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New Braunfels can ban gets canned

Pack your coolers, y’all. The beer can flow again on the Comal River.

Opponents of New Braunfels’ prohibition of large coolers and disposable containers — loosely described as a “can ban” on rivers that can host tens of thousands of tourists on any busy summer weekend — say a judge has confirmed their lawsuit claims that the codes are unconstitutional and unenforceable.

“The effect of this ruling is the court should grant a permanent injunction barring the enforcement of these two ordinances,” Jim Ewbank, the lawyer for water recreation businesses that sued the city, said Monday.

State District Judge Don Burgess for weeks had weighed competing summary judgment motions. On Sunday, he granted the one filed by the plaintiffs, which argued that the city rules were unconstitutionally vague, arbitrary, unreasonable and an overreach of municipal authority.

“We hope that, now that the court has spoken, declaring these ordinances unconstitutional, that we can sit down with the city and try to work out a solution that addresses everybody’s goals and purposes,” Ewbank said.

The city’s attorney, Mick McKamie, said that once Burgess enters a judgment and the City Council is briefed on it, a decision will be made on whether to appeal. City staff declined comment.

The last update I had on this was from June, 2012, when the suit was moved back to Comal County. Voters had ratified the ban in 2011, but that’s out the window now. I get what New Braunfuls was trying to do, and having discussed the issue with a cousin of mine who has lived in New Braunfels for the last fifteen or twenty years, I can see why residents liked the ordinance. It’s possible that a scaled-down and more specific version of this ordinance can pass muster, and maybe won’t be too repellent to the tubing industry. I look forward to seeing what the judgment has to say.

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