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No new street names

In the flurry of proposals to change downtown historic street names, the San Antonio Conservation Society is putting its foot down. In a recent statement to San Antonio City Councilman Roger Flores, Society President Barbara Johnson explained the group's opposition to changing Laredo Street to Goodwill Way. Society records show that, in 1924, the board of directors passed a resolution condemning street-name changes "as destructive of the distinctive character and novel atmosphere of the city," and, in 2003, the Society board approved a motion to oppose changing street names within the original 36-square-mile boundary of San Antonio. Laredo Street is the Spanish Colonial era name of the street, which crossed the Rio Grande near Laredo, and the name appears consistently on street maps dating from the early 19th century. A city in which tourism is the second-largest industry cannot afford to lose the historic references that help tell its story, said Johnson.

- Nicole Chavez

Private property 1, schools 0

Faced with the prospect of closing down the 79th legislative session without so much as a hook to hang their hats on (after two special sessions, no less), Texas lawmakers pulled it together and passed a bill protecting private property from government seizure `see "'Takings' advantage," August 11-17, 2005`, and a bill allowing telephone service providers (read: SBC) to sell television cable `see "Communication breakdown," May 26-June 1, 2005`.

Under Senate Bill 7, authored by Senator Kyle Janek of Houston, the government cannot use the power of eminent domain to seize private land for economic development purposes, unless the development is secondary to leveling a "blighted" or "slum" area as currently allowed under the law. Loopholes were left in place for the construction of convenience stores, hotels, and gas stations attached to highways and the Trans-Texas Corridor project, but the bill does give landowners a small concession: Just because a government entity says it's not taking private land for an impermissable purpose does not automatically make it so. The approved bills' language can be found at capitol.state.tx.us/.

- Elaine Wolff


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