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

STAFF REPORT

The San Marcos City Council voted to postpone action on a package of new rules that included a controversial ban on the display and consumption of alcohol in city-owned parks and natural areas.

After hearing from about a dozen residents during the regular public comment section of the meeting, city council member Kim Porterfield moved to postpone further consideration of the measures including a public hearing that had been scheduled for 7 p.m. today.

“I do believe we have an overcrowding problem,” Porterfield said, adding that she wants more time to talk about the various versions of the ordinance that have been floating around.

Her motion was seconded by council member Shane Scott and passed unanimously. Council members also said they wanted to wait until Wayne Becak, who was absent from tonight’s meeting because his father died, is present for the vote.

The delay was a change of course for a city council that approved the rules 6-1 two weeks ago.

All but two of the resident speakers said they oppose the alcohol ban. Texas State University’s Associated Student Government adopted an emergency resolution last night opposing the alcohol ban. Said student Sen. Maxfield Baker, “We don’t think it solves the problems.”

» New parks and natural areas ordinance [pdf]

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29 thoughts on “Breaking News: San Marcos council postpones decision on alcohol ban, parks rules

  1. Great. This was exactly what I feared — the brouhaha about alcohol has tabled ALL the commitee’s recommendations. Let’s hope the Council and the Parks Department can get their ducks in a row before we get hammered by the start of tubing season.

  2. Cory: Current laws are in place to take care of problems that arise from crowds of people. Have you ever heard of tourism and increased community wide prosperity. Please tell me how tubing season negatively affects your personal well being?!?

  3. Cory: Current laws are in place to take care of problems that arise from crowds of people. Have you ever heard of tourism and increased community wide prosperity. Please tell me how tubing season negatively affects your personal well being?!?!

  4. I have heard of tourism and community wide prosperity – I’m all for it!! 🙂

    That’s why I hope that the other recommendations of the advisory board don’t fall by the wayside. The changes aren’t huge, but I believe will do a lot to help mitigate any damage to the river due to the *increasing* numbers of people enjoying the water.

    I apologize for sounding frustrated earlier – I am. I wish there had been this much fuss, complete with a 4 part series of interviews, when raw sewage exploded from the manhole covers at Sessom & University after the earlier spring rains. (Yes, there are photos, which the Council has seen.) While alcohol isn’t central to my personal river experience, clean water IS! And I’m pretty sure it is critical to tourism and the economic well being of the community, too.

    Anyway, I hope it gets sorted out soon…

  5. Tourism and increased community wide prosperity….. yes, clean it up and it will increase! Ditto on Cori information, double ditto!!! 🙂 jlb

  6. Ted,

    There was virtually no one at one group’s 5:30 p.m. protest before the meeting which didn’t surprise me since working people can’t get there that quickly after quitting time.

    Ten people spoke against it in public comment. I don’t know how many people would have spoken against it in the public hearing since they tabled it before the public hearing began. I’d guess that there were 30-40 opponents of the ban present but I was inside the council chamber at that point so there could have been more.

    They said they are going to schedule some sort of community meeting about the rules and reconsider it at their first meeting at May.

  7. If public pressure is going to stop the ban, it’s definitely going to take more than those who were there. Monica De La Rosa says she has collected 1,100 signatures on a petition against the ban.

  8. My name is on the petition.

    My name was not on the Sessom Creek petition.

    I’m optimistic that I will be on the “winning” side of this issue, but respectfully, I have to say that “narrow interests” have turned out in far greater numbers, to oppose some rezoning requests, and those requests passed easily.

  9. Perhaps it is time to stop characterizing those who seek to protect their neighborhoods as “narrow interests.”

  10. I’m confident that the community organizers against the alcohol ban can do better on turnout and now they will have a second chance.

  11. I hope they do. That doesn’t change the fact that some other issues have generated far more citizen involvement, often with very little notice.

    After all the work you have done to generate visibility to this issue, surely you must see the significance of the turnout for those other issues.

  12. For everyone that did show up, there are dozens if not hundreds of other San Marcos residents who think the proposed alcohol ban is an unnecessary punishment against the whole city for the misbehavior of a few.

  13. Why wouldn’t the same argument be valid for other issues? Why would one assume that they are opposed by “narrow interests” comprised only of those who showed up? The reasoning is flawed.

  14. I’m not trying to minimize the significance of the people who were mobilized to oppose the Sessom thing. I think most of them are everyday people concerned about their homes and a town that’s transforming into a city before their eyes. I never called them narrow interest and I think you know that.

    The “narrow interests”, as you know, referred to a specific small group of people — some of whom I’ve named in previous comments — who repeatedly oppose everything and denounce everyone who doesn’t as corrupt, greedy and/or unthinking.

    These are people who live in the same Edwards Aquifer recharge zone they don’t want anyone else — especially renters — to live in. They built retirements from businesses in the same Sessom Creek watershed they now don’t want anyone else to build businesses in. They wrap their objections in terms of the “environment” and “neighborhood protection” but they are, above all, politicians just like the rest of them.

    They never let a legitimate issue (Sessom) go politically unexploited and they never saw a concerned citizen they didn’t try to manipulate. They live comfortable lives up on the hill and don’t think twice about shutting down opportunity for everyone else.

    As I’ve argued elsewhere, these same people want the alcohol ban because they think it will discourage people from coming to the river. I agree the parks would be a more orderly and peaceful place if none of the people were there. But that’s not what parks are about.

  15. You’ve lumped opposition to past issues, into that group. You may have been thinking of only a few people, but you painted the opposition to those issues with that broad brush, and many people on the other side of those issues, along with elected/appointed representatives have done the same.

    There are many people, like me, who have lost interest in leaving work early, fighting traffic for an hour (because there is a severe career shortage in San Marcos), just so that we can be ignored by City Council. That’s why I wasn’t there for the can ban.

    That’s where a large number of the people who don’t show up come from. I know, because I have talked to many of them, back when I was the one leading the charge on some issues. One of the best, saddest, responses I got, was “Why do I need to go down there? They manage to do whatever they want without me already.”

    Intentionally or unintentionally, when you characterize any issue as being supported by those “narrow interests,” you imply that it is ONLY supported by those narrow interests, and you help to marginalize our citizens and contribute to the lack of interest/participation, as well as the increasingly divided groups in our community.

    You are in a position of significant influence and I refuse to believe that you are blissfully unaware of that influence. You could be doing so much more, by seeking out people (on bot sides of any issue) who are not from the same small group of people, and giving them a voice. You could be doing so much more, by publishing more compromise plans, like the one for the parks (whether your plan is adopted or not).

    We don’t need the same black and white divisions in San Marcos, that the national political scene seems to love.

  16. Also, I am living “comfortable on the hill,” and feel like I tirelessly advocate for opportunities for everyone else, from better schools, to better job opportunities, to railroad quiet zones for some of our poorest neighborhoods. I even (*shudder*) was involved in relaxing the requirements that we impose on developers.

    So, I’m saying that I am tired of being lumped into that (or any) group, just because I agree with them on some issues. Whether that was intentional or unintentional, that is what has happened. For every one of me, speaking out about it, there are dozens if not hundreds more, who feel the same way.

  17. To clarify, I know at least one citizen, who stated they were turned away who wanted to speak because missed the deadline by a few minutes to sign up.

    The original instructions of were: protest at 6:00 PM and to sign in by 6:30 PM to speak during Citizens Comments.

    However, council meeting times have changed (a permutation of years of start times at 7:00 PM). This was my understanding speaking with staff yesterday AM.

    Moreover, most people are at work or just getting off at 5:00 PM.

    There was scrambling to put out correct start times.

    It is puzzling that all the people who saw the event, no one corrected this oversight from our description. It has since been corrected.

    One thousand PLUS signatures by old school walking (and helpful businesses) no online petitions as of yet.

    Phone booms and e-mail drops went out.

    I’d say the various ways our residents “protested” were awesome!

    KEEP SAN MARCOS SURREAL

    GOOD WORK CITIZENS! Nice to meet some of y’all in person!!!

    149 people support the facebook page of the group

    129 people “attended” the event of Facebook (a different event than the other fb group)

    Best Regards, LMC
    512 644 6264

  18. The city now allows you from 8-5 pm to fax your citizen comment form in to them or hand deliver, CC has always allowed this PZ has just recently adopted the same procedure. The staff are always gracious and will tell you what your number is ~ 1. 5. 9 etc… The city has also been expanding time for public hearings based on how many singed up BEFORE the meeting, so if you want to speak, fax it in or hand deliver….In my Opinion before 10″00 a.m., then you are assured a spot 🙂

  19. Just visited Rio Vista at the end of this long Easter weekend. Disgusting! Piles of ashes, sunflower seed hulls, confetti and all types of other litter. Trash cans overflowing. I suspect parks & rec is letting it get bad to support their agenda but nonetheless, it’s uninhabitable. Their are some real swine that have no respect for their fellow citizens and are ruining it for everyone. Need to ban grilling between the path and the river. Move that one picnic table further from the river. Add a few more trash cans and some aluminum only receptacles. Maybe even ban alcohol between the path and the river.

  20. If the trash cans are over flowing wouldn’t that suggest we need more trash cans, not a ban on something that may become litter? Plentiful and well placed trash cans can do a lot to mitatgate liter problems.

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