Aug 14, 2023 - Business

After neighbors complain, San Antonio is giving bars money for soundproofing

Illustration volume settings using buildings as bar graph to indicate level of volume.

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Around midnight on a Sunday, Gina Eisenberg's daughter couldn't sleep and woke her mother up. Then she heard it too: the bass from music at the bar a couple of blocks away.

  • "It was like being at Fiesta," Eisenberg tells Axios. "It's that kind of carnival, festival atmosphere."

Driving the news: 19 bars received up to $7,500 in city grants for soundproofing to address neighborhood complaints like Eisenberg's. Two more bars are in the pipeline.

Why it matters: With its increasing population and urban development, San Antonio has more bars in proximity to neighborhoods.

  • Eisenberg is one of many neighbors concerned about nightlife noise reaching their homes and keeping them awake.

Zoom in: One grant went to Bentley's Bar, near Eisenberg's Oak Park-Northwood neighborhood.

  • Both Eisenberg and Jesse Tavitas, managing partner at Bentley's, tell Axios they are working together toward a solution and think the funding will help.
  • Eisenberg is "cautiously optimistic" that the program might give her and her neighbors some peace.

Catch up fast: More than two years ago, the city created a task force to address noise issues.

  • But the group broke down after tensions flared. Business owners and residents couldn't reach a compromise on the best way to regulate noise, with emotions running high on both sides.
  • Former District 1 Councilmember Mario Bravo proposed the $150,000 grant program as part of this year's budget.

Details: Businesses can use the grant money to add sound-absorbing panels, bass traps, directional speakers, sound monitors and other equipment.

What they did: Bentley's used the funding for soundproofing work over the weekend, Tavitas tells Axios, including installing foam insulation, sound batts and more — all in response to neighbor concerns.

Yes, but: Soundproofing is expensive. Tavitas said they spent $13,000 beyond the grant.

  • "We'll eat the additional cost," Tavitas said. "We need to be good neighbors."

Reality check: Eisenberg is worried that the city program isn't a permanent solution since other bars can move into the area.

  • "It's a tool, but it's not the end all, be all," she said.

Between the lines: At least four bars receiving grant money are on the St. Mary's Strip, the popular nightlife destination that has recently been roiled by longtime road construction and disagreements among neighbors and bar owners over how to handle noise and parking.

What's next: City officials plan to study the grants' impact on noise complaint calls.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios San Antonio.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More San Antonio stories

No stories could be found

San Antoniopostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios San Antonio.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more