My primary goal as a member of city council is to help make San Antonio a functional, modern, multigenerational city. A twenty-first-century multigenerational city provides services and develops infrastructure that promotes a high quality of life for citizens of all ages. This includes support for public safety, improvements to the walkability of our neighborhoods and greater access to public transportation. It means promoting responsible ridesharing services and expanding transportation options for our senior centers. It means promoting smart development without increasing gridlock. Making San Antonio a multigenerational city will allow all of us to achieve the independence and quality of life necessary to “age in place” in our homes and neighborhoods as we grow older.
Public Safety and the SAFFE Officer Program
In my brief time talking to people in District 10 about improvements they would like to see in city services, the SAFFE Officer Program comes up again and again. San Antonians love their SAFFE Officers. At present, however, there is only one SAFFE Officer for every 10,000 people living in the city. These staffing levels are harmful to the stated goals of the program - to promote community policing and provide resources to residents “who wish to take back their neighborhoods from crime and decay.” SAFFE Officers can make a real difference in community efforts to alleviate graffiti, blight, and code compliance issues – common complaints in all of our neighborhoods. I would increase SAFFE Program funding and staffing to allow for more individualized attention from SAFFE Officers and eventually bring the officer to citizen ratio down to approximately 1 to 5000.
The SA Tomorrow Project estimates that 146 people move to San Antonio every day. Who can blame them. This is a great place to live and raise a family. However, that also means 1.1 million more people living, working and driving here by 2040. If we don’t start making changes to our current transportation infrastructure, our commutes will be almost twice as long as they are now. 39% of our roads will be snarled with gridlock and heavy traffic during most of the day, not just during rush hours. We can prevent this from happening with smart planning, but we can’t just pave our way out of the problem.
There is no room left for bigger roads in much of the city. Additional impervious cover will damage the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. Our city budget will be overwhelmed by expensive new roads and the additional maintenance costs that go with them. We simply have to take an “all-of-the-above” approach to solve the traffic problems caused by explosive growth. Relatively inexpensive, common-sense changes to bus schedules and routes will make our mass transit faster and more appealing to consumers of all ages and walks-of-life. A small amount of additional funding for VIA would allow for more frequent bus service at stops along the important Naco-Perrin and Thousand Oaks Corridors. Making streets and sidewalks more walkable and pedestrian-friendly will allow for safe travel between our homes and the nearest public transit stop. We can create user-friendly continuous bicycle lanes that actually allow riders to move between important commercial and employment centers without being exposed to vehicular traffic. Taking these cost-effective steps, along with smart additions to our road systems, will help sustain and improve our quality of life and ease traffic congestion for years to come.
For District 10, smart expansions to our road systems would include improving access to IH 35 from Judson, O’Connor and Thousand Oaks. Additional turning lanes at the east terminus of Thousand Oaks would be especially helpful. Lastly, renewed push to create a commuter rail link between San Antonio, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Kyle, Buda and Austin would create economic opportunity for District 10 and keep some traffic off of IH 35 during rush hour.
Our senior centers play an important role in making San Antonio a modern multigenerational city. They provide access to socialization, arts and crafts, nutrition, field trips and wellness checkups that are intended to help senior citizens to maintain an independent lifestyle. But they could do so much more. Senior centers should be open longer and provide more access to outside groups. The city should partner with our health organizations to provide more comprehensive clinical services. Our colleges and universities should be invited to create continuing education and training programs for older citizens who would like to remain active and embark on a new career. Our tech and innovation sectors should be invited to foster programs for creating retiree startup businesses. Professional and student cultural groups should be invited to perform at our senior centers on a regular basis. In addition, a relatively small boost in funding would increase availability of transportation and access for seniors who no longer drive. Implementing these changes would add greatly to the quality of life of all of our citizens.