Sunday, July 01, 2012

Yet more things which have no possible downside

While the country suffers under a President who hates America as it is and wants to remake it in the mold of Old Europe, we here in San Antonio are dealing with a mayor who hates the city as it is and is doing his damnedest to remake it in the mold of who-knows-what.  (I'm sure his upbringing had nothing to do with it.) Naturally, Julian (mind you don't Anglicize that) Castro is a rising star in the Democratic party, but that's neither here nor there.   Just consider my bitching about the mayor to be fair warning to the rest of you--he is, thank God, term-limited, and intends to inflict himself on the rest of you soon enough.

One of the ongoing crusades in this city are ever-failing efforts to revitalize the East Side.  If y'all were reading my blog back in '10 and the early part of '11 when I was lucky enough to live right off Hackberry, you know that part of town holds a piece of my heart, so I always pay attention to what's going on over there.

I'm certain this will prove just shocking, but by and large what little success there has been has come from people who live there, whether like me they grew up on that side of town or moved there because of a sincere desire to improve things.

The city's ideas?  Not so fruitful.  Witness the AT&T Center, which was gonna lead to all sorts of revitalization.

The latest city-backed idea is the construction of an Alamo Beer Company brewery on the near-East Side. 

Now, let me make it clear, I don't have a problem with constructing a brewery per se.  I like good beer.  I miss Frio Brewing Co.'s beer.  I drink Shiner when I can, and I was happy to sample some of the house brew at Fredericksburg Brewing Company.

Here's the rub.  We have a drinking problem in this city.  We're a metro full of alcoholics.  We drink and then drive the wrong way on the freeway, and we're so sympathetic to our fellow drunks that we routinely give them probation after they murder someone with their car.

And yet, this:
Say Alamo Beer Co. gets its brewery. There is a microbrewery in the works at Pearl called The Granary. And, of course, there's Blue Star Brewing Co. down south.
Scott Metzger of Freetail Brewing Co., the brewpub at Northwest Military and Loop 1604, said he's not actively looking to open a downtown location, but wrote in an email, “if the right opportunity came along it would be something I'd heavily consider.”
It's not hard, then, to envision beer tours, the kinds of draws truly appealing to locals and tourists alike.
Because of course what we need in this city of rampant drunk driving is beer toursNothing at all can possibly go wrong with this.

Please believe me, I know and appreciate the intelligent adult viewpoint on this.  Responsible adults should not be punished for the actions of a reckless minority.  I am not saying that this brewery should not be built, or that others should not be built.

What I am saying is this: drunk driving is a cultural issue.  It's not something law enforcement can solve.  Given that, maybe, just maybe encouraging people to drive around half the city's interior on a drinking tour isn't the best idea in the world.

By all means, build the brewpubs.  Put a brewery and  attached restaurant in every single neighborhood you wish to gentrify.  Just don't encourage San Antonians to continue doing the stupid thing they're already doing too much of so we can become "a smaller version of Portland".  Because we're not Portland.  We're San Antonio, and we're in bad need of a citywide AA meeting.


peter said...

Just out of curiosity, does SA have a higher rate of DUIs than other cities around that size?

Sabra said...

Y'know, I figured I'd have no trouble answering that question. I was wrong. Turns out Googling "(city name) dui rate" turns up more lawyers than anything else.

I found one thing that ranked SA 16 out of the nation's 20 largest cities for DUI arrests (which isn't necessarily a good indicator of actual drunk driving, especially if you factor in that most other states have DUI checkpoints & we don't) and another thing that ranked us as the 5th-drunkest city in the nation. Neither contained links to source material. Comparison is made worse by the fact that most source material on the 'net only breaks it down by state, not metro area.

I did find this article from last year that says our drunk driving arrests have been increasing for years, but again it raises the question of whether the problem is getting worse or enforcement is getting better:

The 5,769 figure for 2010 means almost 16 DUI arrests a day, and other info indicates that there's about one person killed a week in an alcohol-related wreck.

I can say, though, "At least we're not Indianapolis," where they seem to have a real problem lately with their police driving drunk.

Dave said...

Me trying to think this out makes me think logically, the people who might gather at a microbrewery are not the type that cause many of our DUI problems. In short, just me stereotyping, it would seem that the guys who are on their fifth DUI tend to drink lots of Busch or Jax.

Of course, I'm wrong. Not that we don't have a lot of drunks getting there with cheap beer, but I'm pretty sure that one of the stops of that wrong-way police killer was the Flying Saucer.

In the end, the AT&T Center and a new high end place to drink isn't going to fix the problem with the east side. The problem with the east side is, people who have the money to revitalize the area by doing touristy things there are afraid to visit after dark without the protection of SAPD's finest directing traffic on every corner.

peter said...

Sounds like a chicken or egg problem. No one comes in because it's (perceived) not safe. And it'll stay that way until it's cleaned up.
You know, they say you can find anything on the internet but that's not always the case. Funny you have one stat making it sound not so bad (16/20 rank) then the sixteen arrests a day is crazy.

greg said...

Portland's pretty, yet strange. Portland also has a VERY user friendly public transit system to use between the breweries.

Hey...if it get's you guys a Voodoo Doughnut's, then it's worth the other sacrifices.

Albatross said...

One problem with revitalizing the East Side is that every time the City of San Antonio (or a private interest) proposes something they run into resistance from the residents. It seems that no matter what idea is floated it's not a "good fit" for the neighborhood, or something like that.

Who wants to invest in an area that doesn't want you?