Scroll down to see the questions from the Runoff Candidate Forum, then click on the link to jump to that spot in the video with the candidates’ answer.
The City Council District 1 Runoff Candidate Forum with Roberto Treviño and Mario Bravo was hosted by NOWCastSA on May 19, 2021.
Special thanks to the sponsors of the event: Mary Johnson, Christina Wright, Cynthia Spielman from Tier One Neighborhood Coalition, Tobin Hill Community Association, Killen, Griffin & Farrimond, Lynn Knapik, Jim Bailey, and Irby Hightower.
Watch the entire video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpLhGjdW5g4
1. The property tax rate increase is now at an average of 7% per residence. As the state tax bill continues to increase, so do the market appraisal values. Homeowners are encouraged to protest the inflated appraisal values to reduce the amount of taxes they owe, however the system is set up to pay the bill. If values decrease, then the tax rate percentage is increased. Meanwhile, the City of San Antonio receives only 55 cents per $100 of the taxable property values. With so many significant demands on the budget, including aging infrastructure, and the glaring economic segregation that exists between district areas, it is difficult to make sense of the decisions made by City Council and the appointed boards and commissions to give developers tax break incentives. What can be done to relieve the burden on residents?
2. Yes or no, do you support developer incentive tax relief?
3. San Antonio’s homeless population is more than 2,900 people, according to the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless, and that number is projected to increase. While the work is being done to create policy, adjust the budget, and find resources – none of which are an immediate solution – the day-to-day challenges are impacting community well-being for everyone. How can City Council provide resources for the homeless population without burdening the surrounding neighborhood residents?
4. One of the most critical city documents, as far as impact to residents, is the Unified Development Code, or UDC. Problems with this document include exemptions and loopholes, language barriers, and ambiguity which forces residents, boards and commissions to rely on staff interpretations. Often these interpretations are applied inconsistently, and the generous use of administrative approvals leave the public out of the development process. One city department, the Development Services Department, is in charge of this document, its interpretation, and its enforcement. The Development Services Department is funded through the issuance of building permits, creating an incentive for city staff to approve more applications than they might otherwise. What policy changes would you make? Where would you start?
5. What can be done to ensure that the public process is followed for all variances and exceptions? How can the city provide more transparency and oversight in decisions and interpretations?
6. Neighborhood associations and residents are forced to act as representatives or enforcers of their neighborhood or sub area plans and overlay districts not only against developers and investors, but with the Development Services Department as well. When development requests that are counter to legal ordinances are approved and the input of the community is ignored, overruled, or lost in translation, significant damages can occur to our communities, not only in the built environment but to its residents as well as they face displacement. How would you enhance neighborhood empowerment or ensure that neighborhoods are at the forefront of the discussions?
7. Voter data from the general election shows that District 1 largely voted in favor of Proposition B. In fact, more people voted on the proposition than voted for mayor. The majority of District 1 voters are in favor of at least some level of police reform. What will your priorities be to ensure your constituents’ concerns about police accountability are represented?
8. Infrastructure in District 1 is some of the oldest in the city. Many neighborhoods are missing sidewalks or never had them, and streets lack curbs or need repaving. At the same time, citizens have witnessed the repaving of streets only to have San Antonio Water Systems come through soon after to do work, undoing all the repairs that had just taken place, or find they can not use the sidewalks they do have without it being obstructed by a CPS pole due to the placement of a CPS pole or other obstacle. How would you prioritize and facilitate infrastructure improvements in the district?
9. What is your covid recovery plan to help small business owners?
10. In the last two city bond issues, Hemisfair got more than 30 million dollars, Market Square received peanuts. How will you help small businesses in your district?
11. What are your specific plans including actions and timetables for helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Will you commit to shutting down the dirty Spruce Coal Plant before 2030, yes or no?
12. This summer CPS Energy has indicated that they are contemplating resuming cutting off people for non-payment of utilities. Should we eliminate utility disconnections as a policy for those below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines?
13. Voters approved Proposition A, which basically says that the city can spend bond dollars on things like affordable housing and economic development. What do you think the priority should be in the next bond cycle or how do you think those dollars should be spent?
14. What is your long-term vision for growth and development in Tobin Hill?