Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How to actually get Publically Requested Info

I was complaining today about all the requests for public information that I had made to Public Works lately that got lost in the ether somewhere.  I would get a first response that the request had been received from the RFP rep, but then nothing.

One of my colleagues said that he always puts his requests in directly through the City Attorney's office.  Yes, I know, lawyers, everybody's favorite, but they actually know the law.  The Request for Public Information  Statute requires public entities to supply the information within 30 days of the submitted request.  This should work for all levels of government.

So the next time you need some government info (that's not top secret that is) go through the lawyers!

UPDATE:   Albatross at Strange in San Antonio added a great comment:

If you don't get a response within 10 days from the government that tells you when you can get your documents, you can complain to the Attorney General. It's state law.

Of course, there are certain guidelines you have to follow. There's a lot more official information here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

How Zoning Changed the City

Have you ever watched a movie about the late 1800s to early 1900s and noticed that in cities many people lived in an apartment above their business?  Remember in Westerns the doctor who had a clinic attached to his house.  This used to be a common practice before the advent of zoning.  It was actually pretty practical and in some ways even Green.  You didn't have to travel to get to work and your customers were nearby.  

But during the 1920s zoning suddenly became fashionable and planning experts and doctors started to tout the healthful advantages of segregating housing from business uses.  After all, you don't want your child passing out from donut fumes.  Home owners started to worry about not only their health but their property values.  After all, a home is more valuable if it's next to other homes with nice yards, fresh paint and no industrial odors.

Slowly over the decade the home business was replaced by business districts and housing subdivisions.  The rise of commuter traffic to reach the work place rose.  Thanks to Albatross at Strange in San Antonio, you can see an old city map circa 1923 to 1933.  The map shows two different types of mass transit routes, one for buses and one for street cars.  

Zoning's segregation of uses was also a boon to the automobile industry.  After all, who wants to ride a smelly old bus when you can travel in your own car. Street improvements were needed to carry the new traffic.

A businessman's committee asked the city commission to approve a $5 million public improvement bond issue for bridges, streets, sanitary and storm sewers and flood prevention.
Double lines of traffic, in place of the former single line, were being allowed to pass signal lights at Commerce and Alamo.
Parking became a problem.
The first day of the parking meters appeared to be a success in so far as preventing double parking is concerned. Delivery trucks were pulled flush to the curb while their drivers conducted business.
Two bids on downtown underground parking lots were opened by the city council and terms of the two proposals read.
Traffic worsened.
San Antonio's traffic situation has been held the worst in the state by a representative of the National Safety Council.
By 1959 the problem of Urban Sprawl began to rear its ugly head.  Check out this old film produced by the National Association of Home Builders and the Urban Land Institute.  The use of zoning had encouraged low density housing developments that spread out all around cities, because as I talked about in my post What is Zoning?, higher density housing uses i.e. apartments, were usually zoned on less desirable land, leaving apartments to people who could not afford to live in quiet subdivisions.  Owning your own home in the suburbs became the American Dream.

Zoning and Urban Sprawl are also blamed, in part, for the obesity epidemic that has spread throughout the country, particularly in the south where mass transit never really caught on.  If you can walk to work, you get exercise (most mass transit commuter routes require some walking to reach bus stops, subway stations, etc.)
And let us not forget air pollution and increased carbon dioxide emissions released by the ubiquitous car.

Now don't get me wrong, zoning isn't all bad.  If it weren't for zoning there would be no setbacks on buildings.  This is important in areas where there are many high rise buildings.  When buildings were allowed to be built directly on the street, sunlight was blocked out leaving many cities dreary and smelly.

In many cities, building setbacks add value to the interior real estate adjacent to the setback by creating usable exterior spaces. These setback terraces are prized for the access they provide to fresh air, skyline firefighting apparatus between buildings, views, and recreational uses such as gardening and outdoor dining. In addition, setbacks promote fire safety by spacing buildings and their protruding parts away from each other and allow for passage of firefighting apparatus between buildings.

Zoning can also be used to protect historic and environmentally sensitive areas.  In San Antonio we have a zoning designation called the Neighborhood Conservation District  that promotes revitalization and preservation of historic neighborhoods.  The Zoning Commission also requires developers to make special provisions for water drainage in the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.  

Before zoning, cities had no control over growth patterns or property uses.  Controlled growth is the Holy Grail of urban planning and makes sense when it is used wisely.  

My next post will be on the New Urbanism and Smart Growth, or how zoning uses can be changed to encourage different types of growth patterns in cities.

Friday, August 27, 2010

San Antonio, Sleepy or Stressful?

Forbes Most Stressful Cities list is out.  Luckily, San Antonio didn't make it into the top ten, but Dallas and Houston did.  Long distance commutes (#10), long working hours (#1), limited health care (#1), limited exercise (#11) and poor physical health (#5) put Houston in the number 3 spot.  Dallas got the #7 spot for similar rankings; long distance commutes (#14), long working hours (#2), limited health care (#4), limited exercise (#2) and poor physical health (#19).

So I was wondering, how did San Antonio stack up?  I have always thought of San Antonio as a fairly low stress place, but I have to admit traffic has changed drastically since I first learned to drive.  Commute distances aren't too bad, in 2003 the average time to work for San Antonians was 22.5 minutes which ranked us in 36th place behind Dallas in 29th place with a 23.6 minute average commute and Houston in 15th place with a 25.8 minute commute.  Now you may ask, so what's the big deal, 3.3 more minutes in traffic.  Well you have to remember that this is the average commute time.  You could have some commutes that are really long added to some short commutes to come up with an average of of 25 minutes.  Look at the map of Texas, see those red blobs?  Those are the metropolitan statistical areas of Houston in the east, Dallas in the north and San Antonio in the center.  You've probably noticed that San Antonio's land mass is a lot smaller.

Distances in the Houston and Dallas areas are a lot longer, and traffic is much heavier.

Not only do San Antonians spend less time in traffic, we also work fewer hours per week, 36.5 hours to be precise (May 2010) compared to 37.1 hour in Dallas and 37.3 hours per week in Houston.

Now I'm thinking that where we are going to look bad is in Health Care, Exercise time and physical health.

Source: San Antonio Express-News
I was kind of surprised to find out that a higher percentage of San Antonio employers offer health insurance (SA 59.8%, which employ 90.2% of San Antonio workers) and that a higher percentage of SA employees are eligible for employer based health insurance than in Houston and Dallas.   The place where San Antonio lags slightly behind Houston is in the percentage of eligible employees that are actually enrolled in insurance programs (76% is SA, 76.2% in Houston.) 

So what about exercise time and physical health?  San Antonians are supposed to be fat and unhealthy right? Well, according to the CDC, more SA adults exercise (25%) than in Dallas (22.6%) and just slightly less than Houston (25.8%).  Who knows, maybe the shame of those fat city ratings got some people moving.  San Antonio is still the fattest city in Texas with 29.5% of adults categorized as obese, but surprisingly we have a lower percentage of diabetics (7.5% of adults compared to 8.3% in Dallas and 7.8% in Houston.)  We're in the middle when it comes to smoking, 14% of SA adults smoke compared to Dallas with 16.3% and Houston with 11.5% smokers.  But what's really interesting about San Antonio's health statistics is how we stack up against the nationwide statistics.  The median figures (which is a more accurate measure than averages because it's a picture of where the largest number of people fall instead of only taking the extremes into account) for the US are 23.8% of adults exercise, 26.9% are obese, 17.9% smoke and 8.3% are diabetic.  So San Antonio, we aren't so bad off after all.  Keep up the good work, maybe we'll get off that notorious obesity list!

It's nice to know we live in a big city with a realitively low amount of stress!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Do San Antonians Dream of Electric Cars?

Source:  San Antonio Express-News
In an earlier post I described the Mayor's Green Jobs Council's charge to influence Toyota to build electric cars at their south side San Antonio plant.  This isn't just a wild leap, the federal government is encouraging green innovations with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  The Obama administration even has an Electric Car Czar, David Sandalow. 

I was talking to a planner I know the other day and he thought that getting Toyota to build electric cars was a pipe dream because they would never be popular enough to justify the cost of building them.  Who would buy such an expensive vehicle?  I pointed out that I never really thought I would see Prius hybrids in SA, but they are all over the place.  We were lucky enough recently to buy a used Prius from a neighbor, not easy to do because most people hang on to them, and now I see them everywhere.

The type of electic car David Sandalow is promoting is actually a hybrid, but it has a special plug in battery that allows him to charge his car at night from a regular outlet in his garage.  This makes it so that instead of the 48 mpg a regular Prius gets, his car gets 80 mpg!  My planner friend also said the batteries would be prohibitvely expensive.  Well, he's right about that, they cost about $30,000 a piece, but with government subsidies they plan to have the cost down to $10,000 by 2015.  Uh oh, I just said the bad word (subsidies).  But all transportation in the US is backed by government subsidies, without them we wouldn't have the National Highway System, AMTRACK, bus systems, or airports. 

The City of San Antonio has plans to put electric charging stations in at all city-owned parking garages, libraries and the airport.  It will be awhile before all these charging stations are installed and the cost of an electric vehicle is expensive for now.

For most people, there will be substantial upfront costs: $32,780 to $40,000 for the car plus a few thousand dollars to install a special 240-volt charging station in their home that can cut down on charging time. Some of these costs can be offset by tax credits and rebates later.
A homeowner will need to get a permit from the city to add a charging station and hire an electric contractor to install it. Many makers of the charging stations haven't yet set prices, but the devices are expected to cost $2,000 to $3,000.
 Just like the Prius took awhile to take hold in SA, electric cars won't be on every street corner at first, but when the electric infrastructure is installed and people become accustomed to charging their cars, I expect electric cars will be as popular as the Prius.

Oh Well

Looks like SAISD's professional soccer stadium dreams are dust, I guess dreaming about the Olympics was premature.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Olympics in our Future?

An interesting partnership between Bexar County and Northside ISD is bringing a National/International Standard Swimming Competition Facility to San Antonio.  The facility will meet USA Swimming Standards and is not only for district use; they hope to attract national and international diving and swimming competitions.  The facility will be the only one like it in Texas and one of only four in the nation (two in California and one in Florida.)

San Antonio ISD is also looking to improve Alamo Stadium to make it a professional level Soccer field.
If this happens it would be a joint venture with Spurs Sports and Entertainment.

Is San Antonio gearing up to be an Olympic contender?

The Olympics bring a lot of prestige to a city and many city governments dream of one day being a host.  But the Olympics are extremely expensive due to the number of venues, logistics and security required.  Maybe if San Antonio and Austin shared the billing it could work though, because Austin already has several facilities on the UT campus and skulling events could take place on Town Lake.  New Braunfels could supply the rapids for kayaking events.  Fort Sam already has an Olympic development program for Pentathlon. Maybe we could even use Camp Bullis.  Hmmmmmmm.......

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Will There Be Enough Water????

 Just found this little news item on the San Antonio Remember Blog
If new sources of water are not found for San Antonio in the next four years, the city is going to be up a creek and a dry one at that. This was the contention today of R. A. Thompson Jr., general manager of the water board, as he outlined San Antonio's future water needs.

This was during the seven year drought in the 1950s.  I've heard old timers say that when their children were growing up they didn't know what rain looked like.  We have to be prepared for future droughts, not just naturally occurring ones, but more severe droughts that will be brought on by climate change.  As the city grows the need to conserve our most important natural resource becomes even greater.

The San Antonio Water System is doing a pretty good job of encouraging water conservation but they can't do it without your help.  Check out their website today to find out about rebates for low water use appliances and fixtures and for ways you can help conserve water.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Are Higher Property Taxes in Your Future?

The City of San Antonio was able to balance its 2011 budget without raising taxes, but many other jurisdictions weren't so lucky.  Here is a summary of property tax hikes that are done deals and possible tax hikes.

South San ISD 
South San Antonio ISD's board of trustees has approved an increase in the district's tax rate from $1.4338 to $1.4549 per $100 of property value, district spokesman Ed Suarez said.
Alamo Colleges
The half-cent property tax increase will raise the tax bill by $7 to a total of $205 on a house worth $145,424, the average home price in Bexar County this year.
City of Garden Ridge  (Comal County)

A preliminary tax rate of $0.262972 per $100 valuation was approved by the Garden Ridge City Council on Aug. 4, which would be an increase $0.008 cents from last year's rate of $0.254808.

 City of Castle Hills
Council also approved a property tax rate up to 50.134 cents per $100 valuation, the second such increase since 2003.

The proposed budget would raise more total property tax revenue than in the fiscal year 2010 budget by $197,996 or 8.8 percent, and of that amount, $14,156 is tax revenue to be raised from new properties added to the tax rolls.
University Health System
Bexar County Commissioners Court on Tuesday tentatively approved a nearly 4 percent increase in the tax rate for the University Health System — which could boost next year's taxes on the average home by about $13 — to finish paying for a $900 million building program.

Possible Tax Hikes

Boerne ISD (Kendall County)
Trustees are set to vote Sept. 27 on adopting a property tax rate just over $1.31 per $100 in assessed property value, down from $1.33.

San Antonio ISD
The San Antonio Independent School District is about to embark on its largest bond campaign to date: a $515 million package that includes extensive renovations to 22 schools, districtwide technology and security upgrades, and a controversial $35 million for improvements to Alamo Stadium and the Convocation Center.
The tax impact of the bond proposal, if approved, would be phased in. Property taxes would begin increasing in 2012 and would peak in 2027, when the average homeowner, with property now valued at $80,882, would pay an additional $9.97 per month, according to the district. It would not increase taxes for senior citizens who have filed for exemptions.
Southside ISD
The Southside Independent School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to call a tax rate election on Sept. 18.

Voters will decide whether to approve a tax rate change that could raise an additional $2.7 million for the district. District officials believe increasing one portion of the tax rate and decreasing another by the same amount would not raise the overall tax rate of about $1.37 per $100 valuation.

Officials have said that the swap of 13 pennies from one side of the tax rate to the other would raise millions because the state weights funding for certain portions of the tax rate.
Judson ISD
Judson's committee is considering a recommendation that would include construction of two new elementary schools, a new high school and renovations and upgrades to several other campuses.
The group has been considering a $341 million “wish list” and prioritizing those items, Judson board member and committee chairman Steve Salyer said.
 School boards have until Aug. 24 to decide whether to call for a November election.
If you are not sure what jurisdictions your property falls in check out the Bexar Appraisal District Property Search, the Comal Appraisal District Property Search, or the Kendall Appraisal District Property Search websites.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Private Mini Bus Companies?

Check out Tory Gattis' peice on Jitney Service in Houston.  In case you're wondering, a jitney service is a small capacity vehicle, like a van that runs a route and is owned by a private company.  It's somewhere between a taxi and a bus and can cover small service areas that have a lot of travelers but little parking space and lots of congestion.  This is a very common practice in Mexico, and makes a lot of sense.  Right now taking a bus to a destination about 2 miles away anywhere outside of downtown in SA takes about 30 to 45 minutes.  I could walk there faster.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

San Antonio, Riding the Green Wave?

Jan Jarboe Russell wrote an interesting article in the Express today.  She says that Mayor Castro's Green Jobs Council, headed by Larry Zinn, is trying to influence the Toyota Company to start building electric cars at their San Antonio factory.  Sounds like a good idea to me since the plant has been idled more than once due to slumping Tacoma sales.  Hey Toyota, what about a retrofit, bet you'd start raking in the bucks!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The SA 2011 Budget and You

The 2011 City of San Antonio proposed budget has just been revealed and according to the Express-News "The Sky is not Falling."  Because of the projected increase in CPS revenue of $24 million the city didn't have to raise property taxes, garbage or sewer fees.  The $12 million worth of proposed cuts are mostly in the form of efficiences and reduced hours of service.

But of course right away in the comments, one reader complained that we are being gouged by energy fees.

So I decided to see how we stack up against other Texas cities.  The cheapest rate in inner city Houston (77002) offered by Dynowatt, Frontier and Reliant energy companies is 8.6 cents/kilowatt hour (kWh), so if you used 1000 kWh it would cost $86.00. The average price per kWh in Houston is 13 cents. The city has 40 utility companies to choose from and most companies have more than one type of plan.  Ironically the most expensive company is called Payless Energy at 17.4 cents/kWh, which you can get without a credit check.

Inner city Dallas' (75201) cheapest rate, also offered by Reliant, Frontier and  Dynowatt is 8.1 cents/kWh.  Dallas has the same 40 company options.  The average price is 12.75 cents/kWh.

The City of Austin, like San Antonio, only has one public utility company, Austin Energy with a starting rate of 3.55 cents/kWh up to 500kWh after that in the winter the rate goes up to 6.02 cents/kWh and 7.82 cents/kWh in the summer.

City Public Service in San Antonio charges 6.68 cents/kWh up to 600 kWh, after that an extra 1.75 cents/kWh is charged.

The average US residence uses 920 kWH of electricity per month, so if we go by the cheapest rates and average rates in each city the average rate per city would be:

Houston           $79.12 cheapest  $119.6 average
Dallas              $74.52 cheapest  $117.3 average
Austin              $43.04 winter      $50.60 summer
San Antonio     $67.06 year round

Now, if this looks cheaper than you regular bill, even if you used less than 920 kWh, remember there are other charges on your bill, like gas use, garbage and brush collection, the environmental service fee, regulatory fees, fuel adjustment fees, service availability charges and special service charges (Windtricity, All Night Security Light, etc).

So, even with all the competitors in Dallas and Houston, CPS still charges less per kilowatt hour.

In order to meet the 2011 proposed Austin Budget, the city raised property taxes and other fees at a cost of about $9.31 more per month.  The City of Dallas is contemplating a myriad of fee and rate increases and drastic cuts in the Parks and Rec department.

Another reader complained about the 2% cost of living (COL) increase for non managerial city employees.  (Managers only recieve increases based on evaluations)  In Austin, city employees in unions are receiveing a 3% COL raise and the rest a 2.5% COL raise.

Many cities throughout the US are in dire budgetary distress, so much so that some cities are farming out all city services.  I think a small rise of about $5.57 per month for the average utility bill isn't too bad.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Customer Satisfaction, Almost Guarenteed

Back in 2008 the City of San Antonio conducted its first customer satisfaction survey.  The city fared fairly well on that survey, but there was definitely room for improvement.  The results for the 2010 San Antonio Community Survey are now in.

Overall, the residents surveyed were very satisfied with city services, even more so than in other large cities.

The City of San Antonio is setting the standard for customer service among large U.S. cities. Among nearly 40 services that were assessed on the 2010 survey, the City of San Antonio rated above the U.S. average for cities with more than 250,000 residents in all but one area: animal care services.
When compared to other large central U.S. cities, San Antonio’s satisfaction ratings were highest in 5 of the 10 major city services assessed; the City also scored above the average for large central U.S. cities in all 10 of the major city services assessed.
But, as most of you probably would agree, respondents weren't so happy with street repair and maintenance.  Surprisingly, even though San Antonians aren't that happy with Public Works, the satisfaction rating is actually 11% higher than the 2008 survey, so things are starting to improve.

The City of San Antonio is moving in the right direction. While satisfaction ratings in most U.S. cities have decreased during the past two years, the Composite Customer Satisfaction Index for San Antonio increased significantly. The results for the City of San Antonio improved for 28 of the 32 City services that were assessed in both 2008 and 2010. The decreases were not statistically significant in three of the four areas that declined. The only significant decrease involved the City’s on-line payment programs (-6%).
In my post about the city's website, I mentioned the fact that the on-line payment service was glitchy, often sending me messages that the site was unsafe to use.  So hopefully, the survey will get the city moving on improving this service.

Stray animal control is another sore point in the survey. This is the only major service that San Antonio rates lower than the national average.  However, even this service showed improvement from the 2008 survey.
The percentage of residents who thought stray animals were a “major problem” in San Antonio decreased significantly from 38% in 2008 to 28% in 2010.
Improvements in satisfaction with services from 2008 to 2010 shows that City Manager Sheryl Sculley and her staff take the surveys seriously and are dedicated to improving relationships with the community. It's nice to know that the city is finally starting to think of its residents as customers instead of just money machines.  Look for the next survey in 2012.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Military Housing without the Military

If you ever wanted to live on a military base, but didn't want to join up, now's your chance.  The realignment of Brooks AFB into the civilian Brooks City-Base is making it possible. 
Available: 163 rental homes and duplexes in quiet, shady, 1950s ranch-style neighborhood. Two to four bedrooms, carports, guarded gate. Smaller pets OK.

There are plenty of shopping options practically within walking distance:  HEB, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, etc. The school district is San Antonio ISD, which may hold some of you back, but if you are good parents and spend time teaching your kids the things that you know, I think they'll be fine.  You might even be able to get a job on the base.

You better hurry because over half of them have already been leased.  Prices range from $850 for a small two-bedroom to $1,750 for a large four-bedroom.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What Makes a City Great?

I have recently started following the Urbanophile Blog.  Aaron Renn, an urban analyst, consultant and speaker, suggests

The true mark of a great city is in how it treats its ordinary places and things, not its special ones. Does it invest as much care, or any care for that matter, into the ordinary, workaday aspects of the city?
In San Antonio special care is taken to make sure the River Walk is pristine and well gardened, that highway entrance ways to special areas are more decorative, and that all major tourist attractions are well tended.  But how are the everyday spaces treated.

Renn chooses London to focus on because of its use of iconic vehicles, structures and even police uniforms to keep its traditional image intact.   Everyone recognizes the Double Decker red English bus and the Police or Bobby helmet.  Back in the 70s and 80s there was even a tour bus company in San Antonio that used refurbished English buses.

San Antonio has done a good job of maintaining its historic structures, many inner city neighborhoods have been or are in the process of being restored.  But what about outside in Loopland?

Wealthy neighborhoods are, of course, always well kept because the residents can afford to do so.  But let's think about what represents our city.  One thing that comes to mind that was built about 20 years ago, and has become a tourist attraction,  is the gigantic pair of cowboy boots in front of North Star Mall.
Photo from Labelscar The Retail History Blog

Limestone, Live Oak trees, Blue Bonnets and wildflowers also represent our fair city.  Mexican and German cultures are integral to our history.  And unfortunately highways, billboards and telephone poles also represent us.

So with all these aspects in mind how have we done.  Lady Bird Johnson, great lady that she was, instituted the Highway Beautification program.  Every year wildflowers are seeded in the medians and on the sides of highways so that in the spring, weather permitting, we have a wonderful display. (Sometimes it can be a bit of a road hazard because of all the cars stopped along the side of the road to take pictures.)  The city has also started seeding medians of major, non-highway roads as well.

Photo by Mark D. Roberts along IH 10

Mexican culture is represented throughout town by the Mexican restaurant.  In recent years the advent of the Taqueria as added an authentic Mexican flavor to the city.

Limestone quarried nearby has been used in many public and private buildings. 
 Photo by Sheila Moran
The Quarry Market Shopping Center is actually a converted cement plant.

German culture is mostly represented in the restored inner city neighborhoods.  The King William or Wilhelm neighborhood was built by well-to-do German merchants.

Overall, San Antonio has done a pretty good job, but there is still room for improvement.  The billboards in San Antonio are an eye sore and they are not likely to go away, but what if they each had to have some type of uniform border that represents San Antonio Culture,  maybe some taco orange paint?  I don't know, just thinking out loud.  Does anyone out there have any ideas?  Leave me a comment.

Monday, August 2, 2010

What is Zoning?

Zoning is a method used by cities to regulate growth. The broadest form of zoning divides up land generally into residential, commercial, and industrial uses.   But usually, cities break down their zoning into details so fine, they can regulate the size of the lots, the height of the building, the density of residents, you name it.

Zoning began in Europe in the 1870s as part of more comprehensive land planning.  The U.S. started to adopt zoning ordinances in the 1920's and by the end of the decade 60% of all cities had such an ordinance.  San Antonio, wishing to stay up with the times, began to think about zoning in 1923.  According to the
San Antonio Remembers Blog on January 18, 1923

Local real estate men are planning to have a city ordinance adopted which will divide the city into definite business, industrial, wholesale and residential districts.
Many times, zoning was used to set aside more desirable property for wealthy residential neighborhoods, if the uses were separated then a wealthy land owner with a large house would never have to worry about a Mom and Pop store being built next door.  Land uses became very segregated.  Funny thing is, zoning was actually used in the south to ensure racial segregation.
The first to pass an ordinance zoning a city into white and black residential areas was Louisville. The Supreme Court struck this one down (Buchanan vs. Warley, 1917) though not for any of the reasons that would seem obvious to us today. The justices found the ordinance violated the Fourteenth Amendment, by depriving sellers of property of the right to select their buyers.
This is somewhat ironic because the Fourteenth Amendment was one of the amendments put into the Constitution after the civil war to end slavery.

In San Antonio it was done more subtly by zoning less desirable land (near industrial uses or unattractive property) on the east side and west side for higher density (apartments or single family houses on very small lots) and for very low density on the north side (think Alamo Heights.)  This not only segregates people by race but also by class, and is still practiced to some degree today.

Many traditional African American neighborhoods throughout the south suffer from high pollution levels due to zoning.  In the 1920s zoning was considered scientific.

Washington got its zoning plan past the courts in the 1920's with the help of a local doctor who testified that flies from grocery stores might bring disease to children, and therefore by no means must shops be allowed to locate near homes.
So the children of upper class families were normally protected from dangerous uses, while lower class families had to settle for what they could afford.

In my next post I'm going to talk about how zoning changed the ways people conducted business in cities.