We are requesting that five council members co-sponsor the CCR for a Neighborhood Commission.
Justification, Context, and History
Now in 2021, neighborhoods are still advocating for a voice to ensure government processes engage neighborhood communities in their policy and administrative process. Neighborhoods are still advocating for a voice to ensure City services are supporting neighborhoods and responding to their dynamic needs.
In her recent commentary, “Decade of Downtown,” Councilwoman Dr. Rocha Garcia states, “…we have the rare opportunity to align our priorities by developing a comprehensive approach and bringing it to implementation. By ensuring our proposed policies meet the needs voiced by our residents, we have a chance to be bold in this “Decade of Neighborhoods.” How can CoSA execute a city-wide strategic effort that "can generate excitement in a resident-centric vision for our neighborhoods?"
A Neighborhood Commission will create a transparent and inclusive resident input mechanism that will allow residents to have an authentic voice in the decision-making process about their neighborhoods in keeping with the Public Participation Administrative Directive (2019) which seeks "to foster meaningful civic engagement with our residents...and to further establish trust with residents...use residents' feedback for the purpose of strengthening City programs, policies, and initiatives." The Directive continues: "Engaged residents are fundamental to the health of City government. The successful development of policy and implementation of City programs depends on meaningful civic engagement, which engenders trust and accountability between the community and the government that serves it."
A Neighborhood Commission would be the bridge to build trust and accountability particularly in light of the elimination of the Neighborhood Engagement team and duties from the Neighborhood and Housing Services Department and the elimination of the City Council Committee on Culture and Neighborhood Services. There no longer exists a lens or platform for neighborhood residents' issues.
In the recent SA 2020 study, "Strengthening the City of San Antonio's Public Engagement Efforts Report & Recommendations" (May 2021) that will guide Government & Public Affair's Public Engagement Implementation Plan, of the 39 focus group participants, not one was a neighborhood representative, leader, or advocate resulting in a plan for residents instead of with residents. In the recent bond requests that have been released to the media, very few come from identified neighborhood sources. The City continues to move forward in key processes and neighborhood residents have, yet again, been left behind.
The establishment of a Neighborhood Commission is important in establishing trust and a collaborative relationship between CoSA and its residents.