San Marcos Neighborhood Commission discuss Land Development Code


The Aspire apartments, currently under construction and expected to be completed fall 2020, sit on Concho Street. Photo credit: Jaden Edison

Daniel Weeks

The Neighborhood Commission held a meeting Aug. 21 to discuss housing and land development in San Marcos.

The commission consists of 13 members appointed by the San Marcos City Council, each representing different neighborhood sectors of the city.

The current land development code was implemented April 17, 2018. Annually, San Marcos city officials review the current code to provide citizens and representatives the opportunity to yield suggestions to alterations.

This year’s meeting featured a presentation from Amy Meeks, San Marcos citizen, regarding a detailed list of proposed changes to the current LDC.

One of the propositions entailed a change to section of the San Marcos Development Code, specifically requesting discontinuation of constructing rent-by-the-bedroom apartments purposed for student housing.

The reasoning behind this section amendment is written in the Proposed Actions document: “rent-by-the-bedroom apartments lend themselves to predatory practices which victimize students. Example: Students are charged for 12 months yet are only allowed to live there for a much shorter period of time.

Rent-by-the-bedroom apartments artificially inflate the rental market in San Marcos by upwardly skewing the perception of ‘affordable rental rates. For example, charging high prices per bedroom, they are driving up all rental rates in San Marcos.”

The presentation and propositions were followed by discussion among the committee members.

The committee acknowledged the San Marcos City Council stopped receiving input for changes to the current LDC back in May 2019; these proposed changes would not be considered for submission until May 2020.

Roland Saucedo, member of the SMTX 4 All Housing Task Force, indicated the task force has yet to submit its action plan to city council. This would allow for the recommendation of any aforementioned proposition much sooner than May 2020.

Lizbeth Dobbins, neighborhood commissioner for sector 9, called for equal representation of all sides of the ongoing LDC debate before making any recommendations.

“This is an ongoing process because many people have intense perspectives on this issue,” Dobbins said. “Depending on which neighborhood you’re in, some feelings and thoughts are very common while others are completely different. We probably should have some additional conversations so people with different viewpoints can present their information so we may gather a better understanding of the pros and cons.”

Regarding rent-by-the-bedroom apartments, the discussion moved to current construction in the city, including Aspire at 101 Concho St., a high-rise apartment under construction near Texas State’s campus expected to be 13-stories high. This discussion applies to all members of the commission since the building is a noticeable change to the downtown San Marcos skyline.

Several members of the neighborhood commission voiced their disapproval of the apartment complex, debating if the active LDC is what allowed the massive building to be constructed.

Saucedo said Aspire is Texas State property and the university does not abide by San Marcos land development code. This caused an outbreak of debate, with session leader Dobbins insisting there was not enough information and the topic should be discussed at a later time.

San Marcos’ rapid expansion and growth will continue. Jennifer Katz, commissioner of neighborhood sector 3, questions where housing construction will take place in the future.

“We do need more affordable housing, not for students necessarily, but for all people,” Katz said. “Where do we put that property? We all know sprawl is bad for the environment but I’m not saying I want anyone to go into my neighborhood and build apartment complexes. I would hate that. We don’t want to make it too hard for people to try and build something that’s not a big apartment building.”

The Neighborhood Commission meets every third Wednesday of the month at 6:15 p.m.

Contact the staff liaison Tammy Strakos at [email protected] or visit the website for meeting agendas.

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