Newsletter March 2008

Newsletter March 2008

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

Ted Trakas

Annual Meeting. We held our annual VJ neighborhood association meeting at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, January 22th, 2007, Colonies House, 3511 Colony Drive. District 8 Councilwoman Diane Cibrian was our guest speaker, and she spoke about a number of initiatives she was making in the district, as reported in the next 3 items.

Boobie Rock. As you have no doubt seen in the Express-News or heard on the radio, Judge David Peeples ruled against Boobie Rock, sighting that the strip club would violate covenants on the property. The attorneys for Boobie Rock have the right to take the case to the 4th Court of Appeals.

Tree Planting. City Council passed a tree planting ordinance on January 31 that uses monies that developers pay to the City to offset removal of trees. Prior to this initiative, these monies were gathering dust somewhere in the City’s accounting system. (For details, see the separate article in this issue.) Congratulations to Councilwoman Cibrian, who was the main force behind
the ordinance. I think Councilwoman Lourdes Galvan had the quote of the day at the council meeting when she thank Cibrian for “not only having a good idea but finding the pot of gold to pay for it”.

4118 Honeycomb Drive. Under D8 auspices, VJ and Honeycomb Condo associations reached an agreement with Chris Pettit on the re-zoning of the property at 4118 Honeycomb Drive. Details about this agreement are contained in an article you will find in this issue.

11043 Vance Jackson. Nothing significant to report.

3235 Rock Creek Run. It would be hard for me to summarize what is involved with the group home on Rock Creek Run so I have written a separate article. If you like happy endings, I suggest you do not read it.

2008 Officers:
President – Ted Trakas (The Summit)
Vice President – Ann Ryan (River Oaks)
Secretary – Norma Baird (Charter Oaks Condos)
Treasurer Pro Temp – Woody Halsey (Charter Oaks, 699-6098)
Newsletter Editor and Database Manager – Victor Camacho (Colonies North)

 

The Group Home
At
3235 Rock Creek Run

June Katchik, Peggy Hughes and I met with Mr. Mayo Galindo about the case of the group home on Rock Creek Run. Mr. Galindo was most gracious and knowledgeable on property issues. I will try to make a long story short, and hopefully I will get the story straight.

The deed restrictions on this property probably would have prevented the creation of a group home, but they were filed on April 25, 1966 for a stated time period of 40 years. The restrictions allowed for a process of automatic renewal unless affected parties filed to nullify or modify them, which was not done. So obviously the restrictions should still be in force, right? Au contraire. Our wonderful Texas state legislature passed a law in 2005 which nullified automatic renewal of deed restrictions, so the restrictions lapsed!

Hence, the deed restrictions that residents, I think, rightly thought were protecting them were stealthily undone by the legislature. Amazing. The rule of law reverts back to what the City allows, and frankly, in San Antonio that is not saying a lot.

A wider moral of the story is . . . the 2005 law which the state passed – and who were their constituents again? – has general application. If you have deed restrictions that you thought were going to automatically roll over, think again.

2008 Citywide Tree Plan Enhancements

(Malcolm Matthews, Parks & Recreation)

SUMMARY:
An ordinance to enhance the Citywide Tree Plan, establishes a Citywide Street Tree Planting Initiative and continues the Parks Tree Planting Program which will facilitate the planting of approximately 1,200 new trees, and amends the appropriate budget.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:
The Tree Mitigation Fund was established to allow for the payment of fees in lieu of preservation or reforestation during development. The Tree Mitigation Fund is utilized to pay for the Citywide Tree Program which includes public education activities, tree planting, maintenance, and preservation programs.
This effort will facilitate the planting of approximately 3,500 trees. Staff has developed a strategy to enhance the Citywide Tree Plan. The following program and new initiative will provide for an additional 1,200 trees.

Parks Tree Planting Program (800 trees)
This enhanced program, implemented in 2007, will allow the City to plant an additional 800 new trees within each City Council District to increase the current tree canopy in all City parks. Funds will also be used to help establish a tree nursery at the new Parks and Recreation Operations Headquarters. Over 800 trees were planted in Year 1 of the program and tree canopy maintenance was completed on 50 trees.

Citywide Street Tree Planting Initiative (400 trees)
This pilot program will initiate street tree plantings in public rights-of-way, to include installation and an initial maintenance period. The initiative will plant 400 large trees along highly developed corridors to clean the air, provide cooler temperatures, reduce the mowing footprint, decrease stormwater and pollutants, and beautify public streets. The selected corridors for these projects have been impacted by tree canopy removal; have a declining canopy; are over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone; and/or have sufficient space within the public right-of-way to safely accommodate new trees.

Staff initially proposed three project sites to include: 1) Potranco Road  (Districts 4, 6); 2) Vance Jackson Road (District 8), and 3) Lone Star Boulevard (District 4) corridors. During the January 22, 2008 Quality of Life Committee meeting, a motion was approved to recommend the development of an  additional project within Districts 1 and 5. Staff will be working with Council Districts 1 and 5 to develop the project and identify the corridor by February 28, 2008. Each of these 4 projects will include the planting of 100 trees in
areas selected in close coordination with Council Districts.

This ordinance was coordinated with the Development Services Department, the City Arborist, City Forester, and the Open Space Committee. Based on a Council Consideration Request (CCR) initiated by Councilwoman Diane G. Cibrian, Council District 8, this amendment and associated programs were
presented to the Governance Committee on January 16, 2008. The  Committee’s recommendation was that this item be presented to the Quality of Life Council Committee on January 22, 2008 and then scheduled for City Council consideration on January 31, 2008.

ISSUE:
Protecting and increasing the tree canopy provides the following community benefits:

  • Increases infiltration in permeable land areas essential to storm water management
  • Mitigates air, dust, noise, heat and chemical pollution and reduces soil erosion
  • Reduces the “heat island” effect of impervious surfaces
  • Provides a landscape and sound buffer that promotes, pedestrian friendly streetscapes

The FY08 annual budget process appropriated $901,544 from the Tree Mitigation Fund to establish the Tree Mitigation Budget and provides for the following programs, initiatives, and activities within the Citywide Tree Program. These efforts will facilitate the planting of approximately 3,500 trees this year:

  • Neighborhood and Commercial Tree Challenge Programs. These Programs allow residents, neighborhood associations, and non-profits to plant and care for trees. Over 400 trees will be planted in FY08.
  • VIA Bus Stop Initiative. This new initiative will allow volunteers to plant and VIA to maintain trees at bus stops in each council district, with 110 trees being planted in FY08.
  • Downtown Tree Planting Program. This new initiative will plant 250 trees in the Downtown Central Business District in FY08.
  • Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Initiative. This program funds the acquisition of 1,200 trees for TxDOT to plant and maintain these trees at the intersection of IH-10/Loop 410.
  • Community Tree Planting Outreach. This new initiative supports educational and outreach programs, and includes the distribution of 1,100 one-gallon trees, at no cost to community members. All recipients receive proper planting and maintenance instructions along with information about the particular species received.
  • Afforestation Program. This program will plant 300 trees in areas to increase ecological function, increase tree canopy, and reduce stormwater runoff and erosion.

With this action, the Parks and Recreation Department will take the lead in the implementation of the City’s tree canopy programs. The Development Services Department will continue to concentrate on the regulatory authority and enforcement of the Unified Development Code for commercial and residential
development. The Parks and Recreation Department will focus on managing a healthy, safe, and biologically diverse urban forest for the City.

ALTERNATIVES:
Protecting and increasing the City’s tree canopy reduces erosion, improves stormwater management, mitigates pollution, and provides many other benefits. The Tree Mitigation Fund was established and is utilized to pay for tree planting, preservation, and maintenance programs. The Citywide Street Tree Planting Initiative and the Parks Tree Planting Program supports the City’s goals of tree preservation and enhancement. If the amendment is not approved, the tree canopy will not be increased, and the increased benefits to storm water, air quality, and water quality will not be achieved.

FISCAL IMPACT:

Funds in the amount of $600,000.00 are available in the Tree Mitigation Fund. Approval of this ordinance amends the Tree Mitigation Fund and appropriates funds in the amount of $600,000.00 to be payable as follows:

$468,000.00 Fees to Professional Contractors
$10,000.00 Rental of Equipment
$76,000.00 Botanical and Agricultural Supplies
$6,000.00 Tools and Equipment
$40,000.00 Maintenance & Repairs

RECOMMENDATION:
Staff recommends approval of this ordinance amending the Tree Mitigation Budget and authorizing the appropriation of $600,000.00 from the Tree Mitigation Fund to establish a Citywide Street Tree Planting Initiative and continue the Parks Tree Planting Program.

[Prez Message: Above are the agenda notes for City Council Agenda Item #31 on January 31, 2008. This item passed unanimously. One of the first projects will be planting 100 trees in the median along Vance Jackson between Woodstone Street and UTSA Boulevard.]

What Do You Really Know About Digital Billboards?

On December 6, 2007, the City Council passed an ordinance allowing billboard companies to install digital sign faces on 15 existing signs in San Antonio. By December 2008, the City Council will review the effect of these signs and vote to either allow more or not allow more. The Mayor has signaled that everyone should be ready to express his/her opinion throughout the “second round”. We have also heard that some decisions may be made within 6 months.

Most San Antonio citizens don’t like billboards but assume that they are the “price of progress” and cannot be stopped. Actually, this is not true. Over 250 cities and towns in Texas have banned all new billboards. City councils in cities and towns throughout Texas can decide to not allow the replacing of existing sign faces with digital signage or to not allow any new billboard construction.

It is your elected representative’s responsibility to form good public policy, not settle for something much less, as nine San Antonio City Council members did on December 6, 2007. They listened to the billboard industry and made up their minds before you, the public, had the opportunity to have your opinion truly considered.

This year Scenic San Antonio will provide your organization with a series of articles to explain the issues surrounding billboards and solicit your support when billboards come before City Council again.

Scenic San Antonio is a member organization. VJ has joined as an association. If you would like to join as an individual, the dues are $30. Mail to: Scenic Texas, Inc./ 3015 Richmond, Suite 220/ Houston, Texas 77098.

Submit an entry to our Billboard Clutter Contest!
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Send us a picture or identify a location that has lots of billboards. If selected, we will show you how it could look without those distractions.
Send all entries to: Bill Bourne, Co-Chair, Scenic San Antonio
2007 S. Presa/ SATX 78210

WBOURNE001@satx.rr.com
Due by April 15, 2008.
By June Kachtik