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

COVER: Flood damage on Conway Street in the Blanco Gardens neighborhood. PHOTO by DON ANDERS


The city of San Marcos is waiving residential building permit fees and utility late fees and is placing a moratorium on utility disconnects for areas affected by the Memorial Day weekend floods.

The city’s utility Customer Services division is also waiving utility deposits and connection fees for existing utility customers who are displaced by the flooding, and city officials are expediting permits for repairing flood damage.

“Our goal is to provide 24-hour turnaround for flood-related repair permits. Our permit center staff will give these requests top priority so people can quickly begin repairing their homes and rebuilding their lives,” said Shannon Mattingly, the city’s planning and development services director.

During the recovery process in San Marcos:

► No permit is required to remove affected sheetrock, carpet, appliances and/or belongings from your home.

► Homeowners may pull their own permits without a General Contractor if the home where work is being done is their homestead. All others (including commercial properties) will be required to use a licensed General Contractor.

► If the homeowner is not doing the electrical, mechanical and plumbing (MEP) work with their own hands, a licensed MEP must pull a trade permit to complete the work.

► Permit fees will be waived for Residential homes in the affected areas of the city.

► All permitted work will be field verified for code compliance.

Permit information needs to include:

► Building permit application

► A scope of work with a rough drawing of the layout of your home

► Pictures that show the damage before repairs are made are also beneficial

For more info

For information about construction, call the city of San Marcos permit center at 512-805-2630 or visit the city’s flooding resource website here. The website include a complete list of resident and commercial general contractors licensed to work in the city.

For information about utilities, call the city of San Marcos Utility Customer Services Office at 512-393-8383.

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20 thoughts on “San Marcos aims to expedite construction permits to ease flood recovery

  1. As well we should. And in my opinion, If the COSM recommended P & Z vote YAY to allow Woodlands to build their levee, COSM picks up all repair tabs in areas that NEVER flooded before. COSM has recommendations on all zoning issues, presented to a BOARD, from my experience on ZBOA, years ago.

  2. Sheldon
    Can you help me identify areas that never flooded previously?
    I’ve not yet begun delving into the relationship between the Woodlands and flooding in Blanco Gardens but certainly think its worth doing. I do know at least parts of Blanco Gardens flooded in 1998, but was not aware that there were new areas of flooding that can possibly be attributed to the Woodlands or whatever it is now called.
    I hate the Woodlands — it is a monstrosity and an eyesore — and I was on record opposing it early on. Still, I’m a little uneasy about the amount of assertion vs information I’ve seen thus far on the issue.

  3. I hope that all those folks that built their homes/businesses in what were “known” to be safe areas get all the help they need.

    I remember that after the New Braunfels floods of a few years ago, there were people who said – on camera – that they were going to replace their washed out buildings (again) with new construction – in the exact spots that were flooded – and they were so happy that the taxpayers were going to help pay for it all. And someone said on camera that New Braunfels was quite happy to see the buildings replaced so that New Braunfels would be able to keep the property tax money rolling in. And I remember that on a network TV show that John Stossel smiled as he told us that the Fed was going to largely pay for replacement (yet again & some for the 3rd time) of very expensive shorefront homes on the east coast that were lost to a hurricane. And he was very happy about that because one of the homes lost was his home. I assume that whatever Fed regulations applied to John’s home would also apply to Texas shorefront homes…

  4. When you have a flood event that, by most experts’ estimations, is the worst in history for this area and choose to somehow blame it on the presence of a single apartment development site, you run the serious risk of coming across as little more than someone with an axe to grind…’s that absurd of a concept.

    Again….worst. in, history. There ARE no comparables.

  5. That the flood event *happened* is not connected to the apartment buildings, and no one is claiming that. However, longtime residents in Blanco Gardens and others have seen evidence that the building site altered the manner in which the water drained away; specifically, that the water came back towards the neighborhood in ways never seen in the past. An impartial engineering team really needs to brought in to evaluate the situation, as soon as possible.

    This is not such an absurd concept. It has happened before with this developer in Tuscaloosa, AL.

  6. I agree that it is not unreasonable to ask if this development made things worse for surrounding areas. If someone does commission a study, the determination is going to be accepted by more people if it is not preceded by months of over-heated and inflammatory rhetoric.

  7. If the Blanco River gets to flood stage before the San Marcos River does, the San Marcos backs up.. That has been the case since the late 1960s.

  8. I believe the hypothesis is that the Blanco backed up into the neighborhood, as opposed to draining into the San Marcos, not that the San Marcos flooded because of the apartments. Residents predicted the same, which is not to say it happened, but that is what they want investigated.

  9. While the apartments are not in a smart location, this was a 500+ year flood. If anyone has questions about the severity of the flooding, take a look at Wimberley and Blanco.

  10. I’ve been in Wimberley, to clean up. I have seen it. That has no bearing on whether the apartments made it worse.

  11. It was a 500 year + flood. Not sure we have any information that applies to this kind of event. Certainly none of the floods in my lifetime have been this bad, and I’ve been in more than a few in Hays County. Did the apartment construction make it worse? I don’t know. I do know that it was an abnormal flooding event. Sorry, but the severity of the flood does have a bearing.

  12. Unless you are saying that less severe floods would not have reached the apartments, and thus, they would not have the potential to exacerbate those events.

    People predicted that the apartments would prevent the Blanco from draining as usual, and now they are saying that is what happened. I think that warrants a look, whether it was a 5-year flood, a 500-year flood, or a 5,000-year flood.

  13. I’m glad to see some rational responses here. This was a 500+ year flood event. There was flooding in places that aren’t even in the 500 year flood plain map (, i.e. the intersection of of Aquarena Springs Dr. and I-35. *THAT* is the reason that “areas that NEVER flooded before” flooded this time. Did the apartment complex exacerbate the problem? Perhaps, but not significantly. The reason is as others mentioned– the flooding on the Blanco caused the San Marcos River to back up. This neighborhood sits between both rivers, so water coming into the neighborhood from the Blanco had no where to go even if the apartments weren’t there. It is alleged that there was a berm of dirt along the River Road side of the apartments– OK, but as any kid who has played with a water hose in the street can tell you, when water reaches an obstacle, it finds the low path around it. So given the topography there, water coming down Barbara would have reached the berm and then drained down River Road toward Cape Road and into the river there. So the apartments could have only *diverted* the water, not obstructed it. But since the river was backed-up, there was just no place for it to drain to anyway. I feel sorry for the folks in that neighborhood, but they live in a known 100-year flood plain and trying to blame that one apartment complex for this extreme event is simpleminded.

  14. I believe you are confusing the rivers. The complaints are that the Blanco could not drain into the San Marcos, because it was blocked. If it was, I do not see how you can say the water had nowhere to go. Clearly, it was already going into the San Marcos, hence the San Marcos backing up.

    That neighborhood was flooded by the Blanco, not the San Marcos. The San Marcos is the one that had nowhere to go.

  15. @Ted, go back and re-read my post: I said “so water coming into the neighborhood from the Blanco had no where to go”. By “to go”, I’m referring to the San Marcos upstream of its confluence with the Blanco, which was backed up because of the downstream flooding. So no, I am not confusing the rivers.

  16. Well then, I am not sure how you reach that conclusion, since the Blanco did have somewhere to go, and was going there in record volume – downstream.

    It is the San Marcos which had no place to go.

    The argument is that the apartments kept the Blanco from going where it would naturally go, or slowed the rate at which it could go there.

    Only an engineer could actually answer that question. I have to wonder why anyone would be opposed to such an investigation.

  17. I am not aware of any circumstance, short of a dam, I suppose, which might cause the Blanco to want to go upstream.

  18. Wow, you really don’t understand hydrology at all, do ya? So first of all, the Blanco technically empties into the San Marcos. Regardless, the water from the Blanco doesn’t just take a left when it gets to the San Marcos River– water always levels itself out, so it backed up to the same level in the San Marcos above the Blanco that it was at at the confluence of the two. The bridge on SH 80 over the Blanco sits at about 580 feet AMSL, and we know water went over that bridge, so we know that anything in the area along the Blanco and San Marcos Rivers that is at about 580 feet or below would have been flooded. The San Marcos River at Cape Road sits at about 550 feet (*30 feet* below the flood level), River Road at Barbara is at about 574 feet (6 feet below), and Bugg Lane sits at about 580 feet. The intersection of Sessoms and University sits at 570 feet, and as you will recall, the San Marcos River there was flooded as well. Why? Some was because of water coming down the hill, but mostly because it was below the flood level of 580 feet. Are you starting to understand? Yes, water is flowing downstream, but even the during the flood it doesn’t flow downstream fast enough to prevent it from going “upstream” in tributaries to keep its level– if it did, then it wouldn’t leave its banks and there wouldn’t be a flood. This stuff’s not rocket science. Here’s an article about similar flooding in the tributaries along the Missouri River back in 2011:
    And for the Mississippi the same year:

  19. I understand just fine, thanks. It is going to follow the path of least resistance.
    Conceivably, that would have been to the San Marcos, and downstream, except there was as a land mass in the way. Maybe *some* would flow upstream. The question is whether it would have flowed *somewhere,* if it were not blocked. Starting to understand?
    Let the actual engineers determine what happened, not the Internet engineers.

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