The San Marcos City Council in Monday night deliberations.
By BILL PETERSON
After little discussion, 2 a.m. bar closings in San Marcos officially became law Monday night in a 5-0 vote of the city council on second reading.
Correlatively, the council passed an emergency measure prohibiting the opening of a sexually oriented businesses in San Marcos for the next six months. That measure passed by the same 5-0 vote.
Councilmember Gaylord Bose, the only dissenter in the 6-1 vote for 2 a.m. bar hours last week, did not attend Monday night’s meeting, nor did Councilmember Pam Couch.
The only outstanding questions about 2 a.m. bar closings Monday night went to San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams, who addressed the costs of overtime for his department. Questioned by Councilmember Kim Porterfield, Williams said the cost for police overtime would come to $5,700 per month under a “worst case scenario.”
Williams said a “worst case scenario” would consist in the department needing to deploy all of its available night officers for the extra 90 minutes or two hours every night of the week. But Williams added that he doesn’t believe such full deployment will be necessary, adding, “I really feel we’re going to have this covered.”
San Marcos City Manager Rick Menchaca said the San Marcos Police Department (SMPD) now is fully staffed, unlike a year ago, meaning the city might not have to pay as much police overtime as it paid a year ago.
“I believe we’ll be able to cover the cost within our budget,” Menchaca said.
Without discussion, the councilmembers unanimously passed the six-month ban on the establishment of sexually oriented business in the city.
For First Amendment reasons, cities aren’t allowed to outlaw sexually oriented business, though they can zone them into certain areas. San Marcos officials said the city hasn’t stipulated specifically where sexually oriented businesses can locate. There are, however, state restrictions prohibiting such businesses from setting up within 1,000 feet of schools and churches.
Williams said the 2 a.m. bar closings will make San Marcos instantly more attractive for strip clubs, which typically do most of their business after midnight. Williams added that he’d rather not deal with the problems connected to strip clubs, especially as the SMPD is trying to adjust to the extended bar hours.
“I am concerned about some of the issues,” Williams said outside the city council chambers. “Everybody knows what they are. They have a constitutional right to exist, we have a right to regulate them, and we will, hopefully, strike a compromise. But not for another six months.”
Bar closing hours have long been a matter of controversy in San Marcos. San Marcos bars presently are open until midnight every day except Saturday, when they remain open until 1 a.m.
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. Menchaca said TABC would probably address all of those licenses at once in a process that could take one or two months.
The city council also approved, on first reading, the renewal of a juvenile curfew that expired in May 2007. Under the legislation, juveniles under the age of 16 aren’t 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 prohibits juveniles from being out “during normal school hours.” Williams said those hours are defined as 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.Email | Print