The downtown square at closing time. Photo by Bill Peterson.
An issue that has distinguished and divided San Marcos for years figures to be resolved quietly next Monday night, when the city council will almost certainly vote 2 a.m. bar hours officially into law.
Councilmembers voted, 6-1, to approve the change on first reading Tuesday night. The only dissent came from Councilmember Gaylord Bose, a substance abuse counselor who said he has seen too much damage from alcohol use and has consistently opposed the measure.
At next Monday night’s second reading, which will make the law official, Bose will again oppose the new bar hours. But it’s highly unlikely three other councilmembers will suddenly reverse course and block the legislation, especially after San Marcos voters went 71 percent in favor of 2 a.m. bar hours in a non-binding proposition last November.
Bar hours extended to 2 a.m. each night of the week could go in effect some time in June. But it could take into July, depending on how quickly the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) approves licensing allowing San Marcos businesses to operate for the additional time.
San Marcos bars presently are open until midnight every day except Saturday, when they remain open until 1 a.m.
Brian Montgomery, proprietor of The Wine Cellar and president of the Downtown Association, told the council Tuesday night that downtown business supports the new bar hours. However, Montgomery also asked that the council not use the new bar hours as occasion to impose new fees and burdens on downtown businesses.
“It’s a topic that has been discussed multiple times over the years,” San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz said leading up to the vote that figures to end the conversation.
Once the city approves new bar hours, the businesses to be affected would have to apply for licensing from the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission (TABC) to stay open for the extra hours. San Marcos City Manager Rick Menchaca said TABC would probably address all of those licenses at once in a process that could take one or two months.
“As far as students are concerned, the 2 a.m. (bar closing) is a good thing,” said Chris Covo, the Texas State student president-elected who also is the university student liaison with the San Marcos City Council. “We think it will help San Marcos become a focal point on the corridor.”
The council will deal with another issue Monday to address a younger population as it takes a first reading to revive curfew legislation. A previous curfew expired on May 10, 2007, and the city has yet to renew it, meaning youths cited for violations had to be excused.
Last year, 68 curfew violation tickets were issued and 85 were handed out in 2007, some of which came after the expiration date.
The curfew legislation said juveniles under the age of 16 were not allowed on the streets between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays, and midnight to 6 a.m. on weekends. The ordinance also prohibited juveniles to be out “during normal school hours,” according to San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams. Those hours were defined as 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.Email | Print