What the city should consider before voting on changes about CCHIP and the Fee Waiver Program (Opinion)

By Cynthia Spielman

Please write your Council member and the mayor to postpone the adoption of the CCHIP and ICRIP (Fee Waiver Program) changes so that it can go through a more meaningful public input process to protect affordability and our communities and neighborhoods. The proposed CCHIP and ICRIP changes should go through a public process and discussion before they are adopted.

The proposed changes to the CCHIP and ICRIP (now Fee Waiver Program) which are heavily subsidized incentive programs for developers were presented to B-Session of City Council on Nov. 15. They are due for a vote in December. (See the end of this for recent and easy to understand articles on the subject.) There are several issues of concern that need to be addressed, although the list is not complete

  • Taxpayers should not be subsidizing luxury developments when there may not be a need to spur economic development in the downtown area.
  • Incentives should include meaningful affordable housing component.
  • The proposed CCHIP changes are not supported by the Comprehensive Plan. The targeted areas should be in the thirteen Regional Centers not just the downtown Regional Center.
  • CoSA’s definition of “affordable” bears scrutiny. The City is using HUD/Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) which includes the area around Bexar County which is higher than using an Average Median Income (AMI) based on the 2016 census tracts specific to San Antonio. The result is when CoSA states that part of a development is making housing affordable to those making 80% AMI they are using MSA data, which is closer to 100% AMI using census tract data.
  • The tax figures used in the City Manager’s office’s presentation may severely underestimate the tax burden which justifies excluding more affordable housing.
  • Once these developments are sold, the developer can keep all of the profit. There is no “clawback” or recovery for lost city tax revenue.
  • The CHIP and ICRIP changes can contribute to displacement from our inner-city neighborhoods creating a “suburbanization of poverty.”

 

Several Council members, particularly District 4’s Rey Saldana, expressed concern about the proposed changes.

It is important that we contact our Council members and the Mayor requesting that the adoption of the CCHIP and Fee Waiver Program be postponed and go through a transparent and public input

Please read the following articles that are informative and clear:

“CCHIP should include affordable housing.” Ashley Smith. SAProgressive.com. November 18, 2018“

“Are developers receiving incentives they don’t need?” Ben Olivo. SAHeron.com. October 5, 2018. (Part 2)

“Downtown housing incentives are changing. Here’s why you should care.” Ben Olivo. SAHeron.com. September 11, 2018. (Part 1)