Amira Van Leeuwen | Journalist
SAN MARCOS – The San Marcos City Council met in person and virtually on January 4 at 6 p.m. to analyze and challenge various ordinances and resolutions.
Council approved an ordinance amending the city’s official zoning plan and an ordinance annexing approximately 21 acres of land to the city. They also approved a resolution approving an interlocal funding agreement with Hays County regarding drug evidence testing by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
During the 30-minute citizen comment period, Sherry Boete expressed support for agenda item 7, an ordinance calling for the expansion of the powers and duties of the Animals Advisory Committee.
“It would be a committee to better serve the people and the pets of San Marcos,” Boete said.
Rodrigo Amaya has expressed how ashamed he is of the San Marcos Police Department (SMPD) and its inability to respond to its cry for help.
“I am very, very disturbed that you have illegitimately created a position for the former Chief’s Chase staff as Director of Public Safety. If you look at these incidents, it’s the common thread, ”Amaya said.
Amaya advocated for accountability and the creation of a similarly qualified panel in Austin with police oversight.
“You will continue to use the same people to investigate their friends, and the result will be the same every time. It is a waste of money; it is an embarrassment for the city and all of you council members are responsible for it. said Amaya.
Amaya’s comment referred to the incident that occurred in the closing days of the 2020 presidential election. A Biden campaign bus was descending I-35 in San Marcos when around 40 Trump supporters circled the bus, nearly knocking it off the road several times. What is commonly known as the “Trump Train” resulted in at least one minor accident and made national news.
The trial was filed against San Marcos Director of Public Safety Chase Stapp, unnamed law enforcement officials from the SMPD and the City Marshal’s Department of San Marcos for failing to “take reasonable steps to prevent planned acts of intimidation violent policy ”, as stated in the lawsuit.
911 transcripts filed in updated ‘Trump Train’ lawsuit revealed SMPD refused to send an escort for the Biden bus.
“Here you have a bus calling for help on 35, and they’re laughing at them, all those callous remarks. There is a lawsuit now, and we as taxpayers are the ones who are overwhelmed because you are going [City Council] continues to fail us, ”Amaya concluded.
Since the update of the lawsuit, the City of San Marcos has denied the allegations done in the “Trump Train” trial.
Council also discussed item 5 of the executive’s agenda, an ordinance to change various road layouts and classifications of cycling facilities.
According to Council staff, the lane reductions proposed to ensure safety in the narrower lanes are Craddock Ave – Old Ranch Rd 12 at Bishop and Sessom Dr. Holland at N. LBJ. In the provisional scenario, the previously mentioned streets will change from four to two lanes and all cycle lanes will be removed. A shared-use track will be set up to accommodate cyclists.
Councilor Shane Scott and Mayor Jane Hughson fear losing a lane of traffic.
“One of the benefits of what we’re trying to do is that we’re working in our current pavements, so it’s basically the layout that we use to implement this. [lane reductions]. If we find that it doesn’t work, just scratch it to restore it, ”said Mayor and Deputy Director of Engineering Richard Reynosa.
Council member Maxfield Baker said the idea of the ordinance is to build more cycling infrastructure and stop relying on fossil fuels.
“We have to remember that it’s not just about ‘Oh we provide bike lanes’ it’s literally a sustainability effort on our [City Council’s] party, ”Baker said.
Baker also said people don’t drive intuitively, but follow directions based on GPS directions they get from their cellphones. He says there are steps communities in those areas can take, such as slowing down their streets or asking for more speed bumps.
“Or maybe, as I’ve tried to ask in the past, maybe we as a community or as a board need to reach out to these tech companies like Google Maps and Waze and ask them to geofence our neighborhoods and not to carry traffic. through our neighborhoods, ”Baker said.
Scott said the only way to defend this is to put on speed bumps to slow traffic.
“I don’t think it would be wise to go the other way and narrow our streets or lose more streets,” Scott said. “Like I said traffic calming is the issue for the safety of most riders so I think, again, I will support it if you install speed bumps, but without it , I will not support him at all. “
Council member Mark Gleason said he was also having issues with the Craddock “situation”.
“I have had a lot of residents contacting me there, who are really concerned that this is being reduced to one lane,” Gleason said.
Another of his concerns was what would happen in an emergency.
“What if we have to get several vehicles on and off on some of these roads?” What if there is a major natural disaster to occur? A big forest fire in the north of town, a tornado to go through… ”said Gleason.
Gleason has said he will not support the article at this time.
“I don’t think we need to remove those two lanes in an area that is going to continue to see growth, which is extremely busy and will cause traffic jams – which I think it will do at some point,” Gleason said. .
Baker, Jude Prather, Alyssa Garza and Mayor Hughson voted to deny it and Scott, Gleason and Saul Gonzalez voted to change the ordinance.
The transportation master plan was passed in a final vote with Scott and Gonzalez voting in the negation and Mayor Hughson, Gleason, Garza, Baker and Prather voting in affirmation.
Item 4 of the executive agenda was also on the table for discussion. The agenda item called for changing the city’s official zoning map by zoning approximately 21 acres of land located in the northwest corner of West Centerpoint and Flint Ridge Rd. In the neighborhood of future development in the multi-family residential area.
Gleason moved to approve which was seconded by Mayor Hughson. City council raised no further questions or concerns and the ordinance was approved and passed by a score of 7-0.
The meeting continued with item 19 of the executive’s agenda, an ordinance authorizing the city manager or the city manager’s representative (s) to approve municipal contract modification orders involving increases or decreases of $ 50,000 or less by removing any reference to the person occupying the position of City Manager. Director.
This agenda item was discussed due to the City Manager Bert Lumbreras retires from his position of Chief Executive Officer on January 31, 2022. Stephanie Reyes has been appointed Interim City Manager and will take up his duties on February 1, 2022.
Baker made the motion to approve the ordinance. Mayor Hughson seconded and the point was carried 7-0.
The city council also discussed agenda item 23 without consent. Item 23 requests the review of a board committee for the animal shelter and provides direction to the city manager.
Mayor Hughson said it was her article and said she “spoke too soon” on it. Mayor Hughson meant Animal Services, not Animal Shelter, because she “isn’t trying to run the shelter in any way.”
“My goal is for us to find ways to educate and engage the community regarding animal services,” said Mayor Hughson.
Mayor Hughson said this included working with animal advocates to promote animal shelters and working with partners in other cities to ensure more adoption.
Lumbreras asked whether or not the council or the city of San Marcos should continue on the path to being a regional partner with all the other governing bodies.
“One of the suggestions I might have if you want to think about it is to leave this group [San Marcos City Council members] interact with other decision makers, ”said Lumbreras. Lumbreras also advocated for collaboration and creating a solution that would benefit all parties involved.
Gleason, Prather, Garza and Mayor Hughson supported the creation of an animal services committee. Gonzalez was absent during this time.
Baker suggested that it would be good if the animal services committee had the opportunity to participate in the meetings since its creation is at the request of the community.
“These advocates are going to help us either push these kinds of political changes and get these people to the table, or better market the avenues and strategies,” Baker said.
The full recording of the meeting can be viewed here.