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An Open Letter to City Council

By SA2020 | Aug 12 2015

Honorable Council Members:

You’ve had a remarkable year so far, and we have seen some significant shifts in our city. Only recently, we’ve seen the recruitment of Google Fiber and ConnectHome, as well as the designation of our historic Missions as a World Heritage Site. Then, of course, there was the announcement of some of our favorite Spurs sticking around to play with some newly recruited players. We realize you may not have had a direct connection to that last one, but it was good news for our city nonetheless.

The progress our city is making in education, economic competitiveness, and health is to be lauded. As a community, we are working together to drive outcomes. You are the leaders who can help us drive our city even further.

And again, you have an opportunity to do just that.

On Thursday, a proposal will come before you in relation to Lyft and other Transportation Networking Companies (TNCs), and you have the option, once again, to show that San Antonio is ready to heed the needs of a growing population.

In 2010, thousands of our neighbors envisioned an even better San Antonio.

They said: “In 2020, San Antonio’s citizens are deeply engaged as elected leaders, business leaders, volunteers, and voters in the process of making government more responsive and accountable to San Antonians.

Vibrant grassroots movements, civic organizations, business leaders, city staff, and selfless citizens actively and effectively collaborate in all areas of city operations and governance. Elected officials and city staff take ownership of issues and are accountable for results. City, county and state branches of government coordinate their work to eliminate waste brought about by duplication of effort. The city cultivates inspired and effective leaders in selfless service to the community and is recognized for delivering transparency in government.”

We know that TNCs require a sensible regulatory policy, and we applaud the rigorous efforts and collaboration you have used to make this happen – not only in response to our community, but in accountability to us.

This pilot program, up for vote this Thursday, will give drivers the option of going through the city’s fingerprint criminal history background check, and will also give consumers the opportunity to see which driver opted into this system. With this agreement, you have put the rigor back on the consumer, giving them the option to choose the driver. Ultimately, San Antonio is showing that market demand, consumer choice, competition, and innovation can help solve regulatory challenges.

Our community also envisioned a more robust transportation system: “In 2020, San Antonio’s transportation system is recognized as a model of efficiency and environmental sustainability. San Antonio is served by an environmentally-friendly transportation system where everyone is able to walk, ride, drive or wheel in a safe, convenient, and affordable manner to his/her desired destinations. Frequent and reliable mass transit services connect communities, and transportation infrastructure meets community needs.”

With smart regulation and innovative solutions, you help meet our growing community’s needs – options for getting around our sprawling city.

Finally, our residents wanted our city to be more economically competitive: “In 2020, San Antonio is recognized as a leader in business that prospers through innovation in 21st century industries. San Antonio has a highly qualified and educated workforce and provides economic opportunity for all of its residents. The city fosters entrepreneurship as the engine of economic prosperity. It capitalizes on its unique historical and cultural heritage, as well as local institutions like its military bases, universities, medical centers and international airport system to become a leader in the global economy.”

According to the San Antonio Talent Economy: Bubble and Barriers Report from November 2012, the San Antonio economy is booming with an in-migration of educated professionals. One thing is clear, however, we are seeing much of this talent flowing into the peripheries of Bexar County, leading to feelings of isolation and a perceived difficulty of getting to San Antonio’s core.

We all share a common agenda: make San Antonio a world-class city. This will require thoughtful solutions to complex challenges. We, for one, believe that this pilot program provides just that and encourage your support on moving it forward, then thoughtfully evaluating its implementation.

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