Let’s give Code SMTX a chance

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

There is much hand-wringing and worry over the proposed Code SMTX – and more than a little sensational misinformation. As longtime residents of San Marcos and its historical districts, we believe it’s crucial that our fellow citizens realize that not everyone who has invested their lives in this community is dead set against Code SMTX. On the contrary, we see many ways in which Code SMTX will be good for our neighborhoods.

Change is scary, but as San Marcos grows, we all must accept that some change is inevitable. Code SMTX was developed to create ways to address that change. It’s not perfect, but it is a vast improvement over the code that has been in place for 13 years. The new code will give us helpful tools to accommodate growth while maintaining the integrity of existing neighborhoods.  

We urge all residents to please keep in mind that this isn’t some sudden change that the city is sneaking past its citizens.  The city staff and community have been working on the new code for four years. The process has involved 34 small group meetings, meeting with 27 advisory boards or City Council meetings, 25 open houses, and 30 think tank meetings.  Additionally, 2,092 mail-outs have been sent, 40 enewsletters sent, and 2,446 comments received.   Interactions over the four years total over 21,000 residents.  

Code SMTX offers specific protections for the character and integrity of our neighborhoods. One thing that we can all agree on is that the code we’ve had in place for 13 years has very poor options and standards for townhome, multifamily, or duplex housing.  When multi-family projects are constructed in neighborhoods, they typically don’t fit existing character because they are one-size-fits-all whether the development is going into a neighborhood or along I-35.  Code SMTX proposes new neighborhood districts, and these designations provide new tools with higher and better standards that emphasize compatibility.  It is important to note that they are not intended to replace single family districts or override historical districts rules, but they do represent more options for diverse types of housing that can fit in with the surrounding community. These options can help support efforts to encourage more affordable housing stock here in town — a vital need that concerns us all.

Among the new tools in Code SMTX that we can use to protect our neighborhoods: setbacks must match what is already built; lower height limits; expanded occupancy restrictions; no purpose-built student housing; no PDD’s where standards can be waived; maximum building width; controlled number of units per lot; and parking location requirements.

These tools were created as the first step in the completion of the neighborhood character studies.  We cannot accomplish our goals of compatible, well-designed neighborhoods without a good set of tools.  

We all love San Marcos and its charm.  And we all agree that tremendous growth is here and will continue.  Code SMTX will not be set in stone, changes and improvements if needed can be made after it is implemented.  Let’s trust the process, let’s stay involved, and let’s continue to work to keep our city and neighborhoods a great place to live and work.

Sincerely,  

Sue Cohen

Margaret Adie

Chris Secrest

James & Kirby Stewart

Gary Pack

Beth Hearne

Mary Williams

Matt Akins

Carl & Diane Furry

Jane Stewart

Joel & Barbara Barks

Margaret Falletta

Dr. Carmen Imel

Buddy & Karen Mostyn

Kristen & Blake Williams

Sammy Falletta

Lenicia Gordon

Sandi & Don Neese

San Marcos Daily Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666