Transcript: Hays Street Bridge and Council Vote


Click on the speaker's name to jump straight to their comments in the video.


District 2 Councilman Art Hall

This is an issue that has been ongoing for many years. We’ve seen documents and discussion dating as far back as 2002, and then we had another iteration in 2012, and most of us in council have not been involved in any of those decisions.

But what we’re trying to do here today is do our best to recognize that, number one, there have been wrongs that were done and decisions that were made that many of us on council now might not have made those same decisions.

But we have a new council and a mayor who are interested in doing what we can to right any wrong that may have been done. And so I’m hoping, and I’ve heard a lot of comments back today that we have not listened and that we have broken the trust.

Our goal today is to let you know that we are listening, and I think taking up this issue today in the manner that we are taking it up hopefully says in part that we are and that part of the aim today is to bridge and rebuild that trust and start anew with a reset.

But to do that, we had to make tough decisions, and part of those tough decisions, number one, was to look at where are we right now, and how can we move forward based on where we are, and from my understanding from our attorneys, that there is a property owner that is not the city and that property owner has entitlements and rights to build.

And so, at least for me coming in trying to help solve the issue, I’ve got to start from that perspective: recognizing that there have been issues in the past, but at the same time, I’ve got an existing reality that I have to deal with in order to be able to resolve the issue.

And so, recognizing the fact that there is a property owner that is not the city, I had to approach that property owner and see what we could do to even be at the table. So I want to first thank Mitch (Meyer) for first being open to sitting at the table with me, to at least look at the potential of the city doing something so it could regain that property and put that property ownership back in the city’s hands.

And so we had several discussions there, and where we are today, it was very different from where we started. Because there was a lot of back-and-forth and so at the end of the day, what I was trying to do was come up with something that took us from where we are, but also created the notion what I call value-to-value.

I wanted to be able to let council know that, first of all, we have a piece of property that, over time, has been in an area that has increased in values, and so we’ve got to look at that. We’ve got to look at the fact that his entitlements were based on rules that were different than what they are now. And so basically I was trying to see if I could lift those same rules and structures that were in place back then into a new piece of property, and looking particularly at the value-to-value proposition based on appraisals.

And so we got appraisals on both properties. We used the same appraiser on both properties and that appraiser was an independent appraiser and a certified appraiser apart from the city. And so I feel confident that the value and the evaluations that were provided by that appraiser were accurate and reflect the true value of the properties. One was 1.6 and the other was 1.5, so the difference is slight there.

So I understand the concerns. We say that the original purchase price for that piece of property was $295,000. Those are not at the values that are in that location today, and so in order to even start this whole process, I had to begin with the property owner and figure out how we could at least cover the table and we’ve done that.

From there, it’s been conversation after conversation. I tell folks that there’s been six groups that I’ve had to work with to build to be where we are today. Number one, the property owner. Number two, the Hayes Street registration group. Number three, Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association. Number four, the Denver Heights Neighborhood Association.  Number five, I have to be able to work with Council to get something they can support. And number six, there’s got to be something that the community as a whole can support.

That’s a lot of folks. That’s a lot of stakeholders, that’s a lot of interests, and not all of them are going to be the exact same thing. And so to come up with the resolution and a compromise requires just that. Compromise.

And I heard somebody say that when you work to develop a compromise, it’s very difficult to have complete 100% consensus. I think Liz (Franklin) said that.

And so I think it’s clear here today that we don’t have 100% consensus and there are very few issues where we have 100% consensus, particularly one that is controversial, so our goal then is to do what we can to get the highest level of consensus that we can to solve an issue and in this particular case right or wrong. And I think we’ve gotten to a point today where that conversation is happening and that resolution can happen as well.

I want to say thank you to the Hayes Street (Bridge) Restoration Group, particularly to Nettie Hinton, to Gary Houston, and the late Doug Steadman. You all from the get go, from 2002, this was your project, Nettie, and you’ve been certain to let us know that and so I appreciate all the effort that you’ve given to this issue and to your community to make sure it stays at the forefront.

And working with Esperanza group to help push, and they’ve done a great job of that -- Graciela, Yanis, Amy Kastely who is a very big friend of mine and a colleague of mine who is away in New York right now in bereavement -- and so I want to recognize her, her work, and the value that I have in her as another attorney, who has dedicated her life and her mission in life to lots of great causes for free.

She, to my understanding, is doing this work and has been doing this work over these 7 or 8 years pro bono, and so that says a lot about Amy, says a lot about this cause that she stands for, so I want to certainly recognize that today.

And so to all those folks who are part of the Restoration Group, thank you for continuing to advocate, continuing to push, even when sometimes it doesn’t seem like folks are listening.

I want to say on behalf of myself and this council that we appreciate your advocacy and all those who came to advocate today as well, to Dignowity, particularly to Liz and to Nikolas if he’s still here, and all those folks who I personally met, and I know (Assistant City Manager) Lori (Houston) and (City Manager) Eric (Walsh) met, and (City Attorney) Andy Segovia as well.

We appreciate your advocacy and we know that there was a division within the group and years past, but the (Dignowity Hill) Neighborhood Association had supported the project previously and we’re still looking at some sort of economic development on this piece of property.

Dignowity has advocated for Ella Austin (Community Center) and doing something better for Ella than what they’re currently located, Dignowity has advocated for affordable housing on this location and affordable housing in general, and so we want to say I appreciate that advocacy and they’ve also been concerned that an additional park two streets away from a larger park and funding that is short on the larger park could cause issues with this particular location just in general.

So they are advocates for more money for parks and when we do have park space that we make sure that we do what is right and utilize them and provide those parks and those communities with sufficient funding to be able to do that.

So part of their hesitancy, and I want to recognize that today, was that another park might not necessarily get the attention that those parks deserve, particularly when we have so many other parks that have many needs so I want to recognize Dignowity in their advocacy and some of their issues that they cited as well.

Miss Green and Aubrey Lewis from Denver Heights (Neighborhood Association), thank you all for being open to meeting so many times as well. We did take into consideration your number one issue which we heard up front, which was the height, and limiting to five stories. And so that from our early on discussions was front and center so hopefully that helps on that particular issue, but I also want to say thank you Denver Heights, Aubrey and his leadership team, Maria, for again advocating for Ella.

And I’m hoping Councilwoman Jada Andrea Sullivan is in the chambers today, that there have been several, and I’ll add my name to this list, that Ella Austin is in a city facility that needs a lot of work. And so if we can’t do the work there at that location let’s support Ella Austin somewhere.

I appreciate Denver Heights, I appreciate Dignowity advocating for Ella Austin and for a location for Ella Austin. Perhaps if not on this area, not on the exchange property, bu somewhere else. And they also advocated for SAGE, they also advocated for the NAACP. So I talked a little bit about the swap and so that’s part of the issue that we had to first cross the hurdle to get to where we are.

And so that’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a solution that’s on the table and the solution that got us to the table and the solution that will at least begin the discussion from the property being back in the city’s hands.

So then the second issue has been what do we do with the property 803 and 815 once it’s back in the city’s hands? And there was again a wide variety of perspectives. We had one side that wanted to be open to economic development, affordable housing structures, that kind of thing. We had the other side that wants solely dedicated to our park and the original language was that we put in the ordinance was kind of right in the middle.

But we heard loud and clear that that was not sufficient and so I will be making a motion here in a second that goes to that extreme, placing the land back into a public park in the city’s hands, number one, but as a designated public park, and whatever community discussions happen from there start from that basis as a public park. And I’ll tell you two reasons for doing that. Again, going from a middle position to one that recognizes and designates as a park.

Number one, and I appreciate the Mayor for reminding me of this and the entire Council, is that we have a history here, and part of that history has been litigation. We want to do whatever we can to just stop the fighting and get as close as we can to staying out of the courts and resolving the issue once and for all.

And so the best way we can do that, and looking at what has been the issue, is, number one ownership which we’re solving today.

But the second issue is a park and if we have something other than a park and discussion that might lead to something other than a park, we open ourselves up to further battles, further division within the community and so that position would not solve this issue.

And so the language that we’re going to come up with here in a second will be solving that issue and getting to the designation of a park and recognizing all the history and so forth that goes along with it.

The second piece of that of why we’re going to the side of a designated park is to recognize and Graciela has made this point and I appreciate that-- recognize the history that’s here, the hard work that has been on this piece of property by Nettie and Mr. Steadman and Gary and others, and all the history that has happened before.

And we can’t neglect that, and put aside that history. Where we start from here today should be a recognition of that history and a couple things that Graciela sent me that I’d like to submit into the record tell a part of that history.

Number one, in 2006-- and this is when i was on council the first time around, and this is by a grant application from Tom Wyndorf, who has been long since gone from the City of San Antonio, and oversaw the TCI public works.

And so public works is no longer public works, it’s now TCI, but this grant application was pretty detailed about the community conversations that happened and pretty detailed about a park and detailed about what should go into that park in recognition of the depot and folks that work there and so forth.

And even though we didn’t get this grant it still deserves recognition of work that was done and community work that was done and advocacy that was done back then. And so part of moving today to do a park instead of something right in the middle recognizes this.

She also gave me the 2007 ordinance from council that recognizes the donation of land from the  Bud Co company and I’d like to-- I know it’s part of the record, but I’m going to submit that as part of the record as well. And then she gave me some information about the history of the bridge and some of the history of the work that’s been done, written by Doug Steadman who passed away, and so all of this is important history.

We talk a lot about history here on this council and how important it is to recognize that and value that and I’d like to do that today and hopefully our decision today, although not a perfect one on many different levels, I do think it resolves and recognizes a lot that should be recognized today.

My final statement is I just want to say thank you to the mayor and council for entrusting me, number one, just to sit in this position for the time that I have and then number two, to take on this particular issue, I’ve tried to solve lots of controversial issues during my 5 months on council and this is one of those, that frankly, I saw and wanted to help resolve and particularly focus in on the next council member to make sure hat council member has the smoothest opportunity without controversy as a starting point.

My goal during this time period has been to resolve as many of those controversial issues that have been there out standing for a lot of years, there have been several of them, and to get those resolved so that when she starts next Thursday that she has the best opportunity for success and non-controversy as possible.

So thank you council for all of that and Eric and Andy, you guys have been there every step of the way and I appreciate that. When the city manager shows up to a meeting and when the city attorney shows up to a meeting, that means something, and that means that they’re invested.

They’re interested, they’re working hard to solve an issue with the community, but they’re also making sure that their resolution is in line with council and the mayor and all those issues that they’re supporting.

And so I want to thank Eric and Andy for all of that. And then Councilwoman Gonzalez has often said particularly on this issue that there is no hero in today's decision, because it’s been a constant of issues. I appreciate that point and that perspective. But if there was a hero, the one person that I would like to recognize and say thank you to is Laurie.

Laurie has been a strong advocate, a strong hard worker, on this particular issue. We’ve not always been on the same side, but we’ve figured out how to get on the same side. I’ve never really had the real opportunity to work really closely to Laurie before.

This has been that opportunity and I’ve enjoyed working with you, Laurie. I respect you, I respect your ethic.We’ve been texting, emailing, you know, sometimes at 11:30 at night. I remember one time we were emailing and texting, 11:30, 12 o clock at night, and I didn’t realize all her other stuff but she was presenting on the scooters the very next day and dealing with all those issues the very next day.

But that just shows how hard our staff works to get things done, to address the issues that council raises and so certainly, I want to thank you, Laurie, for everything you’ve done on this particular issue and all the support you’ve given me and council on this issue.

Something I said about Eric and others way back when is that the good folks get the hard issues, and this was a hard issue, and you’ve had some others but I certainly know that this was a hard issue.

I think you got it because, number one, you had experience with it, but number two, you’re a hard worker and you’re going to help me and help council figure out how to get this done and so I want to say thank you for that. Let me just say one larger comment about affordable housing, and I should’ve said it earlier, but I’m going to say it now.

When I was interviewed for this position and just coming in, there were three issues that really stood out. Scooters were at the top of the list, the equity budget and bonds and so forth that this council has prioritized, and this mayor has prioritized.

But the third issue, and it really was the first one, has been affordable housing. Every council has a theme and things that they’re focusing on and I will tell the community that, from an outsider coming in, the number one issue that this council has been focusing on has been affordable housing.

It’s not been without its hiccups and this council is trying to solve those hiccups. What I want to say to you all is that affordable housing is the key issue for this council and it will continue to be so. So I don’t want anything dealing with this vote to downgrade that.

We had a piece of property, have a piece of property that’s been dedicated to affordable housing. We’re taking half of that to resolve a bigger issue. A big issue.

The other half is still going to be dedicated to affordable housing either on the property itself, or the proceeds going to affordable housing. But at the same time I want to recognize the fact that affordable housing is a huge issue here in San Antonio.

I looked at everything that we’re doing, Laurie sent me a list of everything that we’re doing for affordable housing in district 2. There are hundreds, I want to say thousands, of units that have been built for affordable housing and are planned to be built for affordable housing in District 2. And that’s just District 2.

I’m sure there’s same numbers all across the city, so know that affordable housing is and will continue to be an issue for this council, and solving all the issues related to affordable housing. We’re not going to solve affordable housing with a 1.7 piece of a bigger piece of property, or a 4-acre piece of property.

There are lots of other properties as Liz has mentioned that are open and available for affordable housing, and so there are opportunities that we can continue to push for affordable housing in District 2 and in the Near Eastside of District 2.

I trust Jada and others in this council will look for every opportunity to continue to do that. What we’re doing today-- and we’ve got lots of different issues that we’re prioritizing, but in this one instance we’re prioritizing an issue that’s been around for two decades.

We’ll continue to take on that affordable housing issue in other areas, but today’s priority is through solving that issue, right that wrong, and make sure that we rebuild and regain and restart that process of gaining the trust with our community, and in particular, District 2.

Legislation here:

The future use of 803 and 815 North Cherry will be as a public park, dedicated to the historic Hayes Street Bridge, which stands as a significant reminder of 18th century wrought iron engineering of the railroad industry and of the San Antonians who worked on the railroads, many of whom were African-American or Mexican-American.

District 4 Councilman Rey Saldaña

Thank you, Mayor. And this is my last official council meeting that we’re actually conducting business in, and there was a part of me that was hoping it was gonna be all happiness, hugs, and handshakes, but I was wrong.

So I recognize that we’re past the lunch hour, so I want to make sure that folks know that because this is my last council meeting, I’m not trying to be long-winded but I am just trying to make sure that you all understand what’s in my head as a policy maker, standing a little bit on the outside of District 2, trying to make a decision for the entire district, areas, impacted residents, people who are coming in here from areas that are not specifically the Eastside, and that’s how I come at this because I don’t represent the area, but obviously this is a stake in the ground that represents more than just the Eastside.

This is an iconic bridge that is recognized by-- when you look at a news station or you watch a commercial, everybody’s eyes seem to be pinned on the Hays Street Bridge and it’s for good reason. But before I make those comments, I think it’s important for us to recognize that we are only here talking about this bridge because there are people with power, and the question of power has come up a lot.

Who has power? Who gets to deal with the decisions within the city? And the only reason we’re making a decision on this, that we’re talking about Hays Street Bridge, is because of the Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group.

To be led by Nettie Hinton, of course the folks from whether it’s Graciela, Amy Kastely, Yaneth Flores, these are folks who have been leading efforts of people to talk about this issue, and they’ve made headlines because this has touched a nerve in the city.

Let me also recognize that this is mostly a group of women, who have been pounding the streets, drumming the narrative and the beat that we should care about Hays Street Bridge and it should be something that everybody weighs in on.

And that’s why I’m glad I have the opportunity to weigh in as a councilman for District 4 on the Southwest Side, talking about an issue on the Eastside with the permission of our councilperson in District 2 who’s been very open unlike, you know, some other situations where sometimes it’s, “Hey, this is my council district, I take the lead, you follow my lead on this.” Councilman Hall has been much to the contrary, open to our input and our feedback on this.

And I want to just say that when you come to city hall as a council representative, you don't get to come in with a clean slate. You have to come to city hall with all of the baggage and the bad decisions that this institution has made. And if you were to average and add up all of the decisions made about and ot the Eastside, they would come up short with respect to a question that has come up here, which is this question of justice. Has proper justice been delivered to District 2?

Has the quality of resources and attention and time been paid its due to the east side and it has not, it comes up short. We as a city council have to come into this institution, and it’s not just the Eastside, we have to come into this institution where we know there’s this idea that you can’t fight City Hall.

I don't know a better example of what this restoration group has done over the last seven years, going through lawsuit and lawsuit and press conference and rally. What they’ve done but fight City Hall at every step of the turn? The question is can you fight City Hall, and it comes down to who has power.

And again, we’re only here because the folks that are most powerful that have raised voices, that have organized, and that have gotten community members together have raised the consciousness of this city council. And look, here’s the question. There’s two in my head on this issue, and on this vote.

Does this deal, land swap included, correct an injustice that was done in 2012?  And the question of applying one injustice to clean up another injustice doesn't make sense in my head, and it shouldn't in yours either. So here’s the question about trust that keeps coming back, because I know that the Eastside has struggled with this.

And trust is a fragile thing. It’s easy to lose and it’s incredibly hard to gain back. We will vote on this today and we will not get the community's trust back. That takes much more time than the vote that we’re going to take here today.

It really sort of hurts me to say this, but this is part of my atonement for a decision that I was part of. I have atonement to pay for my name being on a decision in 2012 that really started this whole thing. Nobody else on the council can lay blame at their feet as much as I can because I am the only one still here that was on the city council whose name is on the decision in 2012 to go into this deal.

And the idea back then, I’m going to own it because it was wrong, was that we wanted to believe that the Eastside needed more investment. And the proper way to do that was to try to get some folks to invest in the Eastside.

And I know that sometimes you get exactly what you ask for, and we’ve seen the development and we’ve seen how quickly the speed and the velocity of that has impacted people to the point that they’re coming here and telling us that my neighborhood is no longer looking the way it did because I’ve grown up here for 30, 40, 50 years, 60 years, and something is happening and changing.

And I  have to ask forgiveness for not seeing past the several years of development that occurred here. So I want to point something out, that Aseco Gomez pointed out, and you are wise beyond your years, Aseco, I don’t know how old you are, but you said you can't give something back that was ours to begin with... and we're trying to clean up a mess that is not going to be truly justice in anyone's mind.

We’re trying to take back this land that originally was the city of San Antonio's, we made a mistake giving it away to begin with, but now we’re in this position where we’ve got to chew on and swallow this bitter pill, that the person who owns is not, in my eyes, the kind of actor that I would ever consider to be good faith in his willingness to want to see the best for the East Side community. That’s not who we’re dealing with here. And that person owns the land.

And so again, does the land swap correct the injustice? And I don't think it does.

But the second question I have is, does it at the very least achieve the goals of the folks who have been fighting the longest for this? And the goal was from what I heard,  and I’m almost tempted to call up members of the Restoration Group but I don’t do that because you don’t need to be on record here, the goal that I heard was we want this land to be open and public and we want the viewshed protected.

And the language that Art has, our councilman Hall has laid out, is tighter than the language that you read a week ago. This is not a discussion of whether this is going to be a park and whether this is going to be left up to the community. He clearly laid out that there's no more debate.

This is going to be public, open land, and that's what we were trying to achieve here. There’s this popular notion about the Restoration Group and the people behind it, that you’re never going to make them happy, and that’s not our goal.

We don’t want to make you happy because I would be disappointed if the activists and the voices and the folks who come up here with signs who find a reason to fight City Hall I would be dissatisfied if you were happy, because you make this process as difficult and as tension-filled and as hurtful as it might be to us, to have to hear about how we are disingenuous.

We need to hear those things, so I don’t need you to be satisfied, I need you to have an urgency to continue to work, I need you to have an urgency to continue to fight, especially because I’m on my way out, continue to fight the rest of this council and continue to fight city hall but remember we’re here because of you.

We’re here because you decided this was an issue worth fighting for, for Nettie Hinton's and the legacies of this bridge, of Mr Steadman’s and Mr. Houston's legacy is not going to fall on deaf ears here.

We’re trying our best to clean up this mess. It won’t be clean, we won’t get everybody’s trust back, but that’s not the point of this vote. I know and I recognize that people are hurting, that there is this hurt in the community and we feel it and we see it, the voices and the eyes of these young people who come up here.

So let me just finally end with this, which is the best advice that I was given about coming into elected office-- Aseco, remember this because you’ll be up here soon-- is that the most comfortable pillow you can sleep on at night is a clean conscience.

And I have been trying to sleep on that decision in 2012, but the more and more I know about it, the more I am educated about it, it makes it so hard to sleep on that decision, so I ask forgiveness for being part of that and we're trying in some way to regain the trust we have lost. It takes twice as long to rebuild bridges that you burn, but we're going to try to do it piece by piece here.

And so, with that, thank you to Nettie, you've been a real shining lighthouse on the East Side… it's going to be a real gap in my life to not see you as often from this point, but I know I’m going to see you in the community whether it’s at the friendly spot or fighting your next fight.

And with that, mayor, I know that there’s a lot of folks who want to weigh in on this, but let me pay my respects to the women who have led this organization, who have led the movement of people and who are trying to give power back to those same people. Thank you, mayor.

District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse

Just a couple of quick notes-- and, you know, same thing with my colleague from District 4, Rey and I departing at the same time, and I would have not thought that my last vote would be in concert and complete agreement with Rey. I thought it would be you.

But no, I think Councilman Saldana hit the nail on the head and stole some of my notes here. So I’m going to piggyback on what Rey mentioned and just add a little bit into consensus. When I was listening to a lot of folks talking, and I have been consistently against this entire process from the beginning.

I felt it should have been public land, the city made series of mistakes. It never should have gotten to this point and it should have ended a long time ago and you know I’ve stood on that ground pretty solid.

Councilman (Hall), you’ve done everything you could to find a consensus, and I appreciate your hard work so my comments are not a reflection of your lack of effort, it’s just a reflection of another which seems to be controversial vote from a lame duck council. We’ve seen these types of things come through before that are rushed, so that you get a vote in for the next council seated, so that they don’t have to handle the controversy.

Well, you ran through City Council, welcome to controversy. I mean, I think the councilman elect is more than capable of handling much more public participation on it. I’ve seen, I voted for her to take the seat-- sorry, Councilman (Hall)-- you know, and I knew, I liked, I think the council member could have handled it, the councilman-elect could have done the work.

So the rush to me didn’t make a lot of sense, again on the lame duck vote reminds me of barge deals and other things that are done quickly so people can have less accountability. Next, when they’re seated in the next council.

So I don’t get it, I don’t understand it but at the end of the day, hard to build consensus or hard to find consensus when it is built on corruption. So at the end of the day, the neighborhood was victim of a corrupt decision, insider deals, backroom deals.

Former Mayor Hardberger with Eugene Seymour, you go right down the line, practically money laundering.

You know, it’s a pretty simple, straightforward process what happened here. Somebody on the inside got taken care of and the neighborhood lost. And when the neighborhood lost, we’re sitting here, acting like doing something great for them when it should just never just happen in the first place, so the neighborhood is already at a net negative no matter what. That's probably what upsets me the most.

And maybe it’s my last chance to talk on council, it’s letting me go a little freewheel, but I’m just sorry for that, that that happened.

My vote will be a no today period, not because of a reflection of the hard work of council member Shaw, it's a no a reflection that this was corrupt from the beginning. And it never should have happened, the city should have conceded a long time ago and never filed those lawsuits, never lost all the way up to the Supreme Court and they should have honored what was best and right about what the community wanted.

And what we are witnessing today I’ll be honest with you, it’s about a park, sure, and it’s about Hays Street Bridge, but what we’re seeing is a community clinging to its life, that’s what you’re seeing. And now it's Denver Heights, nobody said much when it was Dignowity Hills, we got concerned Mahncke Park and we’re pumping tens of millions of dollars into gentrified areas, and we’re moving into Denver Heights.

Denver Heights is now screaming. I mean, at what point are we going to say we have to be very careful with the lives that these people have built that is now going down in the name of growth and the decade of downtown or whatever the heck we’ve called it over the last ten years.

People are losing their homes, and what you're seeing is, all the way down to the young folks now, and they're screaming stop.

At some point have to worry about the hypocrisy of saying you're for affordable housing and then you turn around and you destroy neighborhoods by pumping tens of millions of dollars into developers pockets.

And here you go. So you know, you can’t have it both ways. There’s a middle ground, I get it, I don’t think this is a middle ground. Mr. Meyer knew he bought into a litigated property. I’m sorry, he did it, but he bought into a litigated property.

I don’t know Mr. Meyer, I ain’t spoken to him, but if you didn’t care enough to come talk to all the councilmembers, I’ll just tell it like it is. You bought into a litigated property now getting a pretty sweetheart deal to move down the street.

Maybe not in the primary you wanted it to be, but it’s a pretty good deal, the same deal that Eugene Seymour got because he’s best friends with Phil Hardberger. You don’t have to put two and two together, it’s pretty simple.

So I think at the end of the day,  I'm going to vote No in honor of what it should have been from the beginning. Thank you for the hard work, thank you Nettie, Graciela, and everybody, the hard work you’ve done. And I know Councilwoman (Jada Andrews) Sullivan would knock this out of the park just the same, so you get to come in a little on a clean ride.

And I’m pretty sure I'm going to be a 10-1 on this one, but hey, what’s new, what a way to close it out, right?

So I’m very appreciative when I see the neighborhood coming up, and the young folks, and you’re standing there and Aseco, you and Councilmember Saldaña is on point. You’re probably going to be up here someday, so fantastic words.

I sent you a note because I thought that don’t-- here’s a key point for you, Aseco, and anybody else who’s still here. Don’t lose your passion because you lose a vote. Don’t do that. I’ve lost many of them up here and I keep going every day, and I’ll keep going straight up until 1:15 today or whenever it ends for me.

It’s blessed, so don’t lose your passion when you lose a vote, please. The community cannot stop that. Don’t give up, just go your way if you’ve changed the dialogue a little bit, so just because you don’t want to vote doesn’t need to change a policy. Didn’t mean it’s not a little better or a little different because you fought for it. So you fought, may lose the vote overall, but you’re going to get your park, all right.

I hope we protect the viewshed and all the things that matter most so you’ve done a heck of a job to get here and I’m honored to throw my no vote down on this today for the hard work and the years that you have done. Thank you for your time and your energy and I really appreciate those who didn’t stay as well.

Thank you, Councilmember (Hall), I do appreciate what you’re attempting to do here, it was good work. But you know you’ve inherited a mess and you did the best you could, but thank you for your hard work as well.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg

I’ll be supporting the motion today, and I have some comments. I’ll be brief, but hopefully to the point. I’ve said up here on this dias for the past six years and I woke up today hopeful that a very long and ugly chapter for the city’s history will finally come to an end.

I still remain hopeful about that, and I want to appreciate and thank my outgoing colleague, Councilman Saldaña for his words. I think they ring true in every sense, and he described it as a moment of atonement and I agree with that.

In fact, that’s the reason why we’re doing this in the first place, it’s that many people in our community have been saying the same things over and over and over again since we’ve been here, and yet we find ourselves in this place.

There are some things that can’t be undone, and some things that can, and the two overarching questions about today are: what do we do first to overcome an injustice in our community? And two: how do we make sure that that never happens again?

As I was preparing to come in today, I had a thought that was just searing across my mind all morning, and so I wrote it down. And it said that “the arrogance of a bureaucracy lies not in people with bad intentions making bad decisions, it’s the people with the best of intentions making no decision at all.”

Today I’m glad to have a colleague who’s leaving, Councilman Hall, who has decided to urge us to action, in a way that we answer the first question very well. What are we doing to overcome an injustice?

Today you heard an amendment offered that makes sure that as the land comes back to the public, it will be a park.

It will be a park that recognizes the history, that does justice to the memory of those people who walked across, and then ensures the next generation of San Antonians will understand that piece of land remains a part of our history and our heritage, and part of our future. So I’ll be supportive for that reason.

The second question, though, how do we make sure that another Hayes Street never happens again? We’ve talked a lot about public participation, and I’ve heard very clearly the young lady who came up here. Wanda Perez, I think was her name.

She said that you guys should be listening to us. Your job is to listen to us. She said, do your job. It’s not enough just to be up here and listen, but people have to see action, and again, that’s why I’m glad to have city staff, a manager, colleagues, who have chosen to act today, but how do we make sure that Hayes Street  bridge doesn’t reverberate for another council term or another generation?

And I’ve made very clear to my colleagues and to our city manager that we will henceforth learn from Hayes Street bridge and make sure that the people’s land remains the people’s property, so long as they are calling the shots.

So we have to make sure that we develop a process of public participation that ensures that any conveyance of public property comes with healthy, robust and comprehensive public input. That’s my commitment as your mayor, to make sure that we solidify that process. I think only when that happens will we do justice for the entire two decades of Hayes Street Bridge and the controversy it’s become.

And it is unfortunate that this bridge has become a symbol of why people’s trust in government has waned, and local government, but I hope as a result of this action and the subsequent actions of this council and the future council, we will finally show that that bridge can live as a memory of those people who fought hard to ensure that its government serves its people.