The third and final reading of the water and waste water rate increase ordinance drew a huge crowd. The Council Chamber was full of concerned residents ready to voice their opinions. During the30-minute citizen comment period, the Council heard statement after statement in opposition to the rate increase, and then the floor was open for comment once again on the issue, which only drew more of the same. The Council heard their constituents and acted to table the ordinance. Mayor Susan Narvaiz proposed the issue get tabled and the city cover the increase to allow the Council enough time to seek and research all viable alternatives. “I’d like to ask the Council to fund it and look at it extensively for our future,” said Narvaiz.All Council members voted in support of tabling the issue, with John Thomaides voting no, and Guerrero absent. Thomaides said he is in support of tabling the increase, but not of tabling it with conditions, specifically mentioning his opposition to funding the $1,069,000 it will cost the city without first having a workshop to better understand the situation. Narvaiz also suggested a full analysis of how everything in the city gets funded, and move forward with new policy changes “that would better address the current state and future of San Marcos.”
Among the concerned residents, were also several representatives of wrecker companies who were present to articulate their opposition to an ordinance that would regulate performance of towing within the city. San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams said, in his opinion, the ordinance could use some modifications. As written during presentation, the ordinance would require a summons from property owners before any non-consent tow can take place.
Wrecker companies took this clause offensively, and said this issue has already been addressed in the contracts they are under with property owners; they are entitled to remove illegally parked cars from the property. The signs posted on the properties state the amount the tow will cost those illegally parked, but the price does not include the storage fee. This ordinance would force property owners to provide signs stating the cost of the tow “plus storage fees.” It would also make payments of cash, a one-party check, or credit card an available mean to cover the any costs incurred on site. The Council gave direction to staff to bring the ordinance back for its second of three readings with some new amendments; removing the required summons, specific language on signs, and making only local checks and travelers checks, not out-of-state checks, an acceptable form of payment, along with cash and credit cards.
Citizens also had some thoughts on the land use plan on the intersection of Concho Street and LBJ Street, and the development standards for the Concho Commons Planned Development District. A few citizens voiced their concern with the availability of parking for this development, and urged the council to vote against it. A 37,241 square foot building retail center is projected for this area, which is a 66 percent increase in square footage from its prior use, but only an approximate seven percent increase in parking. A building of this size is required to have 158 parking spots, but only about 90 are being offered, which poses an approximate 36 percent reduction in parking. Citizens opposed to the development expressed the parking problem already in existence downtown, however the council argued that this is they type of business San Marcos needs to attract.
The Planning and Zoning Commission has approved the project by a 5-2 vote. Some recommendations offered to the council were to have off-site leases that would provide parking for staff and new uses. Another option would be to create approximately an additional 59 parking spaces by constructing a raised deck parking at the same grade of Guadalupe Street, this option would bring about approximately 149 parking spaces; 9 spots shy of the requirement for a building of this square footage. The Council voted to adopt the ordinance. “In the investment we made in going through the downtown master plan, (this project) speaks to it,” said Narvaiz.
The budget for fiscal year 2008-09 was adopted, as well as the tax rate set at $0.5302.
By ANDY SEVILLA