Bar on San Antonio’s Northwest Side to build patio, add outdoor speakers over neighbors’ protests – San Antonio Express-News

The Lighthouse Lounge near Woodlawn Lake Park is expanding, and those who live near the Northwest Side bar are concerned a new patio and outdoor speakers will further disrupt their sleep.

Over protests from the bar’s neighbors and against city staff’s recommendation, San Antonio City Council this week approved a zoning change that allows the bar’s owners to move forward with an expansion. District 1 Councilman Mario Bravo, who represents the area, expressed his support, and the measure passed 9-0.

The community surrounding Woodlawn Lake and the Lighthouse Lounge is residential, and some neighbors said loud music is a problem even now. Athena Santos said she’s already lost sleep. Margie Santos said the expansion would be “devastating” for residents who need a good night’s rest.

But Lighthouse Lounge owner Rene Zamora said he’s monitored sound coming from his bar, and it has remained in compliance with the city’s limits on noise.

Not everyone was against the expansion. Zamora had the support of Woodlawn Lake Community Association and others.

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JD Morales, president of the Woodlawn Lake Community Association, said the majority of neighbors supported the expansion. They feel the Lighthouse Lounge is a cultural hub and asset in the community, offering artistic experiences and special events.

City staff had recommended council deny the zoning change because it could create noise in the neighborhood and would create a higher intensity use for the property that doesn’t align with the surrounding community. But both the planning and zoning commissions gave the go-ahead, with certain conditions.

Zamora opened the Lighthouse Lounge in 2019. It then had a lakeside deck with a view of the city skyline and outside music that drew people in. But late last year, a neighbor made a noise complaint.

Also last year, the city told him the deck was not in compliance with occupancy rules under its zoning designation. Zamora removed it. Now, he wants to rebuild it.

Bravo said the zoning change was really about outdoor speakers and the patio.

“To those in opposition, I heard you and your concerns. I’m concerned about the amount of noise you may hear at your house,” Bravo said. “But I’m also hearing those noise complaints don’t have to do with outdoor speakers.”

He’s worked with the city’s “noise whisperer” at Lighthouse Lounge before and said they might need to visit again. They could work with Zamora to change the direction of the speakers or make other adjustments.

District 3 Councilwoman Phyllis Viagran, who represents the South Side, said she saw the opposition as a citywide issue. Everyone should join a discussion on San Antonio’s growth and possible revisions to the city’s noise ordinance, she said.

The city last fall created a task force to look into its noise ordinance and determine if it needs to be updated. Noise complaints had been consistent near popular San Antonio nighttime hangouts. Residents near the St. Mary’s strip, also represented by Bravo, have expressed similar issues as a residential community with nearby bars.

Earlier this year, the city hired an outside consulting firm, Sound Music Cities, whose founder is known as the “noise whisperer.” The group was meant to review San Antonio’s noise ordinance and help find a balance of relief for both residents and business owners.

megan.stringer@express-news.net

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