Mayor Ivy Taylor stands in front of her desk inside her new office at City Hall. In her first major move, she announced the city council will ask staff to draft an ordinance to remove the city's $32 million contribution to the streetcar project.
After Mayor Ivy Taylor's surprise announcement yesterday that the city of San Antonio would be asking for the $32 million it gave to VIA Metro Transit for the modern streetcar, many questions about the future of streetcar and downtown development were left unanswered.
The decision comes after months of intense political and public pressure on the city to put the measure on the November ballot.
The city of Castle Hills is considering removing VIA and VIA Trans service from it’s city boundaries.
If the Castle Hills City Council approves it, the citizens of the small San Antonio suburb will be able to vote on whether or not to remove VIA from the city. Acting Castle Hills Mayor Timothy Howell, who was placed into the position last week, said he’s not taking a side on the issue yet.
“I think it’s very important that we allow the citizens to decide what they want to do moving forward,” Howell said.
VIA Metropolitan Transit has released a commissioned study showing a $1.3 billion economic impact along the routes of its proposed streetcar system. Those opposed to the street car system say the transit authority is paying for exactly what they want to hear.
The economic impact study commissioned by the SABÉR Institute at St. Mary’s University and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce predicts a multi-billion dollar return on investment over 25 years through VIA’s initial $280 million.
Mounting pressure on the city of San Antonio and VIA Metropolitan Transit to stop their construction of a streetcar system has grown.
In the last few months, the political landscape has changed surrounding the project: San Antonio notables like Red McCombs and state Rep. Lyle Larson have come out against the plan, Mayor Julián Castro is soon to depart to lead the U.S. department of Housing and Urban Development, and opponents say they will be able to get a charter amendment requiring a public vote added to the ballot in November.
Bexar County commissioners have appointed Rebecca Q. Cedillo and Bobby Perez to the county seats on the 11-member VIA Board.
Cedillo is the former chief of water resources for SAWS and a former city planner. She said the issues important to her include ensuring adequate infrastructure to keep up with growth in the outlying areas of the county.
Cedillo said the proposed streetcar is a city issue, not a county issue, but she supports it.
VIA Transit is preparing grants to secure federal funding for its proposed streetcar project. Now that the Federal Transit Administration has given its stamp of approval to the streetcar plan, several federal funding sources have become available to help it along.
After hundreds of committee meetings, four public meetings, and an array of route configurations, VIA finalized its streetcar plan, allowing it to move forward with requests for grant applications.
A grassroots coalition of protestors gathered in front of the Bexar County Courthouse Tuesday to voice opposition to VIA’s proposed downtown streetcar system.
Members of LULAC, the Tea Party and other organizations joined with numerous political candidates to protest the county’s pursuit of the downtown streetcar system after they said the voters have spoken against it. Light rail has been voted down here, but the streetcar has not been put to a vote.