Do you think the city council should strip neighborhood districts from the code until neighborhood studies have been conducted?

Neighborhood character studies have garnered new interest recently as Code SMTX has moved closer to approval by the San Marcos City Council. 

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted to approve the code with the recommendation that neighborhood districts – which would allow for different housing types, including small multi-family, in established single-family neighborhoods – be stripped out of the code until the neighborhood studies can be completed. Numerous residents, including many from the Heritage area, have asked the council to follow the commission’s recommendation and complete the neighborhood character studies first. 

Those for stripping neighborhood districts from the code say it threatens the character of the neighborhoods and gives developers options to change the look and feel of neighborhoods. Those for keeping the neighborhood districts in the code say removing the neighborhood districts would mean resorting back to current residential zoning districts that residents have complained in various workshops.

As currently written in the Code, in order for any neighborhood district to be utilized in an established single family neighborhood, the land would have to go through a complete rezoning process. No land is proposed to be rezoned through the adoption of Code SMTX so this would be a completely separate process requested by the property owner which would utilize the additional public notice and participation items included in the new code and require a recommendation from the Planning & Zoning Commission and a decision from City Council to approve the zoning change.

Editor's Note: City staff requested the language in the last paragraph be added to better describe the situation.

No, removing neighborhood districts would mean keeping current problematic zoning districts.
57% (276 votes)
Yes, neighborhood studies should be completed before adding it to Code SMTX.
43% (205 votes)
Total votes: 481


The wording of the "No" response is mis-leading and therefore weighted. It states there is a problem with current zoning and does not offer any explanations with that statement. City staff is saying that current zoning is problematic and city staff is using that view as a reason to keep Neighborhood Districts in the new code. There are many people who disagree with staff's view of current zoning and see this comment by staff as a way to cloud the issue and sway the public's view/knowledge/opinion of Neighborhood Character studies. Please correct this unintentional (I assume) oversight on the Record's part. I believe the second voting option should be precise and accurate and be offered as...... "No, Neighborhood Districts should be kept in Code SMTX without further input from neighborhoods." This is a much more honest way to portray what a "No" vote is actually saying. Please call with any questions. Thanks, Amy Meeks

I agree with Amy. Option 1 is poorly worded, misleading and confusing.

Code SMTX is basically fine. It has taken countless hours of work on the part of many people to construct it. But a number of us feel that it has a frightening flaw: As currently written, it will allow “smart”, or sort of automatic, formulaic and potentially dense new construction in neighborhoods that really haven’t been defined yet. The city’s master plan clearly specified that there should be character studies done of each neighborhood before new zoning laws are adopted that will forever alter those neighborhoods. But studies haven’t happened yet. 9 Planning-Zoning commissioners studied this issue extensively, before agreeing with the master plan and recommending that CHARACTER STUDIES BE DONE FIRST before “neighborhood districts” are adopted as a way to cure current zoning problems. We agree with PZ. What’s the rush? There’s only one chance to get this right before our vulnerable single-family neighborhoods are thrown open to potentially dense, unstoppable “infill” development.

These studies will help ensure that the characters of neighborhoods is maintained. The neighborhood districts are a good thing, but we want to ensure that they are not used by developers and out-of-state owners as a way to make cash in the rental market while damaging the existing neighborhoods and doing little to expand the affordability of housing.

I agree with Amy. This is pretty confusing. Thanks for giving people a chance to vote. I just hope they understand what they are voting for or against.

Neighborhood studies are necessary and long overdue

It seems logical to me to conduct the character studies of the neighborhood districts before including them in the LDC. Such studies, if done carefully, would help in determining what types of development were appropriate in each district from the public as well as city staff. Also we might realize that the number of districts may need to be increased, decreased or kept as proposed based on these studies. Let's take the time to do it right.

No I don't believe the code should be eliminated

As mentioned by Amy Meeks, the wording is misleading and I mistakenly voted No. I stand corrected and vote YES. We do need character studies. Why oh why must the wording of these measures be obtuse?

Complete the neighborhood character studies first. That was the intent of the comprehensive plan.

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San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666