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City council meetings will consider airport parking issues and financial aid for local artists

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Jack Morgan
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The San Antonio City Council this week will discuss parking issues at the international airport and federal COVID relief dollars for struggling artists.

The council first takes up airport parking at its first meeting of the week on Wednesday. In an effort to better optimize the airport's 9,000 short-term, long-term, and economy parking capacities, outside contractors are expected to be brought in to take over parking management.

City officials said it has become standard practice for medium and large hub airports across the country to privatize parking operations.

The city said it expects the chosen contractors to offer continued employment to the 61 city workers who oversee parking matters at the airport with similar pay levels and benefits.

City officials said air travel has made a strong recovery since the beginning of the pandemic.

The short-term parking garage has reached capacity close to 60 times this year, and the economy lots reached capacity twice this spring, something that normally occurs only during the peak travel periods around Christmas and Thanksgiving.

The council during its Thursday meeting will consider approving a list of local artists and arts organizations it deems eligible to receive federal COVID-19 funds.

If approved by the council, 136 individual artists would share $1 million in recovery funds, while 46 non-profit organizations will divide $5 million among themselves.

The city council has also allocated $5 million from the American Rescue Plan to help the arts get back to work.

City officials said nearly one out of every five local professional artists have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

In other recent business, the city has announced plans to place solar panels at 80 city-owned facilities to directly generate renewable energy back into them.

City officials also said they seek qualified solar developers for the next couple of months that will later install panels on rooftops and parking facilities at city buildings across the city.

The buildings selected were chosen for their technical feasibility and likely cost-effectiveness, including police and fire facilities, some libraries and community centers, the City Tower, the Alamodome, the airport and Market Square.

City officials said solar power is a good energy option since San Antonio sees around 250 sunny days a year.

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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian