Roofless Solar has come to San Antonio and is now available to every CPS Energy customer in the area.  CPS Energy, the nation’s largest municipally owned utility, in partnership with Clean Energy Collective, is providing a greener way to buy power.  Community solar is ideal for all CPS customers, including renters, those with rooftops not suitable for rooftop solar and anyone who wants to harness the sun’s energy but doesn’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars for an on-site system.

Read more: Roofless Solar Now Available

We had another great July 4th Regatta in King William.  Started in 1983, the Regatta is organized by the near-mythical King William Yacht Club for the happy purpose of enjoying our neighbors and our neighborhood by cruising our portion of the San Antonio River.  A great crowd showed up this year, some to power-paddle in the canoe and kayak races, others to show off their stars-and-stripes style in our leisure class, and the rest of us for the thrill of spectating. 

Read more: KW Yacht Club: In a Regatta de Vida, Baby

On June 6, VIA launched a new branded service called VIVA.  The three lines that comprise the VIVA service include:

  • VIVA Culture – direct connections to Southtown, King William, Downtown, Pearl and Broadway
  • VIVA Missions – direct connections between the Alamo and the San Antonio Missions World Heritage Site
  • VIVA Centro – connections between Centro Plaza and St. Paul Square

VIVA replaces the blue trolley line. For more information visit viainfo.net/BusService/VivaMain.aspx.

The City of San Antonio has started a Sidewalk Cost Sharing Program.  Since the KWA is in a non-CDBG area, the city will pay for 50% of the cost to replace sidewalks.  The City’s program can be combined with the KWA’s Sidewalk Program.  The KWA will pay $25 per linear foot to help King William residents to repair their sidewalks.

Read more: Sidewalk Repair Programs Available to KW Residents

Hope, Help, Independence

Visual impairment is an ever-increasing health issue and the leading reason for loss of independent living among older Americans.  Where can they turn for non-medical help?  What can they do to maintain independence?  How can they stay connected with the community?  The Low Vision Resource Center (LVRC), which just celebrated its 19th anniversary, can help.  The LVRC offers two major programs for visually impaired people in the San Antonio area: the San Antonio Low Vision Club and Owl Radio.

Read more: Beyond Vision Loss

As directed by the KWA Board in 2014, the KWA Finance Committee began the task of developing a Statement of Investment Objectives, Policies and Management Guidelines (the “Statement”).  The Statement was carefully crafted by the Finance Committee Investment Subcommittee over two years.  The Subcommittee deliberately built a schedule to provide a generous amount of time to gather input, review, adapt and deliver the Statement to the Board for their consideration.  The Board approved the Statement at the May 2015 meeting.  

Read more: KWA Investments

At the eclectic heart of a diverse and creative city, King William has long seemed to have more than its share of wordsmiths. But every writer needs a publisher to get those words out into the world. Fortunately, King William has that too. From his home on East Guenther Street, which he and librarian and writer Mary Guerrero Milligan have shared since 1979, Bryce Milligan carries on the art and business of publication as owner of a small, brave, and essential San Antonio imprint, Wings Press.

Read more: The Art of Publishing: Wings Press at 40

In July 2011 the Texas Commission on the Arts designated our area the King William Cultural Arts District.  The mission is to improve the quality of life by promoting educational, cultural and recreational pursuits and activities. In addition to the many museums and galleries in the area we have an extraordinary number of outstanding professional artists.  The KW Cultural Arts Committee would like to feature some of them from time to time in the newsletter. 

Read more: King William Cultural Arts District Member Spotlight: Al Rendon

June in South Texas means rain, tapering off toward the end of the month, graduation parties, and weddings.  I experienced all three phenomena in May.  One of my best graduate students has completed his Masters of Architecture and will be joining our firm.  He’s been working part time with us since he enrolled in our Master’s program and has a well-earned reputation for hard work, good humor, and an old fashioned southern gentleman’s sense of courtesy.  He came our way from near New Orleans.  If he was seeking lower humidity he was sadly mistaken, at least this year.

Read more: City Lights: June 2016

Thrillist.com “power ranked America’s most beautiful historic ’hoods,” and King William made #11:

“While the area was originally farmland owned by the Mission San Antonio de Valero (aka the Alamo) in the 1700s, this primarily residential neighborhood didn’t really take shape until the 1860s when German immigrants began to settle and build homes in the area.  By the late 1800s, it had evolved into the city’s most elegant district.  These days, you can stroll the banks of the San Antonio River and check out historic mansions like Villa Finale and the Steves Homestead Museum while admiring the neighborhood’s beautiful Greek revival, Victorian, and Italianate homes, many of which feature plaques out front offering historical info.”

www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/the-most-beautiful-historic-neighborhoods-in-america

May is a special month in any year, but this year it stands out as the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.  An act of Congress, the legislation provided the basis for the formation of historic preservation agencies in all 50 states, for the creation of local preservation ordinances based on newly written guidelines from the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, and for the identification and formation of local historic districts like King William. 

Read more: City Lights: May 2016

Last month I had to have my home tented and fumigated for the third time in 10 years to eradicate drywood termites.  Sad to say that one of my neighbors on Rische Street also went through this same process about a year ago.  I have to wonder if perhaps the termites on my side of the neighborhood are swarming from house to house before being discovered.  These unwanted house guests were eating my home and forced me to move out for 24 hours. 

My pest guy told me that drywood termites are often misdiagnosed as subterranean termites.  Drywood termites “swarm,” whereas subterranean termites crawl on the ground because they require moisture.  Drywood termites are sneaky, they can enter the house through infested furniture or through foundation or attic vents.  They often eat away for months or years at your dry, good, 100+ year old wood floor or rafters before they are discovered.  Termites cause billions of damage each year in Texas.  

Read more: Unwanted House Guests

About five years ago, my wife Anne and I installed solar panels on our 100-year-old King William home.  We went through HDRC review on this installation and got approval, as the panels were in the same plane as the roof and were on a side exposure minimally visible from the street.  They fulfill most of our daily energy needs and sometimes produce a little extra that we sell to CPS.  When we realized that we could also charge an electric car with our solar panels and stop buying fossil fuels, we were ecstatic.  

Read more: Driving Sunlight: A Bright Future

Sustainable.  Green.  Net zero.  EnergyStar.  LED.  These are the buzzwords of late.  Daily we are becoming more and more familiar with the lingo of our time, but most of us truly have no idea what any of these things mean, or how we as individuals can make our own little corner of the world work better for us, our wallets, our families, our homes and our communities.  How can each of us contribute, lessening our own carbon footprint and saving our hard-earned money? 

The good news is this: there are many ways that we can make our homes and businesses more sustainable and energy efficient, and many of them come with rebates and tax incentives attached to help ease the burden of investment.  

Read more: Green Options

As historic property homeowners or renters, we are stewards of history and as such should try to maintain the architectural integrity and authenticity of the exterior of our houses for future generations.  There are several resources available that provide guidance to improving energy efficiency in historic houses.

First, the City of San Antonio Historic Design Guidelines has these suggestions: 

Insulate buildings using minimally invasive techniques to improve energy efficiency. Appropriate insulation techniques vary based on the type of construction and should be selected in consultation with a contractor specializing in historic home maintenance.  Moisture problems within the wall cavity should be addressed prior to adding any sort of insulation.  Blown in insulation may retain entering moisture, ultimately leading to rot and decay.

Read more: Sustainability Resources

SAY Sí (San Antonio Youth, YES) has long been known as San Antonio’s premier out-of-school time creative youth development organization. Since its inception in 1994, its growing success rates have garnered national attention and recognition. But for the first time in its 21-year history – SAY Sí’s tuition-free programs will go global. 

On February 9, SAY Sí hosted a “Changemakers Press Conference” event to announce new program support from: The Santikos Charitable Foundation, COSA’s Department for Culture and Creative Development and Adobe’s new corporate responsibility initiative, Project 1324.

Read more: SAY Sí Goes Global

The most time consuming New Year’s resolution is the one I’ve made this year.  I’m finally going through the pyramid of boxes that have been entombed in my carriage house since I moved in ten years ago.  The move from Austin was more like the flight of an exiled government, there wasn’t time to burn all the documents so I dragged them all with me, unsorted, unread, and largely unknown.  I had to start my new job here on very little notice and was lucky to find a house that could shelter generations of family accumulations. 

Read more: City Lights: March 2016

In a case that was widely reported in local media, the City Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) narrowly allowed installation of 45 photovoltaic solar panels on a historic home at the corner of Mission and Eagleland.  32 of these panels will be on roof surfaces that are not easily seen from the public right-of-way, consistent with most installations approved by HDRC in King William and other historic districts.  Because the house is on a corner lot, however, 13 panels will be visible from Eagleland, and these panels have been a source of controversy.

For the record, we present statements by Mickey Conrad, architect and chair of the KWA Architectural Advisory Committee, and by former state representative Mike Villarreal, owner and resident of the house.  As this newsletter goes to press, we understand that the HDRC will discuss guidelines for solar installations in historic districts at their February 17 meeting.

Striving for a Balance of  Preservation and Sustainability

In the introduction to the City of San Antonio Historic Design Guidelines, Shannon Shae Miller, Historic Preservation Officer, provides good answers to the question “Why Preserve?”  Shannon cites the benefits of preservation on several levels including cultural, economic and environmental.  The Guidelines are plainly written and help anyone wanting answers to basic questions about preservation and how to go about it.  They can be accessed online at: sanantonio.gov/portals/0/Files/HistoricPreservation/1_UsingtheHistoricDesignGuidelines.pdf

Read more: Historic Preservation and Solar Energy Part 1

In a case that was widely reported in local media, the City Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) narrowly allowed installation of 45 photovoltaic solar panels on a historic home at the corner of Mission and Eagleland.  32 of these panels will be on roof surfaces that are not easily seen from the public right-of-way, consistent with most installations approved by HDRC in King William and other historic districts.  Because the house is on a corner lot, however, 13 panels will be visible from Eagleland, and these panels have been a source of controversy.

For the record, we present statements by Mickey Conrad, architect and chair of the KWA Architectural Advisory Committee, and by former state representative Mike Villarreal, owner and resident of the house.  As this newsletter goes to press, we understand that the HDRC will discuss guidelines for solar installations in historic districts at their February 17 meeting.

Technology Enhances Our Neighborhood

My family recently applied for city authorization to install solar panels on the back and side of our home – a request opposed by the KWA management and Architectural Advisory Committee.  I would like to explain the situation from my family’s perspective.

Read more: Historic Preservation and Solar Energy Part 2