Since coming to Victoria, I’ve had countless conversations with elected officials, business leaders and community stakeholders who’ve shared their ideas about what’s important to them and our city. Most of them want the same things: to enhance the quality of life in Victoria and build a more livable city that addresses our citizens’ needs, elevates its historical significance and lays the groundwork for future generations.
I often meet people who believe that others, including the City, do not share their vision for Victoria. That is not the case. Our city is united by a common vision that was developed by the community and has guided us for years.
Plan 2035 is our city’s comprehensive plan that was created based on input from hundreds of community members and adopted in 2016 by the City Council. The purpose of the plan is to guide future development, redevelopment and community enhancement efforts in five key areas: land use and development, mobility, growth capacity and management, economic opportunity and recreation and amenities. A comprehensive vision helps us drive what we do at the City.
Each of the identified growth areas depends on the others in different ways. For example, in order to attract businesses to our city (economic opportunity), we need land that can be developed to accommodate them (land use and development) and resources to handle the resulting population and traffic increases (growth capacity and management/mobility). Rather than focusing on just one area, we must look at the big picture and address a variety of needs to achieve the best possible results.
This plan is an update to our community’s first comprehensive plan: Victoria 2025, which, in collaboration with organizations including the Victoria Economic Development Corporation, the Victoria Sales Tax Development Corporation (VSTDC) and TxDOT, served as the foundation behind many of the improvements we see today, such as the Lone Tree Industrial Park that houses Caterpillar, the Lone Tree Creek Hike and Bike Trail, a new fire station and Loop 463.
We’ve made a lot of progress implementing recommendations from Plan 2035 during the past few years. The City has worked with the VSTDC and The Retail Coach to bring in new retail and restaurants. We’ve enhanced beautification through the Take Pride Victoria campaign, resulting in the revival of Keep Victoria Beautiful, and the Victoria Main Street Program. We’ve invested in aquifer storage and recovery, and we continue to invest in infrastructure, such as the new Odem Street Wastewater Treatment Plant. In addition, the soon-to-be-completed Placido Benavides Drive will open hundreds of acres for development and help reduce traffic on the north side.
As we work toward our long-term objectives, we may make adjustments based on changing circumstances. For instance, increasing affordable housing has been one of our priorities since the beginning, but the issue’s importance was elevated after Hurricane Harvey wiped out some of our affordable housing stock. Additionally, UHV is in the middle of a clearer growth plan that was not as visible five years ago. Our city has had to adapt to changing situations, but our overall goal of building a more livable Victoria has remained.
As city manager, my job is to make sure that the right structures and processes are in place, with direction from our City Council, to help the community be successful. This includes building strong relationships between the city and community partners. Plan 2035 truly is a community-driven initiative that can only thrive with collaboration from everyone involved.
Plan 2035 is the best way to measure our success and plan for the future. We need to keep our destination in mind; only then can we evaluate where we are and chart a path forward.
To learn more about Plan 2035, visit https://www.victoriatx.gov/369/Comprehensive-Plan.
Jesús A. Garza is the city manager for the City of Victoria.