San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

September 12th, 2011
Council gives first nod to downtown alcohol ban


A San Marcos ordinance that would ban alcohol consumption outdoors downtown during late night hours appears destined for approval this month.

Cars zip down Hopkins Street in downtown San Marcos. The city council has given preliminary approval to a ban on open containers in the downtown area between 10 a.m. and 2:15 a.m. Unbeknownst to many residents, people can drink alcohol on the courthouse square during other hours. PHOTO by DESIREE ROSE

The San Marcos City Council voted unanimously for the ordinance on Tuesday. The ordinance will probably appear on the council’s September 20 meeting agenda for a final vote. Ordinances require two council votes to become law.

The ordinance was recommended by San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams and a task force assigned to study the effects of allowing bars to stay open until 2 a.m. Taverns in San Marcos closed at midnight most days before the city, two years ago, authorized bars and restaurants to sell alcohol until 2 a.m. Williams and the task force found the extension of bar hours had little effect besides a decrease in noise complaints and an increase in arrests for the offense of driving while intoxicated.

“When the crowds get fairly large, and they’ve been drinking, there’s no one there to watch them, basically,” Williams said.

Williams said imbibers crowd the sidewalks and are more likely to fight and relieve themselves in public without the oversight of bar staff and access to restrooms.

“For the handfull of people who may be out there before 10 p.m., it’s not really a problem,” Williams said. “We don’t seem to have much trouble controlling that…it’s when the crowds get to be fairly large.”

Specifically, the ordinance would criminalize the consumption of alcohol and the possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in the city’s Central Business Area from 10 p.m. to 2:15 a.m. Violation of the ordinance would be a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500. People in parked vehicles, private residences, licensed premises, or buildings not owned or controlled by the city would not fall within the enforcement zone of the ordinance.

“The libertarian in me wants to keep government out of people’s lives as much as possible,” said San Marcos City Council Place 2 member Jude Prather. “Just the idea of limiting something makes me feel uncomfortable. But this isn’t limiting a behavior in someone’s home or a business practice in someone’s business. This is our sidewalks and our parking lots. And I believe this ordinance passes muster.”

Williams said once the ordinance is approved, the city will post signs and police will issue warnings to violators for 30 days. Williams said police will enforce the ordinance after the 30-day period by first asking violators to remove the alcohol from the enforcement zone. If violators do not comply, police will issue citations, Williams said.

Email Email | Print Print


6 thoughts on “Council gives first nod to downtown alcohol ban

  1. Don’t TABC rules already prohibit patrons from taking their drinks with them when the leave their bars? That just leaves those drinking stuff they brought with them, and who goes BYOB to the square at closing time anyway????

  2. I saw a young man on the square Friday night, beer bottle (glass) in hand, drunk….when he was done with the beer he threw it into the bushes. It’d be nice if that didn’t happen anymore.

  3. It would be nice if people didn’t litter anywhere anymore, with anything. I’m not sure that banning alcohol will do that. I mean, I see fast food wrappers, and plastic bags, and cigarette butts, and soft drink cans/bottles, and on and on and on, all over town. Some people just weren’t raised right.

  4. Obviously Dano, no matter where they’re buying the stuff, they leave it on the streets when they’re through with it.

    As Ted mentions, some people just weren’t raised right. The problem is that there are more and more of those people every day. And so many of them seem to view this town as their personal Dumpster. Take a walk through the square at dawn on a Saturday or Sunday morning and you’ll think you’re in the French Quarter. Bottles, cans, discarded fast food bags and wrappers, even pizza boxes. Sometimes, you’ll see where someone has cleaned out his car and left the trash sitting in a pile on the street. Just sitting there, and frequently there’s a trash can just a few feet away.

    On top of the trash, we’re always finding wallets, money, IDs, and drivers licenses down there. I’ve stopped bothering to return items to their owners after I spent a good while tracking down one girl in Wimberley. I phoned the house at 10 am on a Sunday, and her brother answered. Said his sister was still asleep, but he put down the phone while he went off to ask her about it. He returned a minute later and said, “She said you can just mail it to her.”

    Really? I can? How nice.

  5. Among my associates there is concensus that San Marcos is lax on enforcement of aesthetic issues like littering and upkeep of rental properties. I feel it should be more of a priority.

  6. True points all, but if the problem is littering then I fail to see how passing new alcohol ordinances will solve that problem…..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *