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City Updates – Greg Smith District 4

One of the important issues facing the Island is Short Term Rentals of homes.  Currently, Corpus Christi does not have an ordinance addressing STR’s as they are growing in popularity across the nation and particularly on the Island.  The Island Strategic Action Committee that advises Council has set up a subcommittee that has been meeting for recommendations and will address STR’s in their December meeting.  The PIPOA has sent out a questionnaire to homeowners for their input with a December 1 deadline.  The advice that the City Council receives from both of these organizations will have a significant impact on the City’s direction on any ordinance addressing short-term rentals.

After sixteen years it’s happening, the Water Exchange Bridge is under construction.  It has been quite a saga and one that came down to the wire.  When first proposed in 2004 the project was strictly water exchange consisting of large culverts that would not have allowed boat passage but would have had significant water movement that would greatly improve the water quality in the main canals.  As time went on plans were changed to elevating the bridge providing boat, golf cart, and pedestrian access to both sides of the road.  To protect taxpayers from a “Bridge to Nowhere” it has been the City’s position that the canal should be dug first or monies escrowed.  This was reinforced by the original developer’s financial and legal issues on the adjacent property.  In 2017 the City bid the project contingent on the canal being built or sufficient funds escrowed to build it.  Twice the contract was extended to allow more time for the developers to come through on their side.  Then in 2019, the bridge was bid again with a six-month notice to proceed clause that allowed time for the canal to be built.  Part of the agreement was when the canal was substantially complete the City would issue a notice to proceed with construction.  The months kept passing by and still no activity on the Canal.  Finally, the dirt began to fly and one day before the contract was set to expire I walked the site with Peter Zanoni, the City Manager and he declared the canal digging substantially complete.  The rest is history and the bridge is on the way.

When the water exchange bridge is complete expect to see a complete change in the water quality in the main canals.  Currently there is little to no circulation, creating oxygen-deprived, warm, stagnant water body hence the need for aerators operated by the PIPOA.  About 2/3 of the time water is coming in the Packery from the Gulf of Mexico.  The circulation pattern in the Bay causes some of the flow in from the Gulf to return through the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.  The result will be cleaner, higher oxygen levels, and cooler water in the canals with the majority of water flow from the Gulf rather than the Laguna Madre.

Another issue the City is tackling is improving our air service.  With new executive leadership at the CVB and Airport, the City is now actively soliciting airlines to add direct flights to destinations other than Houston and Dallas.  Management met with eleven airlines last month in Denver and was favorably received. An important part of this initiative is to change our culture from Corpus Christi being a “drive market” to promoting us also a fly destination with an emphasis on our Gulf Beaches.  This is a complete change in how we operated in the past.  With this alteration, our airport is already outpacing other airports in these Covid ravaged times.  This bodes well for the future as we adjust to the pandemic.

Image by awsloley from Pixabay