20 Events That Mattered in 2015

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San Antonio's Spanish missions became the first site in Texas to earn UNESCO World Heritage Status. - COURTESY
San Antonio's Spanish missions became the first site in Texas to earn UNESCO World Heritage Status.

The First in Texas • This summer, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) granted the missions San Juan, Concepcion, Espada, San José and the Alamo World Heritage status.

The designation came after nearly a decade of work and gave San Antonio the honor of hosting Texas’ first World Heritage Site and the 23rd in the United States.

Now, the city needs to maintain growth around the sites to make sure development doesn’t jeopardize UNESCO World Heritage standards.

Ride-Share Saga • Uber and Lyft had a tumultuous relationship with San Antonio this year. In March, both companies ceased operations after City Council amended its vehicle-for-hire ordinance to regulate them, which Uber and Lyft called burdensome.

The fiasco gave San Antonio the appearance of being backward and averse to change. In August, Lyft reached a deal with the city to operate a 9-month pilot program but didn’t officially return until late November. Uber did the same, but began operations quicker, returning to the streets in October.

Water Grab? • Despite efforts from a broad coalition of opponents, City Council unanimously approved a significant San Antonio Water System rate increase for residents to cover the cost of multiple projects, including a $4.3 billion Vista Ridge pipeline.

The pipeline will bring water from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer — 142 miles away — and save the Alamo City from any future water woes. Critics, however, say the rate increases harm low-income families and seniors, and that the Vista Ridge project threatens the environment by encouraging suburban sprawl.

The kicker: Abengoa — the Spanish company that owns a subsidiary building the pipeline — is in danger of going bankrupt.

Pedal On • Former B-Cycle Executive Director Cindi Snell raised red flags when she announced her resignation this spring. The nonprofit lacked a corporate sponsor, prompting funding concerns that could’ve thrown a wrench in its plan to expand.

The city listened, allotting more than $100,000 in funding to the organization. Then it went further, and partnered with San Antonio Bike Share, the nonprofit operating B-Cycle. The organization also hired a new executive director, JD Simpson, former director of operations at Austin B-Cycle, and is exploring a partnership with VIA Metropolitan Transit.

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