City to hire Mobility & Parking Manager; Form Advisory Board

At its December 4th Regular Meeting, in a series of unanimous 5 to 0 votes, Council approved the hiring of a Mobility & Parking (MaP) Manager, the formation of a MaP Fund, and the creation of a MaP Advisory Board.

Council voted to keep 100% of any future parking revenues in the new MaP Fund, overriding the initial staff recommendation which had 30% of revenues going back into the General Fund. Council also elected to add two at-large positions to the Advisory Board making it a 7-person board. Additionally, two council members will join the Advisory board, though in a non-voting capacity. The full composition of the voting individuals on the Advisory Board will be: one recommendation from the Main Street Board, one recommendation from the DTA Board, one downtown resident, one downtown property owner, one downtown property owner, and two at large members.

Both Staff and Council prominently referenced the DTA Board and Parking Subcommittee recommendations in drafting and amending the ordinances prior to adoption, including: the expansion of the MaP Manager and Advisory Board duties and responsibility to include broader mobility and transportation demand management objectives, the assurance that all parking revenues would stay in MaP Fund, and the composition of the MaP Advisory Board.

Council has previously directed staff to place the issue of paid on-street parking on its January 29, 2019 agenda. The DTA Board continues to look for member feedback on this issue and encourages members to email info@downtownassociation.org with any input. The DTA Board, in consultation with the DTA Parking Subcommittee, expects to issue recommendations to Council related to paid on-street parking in mid-January.

Need to catch up on the latest parking news? Click Parking News Posts under the Parking dropdown at the top of this page for a full list of all this year’s Parking posts.

DTA Provides Recos on Parking Advisory Board

At the November DTA Member Meeting, Assistant Director of Community Services Kevin Burke provided an overview of a presentation given to City Council on the formation of a parking management organization, parking benefit districts, and the possible introduction on paid on-street parking in the downtown area. The presentation document is available for download and viewing here.

At the conclusion of the November Council Workshop, Council directed staff to place the hiring of a full-time Parking Manager, the formation of a Parking Management Fund, and the creation of a citizen Parking Advisory Board on its December 4, 2018 agenda, but to postpone any discussion or possible action on the implementation of paid on-street parking until the January 29, 2019 Council meeting. The delayed discussion of on-street paid parking is to allow for a full Council to be seated following this month’s two run-off elections and to allow more time for community outreach by staff.

The DTA Board has sent a letter (copied below) to the City Council supporting the parking organization items on the December 4 agenda while offering some recommendations for the ordinance to acknowledge broader mobility objectives for the downtown and to ensure any net revenues from ticketing or future paid on-street parking stay within the downtown area. Staff has already taken many of the DTA Parking Subcommittee’s recommendations on these items in the draft ordinance, including a seat on the proposed five person Advisory Board to be recommended by the DTA Board.

The DTA Board has not yet issued a recommendation to Council regarding paid on-street parking, but expects to do so prior to the January 2019 Council meeting after consultation with the Parking Subcommittee and reviewing member feedback. DTA members are encouraged to contact the Board via info@downtownassociation.org with any comments or other feedback on paid on-street parking.

For more information about the Parking Management Plan, including the Parking Subcommittee’s prior recommendations, please see the previous News post on downtown parking here.

Payroll Audit Compliance Workshop - Dec 17, 10AM - ACC Eastview (Austin)

A new program aimed at expediting resolution of inadvertent minimum wage and overtime violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (and providing a framework for employers to proactively resolve those violations without litigation) has been launched by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the US Department of Labor.

The WHD invites all DTA members to attend a free, half-day event to introduce the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) program at Austin Community College’s Eastview Campus from 10AM to Noon on Monday, December 17, 2018.

The PAID program provides a framework that ensures that employees can receive 100% of all back wages due in an expedited manner without potentially having protracted and costly litigation.

WHD, the Center for Nonprofit Studies at Austin Community College (ACC), and Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Office of the Commissioner Representing Employers are excited to collaborate to introduce WHD’s New Nationwide PAID Program.

For more information about PAID visit: www.dol.gov/whd/paid

Don’t miss this FREE opportunity to learn about this program from agency leadership. All employers welcome to attend.   

Register here: bit.ly/CNS-PAID

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DTA Weighs in on Health Code Changes

Throughout this year, the Downtown Association (DTA) Board, led by the efforts of President Jean Baggett, has sought to clarify changing requirements for Health Code compliance in San Marcos and to communicate the issues those changes create for much of the DTA membership and other businesses and organizations in San Marcos. The policy changes have already resulted in the modification of many downtown events and contributed in part to decisions by some businesses to close or relocate.

In late October, following numerous informal conversations without any change in policy from the City, the Downtown Association Board sent a letter to the City Manager’s office specifically regarding Temporary Event Food Permit Requirements and Fees. The DTA expressed frustration with the changing requirements, high fees, and difficulty in obtaining consistent responses. The DTA has requested significantly lower fees and the re-evaluation of City policy for requiring event permits for small community events where light refreshments and snacks are offered to customers, typically complimentary.

The DTA letter is attached below, as is a letter from the City in which multiple health code matters are addressed. Notably, the DTA continues to dispute many of the conclusions and responses in Staff’s response letter.

The City Health Department has discussed taking the adoption of the 2015 Texas Food Establishment Rules (and staff’s interpretations and local implementation thereof) to City Council for over a year, but to date has not yet brought this matter before Council. The City has a dedicated website, including FAQs on the matter, which can be accessed at this link.

The DTA Board encourages all parties with concerns on this matter to reach out directly to the Mayor and Council, which can be emailed at this link. It is important for your voice to be heard on this issue either with your letter or in conversation with Council members.

The Downtown Association of San Marcos will stay actively involved in this matter and expects to address Council directly once the item is placed on a future agenda.

Paid On-Street Parking Benefit District Talks Scheduled

Council workshop set for nov. 20

After adopting a Parking Management Framework plan in June, the San Marcos City Council will hear a presentation on downtown parking from City staff and the City’s parking consultant, Kimley-Horn, in the City Hall Conference Room on Tuesday, November 20th at 3PM.

The presentation will focus on the implementation of the first three action items from the Framework Plan, which would introduce paid on-street parking to a portion of downtown and create a benefit district to reinvest excess revenues from paid parking back into the downtown.

Presentation available for REVIEW ONLINE

The City has already posted the presentation and additional information to be shared with Council as part of the Council’s workshop agenda packet which may be viewed here.

The presentation shows that data assessed by Kimley-Horn demonstrated peak demand in the downtown area occurring at 1PM where 19 blocks within the area proposed for paid on-street parking had occupancy exceeding the targeted 85% occupancy rate. Data generated by SMPD’s use of the NuPark License Plate Recognition (LPR) enforcement system launched this year showed a violation rate (e.g., vehicles exceeding the 2-hour time limit) of 10%. According to the presentation, a target violation rate is typically 3 to 5%.

The draft phase 1 recommendations include: $1 per hour paid on-street parking Monday through Friday, 9AM to 6PM, from parts of San Antonio Street up to the Texas State University Campus, creation of off-street and on-street 10-hour zones to help accommodate employee parking until additional off-street parking resources are added, and use of Pay-by License Kiosks (in lieu of individual meters) with a Pay-by Cell mobile phone parking app for added convenience.

Kimley-Horn estimates the approximately investment in the meters to be paid back in about one year. Thereafter, the District is estimated to generate $350,000 - $400,000 each year in net revenue with a recommended 70% of the net revenue being invested back into the District. [Updated 12/2 to reflected revised information from the City.]

For governance, the draft presentation recommends a hybrid structure wherein the City will hire a Parking Manager, contract with a private parking management firm to run day-to-day operations, and form a five to seven person advisory board to manage parking district policy and have the authority to set paid hours, time limits, and rates — within a limited range — as well as make changes to ensure the District is meeting its objectives.

DTA parking subcomittee issued recommendations to staff

After reviewing the draft presentation and referencing the DTAs Parking Survey conducted this spring, the Downtown Association’s Parking Subcommittee met with and issued a letter to staff this past week supporting the creation of on-street paid parking subject to a number of recommendations, including:

  1. 100% of all excess net parking revenues generated in the District be spent solely within the District

  2. Downtown employees be supported during the transition with improvements to the free remote parking lot at the former Armory across from City Hall, free or reduced fare transit passes for downtown employees, and at least 50 on or off-street parking spaces being made available through the City at a reasonable monthly rate for downtown employers to purchase for use by their employees

  3. Flexibility in parking time limits be implemented by allowing up to three hours of parking (up from the current two hour maximum) with the last hour being available at an increased rate of $2 to encourage turnover

  4. Use of modern meter technology allowing for multiple payment options and efficient operations and maintenance

  5. A number of specifics regarding the District and Board structure including that the Downtown Association have a seat on the Board and that the District be charged with more holistic objectives around mobility and enhancement of the Downtown, such as:

    • Improve the availability of on-street parking for downtown customers and guests;

    • Expand off-street parking access for employees and downtown residents; and,

    • Fund infrastructure and programs that:

      • Promote walking, cycling, shared-use vehicles, and transit as the preferred forms of transportation within the District, and,

      • Enhance public spaces and rights-of-way in support of economic development for downtown businesses and improved quality of life for downtown residents

The Parking Subcommittee is made up of Suzanne Riley, Shea Enderle, Jean Baggett, Melissa Hodgkins, and John David Carson with additional guidance from other DTA members that have attended subcommittee meetings or provided input via email. The subcommittee’s full letter to staff can be found here.

Staff to present to DTA membership at Nov 26 member meeting

Staff will present the information directly to Downtown Association members at our upcoming Member meeting to be held Monday, November 26th at 6PM at Shine On Yoga.

The Council workshop on November 20th will not have a public hearing component, but will solely be for the presentation of the draft recommendations to Council for their initial questions.

Discussion and possible action on the formation of a Parking Management Fund, the hiring of a Parking Manager, and the creation of a Parking Advisory Board is currently scheduled for the December 4th council meeting. Consideration of the implementation of paid on-street parking was directed by Council to be postponed until the January 29, 2019 meeting. [Update 12/2 to reflect Council direction after the Nov. 20 workshop.]

Member input can always be sent to info@downtownassociation.org

PR GO: student-run pro bono PR firm launches downtown

A pro bono, student run public relations firm called PR GO launched last month in downtown San Marcos to help community business help themselves by providing strategic communication and social media marketing advice and education.

PR GO was founded on the “help business owners help themselves” concept to provide community businesses with free guidance and education on how to better engage with their audiences through strategic communication and social media tactics.

“The students really just want to use what they’ve learned in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State to help local businesses build relationships with their customers,” Professor of Public Relation and the student’s faculty advisor Paul Villagran said. “The goal of PR GO is to provide small bite-size tips on how to navigate the digital media environment.”

PR GO services include: Social Media Report Cards, Website Audits, Strategic Communication Counseling, Reputation Management, Digital Analytics and Brand Building.

The students of PR GO have received valuable guidance from the leadership of the San Marcos Main Street program as well as (DTA Member) Splash Coworking where the firm will hold office hours.

Walk in clients can meet with team members for counseling every Thursday from 3-6 p.m. or by appointment. Splash Coworking is located at 326 North LBJ Drive, San Marcos.

For additional information or to schedule an appointment, please contact PR GO through the firms Facebook page @PRGOTXST or by email at PRGOTXST@gmail.com.

Film Friendly SMTX Offers Tips on Benefiting from Film Industry

DTA Members that attended our October Member Meeting were treated to a presentation from Randy Polk of Film Friendly SMTX at which he shared information on the moving image industry (aka film industry), the Texas Film Commission (TFC), and how downtown San Marcos business and property owners can benefit from the economic activity generated by film production.

TFC Film Friendly Program

San Marcos is one of over 100 Film Friendly certified communities across Texas. The Texas Film Friendly program prepares communities to meet the opportunities and challenges of accommodating media productions. By being ready to help match local businesses with production-related needs and services, Film Friendly communities can take better advantage of the economic development impact offered by moving image industries. More information is available on the City of San Marcos’ Film Friendly information page.

GSMP Study: Moving Image Industry drives more than $26MM of Economic Impact

Polk cited a recent study commissioned by (DTA member) the Greater San Marcos Partnership (GSMP) that, since 2008, over 110 moving image projects have taken place in Hays and Caldwell Counties that resulted in total economic activity attributable to the motion picture, film, and TV productions of $26.7 million and supporting 185 jobs. The full study can be read on the GSMP website here.

San Marcos’ filmography over the past 10 years includes: Everybody Wants Some!! (2016) • American Crime (TV Series: 2015 - 2016) • The Teller and the Truth (2015) • Boyhood (2014) • The Tree of Life (2011) • Friday Night Lights (TV Series; 2006 - 2011)

How to List Your Location for Films

Polk shared tips for business owners and property owners that wish to submit their property to the TFCs free digital library of locations available to filmmakers for use in films, television shows, commercials, music videos, and multimedia projects. Interested parties can add their location on the TFC website by clicking Submit Your Property for Films under the Resources tab or by clicking the direct link here.

Polk also recommends submitting properties to the Austin Film Commission directly, which can be done here.

Randy Polk is a former professor of Media Production at the University of Houston and he is happy to assist any DTA Members with their questions about benefiting from film opportunities in San Marcos. He can be contacted via email here.

CARTS passengers can now purchase passes on Hopthru App

Press Release via CARTS

CARTS PASSENGERS CAN NOW HOP ON BOARD USING A SMART DEVICE TO PAY FOR BUS PASSES

The Capital Area Rural Transportation System, THE BUS in San Marcos and Go Geo riders in the City of Georgetown can now use their smart device to purchase bus passes.

Hopthru is a San Francisco based mobile ticketing platform for public transit agencies. Using the Hopthru app, riders are able to purchase passes anytime, anywhere and then present them while boarding. Riders may purchase passes with their credit card, debit card or commuter benefits card and then store them until they are ready to ride.

Hopthru enables riders to purchase passes at their convenience rather than stand in line at stations or on the bus to pay for physical passes.

Riders can receive a link to download the app by texting “hopthru” to 43506. After signing up, they are prompted to select their transit agency, rider type and ticket type, then complete their purchase. Once a rider is ready to board, they can activate their pass and then present it to the operator while boarding. Purchased passes can be activated at anytime with or without internet connection, enabling riders to travel without having to worry about keeping a cell signal.

CARTS provides transportation for the non-urbanized areas of Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Travis and Williamson counties and the San Marcos urbanized area.  Anyone in the CARTS District will be able to ride one of the many CARTS services using the new Hop Thru app effective September 17, 2018 and the first ride is FREE! Go Geo passengers in the City of Georgetown and THE BUS passengers in San Marcos will also be able to download the app for transit services there.

Guadalupe St. Improvements Open House Oct 17

Texas Department of Transportation representatives and City staff will host a come-and-go open house from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Hays County Courthouse Rotunda on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

The event will introduce proposed improvements for Guadalupe Street from University Drive to Grove Street. The improvements include striping for bike lanes and parking, as well as sidewalk improvements between MLK Drive and the UPRR railroad tracks and bike/pedestrian crossing improvements at the tracks.

Exhibits of the improvements will be on display, and the public is encouraged to attend and provide comments for consideration.

For more information contact the City of San Marcos Engineering Department at 512.393.8130 or email to enginfo@sanmarcostx.gov.

via City of San Marcos

Downtown Customer Study Results

Provide input on Small Area Plans before Oct 31

The City of San Marcos has recently kicked off the San Marcos Small Area Plan (SAP) Program survey to gather input for specific planning needs in many existing neighborhoods. The City is seeking comments to help establish areas of need, selection criteria and the type of City assistance that should be available to participating neighborhoods.

As an Intensity Zone intended for growth by the Comprehensive Plan, Downtown is not a part of the SAP Program; however, many DTA members, customers, and friends live in existing neighborhoods that may participate in the SAP Program. All are encouraged to provide input before the SAP Survey closes October 31.

Want to learn more? The City is also hosting and Open House and Presentation on October 24 from 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM at the Price Center. There will be one presentation at 6:00 and one presentation at 7:00. Stop in at any time to view the draft program details and provide your input on the design of the City's proposed Small Area Plan Program.

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VeoRide Dockless BikeShare Coming to San Marcos Sept 20

CITY OF SAN MARCOS PRESS RELEASE

September 4, 2018

City, Texas State Collaborate on Bike Share Program

The City of San Marcos and Texas State University are collaborating on a bike share program that will bring affordable, convenient access to bicycles to the community.

The City and University will host a launch event on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 214 E. Hutchison, near the intersection of Hutchison Street and North LBJ, at 9 a.m. to introduce the program to the public.

Indiana-based VeoRide is providing the customized bikes to the City and University at no cost, and riders can reserve a bike for as little as 50 cents for 15 minutes of use.

VeoRide’s easy-to-use and adaptable dockless bike share system allows riders to locate a nearby bike via their smart phone. With a dockless bike, riders have greater freedom to travel where they want, and there is no need to return the bike to its original location. VeoRide bikes feature sturdy construction, built-in safety features and three gears.

Current pay-as-you-go bike rental rates start at 50 cents for 15 minutes. Day passes are $6.99. Additional packages are available for $25.99/month or $99.99/annually and include unlimited 30-minute rides. Texas State students are also eligible for discounts on monthly and annual passes.

To rent a bike, first download the VeoRide app and locate a bike. Once a bike is found, open Bluetooth on your phone, scan the QR code on the bike or enter the bike’s ID to unlock, and ride. At the end of the ride, park at one of several designated parking locations identified in the app and simply push the button on the bike lock to end the trip.

 For general information about VeoRide and to read frequently asked questions, visit www.veoride.com.


Additional Coverage can be found at the following links:

Texas State Release

Community Impact

Statesman

PARK(ing) Day Planning Kick-Off

PARK(ing) Day is an annual, open-source, international opportunity to reclaim and reimagine outdoor urban space for people through a temporary installation on space typically dedicated to the car. This year, to continue San Marcos' tradition of participation, the San Marcos Planning Department, Main Street, and Sustainable Placemakers are collaborating on an installation downtown on South LBJ. But first, everyone's putting their heads together to brainstorm and game plan on September 10th at 6PM Sean Patrick's.

This year's actual Park(ing) Day will take place September 21st. That's right: the day after the September Third Thursday Walkabout and the day before the Mermaid Promenade.  So, all DTA Members are encourage to attend the planning session on the 10th to be part of the design and programming to turn this one day international event into an installation that works for all three days.

For some history, check out San Marcos' video doc of PARK(ing) Day 2017: https://www.facebook.com/CityofSanMarcos/videos/10155324504587400/

Find more info and let other's know you're going to the Planning Session at the Facebook Event Here

DTA Helps Launch Parking Marketplace

With increased demand for parking in Downtown San Marcos and the launch of enhanced enforcement of time-limits via License Plate Recognition (LPR) technology, the Downtown Association (DTA) recognizes an opportunity to unlock private OFF-street parking spaces that are vacant or underutilized to provide a solution for those in need of parking.

The DTA has partnered with PARQEX to create a local, online marketplace where private, OFF-street parking spaces can be listed and rented in a matter of minutes via the web or an Android or iPhone app. 

While the online marketplace allows for daily, weekly, or even hourly parking, the current focus of the marketplace is to provide parking on a monthly basis for known users in need such as downtown employers and individuals requiring longer than the allowable two-hour time limit for ON-street parking downtown.

Early this month, the Downtown Association sent out nearly 300 direct mailers to all property owners within the downtown encouraging them to list any vacant or underutilized spaces on the marketplace. With PARQEX, owners can make spaces available at all hours or just during certain hours of each day or certain days of the week.

For owners or renters that prefer not to use an online tool, the DTA is also maintaining a separate list of owners with parking available and renters looking for parking. If a match appears, the DTA will put the parties in touch.  To add your availability or need, email us at info@downtownsanmarcos.org

Ready to sign-up and list or rent a space? Click the logo below to sign-up and receive a free $15 credit.

Still have questions? Head over to the DTA’s Parking Marketplace FAQ by clicking below for a lot more info.

GSMP Info Sessions on DWTN Shopper Study August 14

The City of San Marcos and the Greater San Marcos Partnership (GSMP) have teamed up with Retail Coach, a national retail consulting and research firm, to help our downtown and local businesses optimize strategies to attract their ideal customer base. 

GSMP will be hosting an event at their downtown office to provide an informational session to San Marcos business owners to take a deeper look into the study. This session will provide the opportunity to discover more about the local shoppers in our town and further understand: 

  • Who your customers are
  • Where they come from
  • How long they stay in store
  • Where else they like to go
  • And other consumer behavior

Don't miss this opportunity to learn more about how you can create a successful strategy for your business! Reserve your spot by clicking the link below.

Retail Coach Session

August 14th
1 PM OR 5:30 PM (Two Sessions)
113 N Guadalupe St, San Marcos, TX 78666

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The Mermaids are coming! The Art League can help you prepare!

The Mermaid Promenade is coming up on September 22, 2018! Last year, nearly 5,000 “Mermaidians 😊” danced, promenaded, and paraded through Downtown San Marcos. This year it could be even more. Get your business prepared to celebrate and join in the fun! 

The Art League of San Marcos has artists who are ready to assist Downtown Association members in getting your shop ready for the many folks who will gather this year!

If you can use artistic help in preparing for this event, contact Kathryn at: info@artleaguesmtx.org to get matched up with an artist.  Possibilities include window painting, dressing up store fronts, and more. Get them your ideas and watch them come alive!

The deadline is August 10, 2018 for obtaining this assistance as the artists need time to get/implement ideas!  Let’s get busy and start “Mermaiding”!!!

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DTA Submits Letter on Downtown/Parks Connection

As the City of San Marcos is revising its Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan, the Downtown Association (DTA) has submitted the letter below requesting that improved connectivity between downtown and the Riverfront Parks system be incorporated into the Plan prior to its adoption.

Keep track of the Parks Master Plan process via the City's website here.  As of the date of this post, both the current (2010 adopted) and draft (2018) master plans are available for download. A schematic of riverfront parks plan is available on page 76 of the draft available at the link above.

License Plate Recognition (LPR) Parking Enforcement Begins

The License Plate Recognition (LPR) system for parking enforcement is now live and has been in use in the downtown area for about three weeks. Warning tickets were issued for the first two weeks, but actual tickets are now being given and numerous tickets have been issued.

The City currently has one full-time and three part-time parking technicians rotating and working together to make sure there is full-time coverage in the downtown area between the hours of 8AM to 5PM.  They are tasked with covering the areas of Downtown bounded by University Drive, C. M. Allen Parkway, MLK Drive and Moore Street.

Issued tickets are placed on the driver’s side windshield of the vehicle. If the ticket is not paid within 10 days, a follow-up collection letter will be sent directly to the vehicle owner as part of the collection process.

It is still early in the system roll-out and the Downtown Association will continue to provide updates as they become available.