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COMMENTARY by BRAD ROLLINS

It’s hard to fault San Marcos City Council members if they’re a little punch-drunk these days after weathering several months of unrest and insult from residents uneasy about the way things are developing.

As if they just can’t invite enough abuse — or maybe unsure anymore which ways is up — the council has now given preliminary approval to an ordinance that would ban alcohol and, sooner or later, barbecue grills in San Marcos city parks. Only Jude Prather said: Enough is enough.

I think it will be easy to become too alarmist about this. Many, maybe most, of us will probably be unaffected. I don’t accept that most people who support the ban have overtly racist motives and I don’t think its most persistent proponent through the years, City Marshal Ken Bell, has some dark scheme to expand his piece of the San Marcos law enforcement turf. I take him at his word about his reasons but I still think he is wrong.

My problem is that an ambitious, young city council can’t seem to get San Marcos on the map for anything but saying “no.” No beer or wine at Rio Vista or Purgatory — no smoking at the Tap Room or Cheatham Street — no new buildings that make anybody mad — no plastic bags at HEB. In other words, no more of the things that make the San Marcos experience what it is for so many of us. To be fair, the proposed citywide smoking ban stalled — but it will be back — and most of the council hasn’t weighed in much on the pending single-use plastic bag ban proposal. The way things are going, however, it sounds right up their alley.

This is naturally not how some of them see it but I think this is how at least some of us in San Marcos at-large do. This isn’t how it was supposed to be.

The council is in danger of letting narrow interests hijack their agenda, interests shaped by the sort of people who, to paraphrase a movie, claim to love San Marcos but clearly can’t stand the people who live here. Let’s be clear: The forces that killed the Sessom project — that would kill everything if given the chance — are the same ones that now want to ban alcohol in the parks and smoking in private businesses. They are the same ones that a few years ago tried to ban letting your dog ride in the back of your pickup. They are forces that think they know better than you. They think San Marcos would be a better place if only the right kind of people were allowed in.

This council wants to do Big Things but unfortunately the Big Things that always seem to come up involve taking away and tearing down instead of creating or building.

I wish the enthusiasm I see for these boutique bans — one tailored to every whim — were matched with focus on building roads and infrastructure and, most of all, an environment of opportunity for the everyday people of San Marcos who don’t already have their ticky-tacky box on the hillside.

It’s gut-check time on what’s important to the city council. If they think it’s been hard-slogging so far, just keep telling San Marcos to be somebody — anybody — but ourselves.

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» New parks and natural areas ordinance [pdf]

New rules on tap

An ordinance approved on the first of two votes Tuesday night creates these changes to rules for San Marcos parks and natural areas:

► Makes the consumption or display of alcoholic beverages on park land prohibited. Provides for entering and leaving the river with a “no open container” rule;
► Includes refined definitions for the codes;
► Makes provisions of all park codes apply in Natural areas and Green Spaces owned by the city;
► Includes disruptive conduct provisions for programs approved by the department operating on city parks areas;
► Increases the minimum fine amount for littering in the San Marcos River;
► Prohibits smoking and tobacco products in play areas and athletic fields;
► Clears up miscellaneous provisions on posting of temporary restrictions;
► Authorizes the Park Director to establish rules for use of BBQ pits;
► Prohibits the use of Styrofoam materials in the parks and river;
► Adds the possession of certain fishing spears and gigs and allows parks programming exemptions;
► Prohibits the possession of alcohol on any dam owned by the city;
► Requires the securing of lids and covers to containers in the San Marcos River

New parks and natural areas ordinance [pdf]

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45 thoughts on “Brad Rollins’ blog: Time for San Marcos Council to get off the ban wagon

  1. The River Rangers made 40 arrests last summer. 40 total arrests. It sounds like we have this HUGE problem. Let’s punish the 95 percent of people who are not the problem.

  2. Council banned alcohol use on the streets in the downtown and cell phone use in school zones also. Dang them.

  3. Why do I finish this piece with a knot in the pit of my stomach, even though I largely agree? I guess it’s the whole “I don’t want to say anything bad about anyone, but I’m going to anyway” tone.

    Is presenting your case without trashing the people on the other side of the issue a lost art? I mean, we all have to live together. You sound just like you accuse “them” of being.

    I know, I know, all you wrote were facts. There are no personal attacks in there…

  4. I have to agree that some of the interested parties seem to be the naysayers to everything; in the same breath I can comfortably state that a huge Sessom Creek project does not ‘make the San Marcos experience what it is for so many of us’.

    The desire to reduce litter and waste is admirable. Protecting our unique resources is certainly important as well.

    The inherent fussiness quotient of some vocal people who do not and likely would not increase their use of these facilities, even granted the extension of their desires over majority preference, strikes me as caveat from afar.

    Problems do not go away with this approach, it simply becomes an out of sight out of mind situation. “Oh look, what beautiful empty parks we have!”. Not quite the intent of parklands.

    The folks causing problems whether litter, destruction, defacement, violence and such are likely to continue the same behaviors simply at another location. Probably a bit idealistic and utopian to expect to change people, but this still is the root cause of the problems.

    Symptomatic treatment is simplistic and lends itself much too readily to buzzwords, hoopla, rabble rousing and self righteous moralizing.

    How about an approach which engages the citizenry and enjoins us to participate in civil behaviors and respectful responsibility?

    We have yet to see anything in this vein. It doesn’t provide easy Powerpoint slide material for the Look What I Did Show.

    Please step up an open approach to naming problems and causes, then with honesty and humble integrity work WITH the citizens to support COMMUNITY.

  5. I don’t know that I’m trashing anyone. I certainly am not accusing anyone of taking bribes and payoffs as members of the Loyal Opposition regularly do to everyone with whom they disagree.

  6. “narrow interests hijack their agenda”

    “claim to love San Marcos but clearly can’t stand the people who live here.”

    “that would kill everything if given the chance”

    “They are forces that think they know better than you.”

    “They think San Marcos would be a better place if only the right kind of people were allowed in.”

    “already have their ticky-tacky box on the hillside.”

    Call it what you like. You’ve taken a number of recent issues, lumped them all together, and characterized their supporters as described above.

    Chris Jones was fond of bringing up weak Civil Rights comparisons when the “right” narrow interest was being opposed by “the masses.” I guess it depends on which side of the issue you’re on.

    Ditto for the people who “think they know better.” That’s pretty much the case on both sides of every issue.

    Honestly, you do not sound like you’re interested in problem solving. You just seem to want “the right kind of people” making decisions, and the others to STFU.

    It’s tiresome, whatever the issue, and whichever side it comes from. I love this city, and the people here, no matter what they think about 2:00 bar hours, plastic bags, dog microchips, apartments, outlet mall job creation, or anything else.

    Just like the city and the university hold each other back from reaching their full potentials, by not actually working together, so to do some of the people here. Working together is not about overpowering or marginalizing the people who hold opposing views. That’s the easy, lazy, way out. Yeah, it gets the people on your side cheering for you, and don’t we all love that, but in the end, it achieves little.

  7. It’s a classic “chicken and egg” argument. What people really WANT is for others to behave in a responsible, respectful manner in public – both toward others and to our natural resources.

    The problem comes when people are increasingly neither respectful or responsible – so the cry then turns toward legislating these behaviors. Unfortunately, there is no effective way to legislate away poor behavior. So we slip further and further toward a “nanny state”, where every time you turn around there is a new law banning something or saying no to something else.

    I’m no fan of overreaching statutes banning everything under the sun, but the sad truth is that we as a society can’t seem to police ourselves any longer….or to put it another way, if there weren’t a-holes getting drunk regularly down at Rio Vista, we would not have had to have a new law banning alcohol at Rio Vista. Yeah, there may have only been 40 arrests there, but for every one that is arrested, there are a dozen or more belligerent drunks down there that don’t…..

  8. Ted, you may know that I regard you as one of the most skillful regular pundits on the Mercury, but I’ve never known solutions to be your strong point. What is you solution? I don’t even fully understand what the problem is. They’ve made 76 arrests in two summer seasons and cited about 800 people during the same two years. That’s out of the estimated 200,000 people a summer season who use the river parks — not counting all the other parkland. That does not sound like a scourge to me. I’m sure some people, especially families with children, have seen bad things happen but its going to take more than bad-behavior anecdotes — and we’ve heard precious few of those thus far — to convince me that such a drastic change to our civic fabric is called for.

  9. I agree, but doing nothing is no more of a solution than all of these bans are.

    People need to start coming up with solutions. If all you’ve got is that the other side has no solution, then you’re just the other side of the same coin.

    Not you, specifically, Dano, but any of us.

    I’d love to see a real effort to understand what makes for a compatible development. I’d love to see post mortem discussions about some existing problem developments and for these upcoming developments, to see what lessons can be learned, and I’d love to see those lessons lead to positive change.

    I’d love to see some creative thought to the problems at the river. What are our options, other than bans? More trash cans? Trash nets with the tube rentals? Refundable can deposits for tubers who come back with the same number of cans they left with? Incentives for ongoing cleanup, rather than just an annual event? Keep San Marcos beautiful campaigns in elementary school? Dunno. Those are just the ideas that popped into my head in 3 seconds. None have been vetted.

    The point is, there is a lot of ground between a ban, and doing nothing.

  10. Narrow interest….. the forces that killed the Sessom project… the same ones that would kill everything if given a chance…. the ones that want to ban alcohol in parks and smoking in private ( public actually) businesses…. the same ones that tried to ban your dog from riding in the back of your pickup…..dadaddaddddadda. This is the most ridiculous piece of yellow journalism I think that I have ever read, especially since there is very little if any factual truth to it. Try a snorkle on the Comal or the Guadalupe, see for yourselves what the fruits of irresponsible human beings are, sometimes the river bottoms are solid trash, primarily beer cans. It is unfortunate that their are elements of society that have to be monitored, naturally, left unmonitored the outcome would be far worse. Same as it ever was, just the way the chips fall. PS- I may not swim the river anymore here in San Marcos, personally, I have a distinct displeasure of swimming in human waste, thanks to the incompetance of our city leaders that have sealed the fate now,assuring that it will become even more polluted than ever dreamed of in the past. Do any of you remember when years ago the city would do tests and issue ecoli ( human waste) warnings, funny how they decided to abandon this practice, which would only verify the facts that they have been recently confronted with related to the pollution factors. Their actions only say ” Let the people swim in POOP, better than losing that beautiful new apartment complex!”. We all hate rules, especially when we have to correct our behavior for the greater good, none-the-less, without checks and balances there would surely be only chaos.

  11. So now that we seem to be moving toward the solutions direction…

    Let’s define the problems dispassionately and work to institute minimally invasive measures to address them instead of the broad brush ‘look, i fixed it’ approach.

    Would love to hear from all you SM longtimers on what has been tried, what has and hasn’t worked and how we might make a difference without nanny-stating everyone to death!

  12. Jaimy you are FOR banning drinking at the River? If so Ima slap you at the next meeting 😉

    Ted is always the voice of reason and I will once again state I’d love to see your name on a ballot one year so I can vote for someone who thinks from all angles.

    I am totally opposed to what they passed and baffled that they did even after admitting it was b/c the packet was SO big they really didn’t know all the details, but would look at it and make amendments at the next meeting.

    I LOVED the idea that Kim & John had about taking out the “consumption” part of the ordinance, seems to me that would prevent a lot of the bad behavior we have all seen at Rio Vista and help with trash control. The Marshal stated it would limit them in someway that wasn’t really clear, because normal PI rules should take care of anyone misbehaving. A friend of mine mentioned no disposable containers, but after I thought about that I thought they may just hall in kegs and cups from home and make the situation worse.

    I don’t go to Rio Vista, I go to a couple of different, less well known places when I’m not tubing and just hanging out and I WANT to have some beer or wine when I’m doing it, and sure would like to do the same at concerts in the park tonight like we’ve done for years. I guess we will all have to see what the amendments are next week, and once again I’ll be down there talking against something. I REALLY didn’t think they’d pass this so easily and was ready to go down and thank them in two weeks ~ Oh well.

  13. People behave poorly even before they’re PI. They start cussing and acting rude and vulgar. I just don’t want to be around it or have my kids around it. That environment is sanctioned when you have a drunk-fest every weekend. Also, it’s too crowded. I do agree that the word consumption changes everything. It’s not a red cup ordinance anymore. I think you could accomplish the goal by banning public consumption/display.

    Furthermore, tents/canopies should be pushed back into the field. It’s not fair for folks to take up that much real estate. Same with grills – push em back.

    As to solutions, we need more neighborhood parks with full amenities (tables and grills) that are away from the river. Give folks an option. Not saying those should or should not be alcohol-free. The tennis courts should not have been rebuilt by the river and the pool should be moved away as well. I know those ideas are too expensive but if the pool should fail tomorrow we should def not rebuild it where it is.

    Also, I enjoyed Brad’s commentary. Too many papers have polyanna opinion columns so they don’t run off advertisers.

  14. I made my last post just after I had finished reading Brad’s column. I said amen because I have rarely read a column concerning San Marcos I agreed with so completely.

    I never go to Rio Vista park in the summer, but it is not because of any behavior, it’s because I don’t like crowds. The only way your are going to change that it to start charging admission, does any one really want to do that? You need to go after the specific behavior, the roudyness and litter. You don’t go after the person who wants to go be with a couple of thousand of his closest friends and responsibly have a couple of beers, which he then throws away.

    No one forces anyone to go into the Tap Room, Cheatham Street, Restless Wind, Harper’s, or any of the other smoke filled bars in our town. People chose to go to those places. Leave them alone.

    Has it ever occurred to the people pushing the bag bans that some people reuse those bags. I don’t get plastic, I get paper bags, which our dear enlightened neighbor to the north has also banned. I take the paper bags use them for trash bags. You ban these and I’ll juist have to buy a hard plastic trash can, and fill it with a plastic baggy or Hefty bag, real big improvement.

    This rant could go on, but I have to get to the dry cleaners before 6. There are people in this town who are instinctively against everything, you would not believe the number of people in my neighborhood, Oak Heights, who were against the Wake the Dead Coffee Shop. Every square inch of this town drains into the San Marcos River, yet we are told everytime someone proposes something they don’t like that the new development will be the final straw that turns the river into a sewer. And finally, some of us live here because we don’t want to live in Austin. I went to U.T. in the 70s, and I thought Austin was heaven on earth. That is before the nanny staters, Californians moved in and ruined the place. I love San Marcos because it reminds me of the Austin of my youth. Please, let’s no ruin this place

  15. Oh for the record I smoke, and especially enjoy smoking at the tap room and chatting with Travis. And I will be at the podium the next time that issue comes up protecting our freedoms and our beloved privately owned, uniquely San Marcos businesses to make their own choices for their patrons and their business dollars. I too would hate to see San Marcos go the way of Austin. I lived in Austin for 7 years after graduating from SWT b/4 the California BOOOOOMMMMM and fled.

    There is a lot we can learn from what was done right and what was “over reaching” and just stupid that happened after that. I miss Austin the way it was b/4 the boom, I don’t want to miss San Marcos the way it was b/4 the it became San Apartments ~

  16. My apologies to Jude Prather. I just read my piece in Thursday’s Daily Record and I erroneously said that all voted yes to this ban. I was watching from home at that point and missed hearing his comments and vote, I just heard all the Ay’s and ASSumed they all voted for it. Thank you Jude for not getting behind this.

  17. I read Brad’s commentary and all of the thoughtful posts that followed. I don’t agree with Brad. It’s sad that so many people don’t respect the environment that all of us share. Unfortunately for all of us, the only way to control those who trash the area is to ban the potential trash itself. Drunks do not care. Once they are drunk, their trash goes all over our shared areas. And I really don’t want our children around drunks.

  18. Other than the Sessoms project, has this council actually killed any significant zoning change request? Are they really that ban happy?

    And I am going to go ahead and suggest that many of the people who are worried about the direction our town is being steered in regarding apartments are actually quite nuanced in their views regarding alcohol, smoking, and bag bans, your simplistic screed aside…

    Case in point, I think that smoking bans are stupid (and we’re one of the few places that actually doesn’t have one it seems like) and I don’t even smoke. I also think a bag bag is the wrong route to go, even though I always bring my own bags and think we are myopic and selfish to continue to create unneeded waste (and once again, we are hardly the vanguard with this potential ban). I could go on like this and know of several other people who don’t fit into your own fatuous little box in which you lumped those of who allegedly only want to let certain types of people into this town…

    But, I was against the Sessoms project zoning change because I felt this side of town would have been significantly degraded if it had been built on that scale and the area was zoned single-family and last time I checked it was my right to speak up against such changes if I feel so inclined.

    And I am likewise against all zoning changes at the moment because we have a petition asking the Council to do so, signed by more people than voted most of them into office in the first place, and I am aghast that they are ignoring such a reasonable request to wait to make more changes until we have revisited the Master Plan (note: this is not a permanent state, just a temporary one so we can have something like a communal discourse; you want solutions, I think that is a huge potential one right there).

    We are not ruled by an oligarchy, we the people are supposed to be in charge and I find it arrogant or ignorant that this Council either does not seem to grasp that fact or just plain doesn’t get what their role is supposed to be in a Republic (granted, it seems that a bulk of our citizens don’t either, but that’s a whole other problem). And I would argue this point even for projects I supported because I believe enough people have made the request and I am a pretty big supporter of popular sovereignty.

    And must we really keep explaining the basic philosophy behind the existence of zoning regulations in the first place? I would really like to exercise my PRIVATE PROPERTY rights to build that gun-range/strip-club/booze-hall on my house, but that probably wouldn’t be fair to my neighbors and their own rights…is that concept really so difficult to grasp? And unless you think I should have the right to put in my sure-fire skank/weapon/whiskey money-maker can we please stop with the whole private property phantasm as well?
    (That last paragraph is for you Cowboy)…

    And can we also stop with the whole complaining about those of us who wish to speak our minds about how we think our government should function? There seems to be a whole movement in our culture to demonize anyone who disagrees with you and this is both foolish and dangerous. Democracy is messy you know? Like Jello says, “if you want a Banana Republic that bad why don’t YOU go move to one.”

    • Keith, Is it simplistic to say what I’m hearing from you is that you agree on three out of four of these benchmark issues I’ve outlined — alcohol ban, smoking ban and bag ban — but not Sessoms? I’ll take it. I mentioned Sessom in this column because the two most prominent leaders of the anti-Sessom group, Jayme Breihen and Dianne Wassenich, were right out in front Tuesday in support of the alcohol ban. If you opposed the Casey development on Sessom but support responsible legal alcohol use in parks and consumer choice on smoking in bars and restaurants and on plastic bags, then I’m not going to argue with you about the forth point on which we don’t agree. Instead I welcome you support in stopping the alcohol ban, the most immediate of these decisions coming up.

  19. I agree re: demonizing people on the other side of the issue – any issue. I have friends on both sides of much more volatile issues than beer bans, like abortion, immigration, the death penalty, etc. Ditto for all of the local issues (and contrary to what Mr. Rollins and many others may think, it’s not always the same people). In fact, I’d wager I have friends on either side of any issue. I pity those who don’t. Their lives must be pretty boring.

  20. Brad, I think the point Keith was making (and I know it is one of the points I have tried to make) is that no positive end is served by painting an entire group with one broad brush. There may be a group of people who oppose “everything” and you may very well know who they are. To then lump everyone who opposes any particular issue into that group does nothing more than kill constructive discussion about that issue, and further divide the community.

    You’ve identified (accurately or inaccurately) two people on the opposition to everything side. That hardly constitutes, well, anything, any more than your vocal support of the other side does.

    Each issue is its own, and the fact that you may be able to predict which side of an issue certain people may come down on, says nothing about that issue, or how the community at large feels.

  21. Maybe you could just change the title to “An open letter to Dianne and Jayme,” and leave the rest of us out of it. I know most of us likely agree with them on some issues and disagree with them on others.

    Personally, if you predictably find yourself on the opposite side every time, as you seem to indicate, you’re just as suspect. Come join us in the middle. There are a lot of people here, who just want what’s best for the city.

  22. Ted and Keith, I am signing off for the evening but am sure we can take this up tomorrow. Thank you to everyone for the lively discussion these last few days. Larry and Melissa and other opponents if the alcohol and bbq grill ban, keep spreading the word and getting people informed. We are making a difference.

  23. Brad,

    First off, you, and many others, are being entirely too simplistic by characterizing the proposed Parks regulations as an “alcohol ban”. That is but ONE component of what is presented and only ONE issue that the parks hope to deal with.

    As many of you are so quick to point out, San Marcos is changing. It is getting bigger (better?), but that pressure is overloading the small stretch of River that all of us – residents, students, and visitors are trying to enjoy. On any given Sunday morning, I can walk the banks and find diapers, cans, coals from grills etc, abandoned on the bank or in the water. The erosion in certain places is very bad. The overcrowding borders on dangerous at the Rio Vista Falls.

    None of these issues even take into account “alcohol”, and all of them are addressed in the Park Recommendations. Please, report on the WHOLE story. I admit – the discussion at the Council meeting was very confusing, and I’m not entirely comfortable with the “we’ll look the other way if folks aren’t causing problems” approach – but the Council IS going to revisit the issue and re-evaluate it’s effectiveness.

    I don’t think either of the 2 people you target think that an “alcohol ban” is the main issue here – they ARE quite concerned with water quality, public safety, and environmental protection. We should all be thankful for their hard work on unpopular issues, because it is due to people like them that we all can swim in this river in relative safety. Unless of course, you prefer that an open sewer run through town, and we all just get to sit on the banks with our beer cans and watch it go by….

    In the meantime, if YOU have any other solutions, please – put them out on the table. Maybe even at a Council meeting!!

  24. Funny Cori, you REALLY touched on the speech that is floating around in my head for the next CC meeting.

    Brad I have been talking to people, it’s what I do 🙂 People who I thought would be totally against an alcohol ban are for it, believing in discretion and wanting to get rid of the folks that hang out and drink cases of beer all day long. I can respect that, but at the moment am firmly convinced that dropping the consumption part of the ordinance would have the same affect. I am also not behind the personal grill ban either as we don’t have enough grills and families like to recreate and cook by the river.

    I am TOTALLY in favor of higher fines for pollution, no Styrofoam of any sort on the river and many of the other things in that blanket ordinance ~ but there are so many other things in that ordinance that I’ve not even read yet that I have no clue if I’m behind or not at this time. I’d also be in favor of banning alcohol altogether at (I think it’s called Centennial Park) the river access park next to the children’s park for a beautiful stretch of family friendly area with BBQ pits and shade for the little one’s.

    See ya’ll at the next CC meeting~

  25. How about trash cleanup in the parks, for community service, if you get arrested for PI or violations of various other *existing* ordinances? I bet if your buddies see you out there picking up dirty diapers on Saturday, you may act a little different the next time you’re there.

  26. Melissa,

    : )

    Are you talking about the area right next to the tube rental and the little kids playscape? Or further down stream, before the big wood playscape at children’s park?

    Either way, I think you’ve hit on a great possible compromise regarding alochol- keeping a long stretch of the river alcohol free, so that we don’t have the confusing patchwork of rules that was a problem previously. It was very confusing! It was also (if I understood correctly) the reason that the word “consumption” could not simply be removed from the ordinance as presented the other night. Everything had been rewritten to remove bans in individual places (like the Children’s Park) so those prohibitions would have needed to be replaced before a vote.

    The other thing that I think I understood, was that any events would still allow alcohol (Like the Concerts in the Parks).

    I’d also hope that money can be found to put in more BBQ pits, away from the banks. If the amenities are available, I think folks would be happy to use them. As for littering – start collecting the fines. Pay for some rangers, or cleanups, or BBQ pits… Zero tolerance for littering!!

  27. Yes the Children’s Park, it’s a beautiful stretch that could be a total family friendly zone in whatever means people would like, including no smoking.

    It was a very confusion conversation on this topic Tuesday and it was hard to understand in real time, it baffles me that 6 voted yes in such confusion.

    Hillside II was a little less confusing but the last minute changes were sketchy ~ as I understood it they would lose 40 parking spaces, IF they could and still meet code, and would then increase parkland space from 1.3 acres to 2 or 3 acres and add up the preserve visitors parking from 4-10 space. The 4-10 was the only thing they seemed solid on. Many thanks to Ryan, John and Wayne for voting no.

  28. A little addition to my rant of couple of days ago. I am against a total ban of alcohol along the banks of thr river, however bans in certain areas like the children’s play scape, or a ban on glass bottles ad styrofoam cups, all for it. I am all for punishment of bad behaviour. Some one caught littering, hit them with a big fine, which if they can’t pay they can work off by doing community service cleaning up along the river.

    I did not sign the petition, I thought a total ban on multifamily was simplistic. I was against the Casey development becuase I thought it was too intense for that side of town. I think the notion that building 30 or 40 houses on that tract will destroy Sessom Canyon and the river is ridiculous.

    I am totally against the nanny state. As I said, people have uses for those obnoxious plastic and paper bags Using them should be a choice. I don’t smoke, I do go into places where smoking is allowed, I have friends who are smokers, that does not bother me unless they blow the smoke in my face. There seems to be a growing number of people in our society who believe that if they don’t like it, or they think it’s bad for you, they should be able to ban it. New York City has gone as far as trying to regulate salt in restarant food, there is a town in California that has banned smoking in your own back yard because it might blow into your neighbors back yard.

    I love San Marcos because we are in many ways a live and let live town, a place where the ecentric is not only tolerated but even charished. We have a beautiful river which we are all passionate about, some to the point of going to extreams. I have critisized Austin, but Austin has pointed the way through the Save Our Springs ordianace. It has shown that you can have intense development in watershed much like above spring lake without destorying it, people still swim in Barton Pool. we need to look to them in that, but not in banning things.

  29. No sooner than I ended my last post than I went to te Drudge Report an saw a headline “City considers ban on smoking in all apartments”. the town is in California, where else.

  30. The big problem is that we far too frequently turn to the state to help us out — social security, Medicaid/care, farm subsidies, tax abatements/corporate welfare, etc. ad nauseum — in ways that we do support because we get free crap out of it. As long as those checks come in we’re more than happy with sucking down the big bottle that is the nanny state.

    But, along with taking this money comes the obligation to follow some qualifications. So, for instance, if you expect the rest of us, via the state, to pick up the tab on you if you get in a car wreck and don’t have insurance, well the rest of us, in the name of economic efficiency (not that many people really understand economics that well I’m afraid, but work with me here), can demand that you minimize our risk by passing a regulation that you must wear seat-belts.

    It is a slippery slope this government intrusion thing, one whose trajectory should be scaring the living crud out of all of us in my humble. But, to do anything about it we would also be forced to give up many of the perks that go along with the creeping uber-state as well as those moral regulations that make us feel self-righteous that we are protecting our neighbors from the dangers of scary things like weed, people saying bad words on the radio, or gay marriage. In other words, I’m not holding my breath because it sure seems like we absolutely love it when politicians throw this stuff against the wall to see if it sticks. We certainly love it way more than boring talks about policy, supply and demand, the costs of war, etc. In other words, it is our own damn fault. But screw it, what’s on television tonight…

  31. There is no connection, of reasonable simalarity, between the destruction of our watersheds, river, and natural environment by apartment developers and their taxpayer paid allies, and the desires of some citizens to address a growing problem on the banks of our river. Why someone would use the most vial form of communication ( Yellow Journalism) to try and connect the two issues is simply beyond me. These feeble attempts to degrade those, that are trying to preserve the very characteristics that make San Marcos an envious place to live and recreate, are no more than silly rhetorical nuances aimed at a group of people that the author of this ridiculous story has sided against from the very beginning. Hence, pure opinion, or, in the case that this forum were an actual news source, YELLOW JOURNALISM AT ITS VERY WORST!! Nothing personal Brad, just trying to highlight the difference between news and opinion… JLB 🙂

  32. PS- USe hydrogen peroxide in your ears before and after entering the river water, the ecoli levels are probably way through the roof. We used to have a city that cared about this health hazzard/ issue, more than ad-valorum taxes and tourism dollars. My advice is only a recommendation, and not medical advice, each to his or her own, the ear aches are terrible though, and much more frequent than in years past! ANYONE WONDERING WHY????? JLB 🙂

  33. Gosh, Jaimy, get over it already. There are a lot of us out here that would really like to hear someone else’s opinion besides yours. You have plum worn us out already.

    And to boot, Brad plain out states when it is an opinion or a story with facts.

    Jaimy, if you don’t have anything new to say, or can’t say something nice, just once, stop already. I for one am really enjoying hearing other opinions.

  34. I recognize no one to this strand, except maybe JLB, who has any sense of history with this river. I am not a BISM, although my wife is and I believe JLB to be, too. I appeared on the scene in 1959. Compared to what I remember from 1959, the river has been so spoiled that comments I have seen here are insignificant. IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT YOU DO, WHAT ORDINANCES YOU PASS OR FAIL TO PASS, YOU WILL NOT BRING THE RIVER BACK TO ANY SEMBLANCE TO WHAT I SAW WHEN I ARRIVED HERE! Everything I have read here centers around making things easier for Law Enforcement at the expense of most of your citizenry and most of your visitors. I no longer go to Rio Vista–the crowds there remind me of artists’ renditions of Dante’s Inferno. In honesty, Rio Vista has never been my favorite spot on the river. My disinterested advice at this point–we have land in Gillespie County–leave things alone. Let law enforcement earn their keep. Let those who still display “Baby On Board” decals choose another place to go, one that does not offend their delicate sensibilities.

  35. The ban is a bad ideal, and the whole point is to give Ken Bell’s untrained psuedo cop thugs more reasons to screw with anyone they want.

  36. Thanks Mr Horton, I will try to amuse you with more varied facts, although facts seem to irritate you. I wonder why? What is your fascination with developer appeasement anyway, I wonder? Considering the pernmanent damage that the projects I oppose will do to the river and the natural environment of our city, perhaps I have a right to speak up just like you do, from the other side of the fence. Where is your counter aguement that supports your opinion, that destroying our city with shortsided develpoement will in some way be good for it? Just currious… As for the ban issue, hopefully a suitable plan will be found, that does not offend those too much, that wish to express their right to live as they please in public, without any rules of conduct to interfere with their freedoms. We all have freedoms and rights, both sides of the coin, no doubt. JLB 🙂

  37. Mr. Haney, as I am a BISM, I think you have been here long enough to also be considered one.

  38. The best deterents to littering are convenient trash cans, which there are no where near enough near the river or in the highest traffic areas like Rio Vista. Another ideal is to have P&R actually dump those high traffic area trash cans more than once a day. The trash really begins when there’s no reason to walk to the over flowing trash cans.

  39. Just ran into a coworker (early 30s, male, if that matters) in the hall, and he commented that he was in San Marcos, for a bike ride, this weekend. He was talking about the river, and how he had never been there before. He made a couple of comments that led to the booze ban discussion. I could tell he was being careful with his choice of words, but then he finally came out with “It was pretty trashy. I’m sure it’s not a reflection of San Marcos, but the troublemakers seem to have figured out where they can go.”

    He never once mentioned college students, or any other group. He talked about drunks, and litter.

    I’m still not in favor of the ban, but there clearly is a problem here. I’ve even had younger friends, who put drinking on the river at the top of their list of favorite things in San Marcos, tell me that they’re losing interest in floating, because of how out of hand things are getting.

    Are we just sitting around, waiting for the ban to go into effect, or are we stepping up enforcement, adding more (and emptying) trash cans, and all that?

    I was crushed, to hear that someone’s first impression of San Marcos was “trashy.” Everyone should be.

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