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The photographs of San Antonio and Dignowity Hill used within this blog are the property of Juan A Garcia East Light Images. All rights are reserved to the owner. Copy and use of these pictures is forbidden without written permission. Contact Juan at for permission.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

POP on the Eastside

The recent article in the newspaper about using Problem Orient Policing (POP) on the Eastside gives me hope that the cops and the city have discovered a way to work together to really make a difference in cleaning things up. The cops on the Eastside generally do a good job but other city departments have historically lagged behind in enforcing code violations. But things seem to be changing for the better. This approach to policing is has been around for some time and has been used in other cities with success. But as the chief of police noted in the article, this is only a piece of the work that needs to be done. And he's right. If Eastside neighborhood residents really want to see change then collectively we need to do our part in the clean up. We need to continue reporting code violations, keep our properties cleaned up, work closely with our cops, report any criminal activity, hold our city officials accountable and take the attitude that our neighborhoods really matter.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Renewal Hope Continues for the Friedrich Building

The Friedrich building complex has been the topic of revitalization and economic development projects for over a decade. Built in 1925 it was the home of the Friedrich air conditioning company until 1990 when competitive pressures forced the company to relocate most of its operations to Mexico. Located on E. Commerce St just east of downtown it sits mostly vacant waiting for its moment of renewal. The building has a strong industrial look and feel with a healthy dose of historical significance. The old building complex is on the market again after several attempts in the past 10 years to breathe life back into it. During the recent series of economic summits that focused on the Eastside this building was chosen as among one the top 5 revitalization projects. For some in the community hope still lingers that the Eastside will someday benefit from the resurrection of this old building. In the meantime, life goes on.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The BRAC Thing

This past Monday Texas Public Radio broadcasted an interview with yours truly and our esteemed Council woman, Ivy Taylor. The interviewer wanted our take of the BRAC and what impact it will have on the surrounding neighborhoods. Then on Tuesday, Ms Taylor and I were part of panel discussion at st Phillip's College on the BRAC that was recorded for later broadcast by Texas Public Radio. Besides myself and the council woman, the panel included the post commander at Ft Sam Houston, Col. Mary Garr and city official, James Henderson. You can catch the interviews and panel discussion on line at:

In case you've been away for awhile, the BRAC at Ft Sam Houston will be bringing an estimated 12,000 troops to the post. The potential economic impact from this BRAC expansion is estimated to be $8.3 billion. On the surface it sounds like a huge impact but to put things into perspective 80% of that impact is due to the new construction currently taking place on the post. Once construction is finished then it is estimated that the economic impact will increase $1.6 billion annually with additional annual sales tax revenue of $4.9 million. During the construction period on the post an estimated 62,000 construction jobs could be created. After the BRAC is completed an estimated 15,000 jobs could potentially be supported by the community due to the increase in missions on the post. The on-going earnings potential from these post-BRAC jobs is estimated to be $1.3 billion annually. Pretty impressive!
Source for the above data: Ft. Sam Houston Economic Impact Update, March 2009,

So what does this all this mean to the neighborhoods the surround Ft Sam Houston? Well, at this point not much. Expectations had been raised that since no new housing would be built on the post for the expected influx of troops, the surrounding neighborhoods would be absorbing those folks. Realistically, that is not going to happen, at least not immediately. Neighborhoods such as Government Hill or Dignowity Hill are still in the nascent stages of revitalization with much work to be done on improving infrastructure, dealing with aging housing stock, and other quality of life issues. The current reality is that many of the troops that will initially make landfall at Ft Sam will be making home buying or house renting choices away from these historic neighborhoods. This has already occur ed with the first wave of troops and civilians that have arrived at Ft. Sam. There are other questions and issues that need to be addressed as well. For example, the New Braunfels Street gate that leads into Ft. Sam Houston from IH 35 has been closed since after 9-11. Having this gate closed has had an adverse effect on businesses on that corridor and on the Government Hill neighborhood. The military is not willing to either open up the gate again or even consider the possibility of engaging in a conversation with neighborhood or community leaders. Hmmm....interestingly, the logo for the BRAC tells us to Embrace BRAC but the current attitude from the military on the New Braunfels street gate issue is not exactly a warm abrazo!

But...I remain hopeful.....the best thing we can do at this point is to plan for the long term, continue revitalizing our neighborhoods, keep nudging both the city and military on finding ways to create positive solutions and most importantly, get over the fact that this BRAC thing is not all what it was hyped up to be for our neighborhoods!