Final map of new San Antonio City Council districts nears official completion
A redistricting advisory committee has voted to leave Brackenridge Park solely in City Council District 1 after much debate on Tuesday.
San Antonio has gained 100,000 residents since 2010 and was the fastest growing major U.S. city this past year, according to census officials. The map for 10 city council districts has been redrawn in an effort to evenly divide that new population.
The city has nearly 1.5 million residents now.
Brackenridge Park has historically been in Districts 1 and 2 in recent decades. District 2 Activist Pharoah Clark said East Side residents wanted the park to officially remain in the council district that includes the largely Black neighborhood. About 7% of the city's total population is Black, according to neighbor leaders at the meeting.
Clark said the area has endured many slights over many decades, including the current gentrification now underway.
"We don't have one movie theatre, we don't have one hospital, we don't have one bowling alley, and the last thing that we have is a nice park that our kids are able to go to and enjoy on the weekend with their family."
District 1 residents said leaving the park solely in their neighborhood will give them more political clout over traffic issues. The new map brings together all of the River Road neighborhood, for example, into District 1.
Residents on the road are concerned about San Antonio Zoo traffic backing up in the spring and summer months. Planning also continues for expansion of the Sunken Gardens Theater, which could attract thousands of concert goers to the Brackenridge neighborhood in the future. There are worries about neighborhood access by emergency vehicles during the zoo and park's busiest days during the warmer months of the year.
While Tuesday's meeting by the committee was labeled a map "cleanup" — to iron out final details where little or no population would be affected — the overall final draft map did not leave all residents citywide pleased with the outcome.
Some residents worried about property values climbing or dropping based on placement in districts considered wealthier or poorer than others, but the Bexar Appraisal District told Texas Public Radio this past property tax season that those values are based on the price of what homes in a neighborhood are selling for.
While the committee fielded many complaints, Joel Garcia, a resident who has served on the committee in the past, turned out at Tuesday's meeting to praise their months of work.
"I can tell that you have put in a lot of work very diligently and have really have gone to the heart of what your mandate is of redistricting, providing for equitability of population across the districts of the City of San Antonio (while) also maintaining a meticulous geographic nature within the boundaries as well," he said.
The new map faces one more meeting before the redistricting committee on June 7. The final draft map is scheduled to go to the full city council on June 16.