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'They don't give a damn about our neighborhood': Residents call for change along St. Mary's Strip

At a community meeting Thursday night between bar owners, city staff, police and Tobin Hill residents -- neighbors didn't hold back.

SAN ANTONIO — Neighbors who live in San Antonio's Tobin Hill neighborhood are fed up with the noise, the nuisance and the violence that they say stems from bars and clubs along North Saint Mary's.

At a community meeting Thursday night between bar owners, city staff, police and Tobin Hill residents -- neighbors didn't hold back.

"I've been here 47 years and nothing has been done," said one resident, sitting front row at Thursday's meeting at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church.

The meeting was the second between Tobin Hill residents and business owners along the St. Mary's Strip.

"It's the first time that everything's really come together," said Parker Dixon, President of the Tobin Hill Community Association.

Dixon says in the past, groups met separately to express concerns. This time, all parties involved gathered under one roof to discuss solutions.

Among the top priorities for Tobin Hill neighbors are reducing the noise and protecting residential parking.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus proposed a plan that includes more officers on patrol with barricades enclosing the neighborhood to residents only.

"The issue is people going from the Strip into the neighborhoods after the bars close and after the food trucks shut down," said McManus. "[The barricades] would effectively keep people out of the neighborhood."

Neighbors are working with the North St. Mary's Business Association to find a balance.

They want to help businesses thrive while making it safer for patrons along The Strip.

"The North St. Mary's Business Association has come up with an agreement on drink prices and increasing security," said Dixon. "It's very promising what we're working towards."

A representative of the bar Brass Monkey provided residents with an outline of their entrance policy changes over the years. These policies include providing paid taxi services for intoxicated customers, security guards placed at the front door and parking lot, pat downs for males entering the establishment and not allowing patrons inside after 1:30 a.m. 

"These kids don't care a damn about our neighborhood," one resident told city officials at the meeting. "People steal from my yard, people urinate in my yard, people take dumps in my yard."

Other neighbors suggested a residential parking program for Tobin Hill. For patrons, they threw out the idea of a new parking garage. 

Fixing the parking situation, Dixon says, will keep violence out of their neighborhood.

RELATED: Two people in the hospital after shooting north of downtown

"It can be large groups of people just fighting out in the streets," Dixon explained. "The residents bear the parking for a lot of the businesses, so those fights end up happening at our houses."

In January, two people were hospitalized following a shooting along The Strip. February, one man was shot and killed while defending a friend who was waiting for a ride home from a North St. Mary's bar.

RELATED: Man shot, killed near bar north of downtown

"My son was the victim of a violent assault at Paper Tiger and lost his eye," said one mother who addressed bar owners directly. "There's real people behind the violence, the alcoholism and everything that occurs here."

City leaders announced that a task force is studying how the noise ordinance could be changed for the area. They say 2,500 noise complaint calls came in from The Strip since October. Those recommendations will be ready by the summer.

Councilman Mario Bravo, who presides over the St. Mary's Strip, told residents the city also has a contract in the works to do a parking study in the surrounding neighborhood. They're taking a closer look at what changes should be made in the future.

"The community needs these businesses. We have to have them. The businesses need us. It's got to come together somehow," said Tobin Hill resident, James Bourg Jr.

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