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Cityscrapes

City streetcar plans represent another developer-fueled heist

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Somehow these "development" things didn't work out. I suspect it will be much the same fate for the "game changer" of the streetcar and multimodal center. A big part of the problem is that we're not Portland. Unlike that Oregon city, we've spent decades supporting and subsidizing outlying growth. Our big department stores aren't downtown, they're at La Cantera. Our new jobs and employment centers aren't downtown either. Instead they stretch out I-10, I-35, and 281.

The streetcar works in Portland because it serves places Portlanders want to go, places that were already hubs of activity. It built on Portland's planned approach to growth and transportation.

If we're really serious about dealing with sprawl, or improving the environment, or getting people out of their cars, we need a set of projects and policies that work together.

In San Antonio, the streetcar smacks of yet another "deal," one designed and engineered by the builders and developers. Perhaps it will work for them, although I doubt it. It certainly won't work for the rest of us. •

Heywood Sanders teaches public administration and public policy at UTSA. His column appears monthly.

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