From San Antonio’s taco scene to 1604 expansion, what we learned on KSAT Explains this season

Go beyond the headlines on a range of topics that impact our community

SAN ANTONIOEditor’s note: The best way to never miss an episode is by subscribing to our free newsletter, where you’ll get a weekly note from our team. Check out all of our past episodes at ksat.com/explains.

Nearly every Tuesday night, the KSAT Explains team releases an episode focused on exploring the ins and outs of one topic affecting San Antonio. And the past few months have been busy.

If you haven’t had the chance to check them out yet, here’s a rundown of topics covered in the latest batch of episodes.

We’re also always looking for more issues to break down. What do you want explained? What major South Texas story do you think needs more context?

Let us know in the prompt below or in the comment section of this story.

Family Tapestry, CPS and the broken foster care system in Texas

It’s been described as a broken system. And for years, efforts to fix foster care in Texas have fallen short. One advocate we talked to for this episode described those efforts as “trying to put saran wrap over a fire hydrant.”

This issue isn’t a new one. In fact, KSAT took on the topic in a 2017 Defenders special. And years later, many of those same problems persist. The debut of Family Tapestry and a new way of working with foster kids in Bexar County was supposed to be a solution. But the recent fallout with that nonprofit has made a complicated issue even more complex.

In this episode of KSAT Explains, we examined what went wrong with Family Tapestry, how the Texas foster care system is supposed to work and what each of us can do to help.

Click here to watch this episode.

San Antonio first responders, veterans and educators remember 9/11, 20 years later

(KSAT)

Most weeks we aim to release episodes that put into context the biggest issues facing South Texas. The mission of KSAT Explains is to provide some clarity to a nonstop and often-confusing news cycle.

But in this episode, we did something different. This September marked 20 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was a major anniversary of a day that changed all of our lives. This episode isn’t about explaining a topic. It’s about reflecting on a moment when everything changed and taking a look back at what’s happened since that day.

In this special presentation of KSAT Explains, we hear directly from some of those directly affected by Sept. 11, 2001. First responders detail how their day-to-day tasks have evolved. We hear from local educators and veterans working at a high school named for Lt. Col. Karen Wagner, the Judson High School graduate who died in the Pentagon on 9/11. And two Afghanistan War veterans share with us their experiences serving, as well as how they feel about how the end of the war played out.

Click here to watch this episode.

What you need to know about protective orders in Bexar County

(Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

It’s a pervasive problem. And in Bexar County and Texas, the numbers show domestic violence is an increasingly deadly problem.

But every single day, there are people working to help save lives and get survivors out of their abusive relationships. One of the tools at their disposal is protective orders. But when it comes to what protective orders are and what they actually do, there’s often confusion.

In this episode of KSAT Explains, we’re breaking down what you need to know about protective orders, as well as hearing from two domestic violence survivors about their experiences and how they got out.

Click here to watch this episode.

The growing visibility of homeless encampments, debate over how to compassionately handle them

You may have seen them: tents set up near bridges or overpasses. Pop-up communities created by people living on the streets.

It is a sensitive topic — homelessness and how to address it — and it is far from a new problem. For more than a decade, KSAT has been covering how homelessness has changed in San Antonio and the resources that are available in our community.

But a new debate has emerged when it comes to homeless encampments, and the arguments over what to do about them have gotten louder.

In May, 57% of Austin voters chose to bring back a homeless camping ban. About a month later, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill banning encampments into law. Here in San Antonio, encampments have been banned since 2005.

With a new law banning homeless encampments, the end to the federal eviction moratorium, and rising rent and home costs, preventing and combating homelessness has never been a more pressing issue. But it’s more than a policy debate. It’s lives at stake.

In this episode of KSAT Explains, we took a closer look at the debate over encampments by talking to people experiencing homelessness and those fighting every day to help them change that.

Click here to watch this episode.

What went wrong during the Texas power grid failure

Four minutes and 37 seconds.

That’s how close Texas came to a catastrophic power grid crash during February’s winter storm that would have left more than 25 million people in the state without electricity and wiped out cell service for weeks.

While we narrowly avoided that, the storm was still devastating. Millions of Texans were left without power in frigid temperatures. Hundreds of people died - some from hypothermia, others while trying to keep their families warm. Some died when medical equipment they relied on lost power. Then there’s the financial fallout: Texans hit with shockingly high energy bills and utility companies forced to declare bankruptcy.

Six months after February’s deadly power grid failure, the KSAT Explains team collaborated with the KSAT 12 Defenders to examine what went wrong. This episode provides a look at what we have learned about the disaster, and lays out how city and state leaders have responded.

Click here to watch this episode.

The crucial COVID-19 research done in San Antonio

Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered nearly every aspect of our lives. The shutdowns, the job losses, the millions of deaths globally - it is difficult to put into words just how much has been forever changed and how much so many have lost.

But through it all, science has provided hope. And a big part of that research happened in our backyard at Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio.

In this episode of KSAT Explains, we’re hearing directly from some of the local scientists behind crucial COVID-19 research that’s been done during this pandemic. They walk us through how the pandemic affected their work, the incredible scientific breakthroughs we’ve witnessed and how those breakthroughs could help us battle future viruses and diseases.

Click here to watch this episode.

The ongoing fight to preserve Los Courts

In early 2021, after a years’ long battle, the controversial plan to demolish a historic public housing complex and replace it with a mixed-income development was called off.

But several months later, the future of the Alazan Courts is still uncertain.

Located in the heart of the predominately Mexican-American West Side, the roots of the Alazan Apache Courts run deep. Built between 1939 and 1942, the Courts are now the oldest standing public housing development in the nation. Generations of families have been raised there. The apartments have served as a safety net for low-income San Antonians for decades.

So, it’s no wonder that the plans to upgrade the Alazan Courts - the 501-unit complex north of Guadalupe - have been met with pushback and cries of “mi barrio no se vende”.

“My neighborhood is not for sale.”

We first released an episode of KSAT Explains about the Alazan Courts - or Los Courts as they’re known to many - about a year ago. In this episode of KSAT Explains, we return to the West Side community to dive into what’s changed in the past 12 months, what hasn’t, and how it’s affecting the residents who call the Courts home.

Click here to watch this episode.

What’s driving 1604 & I-35 expansion

Nobody likes them, but in a city as large and as reliant on cars as ours, traffic jams are inescapable.

Building and expanding highways have for decades been considered a solution for mass transit and getting people from one place to another.

But recently, there’s been a reckoning of sorts when it comes to highways and how they have historically shaped and reshaped cities - breaking up downtown density, increasing car dependence and, in many cases, dividing communities of color.

President Joe Biden has proposed spending billions to reconnect neighborhoods that have been split up by highways. Some cities have already turned existing highways into boulevards, with dozens more considering similar measures.

But here in San Antonio and Texas, when it comes to transportation news, we’ve been hearing a lot about expansion to keep up with our fast-growing region.

In this episode of KSAT Explains, we take a look at the plans to ease traffic on Loop 1604 and Interstate 35, and why they’re being met with pushback.

Click here to watch this episode.

San Antonio’s deep, growing taco culture

(KSAT 2021)

Whether they’re puffy, street style or for breakfast - San Antonio knows tacos.

The cuisine has inspired murals and (not so) friendly debates with other cities. Even within city limits, San Antonians argue about authenticity and which spots have the best flavor.

And there are plenty of spots to choose from. This city is saturated with taco trucks and taquerias, some that have been here for decades.

They come in different styles, with different fillings and types of tortillas. And just when you think you know everything there is to know about San Antonio’s taco scene, something new emerges.

In this episode of KSAT Explains, we dive into San Antonio’s taco history, evolution, future and the importance of it all to our city’s identity and culture.

Click here to watch this episode.


About the Authors:

Lexi Salazar produces KSAT Explains, a weekly, in-depth streaming show that digs into the most important issues facing San Antonio. She previously produced the News at 9, San Antonio's first streaming-only news program.

Valerie Gomez is the lead video editor and graphic artist for KSAT Explains. Before starting at KSAT in 2017, she worked as a video editor for KENS 5 and KVUE in Austin. She graduated from Texas State University in 2013 with a bachelor's in mass communication and is a product of SAISD and the South Side of San Antonio. She loves Jeff Goldblum.