Tobin Hill residents, business owners working on neighborly compromise to fix noise, crime issues

Residents and bar owners in the Tobin Hill community have been looking for a way to find a peaceful compromise on crime and noise issues plaguing the neighborhood for some time.

Vanessa Sandoval said her neighborhood is a peaceful area during the day, where people jog and walk their dogs. But starting at around 10 p.m. on weekends, the nightlife along St. Mary’s Street turns the neighborhood.

“Some people start what we call a ‘pre-game’ in, you know, drinking in their cars, getting the party started. It’s at that time when trash can start to be thrown out the window,” Sandoval said.

The noise and trash are more noticeable when bars close, she said.

“The 2:00 a.m. flex is strong. I’ve heard everything from people fighting outside my window, challenging each other outside my window. I’ve heard couples breaking up. I’ve heard best friends fighting. I’ve heard people vomiting outside my window. So it’s a totally different atmosphere at night,” Sandoval said.

She said she doesn’t mind it too much, but lately, there has been what she says is an increase in crime that concerns her.

“We try our best to roll with the punches of living in an area like this. But I don’t mind noise if it’s a bunch of people having a good time. It’s the gunshots and the fighting that are really alarming,” Sandoval said.

Don Houser says the parking situation and the vandalism and property damage are what he doesn’t like. He said his tires have been slashed on three different occasions since the start of the year.

“Now, I have to park down at the Pearl and walk. It’s like a 15-minute walk after to park at night, walk home. And in the morning, I have a 15-minute walk to go get to my car,” Hauser said.

District 1 Councilman Mario Bravo said he’s working with residents and business owners to develop a peaceful and effective solution. Town hall meetings have led to some ideas.

Bravo said some bar owners have taken a voluntary pledge to change drink prices, increase the entry age for patrons to 18 years old, change the happy hour times and even support changes to residential parking. The completion of a parking study is expected in about a month once the community approves it.

“In some streets, that could be eliminating parking on the streets. On other streets, it could be residential only parking during evening hours,” Bravo said.

Business owners are also considering chipping in to hire more off-duty police officers to patrol the area.

A City of San Antonio noise ordinance pilot program is also expected to help alleviate noise complaints in that area. Code Enforcement recorded about 40 complaints since October, when the pilot program started.

A community meeting that includes businesses and residents is set for St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 at 6 p.m. at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church at 2504 N St. Mary’s Street.

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