In a case that was widely reported in local media, the City Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) narrowly allowed installation of 45 photovoltaic solar panels on a historic home at the corner of Mission and Eagleland.  32 of these panels will be on roof surfaces that are not easily seen from the public right-of-way, consistent with most installations approved by HDRC in King William and other historic districts.  Because the house is on a corner lot, however, 13 panels will be visible from Eagleland, and these panels have been a source of controversy.

For the record, we present statements by Mickey Conrad, architect and chair of the KWA Architectural Advisory Committee, and by former state representative Mike Villarreal, owner and resident of the house.  As this newsletter goes to press, we understand that the HDRC will discuss guidelines for solar installations in historic districts at their February 17 meeting.

Technology Enhances Our Neighborhood

My family recently applied for city authorization to install solar panels on the back and side of our home – a request opposed by the KWA management and Architectural Advisory Committee.  I would like to explain the situation from my family’s perspective.

In a case that was widely reported in local media, the City Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) narrowly allowed installation of 45 photovoltaic solar panels on a historic home at the corner of Mission and Eagleland.  32 of these panels will be on roof surfaces that are not easily seen from the public right-of-way, consistent with most installations approved by HDRC in King William and other historic districts.  Because the house is on a corner lot, however, 13 panels will be visible from Eagleland, and these panels have been a source of controversy.

For the record, we present statements by Mickey Conrad, architect and chair of the KWA Architectural Advisory Committee, and by former state representative Mike Villarreal, owner and resident of the house.  As this newsletter goes to press, we understand that the HDRC will discuss guidelines for solar installations in historic districts at their February 17 meeting.

Striving for a Balance of  Preservation and Sustainability

In the introduction to the City of San Antonio Historic Design Guidelines, Shannon Shae Miller, Historic Preservation Officer, provides good answers to the question “Why Preserve?”  Shannon cites the benefits of preservation on several levels including cultural, economic and environmental.  The Guidelines are plainly written and help anyone wanting answers to basic questions about preservation and how to go about it.  They can be accessed online at: sanantonio.gov/portals/0/Files/HistoricPreservation/1_UsingtheHistoricDesignGuidelines.pdf

In its end of the year issue, the San Antonio Current published its first-ever “People Issue” featuring 20 folks selected for doing captivating work in the Alamo City.

We are delighted that “The 20 Most Captivating People in San Antonio This Year” list includes three of our neighbors: Naomi Shihab Nye, poet and author, and Angela and Rick Martinez, owners and operators of Slab Cinema. 

For the full story and to see the wonderful photo portraits by Josh Huskins, go to sacurrent.com/sanantonio/the-people-issue/Content?oid=2494692

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) recently awarded the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) a nonpoint pollution source grant from federal Clean Water Act Section 319 funds administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The grant will allow SARA to inspire actions for healthy creeks and rivers by constructing stormwater treatment retrofits at its main office at 100 E. Guenther.

The new downtown HEB grocery store opened on December 2, 2015, at the corner of S. Flores St. and Caesar Chavez Blvd., with fanfare and speeches by Mayor Taylor, store officers and other dignitaries.  If you have not been there yet I encourage you to go.  At first, I was a Doubting Thomas because of its small size compared to other local stores.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  It is unique, and when you only need a few things it is nice to be able to walk to the grocery. 

Essential oils are most recognized for their stimulating and calming aromas.  However, what is less known is their ability to assist in natural immune support, mental clarity and emotional relief.  Much research has been established to support the efficacy of essential oils but still many people are not aware or educated about the potential of these plant-based oils when used safely and properly.

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.

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.

The King William Association (KWA) Charter was filed with the State of Texas in 1967. One of the purposes of the Association was to “foster and promote the cooperation and support of individuals, business groups, and governmental units in developing tourist attractions in the general area and in strengthening the economic and cultural life of the surrounding area.”

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.

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. 

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. 

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.  

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?

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.

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.

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

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. 

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