Thursday, August 30, 2012

Interim Redistricting Maps: Area Groups Act to Challenge Them

Texas Redistricting Maps are in the process of being challenged by several minority and Democratic groups, My San Antonio.com reports.  The groups filed a request for a preliminary hearing in federal court yesterday, which is the first step in challenging the maps.

Tuesday, a federal judge panel in Washington, D.C. said that the Texas Legislature's redistricting maps could not stand, pointing to evidence that they were put together with a discriminatory intent and would keep minority communities from being able to vote for their representation.  Those maps were never used for elections, but they were used by a panel of three federal judges in San Antonio to make interim maps for the 2012 election.  

The challengers, including the League of United Latin American Citizens, hope to get the lines redrawn to be legal, constitutional and in compliance with the federal court's order.  They are asking the original panel of San Antonio judges to call a status conference as soon as possible.  While they are able to redraw maps under the law before the November election, it is a nearly impossible task as the deadline to print and mail ballots is less than a month away.
If the court does make changes, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott would be able to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.  

However, there are options, such as keeping the interim maps and making changes after the election, keeping the interim maps and making the Legislature redistrict again, making little changes to the current interim maps prior to the election, or an entire redo of the redistricting map that would include the problems identified by the D.C. court.
If they choose to completely overhaul the map, it could result in a new filing period and several districts races could become "jungle primaries", where anyone could run for a seat no matter what party they are from, and the top two vote winners would advance to a runoff.  

Many observers don't think the San Antonio panel will do anything because of the multitude of problems changes could cause.  For now, election officials are continuing on the current path.

Looking for a San Antonio apartment?  Regardless of your voting district, Apartment Experts San Antonio can find you a great place today!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Downsizing: Living Room Tips


Downsizing is a trend right now and can save you money and make it possible to live in a way greater apartment or area of town than you normally could afford.  But you might need Apartment Therapy's guidance to figure out how to make the move to a smaller space, especially if you find that your generously sized furniture can't fit in your new diminutive living room.

First, think carefully about what kind of seating will fit the space.  Go ahead and acknowledge that you can't provide chairs for everyone of your friends and don't stuff in a couch and lots of armchairs.  You may even find that a few armchairs are a better fit for the space than a couch.  Of course, your space may be one where a larger sofa or a sectional which is the focus of the room does work well.  So think about how you use the seating in your living room and what makes sense for your life.

Second, take a long hard look at your technology and find ways to streamline it.  A flatscreen wall-mounted television will save tons of space and if you decide to forgo the DVD player and go with an online movie service like Netflix or Apple TV, you've freed up even more room.  Also, a small but good quality speaker dock instead of a large sound system will give you tunes without hogging valuable real estate.

Now it's time to examine your table needs.  A coffee table often impedes traffic way too much in a small living room, so think about perhaps using a compact end table or two, or a set of modest-sized nested tables to do the job of holding drinks and other necessary objects.

As for lighting, you don't have room on end tables for table lamps, so choose a hanging pendant which really stands out in the space and has the ability to provide a lot of illumination.  If you don't have an overhead light, go for floor lamps.

Finally, you'll have to get rid of a lot of stuff to fit in a smaller space, but you're still going to have some possessions, so you'll need storage.  Get creative with where you put things.  Go up to use the walls to their maximum potential, and use storage ottomans and chests that can be both tables and storage.  As you buy new things, try to adopt a "one in, one out" policy for books, decorative objects, and the other stuff that accumulates over time so you don't burst at the seams of your great new space!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Putting Plans into Action: Avoiding Analysis Paralysis

Analyzing decor solutions so much that you can't decide what you want to do happens to a lot of us.  Especially with all the blogs, Pinterest boards, magazines, etc. out there, it seems like just when you think you know what you want, something else comes along!  Apartment Therapy helps you put your plan into action.

First of all, make style boards, whether they are online (like Pinterest), or on paper (collages of magazine photos).  This will help you whittle down all your ideas to a manageable number.  If you still can't make a final decision and are going back and forth between two ideas, odds are you actually love both and no matter what you choose, you'll be happy.  Another tip is to go with what instinct tells you.  That inner voice is usually right!

If you find an object that you instantly fall in love with, but you still fear that you're making hasty decision, give it a day.  If you find yourself unable to get it out of your head, then it's probably something you'll really adore.  If it's something you can take back to the store, go ahead and buy it and give it a spin in your space.  If you decide it's not for you, you can just return it and get your money back.

If you're stuck, have a conversation with someone else about your decorating ideas to get an outside opinion.  Being forced to explain the thoughts in your head to another person can really make your wants and wishes concrete.  Once you've made a decision about your design style, STOP SEEKING OUT MORE STUFF!  There are so many incredible concepts out there that you'll make yourself crazy if you don't stick to your guns.

Finally, have fun!  Give yourself room to make mistakes.  If you paint a wall the wrong color, it's not the end of the world, you can always paint over it.  Decorating is about what makes you happy, so just go for it!

Now that you're the decider, are you ready to pounce on a great apartment you can make your own?  Apartments Now San Antonio is here to help!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Central Texas Salamanders Step Closer to Being Listed as Endangered

Central Texas Salamanders are one step closer to being added to the endangered species list, Statesman.comreports.  Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized their proposal to add four species to the list as Williamson County officials and landowners fight against the listing which would affect development on 5,983 acres in Travis, Williamson and Bell counties.

The species are the Austin Blind, Salado, Georgetown and Jollyville Plateau salamanders and environmentalists believe they need protection because of the rapid development in the area and the degredation in water quality that has caused.  Save Our Springs Alliance from Austin and the Center for Biological Diversity, a national nonprofit, have called for a faster, emergency listing.  They say that protecting the water quality for the salamanders ensures it is usable by people and a whole host of other species for years to come.

Williamson County officials and landowners are fighting the listing because they believe it will impede development.  U.S. Rep. John Carter, Republican from Round Rock and U.S. Senator John Cornyn, Texas Republican, introduced federal legislation that would "block funds that would support the listing."   The nonprofit Williamson County Conservation Foundation and the Texas Salamander Coalition have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars doing salamander research in an attempt to show that the salamanders are doing well and not threatened by development.

Their research will be presented to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service during the 60-day comment period.  The Service is also holding two public hearings in September and will conduct a study on what economic effects protecting the habitat would have.  If salamanders are added to the list, a recovery plan would be implemented with the ultimate goal of getting the species off the list.  The endangered species designation would make it illegal to do anything that affects the habitat of the salamander adversely.

Looking for your own comfortable habitat?  Apartments Now can help you find that perfect apartment to be your little slice of heaven, even if you aren't endangered.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Redevelopment on Broadway Revitalizes Area

Broadway near the Pearl Brewery is seeing tons of new development, thanks in part to $20 million in city incentives that lured developers to invest $200 million in the area.  The neighborhood is set to see roughly 1,200 new residential units in the next few years, My San Antonio.com reports.

The neighborhood was the site of high crime, prostitution and drug traffic for several years, but residents are already seeing the redevelopment push the undesirable elements out of their neighborhood.  Residents are excited about the changes that will allow them to either sell their houses at a huge profit or to renovate.

Developers are attracted by the neighborhood's closeness to the Pearl and the Broadway corridor.  They hope to create not only residences, but spaces for small, local businesses which will "keep the community going."  Developers are also attracted to a planned street car system for the area which will make the location even more desirable.  The area is in a transitional phase, according to investors, but will never go back to the crime-infested area it was.

One of the big upcoming projects is small 17-unit condo building that will be built at Casa Blanca and North Alamo streets.  While this is currently home to a decrepit building, that will be demolished to make way for the 1,000 square feet two bedroom, two bathroom condos that will be priced from $269,000 to $319,000.  Due to the small size of the lot, condos made more sense than rental units.

Looking for a great San Antonio apartment in a hot area?  Apartment Experts San Antonio can help you get near all the action!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Moving Out Cleaning Checklist

Cleaning your rental apartment or house when you move out is imperative to getting your deposit back.  Apartment Therapy.com gets down and dirty with the details so you can get your apartment sparkling clean and pocket that dough to decorate your new place!

Overall cleaning includes taking any nails or screws out of the walls and puttying them smooth, dusting light fixtures that are on the ceiling, dusting ledges, and giving windows a cleaning.  In addition, you should wipe down door knobs, doors, light switches, outlets, walls and baseboards.  Next, vacuum, get the carpet cleaned if there are any stains, and knock down cobwebs.

In the bathroom, scrub soap scrum off bathroom tiles, the tub and shower, and bleach the grout.  Give a good cleaning to the bathroom drawers and vanity, removing any drawer liners you put down.  Clean the toilet, sink, countertop and sweep and mop the floor, replacing the toilet seat if it looks gross.  Finally, wipe down the mirror and vacuum the surface of the exhaust fan if it's filthy.

In the kitchen, clean out all the cabinets and drawers, taking out any liners.  Wipe down the cabinets and countertops and clean the sink and faucet.  Clean the refrigerator until it sparkles, inside and out, removing shelves and cleaning them in the sink if necessary.  Clean the oven and remove all the shelves, drip pans and burners.  A tip:  steel wool is a must for getting the grime gone in the oven/stove.  Clean the dishwasher, exhaust fan and finally pull out all the appliances and sweep behind them.

In the bedrooms and living room, dust, sweep, vacuum and mop once everything is out of the rooms.  The garage, if there is one, should be emptied completely and swept out.  Finally, outside, mow the lawn, pull weeds, and remove any personal belongings.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Moving Checklist

A moving checklist is helpful to make sure you don't spend the night before your move packing; or worse, your movers show up to find a pile of empty boxes and you sitting in the middle of it crying.  Relax, Apartment Therapy will tell you what you need to do when to insure you don't spend your last day in your apartment sobbing.

A month before your scheduled moving day, start purging.  Go through, one room at a time, and get rid of all the clutter that doesn't need to waste space in your moving truck OR in your new home!  This is also the time to order or procure moving supplies.  You'll need boxes, bubble wrap, tape and markers.  Check out liquor stores and warehouse stores for free boxes.  This is also a great time to write down all of your valuables and get insurance for them if you don't already have it.  You should also call your utility companies and arrange for your electric, cable, internet, etc. to be moved to your new place.  Finally, get copies of school and medical records if you're moving to a new town or changing schools.

Two weeks before the big day, have a garage sale.  Not only will you have more stuff to profit off of because you're closer to your moving day, but you can make money to pay for moving costs.  You should also visit the local post office and fill out a change of address form and contact newspaper and magazines to let them know what your new address will be.

A week before, finish packing boxes to avoid a last minute scramble.  You should also make arrangements for payment with the moving company and print out maps and directions for your movers.  Put anything crucial, such as clothes and toiletries for the first few days in your new place, into suitcases.

M (Moving) Day:  make sure you have drinks and food on hand for your movers (this is particularly important if you're enlisting the help of friends).  Word to the wise, though, save the beer for once everything's been delivered to the new place.  Beer=loss of mover motivation.  If you're using professional movers, follow along as they inventory your items, sign the bill of landing, make sure everything on it is correct and you are given a copy.  The last step, before you say good bye to your former abode, is to check that all doors and windows are locked and turn off all the lights and the thermostat. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New Apartment Project Set for Barton Springs Road

A new apartment complex that will have 225 high-end apartments is set to break ground this week, according to Statesman.com.  The complex replaces the Mobile Manor RV park and is on the land just to the east of Chuy's on Barton Springs Road.

The new five-story complex will be named Coldwater and should see the first units completed at the beginning of 2014.  The lofted units with 10-foot exposed concrete ceilings and seven-foot windows will face the Butler Park ballfield and the hike-and-bike trail.  In addition, it will feature a rooftop deck that has views of Lady Bird lake, downtown and Zilker Park.

There are a total of 1,000 rental units planned or being constructed in the area, including another building with 223 apartments to the west of Chuy's, set to start construction this fall.  Along South Lamar, two complexes are currently being built, one with 298 units and one with 202.  South of Uchi on South Lamar, a new complex set to have 340 units will begin construction in October.

The company who had a dense mixed-use 400 apartment project planned for Lamar Plaza, where Alamo Drafthouse South is, no longer has it under contract.  However, they still hope to have a project there in the future.

Some neighborhood activists are still concerned about the multi-family boom and what it will mean for traffic, but a city official who is in charge of reviewing new development applications thinks that development along targeted roads "will create a stronger demand for alternative transportation modes" that will reduce automobile traffic eventually.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Residents Sharply Divided by Income in San Antonio

San Antonio residents live largely segregated by income, according to a new study released by the Pew Research Center, My San Antonio.com reports.  In the last three decades, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas have become the most economically segregated cities in the United States.

Wealthy people in San Antonio and its surrounding areas are the most likely in the country to live among other wealthy people.  38 percent of San Antonio's poor residents are in an area where a majority are also poor, ranking it third on that end of the scale.

Economic segregation used to be much more likely to be a problem in aging industrial cities like Detroit, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, but due to the South and Southwest's large population increases, Southern cities are now even more economically segregated.  In the last ten years, Texas added over 4 million people, making it the fastest growing state in the country.  Roughly 50 percent of the people who came to Texas were from other states and countries to work at low-skill, low-wage jobs.

There are many downsides to economic segregation and it affects economic development, education and other public policies.  As a political professor at SMU puts it, "the detriment to the wealthy living among themselves is that they have less and less understanding of the real-life problems faced by the poor, what it means to be poor."  Low-income people who are pushed into poor neighborhoods find it harder to access good schools, jobs, and transportation and this disadvantage can continue for generations.

Although Congress has sought to address economic segregation through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, which gives developers tax rebates for building affordable housing in wealthier neighborhoods, most of the affordable housing developed in Texas ended up in poor neighborhoods, which simply made the problem worse.  In Bexar County, none of the properties developed with the tax credit were built in upscale neighborhoods.

Looking for a San Antonio apartment?  Call Apartment Experts San Antonio today!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Packing Tips for an Overseas Trip

Packing is always a challenge, but when you're going overseas, it's a whole different story.  Apartment Therapy shares some tips for what to pack and what to leave at home so you can have what you need but not waste all your spending money on baggage charges!

When it comes to clothing, which you have to have of course, pick pieces in the same color palette.  That way you can mix and match your outfits so you won't feel like you're wearing the same thing every single day.  It's also a great idea to pick layers, which is a huge help if your trip takes you into different climates.  You can easily wash items that get soiled in hotel sinks if necessary.

For shoes, pick a tried and true pair you know will be comfy.  This isn't the time to trot around in a brand new pair.  It's a great idea to have a pair of walking shoes, a pair of dress shoes, and some flip flops for schlepping around strange hotel or train bathrooms.

As far as toiletries, pack travel sizes of your shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste.  They can easily be replenished when you run out.  Baby wipes are also a great travel companion and facial cleaning wipes can be a great substitute for face wash if you find yourself in a place without water.

Other items to pack include:  Color copies of all your travel documents, an international SIM card for your phone, power plug converters, emergency cash in a money belt for safety, hat and sunglasses and any medications you may take.

Looking for an Austin apartment you'll be eager to return to after your travels?  Apartments Now can make the expedition easier!