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October 7th, 2008
This Martian Life: You don't have to go home but you can't stay here.

I get drunk maybe twice a year, and in no particular order. I go to bars in San Marcos about 5 or 6 times a year, and usually with friends.  There’s no alcohol at my apartment. It does nothing for me whatsoever. In fact if you see me at a bar alone it’s because I’ve had a day so awful only a Russian novelist could fully describe it. However, it just seems really strange to me that we close bars at midnight in San Marcos. In fact a majority of my friends who aren’t from here think it’s petty strange. Come to think of it most of my friends in San Marcos feel the same way too. That’s why I’m voting for extended bar hours.

I don’t think this point has been really explored. Bars are the community’s friend. They offer a controlled and regulated environment where loud boisterous behavior is not only expected, but also encouraged. They exist in non-residential areas. Good bars go a long way towards preventing loud parties.

If anything, if San Marcos is serious about establishing itself as a destination for conventions and tourism, we won’t have a choice. We will have to go to 2 AM bar hours. One of the few fun things of the business convention, and one of the many fun things about other conventions, is the fact that one gets to get away for a while and cut loose. As a majority of bars in San Marcos are on the square there is, once again, a controlled and regulated environment for fun.

I don’t see conventioneers trying to crash college parties (or maybe they will depending on how dull the convention is), but I do believe that they will see San Marcos as lacking an amenity offered by other cities, remember, and choose accordingly next year. Odds are that our new and shiny convention center won’t see a lot of repeat business under those conditions unless temperance conventions take a dramatic upturn.

In other words, do we want conventioneers only spending half of their fun money in San Marcos, leaving around 11:30 to continue the fun in a “real city” like Austin or San Antonio, and drive back to San Marcos drunk?

See, we already have that problem with the students.

2 AM closing hours for bars will mean less last minute runs to the store for alcohol when an individual is already intoxicated. 2 AM hours will mean less students taking their money out of San Marcos to Austin and, instead, bringing a potential DWI back with them.

So, once again, bars are our friend, and they should be allowed to operate at the same hours as almost every other bar in the state if they choose to do so.

However, as I write these words, a word is lingering in my head. Responsibility.

I can make a safe guess, though I don’t know for sure, that midnight closing hours were established to keep students on campus so they could actually do what they came to do…study. That’s a noble intention, but ill-advised. If history has proven anything it’s that if a student, even a minor, wants a drink bad enough, they’ll find a way to get one. The wily nature of today’s enterprising undergraduate student is highly underestimated.

The city can set standards, but the city cannot set the student’s bedtime, so to speak. So, relating to that, later bar closing hours are an incentive against the kind of big loud neighborhood party where minors put themselves at risk for trying to get that drink…one they don’t need anyway. I’m not saying they will go away completely, but it will at least provide more options for those that can legally drink.

Not too long ago I heard someone make the claim that if we extend the bar hours other students will come to San Marcos to take advantage of them. That would literally be impossible because other students close to San Marcos already have them. If anything our students are the ones leaving in droves every night to spend their money somewhere else. Why should some other city get our citizen’s money?

San Marcos needs to make a choice. Are we a small town or are we a major player in the I-35 corridor. As silly as it sounds, extended bar hours go a long way towards giving us some legitimacy in areas where we have been badly seeking it.

The sky will not fall if we do this. Nobody’s lawn will spontaneously wilt and die. Your coffee will taste the same in the morning. This just brings us into line with almost every other city around us. It’s not just a student issue. It’s an economic issue. It’s a jobs creation issue. It’s a tourism issue. It’s everyone’s issue, and it needs to be passed.

by: Sean Wardwell

(Note: the opinions expressed in this column are strictly those of the author and are not the position of or its staff)

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0 thoughts on “This Martian Life: You don't have to go home but you can't stay here.

  1. I agree, but I again ask, why not tie this to some meaningful plans to address the drunk driving issue in San Marcos?

    The people who are going to come out and vote against this are, by and large, those who have had to deal with drunks plowing through their yards, destroying their property and endangering their families. They are the people who do not go to the bars and restaurants on the square, because they do not want to contend with the drunks on the road. It will be those who feel that empty beer cans strewn all over the sides of the roads and beer bottles smashed in “bike lanes” are a blight on our beautiful city.

    You are right that this is not a student issue, but there are a lot of students here with the same concerns I have raised.

    Why do we only strive to “bring us in line with almost every city around us”?

    Why not do them all one better?

    Why not have a comprehensive plan that includes more options for getting home, more options for sobering up downtown before driving anywhere, creative ways of rewarding designated drivers and yes, frankly, more enforcement?

    Why ignore the problems that we have and dismiss those who are concerned that this may make them worse? Why not turn this issue into a *real* positive, which actually sets us apart from other cities, rather than just giving us something to say “me too” about?

  2. I agree Ted, unfortunately I have about 800 words more or less to work with and I can only really hit the generalities. That’s policy and I’m firmly set in punditry. One’s a lot more fun than the other too.

    You know I remember about 10 years ago someone, at their own expense, had a bus that went back and forth from Bobcat Stadium to 6th street. That got shut down pretty quick. SWAT (Students With Alternative Transportation) does a great job with what they have. Personally I think the city could be a bit friendlier to cab companies and let them have a cab stand on the square instead of near it.

    It seems move and countermove in San Marcos sometimes. Someone tries to help but since their idea isn’t in line what whatever happens to be the line at any given point they have a way of just vanishing. It can be discouraging when a citizen tries to help, like the guy with the bus (who I’m sure was making some money, but that’s how it goes) and they get told where to go by the powers that be either in City Hall or at Texas State.

    I’d love to participate in that discussion, but sine I’m basically the guy with a soapbox and a bullhorn I’d lay that in front of the council and see how serious they are about safe roads while going to 2 AM closings.

    Those people will vote like you said for the reasons you mentioned most likely, but still, it’s an overall good for the city and I hope they can see past their own streets to the whole community. I also think it’s worth taking the time to realize even if we kept the bars open all night, or even kept them closed 24/7 and became a dry county, those cans and bottles on the side of the road will still be there.

    Thanks for reading.

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