Challenges will continue to face our neighborhood in the near and long term as development continues to change the character of properties within our boundaries and in our surrounding area. At our May general membership meeting you heard our member’s displeasure with the proposed installation of generic VIA bus stops within our association’s boundaries. The proposed bus stops have no historical identity with our neighborhood and degrade the integrity of our preservation efforts. The City has also planned for installation of pedestrian lights that many of our members questioned. Changes such as these are recommended for approval through the Office of Historical Preservation (OHP), then reviewed and approved by the Historical Design & Review Committee (HDRC) and then perhaps the Board of Adjustments (BoA). Unfortunately these plans were approved even after the KWA Architectural Advisory Committee raised valid issues why these installations should not be allowed. The KWA position, as echoed in our membership input meetings, is to keep our neighborhood historic by following simple historic preservation concepts. Allowing non-historically based modifications and installations means that the character of this valued asset in the City of San Antonio is rapidly being depreciated.
In a time when San Antonio is hopeful of a being designated a UNESCO World Heritage site we should be stepping-up our efforts to protect San Antonio’s rich historic past and safeguard its unique differentiating qualities. Preservation is the key to protecting San Antonio’s distinguishing features. What’s going on San Antonio? Are you willing to lose your characteristic identity to developers? I wonder if it’s not time to review, analyze, and challenge the decision made by City offices and committees that allow this slow, constant deterioration of our city’s resources. It appears that insensitivity to citizens needs and the Unified Development Code has created an unwanted custom in which granting “variances” has become the rule rather than the exception. One solution is to allow decision making bodies that address code compliance enforcement and preservation issues to operate independently. This allows them the independence required to follow and enforce the Unified Development Code.
Many changes will continue to take place. Some changes we will agree with, some we won’t. We are beginning to open doors to voice our views with some of the city planning groups. In the past, we have always reached mutually agreed to solutions with our city officials. And, we hope to continue our dialog to reach equitable outcomes to try to protect those differentiating qualities that identify San Antonio as one of the leading tourist destinations in the country. The challenge for the King William Association and this neighborhood in the near and long term will be to get ahead of the curve and address changes that don’t fit our neighborhood and to voice our opinion with conviction, integrity and perseverance.