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December 3rd, 2008
City Council discusses extension for alcohol consumption

“I’m not here to address all of your concerns today, but instead as more of a fact gathering situation,” said City Manager Rick Menchaca. City Council was scheduled to provide direction to staff regarding the extension of hours for on-premise consumption of alcohol. All council members had specific questions and concerns about the implementation of the passed referendum, but chief among them was security and protection.”Public safety is number one to successful implementation of extended bar hours,” said Councilman John Thomaides. He added that improving infrastructure would also be necessary. “We want everyone to have fun, but we want everyone to be safe,” he said. Among infrastructure improvements, Thomaides suggested new lighting at intersections in the downtown, as well the amelioration of uneven pavement.

Mayor Susan Narvaiz suggested moving forward with the development of a task-force assigned to identify any concerns towards a successful and drawn-out implementation process. “I like that Idea,” said Councilman Chris Jones. “We’re not just going to say ‘Aye’ to this ordinance – we need a plan.”

Initially Narvaiz suggested Jones and Councilman Gaylord Bose to serve on the task-force but not everybody agreed. “I would rather not sit on the task-force,” said Bose. “That would say I give my blessing to this ordinance, and that is not the case.” Bose said he would not support anything that went against his moral responsibility. “I’m a substance abuse counselor for 25 years, and I’ve seen the other side of this,” he said. Thomaides replaced Bose to serve on the task-force and said “there’s a lot of work to be done.”

“There’s an expectation that we move forward in a timely point to address these issues,” said Thomaides.

Narvaiz asked that the task-force furnish a status report in approximately 30 days, providing City Council with an update on new developments and concerns.

Menchaca said he envisioned a task-force comprised of restaurant and bar owners in and out of the downtown, San Marcos Police, Texas State Police, Medical personnel, representatives of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the Council’s student liaison Chris Covo, and Council members Jones and Thomaides, among others. He added that both the Austin and San Antonio Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) have offered support with this initiative.

Narvaiz said there currently is not an exact date as to when the extension will go into effect, but forecasted an implementation in the summer of 2009. Narvaiz said she is in support of this proposal after the voters passed the non-binding referendum on the November 4 ballot, with 71.22 percent of the vote.

“Our city is growing, and growing up,” said Narvaiz.

Currently, hours for on-premise alcohol consumption are over at midnight every night in San Marcos, with the exception of Saturday, remaining open until 1 a.m.

by Andy Sevilla
Associate Editor

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20 thoughts on “City Council discusses extension for alcohol consumption

  1. Can someone please explain why it is logical that it should take 6 months or more to implement this extension? If 71% of the voters want this to happen, and it involves simply staying open later and having an extended police presence, where is the red tape coming from? Does anyone else think they are making this a much bigger deal than it needs to be? We are literaly talking about 2 hours here. And only 1 hour on Saturdays. So, why stall?

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  3. Maybe you didn’t read the whole article, I think your questions are answered within. 71% is not very accurate when considering 90% of that 71% are students. It’s fair to assume they would have voted for it regardless. Extending business hours by 2 hours is a huge undertaking in terms of city resources. It wouldn’t just require extension of police presence, but expansion of it as well as other public safety departments. Additionally, liability to bar owners also increases. These things must be cost effective in order to be implemented. Hence, “We’re not just going to say ‘Aye’ to this ordinance – we need a plan.” (Chris Jones)

  4. I’m not sure that 90% of the 71% are students, but the chief of police has already said that he cannot step up DWI enforcement to address the current problems, without the approval of overtime. I suspect that adding a couple of hours per night might increase that load even further, although I have seen quotes here indicating that nobody is sure what the impact will be.

    I’m pretty sure I also read that the bar owners are not ready and need a few months to increase staff, among other things.

  5. I as well have never understood why it takes things such as a task force. Unless they mean they want to have meetings with certain representatives of the community etc. that makes since. Isn’t that what city council meetings are for so the council can gather information and others can speak on the issues? Am I wrong here? We already voted on this issue. The bars would have to hire extra staff as well as the police dept would have to extend their officers hours. How difficult is that to undsertand? I don’t agree with the stall either way. It just drags out the issue. Why didn’t we have these discussions before we voted. How come we didn’t have a slight plan before the voters voted on it?

  6. When I said we already voted on this not too long ago, ( as well as voting on not paying council), anywhoo we voted this down in the past.

  7. Ted, it seems the overtime may not be or just 2 hours of patrol time. Processing DWI cases is time consuming. That being said you are correct is stating we don’t know what the impact will be. DWI’s could be reduced as people drink in the “controlled atmosphere” in a bar and don’t drive for an hour after they leave to get home. To Imagine, the issue must be looked at thoroughly before jumping into policy decisions. It is a great idea to do some fact checking before leaping in to uncharted depths. Monetary and safety issues must be considered before making this a done deal. Be patient.

  8. You are correct about DWI arrests being time consuming. The overtime is already required, to handle that processing. The extra two hours could mean even more overtime, or it could mean less, due to “controlled drinking.”

    I didn’t mean to sound like it would be only 2 hours of patrol time.

    I would be VERY interested to get a cost estimate on the overtime required to attack the current DWI problem and see if there isn’t a better way to get it under control for the same (or less) money.

    Alternative transportation, after-hours clubs, education, more PI enforcement (less time consuming, some money comes back to San Marcos, probably a safer event for the officer and it stops people before they get behind the wheel), etc might be better than overtime for DWI enforcement.

    The push for this was safety, so let’s put up or shut up and do something about the safety issues once and for all.

  9. Sigh.. Unchartered territory? Aren;t there other towns where the drinking hours are till two? Why when issues arise we act like we are the only ones in this state to do something. Our council is unique that they have pulled away from taking notes from other towns in issues. For example the economic development council being ruled by the city and so many other examples. We should have had facts and numbers before even considering voting on this. It is ok obviously if they are off by a certain small percent.

  10. Does anyone know where Anita Miller at the Record got the idea that the change in bar hours was 1am on during the week and 2am on the weekend? I can’t find that mentioned anywhere else, and it certainly didn’t say it on the ballot. Is she making this up?

  11. I don’t know where she got that information, but I know that it is dangerous to assume that what it says on the ballot clearly and accurately represents what we are voting on.

    This election was full of poorly (or perhaps carefully) worded propositions.

  12. Hi Ted. So, does anyone know if a study’s been made of other, similar-sized towns expanding bar hours, what they experienced, and policy they found necessary to implement? Seems like that might be a good first step in determining what the impact might be to city services, and developing policy to address the changes.

  13. Ted, I can’t even find the text of the referendum. I could just not be looking in the right place, but I found all the other amendments. I think her “facts” are just as reliable as the rumor about it being tied to a smoking ban.

    Scott, I think most other similar sized towns already have 2am closing. Just sayin’…

  14. Following is the ordinance city council passed, along with the language on the ballot:

    ORDINANCE NO. 2008-29

    AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF
    SAN MARCOS, TEXAS, ORDERING A GENERAL AND
    SPECIAL ELECTION TO BE HELD ON NOVEMBER 4, 2008
    FOR THE PURPOSE OF ELECTING A MAYOR, CITY
    COUNCIL MEMBER, PLACE 3, A CITY COUNCIL MEMBER,
    PLACE 4; SUBMITTING PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO
    THE CITY CHARTER AND A NON-BINDING REFERENDUM
    EXTENDING THE HOURS FOR THE SALE OF ALCOHOLIC
    BEVERAGES FOR ON-PREMISES CONSUMPTION TO 2:00
    A.M. TO THE VOTERS; ESTABLISHING EARLY VOTING
    LOCATIONS AND POLLING PLACES FOR THIS ELECTION;
    MAKING PROVISIONS FOR CONDUCTING THE ELECTION;
    AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY.

    Language on the ballot:

    NON-BINDING REFERENDUM –
    FOR/AGAINST: Shall the San Marcos City Council be authorized to adopt an
    ordinance extending the hours for the sale of alcoholic beverages
    for on-premises consumption to 2:00 a.m.

  15. Wake up your reporters….. major news item:

    Austin newspaper reporting online that Hays County Sheriff Allen Bridges *** died *** this morning !!!!

    go check it out and then tell us the info please!!!

  16. Those are the same things I had found. I was thinking that, as with the charter amendments, there was some additional text that wasn’t on the ballot. I guess it is just her imagination about the specifics…

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