GUEST COMMENTARY by FRED TERRY
On Tuesday, my colleagues on the city council approved a vote which would start the process of banning smoking in San Marcos. My issue with this proposed ban is not the question of if one should smoke or should not smoke. What I do take offense with is the idea that government should once again make rules that micromanage our daily lives.
Currently on the books, there is a smoking ordinance which has been in place since 1991. Under this ordinance, property owners have the option to allow or not allow smoking in their business. I fully support this current measure and feel any new ordinance which would tell a business owner how they can and cannot run their own establishment is bad public policy, bad economic policy and sets a precedent we should avoid. After all, individual liberty, personal responsibility and property rights are the cornerstone of this country.
And I am not the only one who feels this way. In the last week alone, the Texas Legislature rejected a similar over-reaching smoking ban bill, marking the sixth time this type of measure has failed. By moving to adopt this ordinance, this community is stripping business owners of their rights. While I think we should always promote healthy living for our community, it should not be at the expense of the fundamental freedom of rights of property owners.
The sad thing is this smoking ban is only a continuation of an already restrictive city code. Currently in this city, we have one of the most limiting city development codes. For instances, under the current code’s C.U.P., businesses must wait six months before they can apply to sell alcohol – a major source of revenue for any restaurant in the downtown area. How are we to attract business with an over-reaching code like that?
Now there is discussion about banning smoking as well; this is just another missed opportunity and a reason many businesses would pass on San Marcos. When the government restrictions limit freedoms and slows down economic growth opportunities, businesses do not choose to do business in that community. I don’t want that for San Marcos.
But the C.U.P. and proposed smoking ban are not the only examples of this micromanagement. Currently there are also talks of banning alcohol in the city parks, despite the fact picnics in our parks provide a fun, safe, and affordable source of entertainment for our citizens. Why we would want to ban alcohol completely from the parks is beyond me. On a nice Texas summer day, there is nothing better than heading to the river with a group of friends, having a BBQ and a nice cold drink. But now, even that is being threatened by these overreaching ordinances.
Currently on the books, there are ordinances relating to public intoxication, underage drinking and disorderly conduct. If the laws currently on the books were properly enforced in the parks, there would be no need for these types of arbitrary all-out bans of alcohol — which mind you is still legal in this state. So if we can’t fully enforce all of the ordinances already on the books, why would one think we could enforce another ordnance?
If we continue down this path, we will have a city code that doesn’t attract business, limits the freedoms of property owners currently in the city and puts completely unnecessary restrains on what citizens can and cannot do.
Why would we want to be that city?
Why should we micromanage to this point?Email | Print