In face of intense growth, city needs Code SMTX

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Our City Council will soon be voting whether to adopt Code SMTX, the new development and environmental standards for San Marcos. This document represents the culmination of 4 years of hard work by city staff (thank you!), the council, Think Tank members, consultants and countless citizen participants. The process has been transparent and the opportunities for input abundant. The final draft expresses our community’s ideas on how best to implement the concepts outlined in Vision San Marcos, our comprehensive plan.

Neighborhood Districts are one of the tools developed in Code SMTX that address Goal 3 of the Neighborhoods and Housing section of Vision San Marcos: “Diversified housing options to serve citizens with varying needs and interests.” The four ND districts provide varying degrees of intensity, the first two strictly residential and the last two incorporating neighborhood-appropriate office and retail uses. They offer opportunities for creative housing types, increased walkability and affordable home ownership. Protection for existing properties include:

  • Zoning criteria dictate that NDs are available only for properties not zoned SF or in areas already mixed use.
  • Rental registration is required and occupancy restrictions apply.
  • They are more tailored to the character of the surrounding neighborhood than existing zoning districts, with appropriate setback and buffering standards.
  • Rezoning of existing properties will require a more rigorous process than currently exists.

Recently, the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended that the council adopt Code SMTX with the exclusion of the Neighborhood Districts pending completion of the ongoing neighborhood character studies. While this sounds wise, it is also an example of the perfect being the enemy of the good. In our current climate of intense growth, we need to have regulations in place to direct and buffer development in a way that protects our neighborhoods. The sooner this happens, the better. The neighborhood character studies involve a complex process that will take time to complete and would delay adoption of the NDs. A wiser course of action would be to include the NDs in the adopted Code SMTX and amend the code later to reflect the results of the character studies.

All of us in San Marcos are trying to balance the quality of our existing city with the influx of people and businesses that are relocating here. The two documents, Vision San Marcos and Code SMTX, declare to the world our goals for our future and how we plan to get there. I urge council to adopt Code SMTX as written and for citizens of San Marcos to support that decision.

Sincerely,

Betsy Robertson Vice Chair, the Think Tank

San Marcos Daily Record

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