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


The San Marcos City Council this evening approved a sweeping package of new parks rules including a ban on the consumption and display of alcohol.

The measures were adopted 4-2 with council members Ryan Thomason and Shane Scott voting against the rules. Jude Prather, who led opposition to the alcohol ban, was out of town for professional training. Mayor Daniel Guerrero and council members John Thomaides, Kim Porterfield and Wayne Becak voted to approve.

Before passing the rules, council members amended the ordinance to require law enforcement officers to issue a verbal warning before writing a citation or making arrests for violating the alcohol prohibition. The council also voted to delay implementing the alcohol related portion of the ordinance until January 1, 2013, giving officials time to educate the public about the rules and the public one last summer of legal drinking in all the city’s parks and natural areas.

Police Chief Howard Williams told council members he did not intend to enforce the alcohol ban against parkgoers who are peacefully minding their own business. The council has to trust law enforcement to enforce the ordinance with a light touch, he said.

“Banning all alcohol in all parks is not a reasonable solution, in my personal opinion, to the problems we have,” Williams said.

The rules were formally supported by the San Marcos River Foundation and the Lions Club and opposed by Texas State University’s Associated Student Government. More than 1,100 people signed a petition against the alcohol ban circulated by activist Monica De La Rosa.

The new rules make these changes:

  • Makes the consumption or display of alcoholic beverages on park land prohibited. Provides for access and egress to 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
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12 thoughts on “San Marcos council bans alcohol consumption, display in city parks

  1. Nice job, Council. What a waste of taxpayer time and money. We already have ordinances on the books that deal with public intoxication – why not just direct law enforcement to crack down on that? Instead, you pass a draconian new law that even the Chief of Police immediately says they have no intention of actually enforcing.

    Banning alcohol in city parks because of a few troublemakers is like swatting a fly with a Buick. Unnecessary overkill, and sadly just another example of government attempting to assert control over “we the people” in any way they can.

  2. “swatting a fly with a Buick” BWWWAAAA ~ so true, so true. And a TRUE waste of tax payer money. They can’t even enforce the laws they have now because there aren’t enough park rangers.

    There are SO many other ways they could have approached the problems on the river that would actually work and not infringe on our personal liberties, but once again they don’t listen to their citizens. I hope enough signatures are gathered to insist on a vote on the issue by the citizens before January.

  3. I hope this Fab Four gets voted out next time, along with the mayor, if they continue to impose moral judgement for otherwise law-abiding Park goers. Thanks Ryan and Scott for opposing this unSanMarcian action. Let me know if I can volunteer for you, if you decide to oppose them!

  4. This is very unfortunate. Some of my favorite memories of this town were spent at the river, and sometimes that did involve an ice cold beer. It’s a shame that the city council found it wise to waste time and money on this ordinance. This could have easily been fixed with tighter restrictions on public intoxication and heavier littering fines (which is stated above) without the unnecessary ban on alcohol. Let the responsible ones enjoy their river to the fullest!

  5. I don’t think they had much of a choice. There isn’t enough money to hire more park rangers, so a higher level of enforcement of current laws isn’t an option. New Braunfels has adopted a similar law, which means everyone who used to drink alcohol in their river parks will come to San Marcos resulting in even more problems for an already over-extended ranger force. Not to mention all the litter in and around the river. This is the same law for the state parks which works just fine.

    Don’t blame the city council. Instead- access the arrest and incident reports from the past few summers (public record) & contact all the drunken fools who were involved. Ask them why they felt entitled enough to ruin an otherwise good time for all those who regularly exercised good judgement, respect, and self control. Those are the people who are truly to blame.

  6. I hope they consider expanding to Bobcat sports events. I was with my wife last year at a football game and was appalled by all the yelling by the fans. You just know they had been drinking. Those heathens are everywhere.
    We just need more guidance from the dais.

    Also hope the gods consider the clothing enforcement at the river as the families with kids do not need to see those bare knees and mid drifts.

  7. Did I understood correctly that it is only the actual alcohol BAN that is delayed until January 1st? I’ve seen conflicting information in other places. I hope so. We could do with the rest of these rules starting asap – with enforcement, of course!

  8. Chuck

    If a higher level of enforcement isn’t an option, then how will they enforce the alcohol ban? There will be more enforcement needed now. Or can you not see that? All you need to do is arrest the troublemakers for public intoxication and word gets around. Soon enough there will be no problems. Ban the irresponsible people breaking the law, not what they are drinking!

  9. Cori, My understanding is that the delay applied only to the alcohol part but I didn’t listen to the amendment too closely.

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