions. Thank you for your continued commitment and interest in our city.

Weekly Report

Summer Youth Program – Registration
The registration for Summer Youth Program at Community Center locations began on Saturday, March 28. The Summer Youth program runs from June 15 through August 7, 2015. The program offers a variety of age appropriate activities from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily and includes a free lunch and snack as part of the summer food service program. Registration will continue until all spaces are full. The program registration fee is based on income and family size.

National Travel & Tourism Week
The San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) is gearing up for National Travel and Tourism Week, May 2 – 10, 2015. This year’s theme, “Travel Is…” aligns with the current national industry-wide campaign to reflect the wide-ranging and robust ways that the travel industry contributes to the U.S. The Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is focusing on educating our community, business leaders, legislators, media and hospitality partners on the importance of travel and tourism to San Antonio’s economy. Currently, one in eight San Antonians is employed by the hospitality, which also contributes $13.4 billion annually into our local economy. The official declaration for San Antonio’s National Travel and Tourism Week celebrations will be held on Wednesday, May 6 at City Council Ceremonials

Wheatley Courts
Demolition and crushing is complete. To date, 17,000 cubic yards of crushed materials have been reused as backfill and all onsite utilities have been removed. Building pads are ready and construction is scheduled to begin May 1, 2015.

Pre K 4 SA Student Enrollment
As of Friday, March 27, over 2,000 students have applied for the 2015-2016 school year. The lottery to select students to attend the four education centers will take place on Wednesday, April 8. Pre K 4 SA extended invitations to all participating district superintendents to attend the lottery.

Center City & Downtown Operations – OPEN Program
The OPEN program activates vacant storefronts with temporary retail “pop up” shops. Two events were held in December 2013 and 2014 on Houston Street. The third event will be held in May at St. Paul Square and will feature 20 vendors. A new website promoting the program launched this week at www.opensanantonio.com . The site features vendors, pop up locations, and an event calendar.

Green Fit Friendly Fiesta
Center City & Downtown Operations (CCDO), in partnership with Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD), Metro Health, Office of Sustainability, Transportation and Capital Improvements (TCI), Communications and Public Affairs and the Fiesta Commission, held a press conference on March 24 to announce the Fiesta Green Fit Friendly Initiative which promotes recycling, smoke free events, healthy food choices and alternative transportation for Fiesta events. Out of the Fiesta events that qualify for Green Events certification, over 40 events (90%) have agreed to 1:1 recycling and will be smoke free. City staff continues to work with remaining organizations on certification.

Library Celebrates Teen Tech Week
Teen Services at the San Antonio Public Library participated in the American Library Association’s Teen Tech Week. This year, 20 library locations presented over 30 programs for approximately 300 teens (13 – 18 years of age). Programs ranged from Lego robotics to computer programming.

For the second year in a row, San Antonio Public Library’s Teen Services was selected to host a special Teen Tech Week event sponsored by Best Buy and the Young Adult Services Association. San Antonio joins libraries in ten other US cities including Washington, DC, Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Seattle, St. Paul, and New York.

Street Maintenance Update

In recent months San Antonio has seen a fair amount of rain and with that rain Came an increase in potholes in the City.  Our Transportation & Capital Improvements Department will be launching this Monday to address the increase in potholes we have seen this year.

The effort will last for a 30 day period and it is anticipated that staff will more than double the number of the potholes repaired on our city streets during this time by doubling our crews. The amount of potholes to be repaired is projected to increase from the current monthly average of 1,200 to an estimated 3,000 pothole repairs over the next 30 days.

Earlier this fiscal year, TCI averaged 9 pothole maintenance crews per day throughout the five-day work week. Now, as part of this 30 day effort that includes a reassignment of TCI staff to pothole maintenance, the pothole staffing will be increased to 18 crews per day.

The 18 crews per day also will extend the traditional five-day workweek to a six-day workweek to increase production.These 18 crews will work 10 hour shifts, Monday through Saturday from 7:15 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. exclusively repairing potholes.

Pothole crews will be concentrated in two to three districts per week, and will eventually be routed through all of the 10 City Council Districts throughout the 30-day effort.  This effort will involve the expenditure of additional funds of approximately $100,000 for labor and materials. This effort is being funded through year-to-date savings in the Street Maintenance Program.

I would also like to use this opportunity to discuss some efforts that TCI is working on to enhance overall service delivery of our pothole maintenance program:

This morning you approved the award of the contract authorizing the purchase of new replacement equipment for the Pothole Program. The new Pothole Patch Trucks will have additional features to include GPS tracking capabilities and route optimization software. This will significantly improve crew deployment and utilization, reduce driving time and enable completion of more repairs every work day.

Staff also is working to enhance service delivery by improving the deployment of crews through the use of GIS and our pavement management system to improve how we identify and fix potholes. As part of this 30-day initiative, TCI will pilot strategies staff has developed to identify areas with higher incidence of potholes.

During the next 30-days TCI crews will be dispatched to targeted neighborhoods with high incidences of potholes. TCI also will rely upon potholes reported to 311 through phone calls as well as through the 311 mobile app and the 311 online service requests made through the city’s website. The 311 mobile app is available for download on the iTunes app store and is labeled “SA 311”. The SA 311 app allows users to report a variety of service requests from potholes to stray animals and allows one to submit a photo of the issue along with the request.

San Antonio Drivers should see a noticeable difference in the number of potholes repaired on the road over the next 30. TCI is expecting that this initiative will show strong results and will be reporting on its progress over the next four weeks.

Library Update

The Digital Library Community Project is an exciting and innovative initiative that provides a gateway to San Antonio Public Library’s extensive Digital Collection in locations across our community. The purpose of the Project is to increase public awareness and use of the Library’s free digital collections and services.

The Digital Library Community Project is a two-dimensional wallpaper that resembles a bookshelf. The “books” on the shelf have QR codes that link to individual titles. There are also QR codes that link to the complete OverDrive collection (eBooks, eAudiobooks, magazines, movies and music.)

Library card holders visiting the Digital Library simply use their smart phone or WiFi enabled mobile device to scan the QR code on the book, movie or song title of their choice, or access the entire SAPL digital collection with the general QR codes. There are also some simple steps to download free apps that support the experience.

This project is an example of how SAPL continues to deliver the latest on demand products that meet the demands of an ever mobile, internet-connected world.

Digital library installations are located at:

D.R. Semmes YMCA

Bob Ross Senior Center

Alicia Treviño Lopez Senior Center

Haven for Hope

Connect at Central

Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center

Barshop Jewish Community Center

South Side Lions Community Center

Woodlawn Community Center

Lions Field Adult and Senior Center

The Ronald R. Darner Parks and Recreation Operations Headquarters

The Kampmann Library Portal at the Briscoe Western Art Museum

2015 Scheduled Installations include: San Antonio Children’s Museum –April, Doris Griffin Senior One-Stop Center – May, District 10 Senior Center – TBD pending construction.

The project also includes three digital library kiosks, installed in late 2014, at the San Antonio International Airport that act as a gateway to SAPL’s extensive Digital Library.

Weekly Report

Downtown Tuesday & “The E”
Downtown Tuesday celebrated its three year anniversary with a press conference on Tuesday, March 10. The event included an announcement from VIA regarding a downtown entertainment shuttle, “The E”, that will provide free transportation Tuesday – Saturday evenings. The route includes Market, Commerce, St. Mary’s and Navarro streets from the Tobin Center to Rivercenter Mall. The entertainment shuttle begins operating March 28.

Convention, Sports & Entertainment Facilities
The University Interscholastic League (UIL) Girls’ Basketball Tournament was held on Thursday, March 5 at the Alamodome; the first time in over 80 years the tournament has not played in Austin. For the nine sessions held over three days, the girl’s tournament sold over 31,000 tickets. The UIL Boys’ Basketball tournament is scheduled for this weekend. Over 51,000 have been sold. This is also the first time the event has been held outside of Austin, Texas.

Fort Sam Houston “Listening Session”
The Army is holding “listening sessions” at 30 installations throughout the United States to solicit feedback from communities concerning future reductions that are likely to impact their respective installations. The listening sessions are designed to enable community members to voice support for their installation.

The potential force reduction at Fort Sam Houston (FSH) is 4,000 soldiers and 2,000 civilians, exactly half of the current workforce. Representatives from the Pentagon and the Department of the Army will hold the listening session for Fort Sam Houston on March 31, 2015 from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. at the Freeman Coliseum Exhibit Hall. The senior Army commander at Fort Sam Houston, Lt. Gen. Perry Wiggins, has asked the San Antonio Chamber in coordination with the Office of Military Affairs, to take the community lead in orchestrating the event. An initial planning meeting was held with representatives from the Chamber, Fort Sam Houston, and the Office of Military Affairs. Lt. General Wiggins’ staff is reviewing draft agenda.

East Point Paint-A-Thon
As part of the East Point Shine Initiative, a Paint-a-Thon will be held Saturday, March 14 from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. A total of 15 houses have been selected for painting, targeting the elderly, disabled and veterans. All homes will be prepped by the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) contractors prior to the event. Habitat for Humanity is supplying the paint and equipment. The City Volunteer program has coordinated over 200 volunteers to paint the homes.

Global Youth Service & Earth Day
The City’s Volunteer Services is participating in the United Way’s annual Global Youth Service Day by recruiting up to 150 volunteers for creekway clean-up at Olmos Basin Park on April 18. The event is open to the public and also supports the City’s recognition of National Volunteer Week.

Parks & Recreation
Parks and Recreation staff is continuing to coordinate with Coca Cola representatives on hosting a Family Fun Day event in recognition of a grant award by the organization to provide new amenities at Labor Street Park. Parks and Recreation staff has been working to prepare the park for this event and overseeing the completion of new features. The event is scheduled for Saturday, March 28, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Central Library Celebrates 20 years
On Saturday, May 9, 2015, the San Antonio Public Library is planning a day filled with family friendly activities at Central Library to celebrate Central Library’s 20th Anniversary, including:

  • Programs and activities on every floor for the public
  • Scheduled tours of the art and architecture of the building
  • A “concierge” on each floor to tell the public about the features of the building on that floor, services offered and programs scheduled
  • Opening and terraces for photographers and artists and others to enjoy
  • Music, food, dancing will also be available

National League of Cities Grade Level Reading Pacesetter Designation
The Department of Human Services (DHS) received notification of designation as a 2014 Pacesetter for the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading. The 2014 award represents the second consecutive designation for San Antonio as a pacesetter community and was awarded based on Department of Human Services, Library and Pre K 4 SA efforts as well as community partner initiatives that made measurable progress on student readiness outcomes for the 2014 school year.

Weekly Report

Preservation Education Program
The Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) developed a 4th through 12th grade education project. The programming uses local heritage resources to help students better understand history and the importance of historic places in San Antonio. The New Frontiers Charter School (NFCS) has embraced the program and has begun to institute within their curriculum. The NFCS project will culminate in a Preservation Month in May photo exhibit celebrating places that students have selected as their personal “landmarks”. Activities like this are made possible through a grant from the Power of Preservation Foundation and the Innovation grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The project exemplifies teamwork and innovation, not only with OHP but also across the city as the program’s outreach currently includes organizations such as the National Park Service, in addition to the NFCS. The innovative program will cultivate and nurture a new generation of city stewards while also meeting the needs of students to fill core curriculum requirements.

After School Challenge Program – Proposed Legislation
Proposed Legislation HB 788 would amend regulation of child care facilities operating within the school district facilities. Recently filed language proposes to no longer exempt school districts from licensing requirements of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. School districts would be required to pay an annual license fee of $37 per child per facility to the State. Additionally, the transition of monitoring oversight of these programs from the Texas Education Agency to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services would increase regulations related to the minimum child to staff ratios, facility standards, and other requirements. If approved, the proposed legislation may have a negative impact on the After School Challenge program and create an administrative and financial burden for the school districts. The City’s Department of Human Services has provided feedback to Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) regarding HB 788 and requested input from school districts.

Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA)
The 25th Annual TTIA Unity Dinner was held in Austin, Texas on February 24. More than 60 San Antonio tourism partners, stakeholders, and legislators attended to demonstrate and communicate the importance of the travel and tourism industry. Total attendance was at 1,000. An additional 100 San Antonio partners and stakeholders traveled to Austin the following day to join the San Antonio delegation and participate in Converge on the Capitol. The team met with State legislators to share the top priorities of the Texas travel and tourism industry during this legislative session.

HOPE Program
The Home Ownership Program for Employees (HOPE) provides City employees with a forgivable loan if they purchase a home within the Community Revitalization Action Group (CRAG) area. On March 3, the program closed on a home loan that will utilize the balance of funding for the program. With this closing, a total of 29 loans will have been made to City employees to assist home ownership within the center city. The Center City & Downtown Operations (CCDO) is working with area employers to expand the program and encourage downtown businesses to offer a similar housing incentive to their employees.

UTSA Research Collaboration Request
A proposal was submitted by Dina V. Krasikova, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Management at UTSA, to collaborate with the City of San Antonio on a study about relationships between leaders and followers. The goal of this study is to understand what supervisors and subordinates can do to build a strong, supportive, and long-lasting work relationship that will benefit both of them and their organization. The study is intended to help management researchers and practitioners better understand what can be done to improve supervisor-subordinate relationship at the early stages of its development. The city will identify 100 newly formed supervisor-subordinate pairs to participate in the study. Dr. Krasikova and a doctoral student will distribute surveys, collect responses, analyze data and provide a final report to the City of San Antonio summarizing the results of the study.

Collective Bargaining and Safe Soil Update

I am providing  an update on two important issues:  the City’s recent contract offer to the San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA); and the City’s removal of safe soil from the Convention Center expansion project.

On February 20, 2015, the City’s and SAPOA’s negotiating teams returned to the bargaining table to discuss a new Collective Bargaining Agreement replacing the one that expired on September 30, 2014. The City offered a proposed contract that includes among other items the following major points:

  • Pay raises for all police officers each of the next three and half years totaling 9.5%;
  • Officers sharing in the cost of healthcare coverage; sworn personnel would continue to be covered with no premiums for employees; employees would be required to pay premiums for their dependents;
  • Taxpayer-funded legal fund phase-out over three years;
  • Revision/elimination of the “evergreen clause” that perpetuates the contract for ten years after expiration.

The City’s proposal would keep public safety expenditures at less than 66% of the General Fund budget. We believe this offer is very reasonable, and we are optimistic that we are moving towards a resolution. The next collective bargaining sessions are scheduled for March 17 and 20, 2015.  Attached is a summary of the City’s labor proposal to SAPOA.

The second item to share with you is about the safe soil at the Convention Center.  In late 2013 and early 2014 the City removed 150,000 cubic yards of soil from the Convention Center expansion site and placed it on a City-owned property off Highway 151 that is zoned for business park development. The soil was not structurally sound to handle the weight of the new Convention Center building. Two different environmental engineering firms, Geo Strata and Raba Kistner Inc., determined that the soil excavated from the Convention Center property does not exceed regulatory standards for residential or commercial development as established by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). In other words, the soil is safe enough to use for backyards, ball fields and gardens in any neighborhood community. The data in the two reports does not conflict on this critical point.

Where the environmental reports differ is in the narrative recommendations made by the consultants. Geo Strata, working for the Convention Center contractor, recommended that the soil either be used in place at the Convention Center or taken to a landfill for disposal. This would have cost an estimated $6 million and resulted in approximately 150,000 cubic yards of residential-grade soil being unnecessarily deposited in a landfill.

City staff questioned this conclusion and utilized Raba Kistner, Inc.  to perform a more thorough Environmental Assessment. While the Geo Strata study was limited to nine soil samples for the soil that was excavated, the Raba Kistner Inc. assessment added another 58 soil samples for a total of 67 samples from the excavated soil. The City’s study performed by Raba Kistner, Inc. was a more comprehensive assessment, and it too, indicated that the soils were appropriate for re-use instead of being taken to a landfill.

Nonetheless, I have directed the City’s Metro Health Department to oversee an independent review to test the soil at the new location. The City has hired Weston Solutions to test the soil now in place at the City-owned property at Highway 151 and expects the study to be completed within four weeks. A representative of the nearby San Antonio Food Bank was a member of the staff panel that selected Weston Solutions.

Additionally, Metro Health commissioned the Southwest Research Institute to test vegetables and topsoil from the community garden at the San Antonio Food Bank. The tests confirmed that there are no elevated levels of minerals in the soil and the vegetables are safe for consumption. An independent study commissioned by the San Antonio Food Bank reached the same conclusion.

We regret that we did not better inform our community partners in advance of moving the soil, but please be assured that the soil is safe and we are exercising an abundance of caution to demonstrate that fact to the community.

Weekly Report

State of the State
Governor Abbott made his State of the State address on February 17. The Governor declared the following five issues as emergency items for legislative action, which allows the legislature to take a floor vote on related legislation before the 60-day constitutional moratorium that bars floor votes in the first 60 days of the session.

  1. Higher Education
  2. Higher Education Research Initiatives
  3. Transportation Funding
  4. Border Security Funding
  5. Ethics Reform

The Governor called for more than $4 billion a year to build more roads without raising taxes, fees, tolls or debt. Governor Abbott also called for making the Texas Enterprise Zone more efficient, effective and transparent.

State Run Off Election Results
With the election of Diego Bernal to House District 123, the City’s delegation gains a committee spot on the House Urban Affairs and International Trade & International Affairs Committees. It is expected for incoming State Senator Jose Menendez to serve as a member of the Senate Higher Education, Criminal Justice and Intergovernmental Relations Committees. The election results will be canvassed on March 3, and will be sworn into the Senate on March 6. The vacant seat in the House will now require a special election. A date has not been identified for the special election as this time.

Pre K 4 SA Student Enrollment
As of Friday, February 20, Pre –K 4 SA has over 1,200 student applications.

EastPoint Neighborhood Sweep
City staff is coordinating with several City departments and agencies (EastPoint, Animal Care Services, CPS Energy, Transportation & Capital Improvements (TCI), Police, Fire, Code Enforcement, Metro Health and Solid Waste) a “Neighborhood Sweeps Program” within the four square mile area of the EastPoint neighborhood. The Sweep will take place in March and is intended to be a 30 day concentration of City services that will result in a cleaner, safer and healthier community. During the past two weeks, CPS Energy has repaired over 100 streetlights in the community. CPS Energy also committed to send its Customer Response Unit to neighborhood meetings and events to promote its affordability and energy efficiency programs and address any billing questions.

Strategic Multi-Modal Transportation Plan
The City’s three growth-related plans (Comprehensive Plan, Transportation Plan & Sustainability Plan) have been branded “SA Tomorrow”. Kick-off event is scheduled for Saturday, April 11 at the Alamo Convocation Center from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Social media has been activated to begin outreach leading up to the April 11 event. Invites to the Mayor and Council are also forthcoming.

Promise Zone Economic Development Plan
San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (SAGE) was awarded $500,000 by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) in August 2014 for the development of an Economic Development Plan for the eastside of San Antonio. HR&A was hired to develop an economic development strategy for the Promise Zone. The plan will consist of: identification and development of strategies for six business development opportunities in the Promise Zone, identification of a transited oriented development, and identification of a site to develop an “EastPoint” commercial tower.

Historic House Specialist Realtor Training
The Office of Historic Preservation held its annual Historic House Specialist Realtor Training this past Friday, February 20 at the historic Woodward House, home of the Women’s Club of San Antonio. The sold out event was attended by an enthusiastic group of more than 60 realtors and professionals. Sessions led by staff covered the fundamentals of historic preservation, the Vacant Building Registration program, and information about historic building materials and construction methods.  There were also presentations about historic house styles and preservation as tool for sustainability.  Participants received continued education hours through San Antonio Board of Realtors (SABOR).