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

November 6th, 2012
Updated: San Marcos council incumbents breeze back into office

Mayor Daniel Guerrero celebrates his landslide victory on election night with council member Kim Porterfield. MERCURY PHOTO by BRAD ROLLINS

Updated

10:39 p.m. TUESDAY, NOV. 6: San Marcos voters returned all three council incumbents to office by margins ranging from landslide to major landslide.

With 19 of 19 San Marcos precincts counted, Mayor Daniel Guerrero won 8,395 votes — 83.6 percent — over challenger Thomas Prentice, who won 1,647 votes (16.4 percent).

Place 5 council member Ryan Thomason won by a similarly lopsided margin, taking 6,588 votes (80.7 percent) to Melissa Derrick’s 1,579 write-in votes (19.3 percent).

Place 6 council member Shane Scott was re-elected by the smallest margin of his colleagues but still breezed back into office with ample room to spare. Scott won 5,434 votes (59.3 percent) to Greg Frank’s 3,733 (40.7 percent).

San Marcos voters also approved one of three nonbinding propositions on parkland acquisition by a huge margin, defeated another by a huge margin and narrowly defeated a third.

Prop. 1, which urges the San Marcos City Council to buy about 70 acres along the San Marcos River including the areas known locally as Cape’s Camp and Thompson’s Islands, passed with 8,227 votes (75.5 percent).

Prop. 2, which endorsed the use of eminent domain to acquire the property, failed with 5,171 (48.7 percent) voting in favor and 5,455 (51.3 percent) voting against. When asked if they would accept a property tax increase to pay for the parkland, nearly three out of four voters said they would not. Prop. 3 failed with only 3,808 (35.3 percent) voting in favor and 6,984 (64.7 percent) voting against.


Earlier

Mayor Daniel Guerrero and two of his San Marcos City Council colleagues appear headed to victories with 20 of 49 Hays County election precincts counted.

Guerrero and Place 5 council member Ryan Thomason enjoyed leads of 83.7 percent and 81.6 percent, respectively, over their opponents, Thomas Prentice and write-in challenger Melissa Derrick. Place 6 council memberShane Scott led by a slimmer margin, 58.8 percent, to Greg Frank’s 41.2 percent.

Meanwhile, 5,986 voters (75.2 percent) supported a nonbinding referendum on whether the city of San Marcos should buy about 70 acres of parkland along the San Marcos River.

Two related ballot propositions, however, were failing.

Prop 2 asked voters whether they would approve of eminent domain to acquire Cape’s Camp from its owners; it was failing with 3,755 (48.3 percent) voting in favor and 4,020 (51.7 percent) voting against.

Prop 3, which asked voters if they approve of a property tax increase to pay for the parkland, was failing miserably with only 2,784 voters (35.2 percent) voting in favor and 5,124 (64.8 percent) voting against.

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31 thoughts on “Updated: San Marcos council incumbents breeze back into office

  1. Prop 1 would be failing too, had it been written better…..the language in the ballot proposition was so simplistic as to be misleading….a point I hope Council remembers when this topic comes before them.

    It would have been nice to see all three fail and have this thing go away quietly, but at least it’s a non binding referendum.

  2. So, the voters want the city to buy the parkland but don’t want to pay for it? They also don’t want to take it by force from the owners via ED. Hmm. How can you buy something that someone else already has a contract on unless you use ED and how do you pay for it? it is not like we are the federal government with the ability to just print more money when needed!

  3. Yes Mr. Seebeck; San Marcos voters want the city / city council to look in to buying Cape’s Camp, but without exercising eminent domain and (by the slim margin) not increasing property taxes. Sometimes we have to compromise. It seems that SM voters are perhaps willing to sell other pieces of city-owned property in order to conserve land that will never again be available to the public. Maybe “we” pay more for it than what’s under contract; or maybe we “pay” in the future for developing when it could have been conserved. Which one is worse?

  4. Jumbopop,

    The problem is, unless you can convince the entity that has it under contract to release their contract, it is a moot point! It is not currently available to the public. You could offer the seller 10x the contract price and they still can not sell the land to you unless they want to get sued and loose. Of course I am sure the contract is contingent upon being able to have it zoned for their intended use so the City could always deny the zoning, thereby giving the buyer an out in their contract. I would hate to think, however, that the zoning would be denied simply so the city could jump in and try to buy the land. Even if the zoning is denied and the buyer opts out of his contract, that still does not mean it is available to the public. You would have to have a willing seller first unless you use ED!

    And by the way, Curtis is fine! No need for the Mr. Seebeck part but I do appreciate the gesture!

  5. Curtis, I voted yes, no, no. If the city has the funds, and can reach an agreement, I’m fine with acquiring it. If the funds are not there, I am not interested in raising taxes to pay for it. If the owner doesn’t like whatever we can offer, I am not interested in taking it by force.

    Either we can afford it, and can reach an agreement with the owner, or I am not interested. I’m not sure what is confusing about that.

  6. Lest we forget (since the resolution didn’t mention it) the riverfront section of the land has already been offered to the City to use as public parkland FOR FREE.

    Problem solved.

  7. I can’t believe prop 1 passed. Such a waste of city funds in my opinion as a good amount of the land was being donated for free. I really don’t understand the opposition to the project there. It can be built without damage to the river itself and the single family neighborhood argument is moot. There are already multiple apartments in that area and most of the property is a already zoned as multifamily anyways. In that sense, it is a practical place for a development of this nature. At the earliest opportunity, I will swiftly vote against any council member who is in favor of spending nearly $5.5 million on this property. Where exactly is the money supposed to come from exactly?

  8. The victory of Prop 1 proves that a slate of candidates is needed to win against incumbents. But, each year campaigns won’t openly band together. “This on the DL I am supporting such and such” is so silly. Pony up and run a slate. This is the ONLY way candidates funded by developers will be defeated. Lived in 78666 since 1986 and been studying the political landscape for a long time.

    The victory of Prop 1 proves that the public does not want this area developed. It is intrinsically valuable to the citizens of San Marcos. Please incumbents remember this when the next devil-opment deal hits the Dias.

  9. Dano, I’m aware. If we can get more, for a fair price, and have the money for it, I’m fine with that.

    You’re not.

    I’m fine with that too.

    I’m not even opposed to the development.

    I wasn’t confused by the propositions, and see nothing puzzling about one passing and the others failing.

  10. The question becomes, how long are the Sellers willing to let the contract ride? There is a drop dead date in the contract that can only be extended with the consent of both parties.

    Price of steel has being going up steadily, so the construction costs are rising. Is the Buyer’s plan viable with increased costs?

    As for the zoning change issue, the parties could sue the City. They will a) lose and b) make the City their foe rather than their friend.

    If the City purchases the property, there will be no roll back taxes, an issue that should also be taken into account.

    But the voters have spoken.

  11. I think it’s time to think creatively. The land that was offered for parks was floodplain anyway, as I understand it, and can’t be developed, so giving it to the city just relieves the property owner of maintenance costs. Given that efforts are under way to secure special designation as one of the longest occupied regions in the Western Hemisphere, it may be that resources will open up to help purchase land, maybe compromises can be reached that will offer the strongest part of win-win for everyone. Yes, folks, the voters spoke. They said they want the parks but don’t want taxes to go up and have them taken by force. They also returned incumbents to office, and I don’t think that’s only because developers supported them. People had opportunities to hear them and see them either at debates or by reading and watching. There was some attack campaigning done by one of the challengers, but overall the campaign was civil and well done. Let’s now work with what we have. Just as Obama faces a need to compromise and bring people together, so does the city. Let’s move forward folks. It’s a great city. Let’s keep it that way while it grows.

  12. It all depends on how one words the proposition. If it is worded, as it was, do you want taxes to go up, it will fail. If on the other hand, it’s worded as a bond proposal, it will, most likely, pass; but taxes will go up to cover the debt.

    As for compromise, both sides have to give, not just one.

  13. In addition to the fact that it’s just dumb to buy something that someone is trying to give to you anyway, the reasons that purchasing this land is a bad idea for San Marcos are numerous and compelling. Here are just a couple off the top of my head:

    We don’t have the resources to maintain *existing* parks. How can we find funds to not only acquire, but also develop and maintain a new one?

    If the City were to purchase the property, they would lose not only the property taxes on the apartment complex going forward, but also the rollback taxes that would come due because of the property leaving ag use. That’s (IIRC) five years worth right off the bat.

    San Marcos already has a terrible reputation as being unfriendly to development….how will it look if the City uses the zoning (or even worse, eminent domain) to squeeze this property away from the guy who already has it under contract and already has a plan for it?

  14. It is true that developers would “donate land” in the floodway for a park, but this would really primarily mean it would be available to the students living in the apartments as private amenity. This would pose a major security and safety risk, especially for the students themselves, who would understandably be drawn for social reasons to any river partying going on at night.

    Apartments can not be built there without damaging the river. The surrounding neighborhood is already pinched between two rivers, and creating that much impervious cover in this sensitive area would increase flooding. It would also increase pollutants in the river.

    Economic opportunities come and go, but the opportunity to protect this land will be lost forever if we allow apartments to be developed there. It is sad that not everyone seems capable of perceiving value apart from ephemeral dollar signs.

  15. I find your argument that you “can not build there without damaging the river” to be specious at best. It’s done all around the world, including as close by as New Braunfels. Besides, I don’t see how turning riverfront property into a public park is any better for it than having apartments nearby. Ever been to Rio Vista on a Saturday and seen the way they treat the river up there? Talk about “pollutants in the river”….

    Also the donated park land has been specified to be for public use, and not a “private amenity”. BOTH scenarios involve having a public park next to the river, so there’s no argument you can make against one scenario regarding safety, security, etc that can’t also be made against the other. If you’re going to make the argument that a river front park is dangerous, why push the City to purchase river front park land?????

    The *real* concern is the differential analysis between the two uses of the land:

    Do we want a riverfront park there that is free to the City and happens to have apartments nearby, or do we want to have a slightly larger park there that cost the City $5.5 million to purchase?

  16. Dano,

    I agree we need to do a better job with maintaining and designing our city parks. We need to limit access to defined points so the banks ar not eroded. We need a broader riparian buffer zone with grasses and other plants to slow down runoff, bioremediate contaminants, and prevent erosion.

    I do not find your contention that we could build apartments at Cape’s Camp without damaging the river because “it’s done all over the world” to be a well supported argument or to even make sense.

    I understand that the developers were not designating the land to be used as a private amenity; I’m just saying that, in essence, that is primarily how it would function due to its location.

  17. Once again Dano, in your clumsy cynical way, you are almost right but for the wrong reasons, they did word the propositions wrongly, they engineered the propositions to get exactly the outcome that they wanted. How often is one proposition separated like it was on the ballot? It’s one proposition. I can understand if the proposition was offered as different approaches to the project, but in this case, it was the same proposition.

  18. One thing that has not been mentioned…I believe I heard that the developer is willing to sell the property on the other side of the river all the way down to the waterfront to the city. Why isn’t anyone talking about that?

  19. The land on the other side of the river is included in the 70 acres. The 70 acres is everything between the interstate and Cape Rd from River Rd down to that road by Luby’s minus the Olympic Outdoor Center and another small tract across from UPS.

    Buying that property and taking the donation of the island and the strip on the north side of the river would at least create a usable park. The problem with the donation offered is that there is practically no access or parking and no practical way to add them.

    In one of the discussions of this issue the city manager said that we could fund this by selling the Leah tract. It seems to me that we could make everyone happy by negotiating a land swap. We get our park, the Thornton family gets paid, and the developer gets a tract of land to build on where they don’t have to worry about the restrictions of the floodway and floodplain.

  20. SP: you imply that someone “engineered the propositions to get exactly what ‘they’ wanted”. Who are these people whom you claim conspired to pull this one over on the voters?

  21. Cynical? I guess I could be called that, if only because I prefer to flush turds rather than trying to polish them…..

  22. The proposition was crafted by…..Our city council and staff, etc.I attended one of the meetings where it was crafted and saw immediately what the intent was, more appeasement to buy time for other plans to be made, just like every other issue the community has recommended to thoughtfully take the time for serious planning, before our town is destroyed by hap-hazzard developement. 🙂 jlb

  23. Hi, folks,

    Please give the master plan a bit of time to get created and to work. I really hope this land can be spared, but the voters spoke. This vote doesn’t keep the city from doing abond election in the future.

    Kate

  24. Great more of the same. Lets hope we can get some more apartments built next door to our last surviving neighborhoods! Also happy to see that not even 10,000 residents could get off their asses and into the polls.

    MORE APARTMENTS PLEASE!!!

  25. So is the Council in the developers’ pockets or are they independent? I thought that the Props were anti-development and that the Council was all development, all the time. At least that has been how I have interpreted all the yelling from some people at any rate. But, if the props were crafted by the city this seems to contradict itself, so which is it?

  26. KC, so yes, 1) look at the division of the one issue into three different parts 2) How would the increase in “taxes” be handled in the wording of the proposition if the project were a Nuse, ETR, Matthew Lewis approved project (We’ve seen a lot of them).
    Kate, the proposition is negatively engineered to give exactly the outcome. The so called “voters speaking” is just not accurate.
    In other propositions, the authors word the “increase in taxes” as a bond or some such. They know that to increase taxes is asking for a denial.
    Yes, they!
    For the record, I am not anti growth or anti development, just trends that would obviously turn San Marcos into a rental slum!

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