On August 15, 2016, Tier One Neighborhood Coalition (T1NC) sent a request to Mayor Ivy Taylor and City Manager Sheryl Sculley to create a Neighborhood Commission stating, “T1NC strongly believes that neighborhoods are an integral part of the City’s foundation and future and are essential to the quality of life of its residents,” and subsequently met about the need to for neighborhood residents to have a voice in their city government. The original request focused on implementation of the newly adopted SA Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan in our neighborhoods, bolstered by the acknowledgment in the Comprehensive Plan that "Our neighborhoods are the bedrock of the San Antonio Community" (1.12) In July 2019, T1NC talks continued with the Mayor Ron Nirenberg's office through Victoria Gonzalez (Senior Policy Director).
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?"
The Neighborhood Commission would serve as a recommending body in issues that would directly impact neighborhood residents. The Commission would advise from a neighborhood perspective and promote a "Community-based process". The Commission would make recommendations to the mayor, city council, city manager, and city department directors, to further communication, transparency, and collaboration, as well as advise on the the implementation of the SA Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan in our neighborhoods, capital projects, and city services that affect 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.