SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — San Antonio city council members were split Wednesday during a special meeting to discuss the proposed 2022 bond.
The 2022 – 2027 Bond Program proposal is the largest in city history and totals $1.2 billion with investments of $480 million for streets, $274 million for parks — including $110 million for the linear greenway program —, $162 million for drainage, $150 million for housing, $61 million for municipal facilities and $73 million for public safety and health facilities.
The special meeting was requested last week by council members Terri Castillo, John Courage and Clayton Perry who, along with Jalen McKee-Rodriguez and Ana Sandoval, discussed moving some proposed bond funding from the city’s greenway trail system to funding earmarked for city streets and drainage.
City staff made adjustments last week to the proposed bond, reducing the greenway trails funding from $126 million to $110 million.
Yesterday, two council members made motions to reduce that total and move the funds towards basic infrastructure.
Castillo asked the council for an amendment to cut $60 million, with $40 million going towards streets and $20 million toward drainage, which failed. Following the vote, McKee-Rodriguez moved to move $30 million. Both amendments failed 5-6, with Castillo, Courage, McKee-Rodriguez, Perry and Sandoval voting in favor.
“Although these motions did not pass, today’s discussion was essential to transparency and serves as evidence of how each elected representative prioritizes our City’s needs. I look forward to the final recommendation put forth by the Community Bond Committees,” Perry said in a statement.
Councilman Manny Pelaez made the claim that creekway projects are helping drainage issues, but Castillo rebuked the claim saying the stance “is extremely out of touch.”
“And I encourage you all to come out of your gated communities and into District 5 to see what our communities have to deal with on the day to day, how we’re limited on funding and we only have one vehicle so when it goes out of alignment we’re out of luck,” Castillo said.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg pointed out that adding $20 million to the drainage bond is merely a drop in the bucket for the total needed to address the city’s drainage issue which is estimated to cost $3.1 billion. He noted that removing $60 million for the trail project’s funding would slash the project’s funding in half.
Nirenberg said the city has a history of inconsistently investing in the city’s infrastructure and that these moves would be akin to placing a bandaid over multiple generations worth of inequities.
“As we start the meeting process for the largest Bond Proposal in San Antonio’s history, the work begins. I am challenging council, bond committee members, and city leaders to eliminate any redlining or emerging redlines in this Bond Program,” Viagran said in a statement. “Our city has a history of denying opportunities for growth and potential in redlined areas. These areas deserve to be heard and represented, and through this Bond Program, we have the opportunity to be proactive.”
Viagran said the only way that she would support the change is if the housing bond is increased. City staff reduced the original $250 million earmarked for affordable housing by $100 million last Monday.
Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda said that her constituents were in support of the greenway trail construction and the trails serve as an alternative transportation option for cyclists.
“We continue to talk about fair housing and eliminating poverty,” Havrda said. “But the truth is if people cannot get to their jobs or get to higher-paying jobs by different modes of transportation, including biking to work, we will not get where we need to close this gap.”
Despite voting in favor of the amendments, Courage ultimately voted in favor of the proposed bond recommendations. The vote was 6-3-1, with Sandoval abstaining and Mckee-Rodriguez, Castillo and Perry against.
San Antonians will vote for the bond propositions in May.
Bond committee meetings will take place through December 16 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to discuss the proposals and the meetings are open to the public at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Parking is free.
They will also be live streamed on www.youtube.com/cosagov.
The city is holding a community bond meeting to discuss drainage and flood management tonight at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in room 220. The drainage and flood management committee will meet again on Nov. 10, Dec. 1, and Dec, 15.
The bond committee on streets, bridges and sidewalks will take place Nov. 8, Nov. 29 and Dec. 13.
The committee on parks, recreation and open spaces will take place Nov. 9, Nov. 16, Dec. 7 and Dec. 16.
The committee on facilities will meet Nov. 4, Nov. 18, Dec. 9 and Dec. 16.
The committee on hosing will meet Nov. 3, Nov. 17 and Dec. 8.