North Saint Mary's Street

 illustration by Jason Terracina ( @terrrrabite )

illustration by Jason Terracina (@terrrrabite)

a safer music scene

It is important to find common ground and to develop solutions with all players at the table for many issues facing any city. Music in San Antonio is no different. When hurdles confront our music scene, we should all have a voice, including the City, The Neighborhoods and the Local Music Business (musicians, fans, and others with a stake).  

Recently, the new owner of The Mix, the Tobin Hill Neighborhood Association President and a reporter from the Express News were on the air at TPR 89.1 to discuss solutions for common issues facing The Strip.

The two main problems of discussion: Parking and Sound. The facilities on the Strip were not built or even particularly renovated to prevent sound from traveling outside property lines. Nearby houses were not built sound proofed. It’s a double edged sword having an entertainment district in the middle of a residential area. But everyone slow down, even The Live Music Capital of The World has sound complaints downtown.

Nearby residents don’t want others parking in front of their house, which is completely understandable. And intoxicated people at 2 a.m. right outside front doors present a public safety issue. Parking is always a problem in every major city and San Antonio should feel lucky for such convenient parking in most situations of our daily lives. When it comes to The Strip, however, where we have a combination of modern entertainment in a historic part of our city, solutions may prove tricky.


There’s a lot of Not-In-My-Back-Yard political punting surrounding our night time economies.  In entertainment districts, music and alcohol are often nearly inseparable but that does not mean they are not manageable.

This past November, someone allegedly got stabbed in a N St. Mary's parking lot. Arrests, injuries and even fatalities at national festivals including Coachella or Ultra are not uncommon. Any time a lot of people are in one place, security should be provided and sadly in 2016, random violence is a reality.

 by Ricardo Romero at Paper Tiger

by Ricardo Romero at Paper Tiger


Music does not always equal "party" and we should respect our night time economies for their cultural and economic contributions. Music is an important economic driver. A Super Bowl is about three or four festivals worth of economic impact, but cities don't host The Big Game year after year (estimates: SB: upwards to $400MFests: upwards to $150MSXSW: $300MCoachella: $250M). While we’re not talking about a Super Bowl scale economic driver with music in San Antonio – we are talking about an incentivized environment in which the local music business can thrive.

When a professional sports team wants to build a new stadium in a city they get a list of perks. Watch this John Oliver segment on how ridiculous cities bend over backwards for sports when actual contributions to the city are debatable. 

Music's impact is comparable to sports and has no seasons or leagues. Music experiences are much more affordable and accessible than sports and provide an element to our quality of life that cannot be measured by dollars. If The City of San Antonio wants to develop and cultivate an area of business like tech, medicine or manufacturing, the economic driver found in professional music could be further developed and matured. 

 by Alyssa Bunting at Limelight

by Alyssa Bunting at Limelight


As San Antonio's music business organizes and coalesces around the idea of a safer music scene with improved infrastructure, we’ll see more ideas and solutions come to top: lower speed limits, speed bumps, bike patrol officers, better lighting, more affordable food options open late are a few examples. 

Parking: One solution to alleviate parking headaches is to make every street with houses permit parking only. Parking Lots book end St. Mary’s, there are parking garages at the corner of 281 & Mulberry and a trolley or even pedicabs could be employed to move people up and down The Strip. The distance between The B-Cycle Rental Station and Hi-Tones is only .6 Miles which is roughly the same distance between La Gloria and SAMA on Museum Reach, a walk most of us regularly take. Another mobility solution could be in the form of private golf cart shuttles and pedicabs to help shuffle people up and down The Strip. 

Sound: Between 2009-10, as part of the economic stimulus package, The FAA installed sound proofed windows on houses under flight paths within a certain distance of airports. San Antonio could adopt a similar sound abatement program and invest in improvements and quality of our music scene.

 What we don’t want to happen is The Strip being sold by facility owners and converted into an all day family affair or the Pearl-ification of the Strip. If people want to take their kids somewhere there are plenty of daytime options not far from N St. Mary’s:  the Zoo, The DoSeum, even Yanaguana Gardens are only a few miles away. One solution the THNA President offered to these not-yet-so-pressing issues, was to rezone some of St Mary’s establishments in an attempt at encouraging a “different demographic.” There is room for all walks of life and all forms of music and entertainment on St. Mary’s. What needs to change is the level of accommodations on both sides of the sound barriers: quiet for the residents, adequate sound for the music businesses, general safety and convenient parking for everyone.