UTSA has established itself as a high-quality university and an economic boon to San Antonio. The school confers more degrees than any other South Texas university, contributes $1.2 billion to San Antonio’s economy and employs 15,000 South Texans. It’s also committed to pursuing Tier One status, the marker of a premier higher education institution. A key tenet of this pursuit is the university’s ongoing transition from a commuter to a residential campus.
The City of San Antonio should do its part to encourage this transition. Development near UTSA’s campuses should enhance the university experience without diminishing quality of life in surrounding communities. Zoning overlay districts around the main campus, downtown campus and Park West athletics complex would concentrate student-oriented development within walking distance of campus. This concentration would provide a buffer between the campus and surrounding communities and give the UTSA PD and SAPD better control of the area.
UTSA’s continued progress would create a positive economic impact and is of the highest importance to all of San Antonio. These districts should ensure that UTSA’s growth is in the best interest of students and those who call the area near campus home.
Right now, City staff is in the process of exploring our options. They will put together a recommendation, with the help of public input, that aims to accomplish the goals I’ve outlined above. That plan will be vetted by council subcommittees and stakeholder groups, and then, if supported by council subcommittees, it will move to the full City Council for debate and possible adoption. The process will likely take several months, but the time to examine and discuss the goals and possibilities is now.
Some of the options we could consider are:
· zoning regulations that determine what sort of development can occur near campus;
· development and design standards for new construction within the zone; and
· streets, sidewalks, and other features that enhance walkability.
While we explore our options, I want to hear from you. What can the City do to help steer private investment and compatible development for an ecosystem that befits a university on the rise in San Antonio?