Daily Record graphic by Colton Ashabranner
Library hosts community discussion on SMTX 4 All
SMTX 4 All, the City of San Marcos’ workforce housing strategic initiative, held a community conversation Monday night at the public library.
Residents heard a presentation from city planning manager Abby Gillfillan about SMTX 4 All’s research on housing needs in San Marcos, and about the initial draft of the city’s strategic housing action plan. Additionally, attendees had table discussions with city staff and members of the city’s workforce housing task force. Gillfillan said these events are important to help receive feedback from the community as the task force continues to work on its action plan.
“(These conversations) are really important because a lot of what this is about is understanding this really complex issue of housing,” Gillfillan said. “You can’t understand it if you’re not having this conversation in the community.”
The task force, with information gathered by Root Policy Research in the San Marcos Housing Needs Assessment, found four key needs for housing in San Marcos:
Additional affordable rentals for residents earning less than $25,000.
Prevention of displacement.
Homes priced near or below $200,000 and increased ownership product diversity.
Improvement of the condition and accessibility of existing housing stock.
In the initial draft of the strategic action housing plan, which was released on June 17, established four goals to address the city’s needs — 1. Expand opportunities for housing. 2. Preserve and enhance existing housing stock. 3. Leverage community and regional partners. 4. Quantify and meet the housing needs and future residents.
The initial draft proposes a three-year action plan with five actions that will provide “the greatest potential for impact and options for near-term implementation:” 1. Clear Path Permitting. 2. Shared Equity. 3. Land Banking. 4. Accommodate Growth through Appropriate Zoning. 5. Owner Occupied Rehabilitation.
Lucien Banton, who attended Monday’s conversation, said he came to hear what members of the community had to say about housing in San Marcos
“What brought me here was just I wanted to learn more or be more informed about some of the observations I see in the community in terms of what all the neighbors are saying in terms of students,” Banton said. “Everything is geared toward students. All housing is geared toward students and it makes it difficult to find a place to live. And also, the increase in property value and the lack of increase in income.
“I just really came out to get some quantifiable information to go with what I’ve heard in passing. I’m passionate about fighting displacement wherever it is because the people that that affects are those who are most vulnerable and are typically people of color. And that’s just a place where I’ve volunteered my time and most of my career and life. As I see some of the changes happening in San Marcos, I feel like it’s important to get plugged in and involved and be a part of the solution, and change the direction of how we built a community.”
Monday was one of many conversations the housing task force has had with the community. Gillfillan said each presentation is different.
“Some of them are hosted, like we went to CTMC and talked to their leadership team, so that one is different,” Gillfillan said. “We went to Hays County Women’s Center and talked to their staff. Each one is different depending on where we’re at. This one was a public meeting. Another one similar to this was when the chamber (of commerce) held a public policy forum, so that one was a mix of people. Sometimes we have people that are similar because they’re in a group.”
Banton is glad to see that San Marcos is making an effort to address San Marcos’ housing needs.
“It’s exciting to see that the city has put in a lot of research and a lot of time in trying to find a solution, especially combating homelessness and trying to get ahead of it before it becomes a bigger problem,” Banton said. “I think it’s a great cause that the city is looking forward and trying to be proactive.”
The strategic housing action plan initial draft is available for public viewing and comment on the SMTX 4 All website.