About the Westside Community Area
Westside Community Area
Explore the tabs below to learn more about the assets, challenges and opportunities in the Westside Area and to view our study area map.
There is a distinct sense of pride and ownership among longtime Westside residents, families, and business owners. The Westside community recognizes and celebrates decades of Mexican-American heritage and history. It is home to the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and the Guadalupe Theater and Plaza, collectively one of San Antonio’s most notable performing arts and cultural districts that preserves and promotes the rich traditions of Chicano culture. Numerous other local art, culture, and non-profit organizations, as well as notable public art, murals, and events help preserve and enhance this rich history. Dozens of Westside buildings have been designated as local historic landmarks based on their own physical merits, as well as the intangible cultural heritage they help embody. Areas like Old Highway 90 are home to local businesses and small shops, family-run restaurants, and close-knit single-family residential neighborhoods that help further define the character of the Westside.
Several nationally recognized higher educational institutions provide employment and educational opportunities to residents of the Westside Community Area including Our Lady of the Lake University, St. Mary’s University, and the Downtown Campus of UTSA. The Westside Community Area is also home to one of the City’s Pre-K 4 SA sites. The Westside Community is also central to a number of San Antonio’s important employment centers including Downtown, Lackland Air Force Base and Port San Antonio, and the Southwest Research Institute. The ongoing expansion of creekway trails and the rejuvenation of parks throughout the Westside serve an essential role in promoting recreation and mobility opportunities for Westside residents.
Key challenges on the Westside include crime and safety concerns, deteriorated or non-existent infrastructure, aging housing stock, and higher unemployment and lower household income and education levels than the City averages. General safety and welfare of residents is a concern in many parts of the Westside. Criminal activity lessens residents’ sense of control in their community and poses problems for some local businesses. Major highways, arterials, rail lines, and in some cases creeks and drainage ways, serve as physical barriers between the Westside and other parts of the City. In addition, safer pedestrian and bicycle routes, and better lighting are needed for many trails, parks, and other public spaces.
A number of neighborhoods on the Westside suffer from a lack of sidewalks and proper curbs and gutters. This reduces pedestrian safety and contributes to flooding of property in a number of areas. The quality and affordability of housing stock is another important concern for many on the Westside. 67% of housing units were built prior to 1970, and only 1% has been built since 2010. While this generally older housing stock provides affordable options for many, lack of maintenance and reinvestment has resulted in numerous structures in disrepair. While new investment can offer a greater variety of housing options and improved living conditions for some, it also raises concerns about increasing rental and ownership costs as well as potential displacement of longtime residents.
Access to job opportunities is another key challenge for the Westside. Education and training are needed to better align skills of Westside residents with available jobs. Options for easier physical access to jobs is also important, as 92% of employed Westside residents currently commute outside the area for work. Attracting more jobs to the Westside and providing more frequent and reliable transportation options to other key employment centers is crucial.
The Westside is home to some of the most notable, persistent poverty in the City, and decades of underinvestment have resulted in poor or non-existent infrastructure in comparison to other parts of San Antonio. Many have lamented the fact that their children and grandchildren move away from the Westside. However, there are opportunities to reshape and rebrand this area as one that is inviting to younger professionals and families while also retaining those families that have generations of history in the Westside. Preserving the more traditional, historic appeal of the Westside while also introducing new jobs, housing, and amenities is a challenging opportunity for those who live and work in, and care about the Westside.
Affordable housing is currently available to working-class families and it is crucial that these housing options are maintained. Vacant and underutilized lots found along key corridors and other scattered pockets within the Westside serve as opportunities for infill development that complements the existing neighborhoods and businesses of the Westside. Abandoned or neglected buildings provide opportunities for adaptive re-use and transformation into innovative residences, businesses, and amenities.
VIA’s Long Range Comprehensive Transportation Plan (VISION 2040) calls for improved transit opportunities on the Westside, and there will be opportunities to establish transit-oriented development along existing and proposed routes. These investments can provide accessibility to desired community amenities, mixed-income housing options, and new living-wage employment opportunities.
The artistic and cultural resources of the Westside and the area around the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in particular, are important yet underappreciated opportunities. Leveraging these unique resources and increasing their Citywide, national, and international recognition is a long-time goal that deserves continued and enhanced prioritization.
Sub-Area Plans are intended to provide a more coordinated, efficient and effective structure for neighborhood planning. Existing and future neighborhood planning will be integrated into the planning for regional centers and community planning areas. Neighborhoods will become integral sub-geographies of these sub-areas while also receiving special attention through chapters and/or sections in each Sub-Area plan, reflecting specific opportunities, challenges, recommendations and priorities from each participating neighborhood. Neighborhood and community plans should be respected, as appropriate, as they are integrated into the sub-area plans.
Comprehensive Plan Community Areas
Community Areas form the rest of San Antonio outside of the Regional Centers. These areas comprise many of our existing neighborhoods, grouped by geography and common history, challenges, and opportunities. By proactively directing a higher proportion of growth to our Regional Centers, we aim to limit the impacts of that growth on existing, stable neighborhoods. However, cities and neighborhoods are always evolving, and we must plan to adapt to and leverage change for all our existing and future residents by creating complete neighborhoods and communities that provide a full range of amenities and services, a variety of housing and transportation choices, and opportunities for employment, shopping, education, and recreation.