Getting involved in your local democracy

Getting involved in your local democracy

Hey Roadrunners! Councilman Manny Peláez here, your District 8 representative.

I am constantly in awe with the work being done by students at UTSA and universities across San Antonio. I can say with certainty that the research and the minds developed here will have a profound impact on our community, the country and the world beyond.

While part of my job – as the Councilman who oversees the district that UTSA Main Campus is based in – entails keeping tabs on the work being done at UTSA, it dawned on me that many students might not be aware of the work my team and I do every day to ensure responsible development, quality infrastructure improvements and the safety of residents. So, I wanted to take this time to tell you about what we do, highlight a project I’m working on for university students and extend an offer for you to reach out if there’s any way you think we can be of service.

Based in the Igo Library Field Office, the District 8 constituent services team constantly fields questions from our residents, helps them interface with city departments relevant to their concerns and connects them with solutions. On some days, we might coordinate with city staff to fix potholes, place new stop signs and streetlights, and recommend the development of new bike lanes. On other days we might work with a mix of nonprofits, advocates, neighborhood associations, developers and an array of community members to help support them and guide them through the municipal ecosystem.

Although much of our work pertains to neighborhoods, zoning and infrastructure, we strive to develop and advocate for policy that affects residents in District 8 and across San Antonio.

One example of this is the Student Housing Safety Council Consideration Request (CCR) I developed and filed. For reference, CCRs are developed by Councilmembers to make policy recommendations that are taken up by city staff to assess their feasibility, scope and impact.

It started with my constituent services team taking note of an increase in the volume of calls related to crimes in student housing and housing adjacent to universities. From there, my policy chief began to conduct research on local and national crime statistics for university campuses and surrounding areas. After we heard from residents and researched the national statistics on crime in university settings, I saw a vital space for the city to fill in terms of making recommendations for student housing that could mitigate theft and intimate partner violence and increase the safety and security of students.

The Student Housing Safety Initiative aimed to take input from key stakeholders such as the San Antonio Apartment Association, UTSA and the City of San Antonio. Together, we planned for increased coordination between law enforcement and student housing owners and operators that would result in quicker responses and more effective crime prevention. We also planned to mandate minimum safety standards for off-campus apartments. While the CCR wasn’t adopted in the Governance committee – which would have put it on a track to go before City Council for a vote – city staff did choose to adopt many of the recommendations with the intent of embedding them in the Uniform Development Code (UDC).

If that pans out, it will mandate the installation of cameras and archives for recorded video, the proper maintenance of entry gates and adequate lighting in parking lots and common areas in student housing. Property managers would have to be compliant with the new code or risk facing fines. I believe this initiative will help us further safeguard our student communities and provide a stable environment that will allow for the peace of mind needed for San Antonio students to continue sharpening their skills and preparing for their careers.

This is the type of work my team and I do every day. If there’s ever an issue you believe we can help with or an organization you’re a part of that you believe we can aid, please contact my constituent services team and we will do everything in our power to represent you to the fullest!