Housing choice

Despite recent strong growth in San Antonio, we are facing increased housing competition from neighboring communities and unincorporated Bexar County. Land costs are lower outside the city, and we’ve not been annexing land during the past decade. As a result, we’ve been capturing a decreasing share of the regional growth in single-family housing. And the city’s capture of all types of new households in the metropolitan area has been declining steadily since 2000, from 77% of new units in 2001 to 58% in 2012. Decreased growth and not continuing to annex outward are not necessarily bad, but it does indicate that the city is becoming less competitive especially in the suburban single-family market.

The large, single-family developments in unincorporated areas of the county also generate large populations that rely on City infrastructure but are outside our land use controls and pay no property tax to the City. The Comprehensive Plan Initial Studies fiscal analysis found that new outward expansion is less fiscally beneficial to the City than are infill developments of all types. The analysis also found that compact, walkable communities offer three-to-four times greater fiscal benefits than do the traditional suburban residential neighborhoods than have been built during the past 50 years.

The City can ensure that land use designations and zoning districts allow and encourage a mixture of housing types and affordable housing units in development projects and provide incentives in targeted areas to increase the housing types that are in undersupply. We can also develop housing initiatives targeting not only the lowest income families, but also those with incomes between 80% and 120% of the median income. These initiatives facilitate the development of housing for low and moderate-income households in more affluent areas, while guarding against excessive gentrification within inner city neighborhoods.