Page 1

SimplySanAntonio Who owns the streets, anyway? NUMBER 6


By Lyle Landsmere

Whether you have a long or short driveway and, God forbid, a garage full of things other than what it was intended to hold (“the garage is where clutter goes to die,” jokes a professional organizer I spoke with), can the street become part of your domain and can you park any number of vehicles in front of your house, or heavens, in front of your neighbor’s house, without anyone telling you, “No, you can’t do that.” Street parking is a popular subject in the San Antonio area, with many cities and subdivisions addressing the issue of where cars can and can’t park, some saying little or nothing while others: yes on the street during the day, but not at night. And smaller cities such as Alamo Heights prohibit parking on the street at night, a rule San Antonio hasn’t yet adopted. When I think back twenty or more years ago, we lived on a 25’ wide street, the width of the street being an issue that in itself can dictate when and where street parking is acceptable. Fire departments, for instance, often argue strenuously against cars parking on both sides of a thirty foot wide, or less, street, since fire trucks will most certainly have a difficult time driving up that width of street in pursuit of a fire.

In this issue of

SimplySanAntonio • A quick refresher on parking laws and ordinances • Getting around sans car • The initial presentation makes a key impression • Aren’t these cracks just cosmetic? But fire trucks notwithstanding, another consideration we need to give serious thought to is children playing in our neighborhood streets. With parked cars lurking on one or worse, both sides, and a child darting out into the street, it can play havoc with a driver’s ability to concentrate on driving, much less seeing the darting child. And in some cases, “occupied with other things” parents of young children probably won’t see the child either. Which brings me back to my original intent for writing on this subContinued next page

• Shall we call the Palm maligned... Or just fine? • VIAVISION 2040 • Winter Seasonal Questions

Who owns the streets, anyway? ject, namely that more often than not, cars are forced to park on streets because, where there is a garage associated with a house, the garage is probably full of things, often unrelated to the everyday routine of an individual or family. And when the garage is full, the car is forced out onto a driveway, which in many cases is too narrow or too short to accommodate more than one or two cars, or onto a street. In fact, a home owner told me “I have to wake up earlier than other family members to move my car so my son’s car, in front of mine, can get out first so he can go to school.” And according to a recent nationwide survey by Consumer Reports of almost 1,000 home owners who have garages at their houses, the garages of 62 percent of American homes are crowded, disorganized, or a mess, such that any number of cars won’t fit in. And almost a third of us don’t park our cars in the garage no matter how large. If a garage is too full to “house” a car, who deserves the blame? It stands to reason that the collector of all that “stuff,” the homeowner, should accept most of it. But what about home builders? For the life of me, I haven’t seen attics in homes that can accommodate items otherwise forced into the garage. Typically, basements aren’t a factor in San Antonio because the ground often doesn’t lend itself to being dug into, but attics should be a given. And here I’m speaking of workable attics, not the kind you find in many houses, basically housing the “piping” for HVAC systems. A burgeoning industry in San Antonio, if not the whole country, is self-storage facilities. In speaking with an official at the Self Storage Association of America, San Antonio has something around 110 facilities throughout the city and all manner of items are stored, including personal items, items left over from a closed business, if not items used in an ongoing business. And some facilities are even able to accommodate automobiles and larger vehicles like boats, RVs and trailers. The question then, which doesn’t seem to have an answer: With all the storage facilities around town, why aren’t folks who can’t use their garage for cars, using the facilities for

Continued from front cover

other items so cars can be parked in a house’s garage and off the street, so children will be able to play in the street with only a little concern for cars? I know someone knows the answer.

Full or cluttered garage? Who is really to blame and, more importantly, what can be done about it?

A Quick Refresher on parking laws and ordinances • Angle parking is permitted only in approved and marked areas—city ordinance; • Can’t park an oversized vehicle on a residential street. Oversized is defined as greater than 8 feet tall, greater than 8 feet in width or greater than 24 feet in length, including any attached trailers—city ordinance; • Can’t park unused cars in the street for more than 24 hours or at any time for purposes of storage, washing, greasing repair, sale, or display of advertising signs affixed to such vehicles—city ordinance; • Can’t park a vehicle on a sidewalk, in an intersection or in a crosswalk—state law; • Can’t park within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection—state law; • Can’t park within 30 feet on the approach to a stop sign or yield sign—state law; • Can’t park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant—state law; • Can’t park in front of a public or private driveway—state law; • When parallel parking on two-way streets, the right-hand wheels of the vehicle must be parallel to and within 18 inches of the right-hand curb—state law. • No double parking on a street—state law.

Getting around sans car In a year when the potential for adding to our transportation system in San Antonio took a particular hit, the thought of light rail in San Antonio quickly put asunder because, as one city councilman put it, “my north side residents don’t need to spend money if it doesn’t benefit them,” and having Uber car-sharing nixed, then reestablished, I began wondering whether any San Antonians actually get around the city by means other than automobiles. And with luck I was able to speak with some people who walk, bus, bicycle, or hitch a ride with friends. Bryce Hagan, a 20-ish young man, lives just north of center city and works about one mile from his residence. Having once owned a car, but not replacing it after an auto accident, Bryce gets around by walking, biking, taking the bus and riding with friends. According to him, it’s not an inconvenience not having a car. He often walks the mile to work; can go the couple of miles to the grocery store on his bicycle, putting purchased items in baskets alongside his rear wheels; hop a bus at a stop a couple of hundred or so feet from his home; or walk with his dog to other places he may need to go. Before he took his current job, he worked in center city, using his bicycle, or walking, to get there and back home, after a day at the office, even late into the evening. Emily and Larry Pierce are a special breed. They hail from Phoenix AZ, having arrived in San Antonio just a few short years ago. He is legally blind and she can just barely see.

Emily and Larry Pierce and their family wait for a VIA bus

by Paul McNutt

Walkers on lower San Pedro Avenue

They live in a house and are raising two beautiful young children. Their main means of transportation is a VIA bus taking them to the H-E-B store, as well as a dry cleaner, among other places. And because they have the two young children, they also make use of a two-seat bicycle, one seat in front where Emily sits, seeing, steering and pedaling, and a seat right behind hers, where Larry sits, pedaling. The two young children sit in their own seats, talking while mommy and daddy ply the road to Hardberger Park for some recreation. Often, the parents push an in-line double stroller with a glider board attachment holding the children, at a fast pace through their neighborhood. I know it was fast-paced because this old man begged them to slow down once we started walking. Blanche Rosett lives in a center city condominium, having moved there a few years ago after selling her house near Boerne, but works on the north side just outside Loop 410, where she also gets together with friends for meals and pleasure. Blanche most often uses a bus, or to a lesser extent, a taxi, but has recently taken to Uber. Having originally come from the Washington DC area, she expressed hopes San Antonio, sooner rather than later, gets some sort of light rail, if not the commuter rail she remembers from her long-ago time on the East coast, believing the convenience of rail, as she remembered it, made life a lot more manageable, if not easier to go longer distances with friends.

The Initial Presentation Makes a Key Impression by Paul Melcker I had worked in the retail jewelry business for a large part of my working career and for that reason I attribute my interest in presentation to what I experienced then. How we presented ourselves, how we displayed our product and how we presented it to our clients were, many times, a major part of the “battle” getting the sale consummated. Now out of retail for 20+ years, I look upon things perhaps differently than others. For instance, on a personal note, I often stop to buy a bagel for breakfast and it never ceases to amaze me that the bagel is presented to me in a plain, brown paper bag with no design let alone a shop name on it. Why is that? According to an employee at the stores I frequent, it costs too much to imprint bags. Which begs the question, would the cost be too high if the name is thought of as advertising and brings new business to the shop? To me, putting a name on a bag is a no- brainer; when the time comes for reordering, a name will help the buyer to remember where the bagel came from, especially if it tastes m-m-m-m good. Creative vegetable display

The nondescript bagel-in-a-brown-bag

In the grocery business, putting design into the presentation helps identify the store. I shop at both Sprouts Farmer’s Market and Whole Foods and I’ve been “blown away” by Whole Foods display of produce; clever, clever, clever! According to Frank Ibarra, who started his career with H-E-B, but has worked at Whole Foods for 20 years, managing the produce department at The Vineyard shopping center store, new employees go through four weeks of rigorous training during which they gain knowledge of how to display the merchandise in a memorable way. And Xavier Flores, at Sprouts on Callaghan, does it pretty much the same. A “product” of Walmart,

he took a display course offered by Halo Distributing and now does Sprouts produce displays. And adding a personal note to my Sprouts store experience, having gotten to know many of the employees after many years of shopping there, I suggested they design their produce the way Whole Foods does. Then, it just didn’t fly. Jewelry stores will always have a presentation box with the store’s name on it. And retail store windows, whether jewelry, dresses or other clothing items, are often at the cutting edge. Stores like Satel’s and Julian Gold promote their windows with clever displays. And no doubt in my mind, those who view creative displays can’t help but remember where an item came from. I believe it behooves other industries dealing with the buying public to follow similar practices. In real estate, a clean, presentable house inside and out could help to win over potential buyers at the outset. However, a lawn that needs mowing, a carpet that has stains or walls that have chipped paint could definitely be a deal-breaker. And, while talking real estate, I’m convinced that the outer look of a subdivision, no matter the look of an actual house, has a profound effect on a buyer’s perspective. For instance, quite a few subdivisions I’ve seen in my travels have massive stone walls out front. Now, I feel a stone wall is trying to convey the message that the subdivision is secure and

shows exclusivity in who might live there. And if that’s what’s desired, the developer or homeowner association has surely succeeded. However, more often than not, time has “done a number” on many stone walls, spell that m-i-l-d-e-w, a sight that provokes in my mind the suggestion that the subdivision doesn’t care about its presentation, much less who lives there. Riding about the city lately, I’ve seen steel fencing at the front of a few subdivisions (no mildew here) and in a few cases was taken by the appealing look; a steel fence behind which stood a row of tall, thickly planted, flowering bushes with little, or just enough viewable space between the bushes to see, a distance away, pleasing looking houses. A delightful presentation in my mind, no doubt one that conveys thoughts of security, but in addition makes a statement about the look of the subdivision; secure, appealing and….inviting!

Negelected limestome wall , discoloured with dirt and mildew

Steel fence and a well kept hedge offers privacy and curb appeal

Aren’t these cracks just cosmetic?

Greg Sethness, P.E.

This is a common question I am asked in relation to cracks in the walls and ceilings of homes. The answer is twofold. In the sense that these cracks can be repaired cosmetically, and the sheetrock, brick and stucco are usually not the main structure support system, the cracks are cosmetic. However, in the sense that the wall and ceiling cracks have probably been caused by movement in the superstructure (wood framing) and foundation, they could be called “structural.” A better question to ask would be: “Is the foundation movement which caused the cracks within tolerable limits.” A 1% or smaller floor slope is generally indicative of tolerable foundation movement in an older home. Therefore, checking the floor slopes is generally more important than checking the cracks. Ceiling and wall cracks are not insignificant as they usually indicate that the foundation is moving, however, the cracks don’t give you the specifics about the foundation movement that the floor slope readings do. An Added Note: Because wood purchased for construction is not always completely dry, once it is installed it can shrink and cause cracks and separations as it dries further. This is especially true of ceiling moldings which are located where the room temperature is warmest. http://home.earthlink.net/~goseth This information is general in nature, intended to enlighten the reader on some physical phenomena that can occur. Individual situations must be investigated to determine what their particular causes and effects are.

Shall we call the palm maligned... Or just fine? I am both mystified and amused at San Antonio government and commercial use of the palm tree on properties around the city. By no means indigenous to these parts, like the oak or cedar trees, the palm tree has found use, mostly as a decorative addition to projects, notably at our San Antonio International Airport, where eight or more “stand guard” at the airport’s Loop 410 entrance. Still, it comes as a big surprise to me when I travel to the airport and see these “guards” watching out over travelers that they’re even here (and there), as a palm’s real place, it seems, may be in exotic hot weather climes, but generally only at a minimum in Texas. And not only San Antonio but other cities have accorded the palm a lesser existence. According to an entry on Google, nothing says pretend like a palm tree, December 3, 2006, the Los Angeles City Council, which, it seems, can lay claim to the palm more than San Antonio, in 2006 passed a motion to limit the planting of palms on city streets and medians, with that city’s Department of Public Works proclaiming, “The palm is not a tree at all but a lowly species of grass.” And further, at the time Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti’s office suggested that, “The spindly yet exotic plants are really bad for our city.” Still, I stand corrected when a more professional and knowledgeable person such as Matt Stevens, RLA, a registered landscape architect (www.mwsla.com) presents me with photos of his work that justify using palms, if not in public places than at private homes, a photogenic picture worth a thousand words. And in Stevens’ words: “As a practicing Landscape Architect in San Antonio, I am often challenged with the task of selecting and matching appropriate plant material for the right setting. The ‘setting’ includes type of architecture, clients’ plant preference, shade / sun tolerance, deer tolerance, location site, and so on. Given the opportunity, I like to utilize various types of palm trees for the following reasons: their lush, subtropical and evergreen A photogenic picture worth a thousand words... appearance and their vertical height and striking growth habit. The grace, majesty and tropical appearance of palms really reflects San Antonio!” Some of Matt’s favorite cold hardy palms, a necessity for San Antonio, include the Texas Sabal Palm (native to the area), the Mediterranean Fan Palm, California Fan Palm, Windmill Palm, and Sago Palm.

The landscaped entrance to San Antonio Intrernational Airport features a line of palm trees


Long term plans for San Antonio’s metro transportation

Vision 2040 Key Milestones

Planned improvememts by 2040

US 281 Park and Ride

Brooks City Base Transit Centre

Centro Plaza Project For more information, visit


Winter Seasonal Questions Courtesy San Antonio Water System (SAWS) Q A Should I water plants just before a freeze?

It is a misconception that it is useful to water perennials and grass just before a freeze. The perception is based on some legitimate relationships between freeze damage and water. But, the principles do not work well for last-minute watering before a freeze. A healthy plant can withstand cold weather better than a stressed plant. In order to have this advantage the plant must be well cared for in advance of a freeze event. Watering just before a freeze does not make the plant healthier. Water is sometimes applied to citrus or other fruit crops during entire freeze periods in order to keep the foliage and fruit at 32 degrees. This works because the water continually freezes on contact with the fruit and keeps the temperature no lower than 32 degrees. A ten-minute or even one hour run of the sprinkler at a home will not accomplish the same thing.


Water is capable of moderating temperatures at oceans and lakes because of the high amount of energy needed to change the temperature of water. However, a few gallons added to the soil profile does not have the same impact.

What should I use to cover my plants during a freeze? You might have some plants that you want to protect during a freeze like citrus or tender tropicals. The simplest method of protection is to cover with an old sheet and anchor it around the plant with rocks.

Real Estate Questions? ...Call Me!

Does plastic work as well as cloth? Whether it’s your first time, or

Plastic can be used for freeze protection if a frame holds the material away from the plant. The problem comes when foliage touches the plastic. The plastic does not block the heat transfer when there is no insulating layer of air.

you’re moving up or downsizing, I represent sellers and buyers of fine homes, as well as investment and commercial properties.

What is the difference between a plant “hardening off ” and a plant being “hardy?” “Hardening off ” is a process that happens when plants gradually get used to harsher conditions like cold. They change their chemistry and therefore can handle cold better. A plant that has hardened off is prepared for a freeze. A “hardy” plant is one that can withstand freezes and survive. The plant may stay evergreen or may topfreeze, but survives the cold.


David Simon Realtor®, SRES (210) 573-0643


14855 Blanco Rd, Suite 403, San Antonio, Texas 78216 Your referrals are always welcome.

In this fast-changing city and metro area in which we live, it behooves us to stay in touch with the old as well as the new. Change touches all of us. Thus the mission of SimplySanAntonio is to highlight change and how it affects us, as homeowners, so that we can make the most of the present and keep a watchful eye on the future.


Profile for Elm Grove Publishing

Simply San Antonio No.6  

For Residents, Visitors, or Anyone Passing Through

Simply San Antonio No.6  

For Residents, Visitors, or Anyone Passing Through