The Southtown area has many shops and restaurants that make it what seems to me anyway, like a small town within a big city.  The Urban Farm Stand, at 1423 S. Presa, between the King William and Lavaca neighborhoods, is one of those shops.  It is a year-round, indoor farmers market operated by Karen Haynes and Patti Hinkley.  It opened December 11, 2015.  As would be expected, the shop has a wide variety of organic and locally produced items.

Read more: The Urban Farm Stand – A Unique Shopping Experience

Time to throw out the lingering pile of Christmas gift catalogs that have flooded the mailbox and formed a seismically challenged tower on the end of the kitchen counter.

Among the oddities ranging from Star Wars everything to portable wine chillers (home or office!), the most conspicuous item was a mistletoe drone.  A tiny quadcopter with a dangling sprig of romance-inducing parasite.  The catalog offered the happy opportunity to buy them by the half dozen to spark up that magic moment at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Imagine a squadron hovering in perfect, steady, semi-silent formation above your tipsy guests.

Read more: City Lights: February 2016

Each year I select a theme for my newsletter articles.  In 2015 the theme was volunteers. This year I have chosen “Sustainability” because of: HDRC cases regarding xeriscape and solar panels; zoning cases and surrounding infill development projects which affect parking availability; and finally historic preservation.  

 “Conceptually, sustainable development emerged as a result of significant concerns about the unintended social, environmental, and economic consequences of rapid population growth, economic growth, and consumption of natural resources.”* One factor which has influenced the topic of sustainability is the built environment which in turn has created the Green Building Council, LEED certification, Energy STAR ratings, plus products such as solar panels, water saving toilets, respectively meant to reduce carbon emissions and, reduce water usage.

Read more: 2016 - Year of Sustainability

When I was hired to help organize the King William Fair in February 2008, Rose Kanusky was serving as the Fair Chair for the third year in a row.  She worked very hard in that capacity, and had come to see that the small, informal gathering that began as a low-key party among neighbors in 1968 had grown to become a large, highly-complex festival that could no longer be run by volunteers alone.  She and the King William Association Board of Directors had the vision to see that along with the growing popularity of the Fair had come such pressing issues as crowd safety, liability, environmental issues, technology and new city policies, all of which required professional organizational support, if the fair was to continue to thrive.

Since then, I’ve been blessed to have wonderful staff support from Cherise Bell, Monika Perez-Moad, Susan Rothman, Carol Jackson and Syeira Budd.  Together, we’ve worked hard to maintain the unique character and neighborhood charm of the Fair, while also instituting the policies and procedures envisioned by Rose to foster the growth, safety and success of the KWA’s primary fundraiser. 

Read more: 2015: Year of the Volunteer – The Grand Finale

I like SAY Sí because when I walk in the door, I feel normal.”  “No one judges me at SAY Sí.”  I like being able to express myself using different mediums in art.”  “It’s so much fun, and I have made lasting friendships there.”  “I like the technical training.”  

These were quotes resonating from my morning carpool with my daughter, Laura, a 10th grader at the North East School of the Arts, and her classmate and neighborhood friend, Bygoe Zubiate, a 10th grader at the International School of the Americas.  Both girls have attended the SAY Sí art program since middle school and both girls are excited to continue their art training in the program.  They liken the program to their sport of choice.  And, just like any extracurricular, their dedication to the arts through SAY Sí is evident in their schedules.  As part of the curriculum, students must log at least eight hours per week, generally completed after school and on Saturdays.  It’s a demanding schedule on top of school work and other commitments, but talk to any SAY Sí student, and the first thing they will tell you is that, if they could, they would spend even more time there. 

Read more: Why We Like SAY Sí

The little piece of land adjacent to the Conservation Society known as Pedro Huizar Park is about to get a makeover.  First, VIA is planning to relocate one of the “tri-party”/”pagoda”-style bus shelters from downtown to the park located at the corner of King William and S. St. Mary’s Streets.  It will be complete with lighting and a brick paver pad matching that of the Conservation Society’s driveway.  This will be a big improvement over what is currently there, providing some shelter for bus riders.  

Read more: Pedro Huizar Park and Bus Stop Update

My mother was a Francophile.  She attended a convent school run by French nuns and she was always very fluent in the language, even writing in French to friends.  She made certain that our childhood included trips to Paris.  That was all about walking endlessly, street food, elegant food, blue collar dining, and the edifying march past the great art works of the world in kilometers of museum galleries. 

Just now I’m sitting at her little provincial writing desk looking through the rain drops on the window, or are they tears?

Read more: City Lights: December 2015

The H-E-B South Flores Market officially opened to the public on December 2.  Located at the corner of Cesar Chavez Boulevard and S. Flores Street, the 12,000-square-foot market is within walking distance of the River Walk and King William.  

“At the H-E-B South Flores Market, our customers can grab lunch on the go, shop for everyday essentials and pantry staples, enjoy a relaxing meal on the patio and even fuel up their vehicle,” said Nick George, Store Director.

Read more: H-E-B Opens South Flores Market

I came home Saturday evening, just at dusk, after having walked downtown to run errands.  I ambled up the driveway to the back door fumbling for keys with one hand; the other holding the afternoon’s spoils from my consumer expedition.  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed something odd, a dark shadow between the leaves of the doors of my tool shed.  The shadow was a gap, the doors were open and the compartment inside was empty.  No more bicycle, bicycle pump, or helmet.

Read more: City Lights: November 2015

Living in an historic district comes with responsibilities.  Any changes to the exterior of a property must have a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) from the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) or the Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC).  This does not take the place of required permits, but allows one to proceed towards the permitting process.  Work done without a COA is subject to a $500 application fee and a Stop-Work order may be issued. 

Read more: Architectural Advisory Committee – Here to Help

KWA wins its fourth Centro BEST award.  Since 2012, KWA has won an award every year from Centro’s BEST award.  This year KWA submitted a nomination to Centro BEST in the category of BEST Downtown Neighborhood. 

BEST Wild Card category was won by Alamo Beer Company which is owned and operated by neighbor and KWA member Eugene Simor.  Alamo Beer Company made their debut at the KW Fair in 2015 and will be back in 2016.  Congratulations! 

- Cherise Bell

I am a walker.  I walk every day in the neighborhood and on the river walk.  I admit I am not a dog owner, having been bit by a dog when I was 18 years old I have a respect and yes, fear of dogs.  I like dogs, but I stand clear of striking distance.  With all the new apartments there are more people walking.  More people means more dog walking also.  I like the interaction of greeting people and their dogs when I walk.  

Having your dogs on a leash is the law.  Picking up poop after your dog is also the law.  To all my neighbors I ask for your courtesy, please leash your dog and clean up after your dog.  On Labor Day I witnessed a dog attack another dog.  Both dogs were leashed but for whatever reason, the one dog attacked.  This event was traumatizing for all involved including the mom and son whose dog initiated the attack.  They were stunned. 

Read more: Dog Days of Summer

The Graffiti Abatement Program (GAP) is working on some new initiatives.  Would you like to get active in our program?

Reporting Graffiti is easy!

Any writing, etching or scrawling without permission, is considered graffiti and is illegal.  Getting it cleaned up is key to preventing more!  Report graffiti on City owned or private property via phone to 311, online at sanantonio.gov, or download the 311 app.  If you spot vulgar graffiti, please report this as soon as possible.  Cusswords, lewd drawings, etc., will be removed promptly.  If graffiti is on non-City owned property, such as bus stops, utility poles, highway signs, etc., you will need to contact that agency directly, or you can call our hotline at 207-BUFF (2833).

If you see someone committing the crime of graffiti vandalism, report it immediately to 207-SAPD (7273), with a detailed description of the offender. 

Volunteer Workshop

Learn the history of the graffiti program and how to properly report and remove unsightly graffiti in your neighborhood using free supplies provided at the workshop. Held the last Thursday and Saturday mornings of each month.  For more information contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 207-5430. 

 - Lisa McKenzie, Neighborhood Services Coordinator/Graffiti Development Services Department, City of San Antonio

Volunteers needed!

Volunteers needed for King William area – we need help removing graffiti and stickers.  Adopt a block!  Contact the KWA office at 210-227-8786 or info@ ourkwa.org.

 

Many of my friends know that in my vanished youth I worked as the architect for archaeological excavations in southern Italy and Turkey. The Turkish job offer was a bolt out of the blue from Harvard’s Fogg Museum. For a century the museum has supported work at Sardis, about 95 kilometers inland from the Aegean coast. 

Prior to my departure I received a package containing various supplies with instructions to include them in my baggage. The one package that concerned me was a kilo bag of crystallized restoration glue. it looked exactly like a bag of crack cocaine. 

Read more: City Lights: October 2015

So far we have been singing the praises of our long-time volunteers, but we are lucky to have kids in our neighborhood who also volunteer.

Nico asked his mom, Maureen, if he could help with the 2014 King William home tour. Nico was handed a script and greeted guests on the front porch at 241 King William. Not an easy assignment as the front porch volunteer had to check tickets, provide information and monitor traffic flow.

Jared is seen at many KWA socials and meetings. You may not have known that he helps set up and breakdown these events, moving chairs, loading and unloading his mom’s car. Jared is not only helping his mom out as the KWA Social Chair, he is accumulating hours needed to get his Boy Scout merit badge.

Read more: Year of the Volunteer: Kids

Have you ever found yourself in the embarrassing situation of not knowing that there are 10 historical markers in the King William district? Yes, I know. Maybe you do know the location of one or two markers, but can you remember what they say? Can you accurately describe to a visitor the shortest route to the Altgelt-Isbell House Historical Marker? Fear no more my fellow King Williamites! There are plenty of options to satisfy your historical marker hunger. Here are your options:

First, the basics. If you are using a computer, type “San Antonio Historical Markers” in the Google search page. This will produce a list with a link to Google Maps. For some algorithmic reason I cannot get the same result by typing the same query from within the Google Maps website.

Now, you can also use your smartphone. All apps do more or less the same things: they can give you a list of nearby markers, as long as you have your geo-location option activated, and they display the text of the marker. In the Google App Store I found four apps with very creative and distinctive names: Texas Historical Markers, TX Historical Markers, Historical Markers of Texas and Texas Markers. 

Read more: Historic Markers Go High Tech

The San Antonio Police Department is creating a new Street Crimes Unit (SCU). The SCU will replace the current POP and Gang Units and the result will be a streamlining of what had been overlapping responsibilities of those two units.

The main benefit to taxpayers will be that several of the uniformed officers formerly from the POP/Gang Units will be re-deployed to the six patrol substations to provide better geographic coverage and help to further improve response times city-wide. The redistribution will allow for an expansion of the Downtown Bike Patrol Unit, increasing the coverage into areas like King William/Southtown and VIA’s new Downtown Transit Center.

Read more: New SAPD Unit Targets Street Crimes, Boosts Patrol Numbers