Rapid growth of IDEA South Flores causing traffic troubles for people in neighborhood

IDEA South Flores blamed for congestion on busy stretch of South Flores, adjacent streets

SAN ANTONIOThis story is part of the Know My Neighborhood: Harlandale-McCollum series.

Growing neighborhoods usually means growing traffic concerns. That’s what KSAT found on the streets next to IDEA South Flores. The charter school opened in 2013 and as it has grown, so have worries from people who live in the area.

“Traffic has really gotten a lot worse. I grew up not too far from here,” said Yolanda Diaz. “This was a super quiet area. No traffic. It was really quiet, but now it’s super busy ever since they opened up the school.”

Diaz lives down the street from IDEA South Flores. Just getting in and out of her driveway during school drop-off and pick-up times can be an adventure.

“Sometimes they block the driveway and the mailboxes. We have to go out here and tell them,” said Diaz. “A lot of our neighbors have put signs in the front yard saying don’t block the driveway.”

A KSAT crew visited IDEA South Flores before 7 a.m. to take a look at the traffic situation firsthand. By 6:45 a.m., there was a line of about 20 cars along South Flores. There were also cars starting to line up on West Harding Boulevard.

Once the gates opened around 7:15 a.m., traffic moved rather fast, but it did not take long for drivers to line back up for afternoon pickup.

Efrain Almanza picks up his granddaughter every day but has a system to make sure he’s not waiting in the back of the line.

“I just park, go home, come back. I don’t want to spend two hours here, three hours at the most,” said Almanza.

Almanza has been parking his vehicle on West Harding for some time and returns to avoid the afternoon rush.

“I found a solution. That’s all I can do really,” said Almanza.

Christina DeAnda’s child also attends IDEA. One of her solutions is to juggle work and waiting.

“I get it here pretty early, otherwise, you’re parked way over there by Pleasanton Road. So, right now I’m working out of my truck,” said DeAnda.

DeAnda told a KSAT crew there’s usually cars parked on West Harding as early as 11:30 a.m. for pickup.

“I got here at 12:45,” said DeAnda, whose child gets out of school at 3:45 p.m.

IDEA South Flores is a charter school so they do not have running buses to help ease traffic, and the school keeps growing. In 2020, it became a fully scaled K-12-grade campus, and now has an enrollment of more than 1,400 students.

But that means streets like West Harding and Ware can often look like parking lots before and after school.

“Have you ever had an issue with someone who was blocking your driveway?” asked KSAT reporter RJ Marquez.

“No, but I’ll give them a look and they move or give me space to move, but other neighbors have had to call the police,” said Diaz.

DeAnda said the school has sent notices to parents to be mindful of people who live on those streets and changed entrances for younger students, but it’s still a daily gridlock.

“They tried to move the way we come in to make it different, but other than that, there’s nothing really they can do,” said DeAnda.

According to San Antonio police records, officers have responded to 10 traffic related calls for service for reported violations at 6919 South Flores Street from August 2023 to Jan. 24, 2024.

In a statement to KSAT about some of the residents’ concerns, IDEA Public Schools released the following:

“At IDEA Public Schools, the safety of our students and their families is our top priority. IDEA South Flores is aware of concerns from area neighbors regarding traffic near the campus. School staff continues to encourage parents to follow proper procedures and traffic laws during drop off and pick up times. We remain committed to hearing the concerns of citizens and will continue to address specific concerns in partnership with the appropriate city departments as necessary.”

KSAT reached out to District 3 Councilwoman Phyllis Viagran’s office about residents’ concerns and received the following statement.

“Despite proactive outreach to Idea Charter School Administration each school year, these efforts have been met with limited or no response from Idea. We acknowledge the impact on residents, and we remain committed to finding sustainable solutions.”

In response to Councilwoman Viagran, IDEA Public Schools issued another statement:

“Campus leadership at IDEA South Flores is unaware of any direct communication from Councilwoman Viagran’s office regarding any neighborhood traffic concerns. We welcome the partnership from Councilwoman Viagran and other city leaders in our continued efforts and commitment to maintain the safety of our students and families.”

About the Authors

RJ Marquez is the traffic anchor/reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He also fills in as a news anchor and has covered stories from breaking news and Fiesta to Spurs championships and high school sports. RJ started at KSAT in 2010. He is proud to serve our viewers and be a part of the culture and community that makes San Antonio great.

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