Growth and city form
During the past decade San Antonio has been losing its competitive market position for single-family housing within the metro area; developers and homebuyers are looking outside city boundaries in unincorporated Bexar County. However, this large amount of development still relies on City services and infrastructure.
Since 2000, residential development has been located mainly in the north and northwestern portions of the county. But those areas are nearing build-out with a lack of available land, traffic congestion, topographic constraints and challenges for utility services. Land capacity will likely push future residential growth more to the west and south. The City’s policies and infrastructure (utilities, schools, services) will determine whether we attract development into San Antonio or continue expanding into other counties.
The City’s Comprehensive Plan Initial Studies found that there is not enough residentially-zoned land to accommodate forecasted demand for housing in several areas of the city, especially to the north if development continues with the same density and patterns. Increasing the density of some neighborhoods and the average density of single-family development will reduce the demand for additional land. Rezoning the vacant and underutilized commercial and industrial parcels (inside Loop 410) will allow development of residentially-focused mixed-use neighborhoods, greatly increasing the housing supply and walkability. Currently, only 14% of San Antonio’s neighborhoods offer walkability (defined as very or somewhat walkable), and most of those are in our historic districts.
At the same time, our historic neighborhoods are central to life in San Antonio. The 27 historic districts offer some of the most desirable places to live in San Antonio. Property values within historic districts have increased more than in other areas. They offer the characteristics of neighborhood types that are in demand locally and nationally, including walkability (all historic districts have higher Walk Scores than the citywide average), a greater mix of uses and shorter commute times to work. The City can develop policies to encourage higher-density housing in some areas while preserving our existing neighborhoods.