January 24, 2007
More New Braunfels tubing rules

The city of New Braunfels has continued its crusade to crack down on rowdy river revellers by passing several new ordinances, including on that bans big coolers.

The restriction on the size of coolers generated the most discussion, with council members promising to study the exact size that will be allowed before the second vote. As it reads, the ordinance would allow each tuber one small cooler, big enough to fit six 12-ounce drinks, but some council members were concerned that is too small.

Councilman Pat Wiggins said the River Activities Committee spent a lot of time and effort generating its recommendations.

"I think we owe them a chance to let them try it for a season," he said.

Much of the debate on the cooler size rule focused on the details.

"It's not enough room to take what you have to take," said resident Amber Heitkamp. "It's 105 degrees out there. You need a lot of liquid."

Others pointed out that besides cans, people also put sunscreen, glasses, ice, food, cigarettes, medicine, ice and other items in their coolers, further restricting how many cans they can fit inside. And water bottles, being longer and skinnier, would not fit in the little coolers easily.

Also, many tubers start their Guadalupe River trips outside the city limits and then float into the city. It was not clear what would need to do with a large cooler when they reach the city limits at Gruene.

I've poked my share of fun at the NB City Council's efforts (see here for some background), but jokes aside it's hard to make a positive case for beer bongs and Jello shots. But coolers? Yeah, sure, you can't carry a case of beer with you unless you have a big enough cooler, but unlike the aforementioned items, coolers have a purpose beyond getting you wasted faster and more efficiently. I think if this measure survives a second reading and becomes law, the Council will have crossed a line from reasonable regulations to unreasonable ones. Simply put, this will be seen as a nuisance by the very people the Council is attempting to serve. Somebody needs to talk them out of it.

On a side note:

Also Monday night, the council moved to make it easier for tourists to get around town, directing staff to come up with options for funding a "Way Finding Program."

The proposal has an estimated cost of $660,000 for about 200 new blue and white signs directing people around New Braunfels to various attractions and city facilities.

"It's a great study, beautiful work, but how to we pay for it?" asked Councilman Ken Valentine, who noted people wait years to get their streets fixed.

But resident Travis Wuest said the program is "a necessary tool to continue to drive the tourism industry."

For what it's worth, I've never found New Braunfels to be that hard to navigate. Between I-35 and Business 35 (also known as San Antonio Street, which goes into the historic old part of town), and Loop 337, there's a pretty direct route to most of the things tourists will be interested in. Just my opinion.

UPDATE: San Antonio Street does indeed go into the historic part of town (it's a straight shot there from the Schlitterbahn), but it's not Business 35. Thanks to article author Roger Croteau for the correction, as noted in the comments.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 24, 2007 to The great state of Texas

Goes beyond merely unreasonable into "kill the goose that lays the golden egg". Even on trips where I tubed with many small children and thus only had a beer or two, we STILL needed more than a six-pack-size cooler per person; for sandwiches, snacks, sunscreen, etc.

Posted by: M1EK on January 24, 2007 8:49 AM

Biz 35 and San Antonio St. are different. Biz 35 is also known as Elliot Knox Blvd. for part of its route through NB. But San Antonio bisects the Plaza and runs generally parallel to and somewhat nw of I-35 and biz 35.

Posted by: rcroteau on January 29, 2007 3:11 PM

I actually am not gonna float in NB anymore. I think Ill go out tp the Frio. Its gonan kill business in NB, but its the citys fault. I know my pals in Houston are shocked and said no more tubing for them. I think after 1 season and loss of money they will change the rules.

Posted by: sara j on January 31, 2007 3:04 PM

This ordinance will keep the very people (the families) that new braunfels should want on the river, OFF the river! How does a family of 5 w/3 kids ages 8 to 3 plan a 2-3 hour float w/a cooler that will hold 6 drinks? HELLO-juice boxes, water, food, snacks--is anyone really using their heads there!? Our solution--we'll spend our vacation money on the frio river. Goodbye New Braunfels. We've loved you for years, but this is too much.

Posted by: debbie on February 7, 2007 7:35 AM

I love rafting on the river but now I will no longer go there and I don't drink alcoholic beverages but do take alot of things such as bug spray,sunscreen,alot of sodas and water. I could not carry all the coolers for each person that goes with me. If there were 6 people,mostly children in the raft, where would be keep 6 individual coolers? In another raft? That is just dumb. If they want to restrict the amount of alcohol then that is fine but people will be people and they will find alternate ways of hauling more alcohol other than in a cooler. Where there is a will there is a way!! Please do not punish people for wanting to have fun especially with children. Some of mine and my son's favorite memories will be of the river trips we have taken but now I will not be able to make such great memories with my grandchildren!! We need to stop regulating everything that is enjoyable. What ever happened to us being a "Free Nation"? Governments and cities are over regulating everything we do! Please reconsider the cooler size as I am sure you can remember a time when you were young too!

Posted by: Cee Cee Mccraw on February 15, 2007 7:55 AM

We may still go to the river, but we will be making it a point not to spend money "in town." Sorry to the businesses there. You should have elected smarter officials.

Posted by: david on February 22, 2007 11:05 PM

We have been coming to KL Ranch on Memorial Weekend for the past 15 years, which was started by another 20 year veteran and his family. We have started many other families traditions to come annually also. Changing the rules like this is going to chase us away. There is no way we can feed and keep ourselves hydrated on a normal float tour with a 6 pack of soda. Maybe 3 or 4 water bottles will fit in those little coolers, not to mention the food we need to keep us sustained for that long. I'm sorry New Braunfels feels the need to take away the rights of the people for the supposed people.

Posted by: JoAnn on March 2, 2007 11:22 AM

Go ahead - cut down the size to a six-pack. That will effectively cut down river travel from tens-of-thousands to dozens. You city council people have already ruined the fun for the rest of us anyway. Our BANZAI BUDDIES RIVER CLUB had started going to Olka. and Ark. whitewater rivers many years ago anyway because of you kill-joys.

Posted by: J D. BARNES on March 6, 2007 1:30 PM