People are keeping an eye on what is happening with the petition and with preserving the Scenic Corridor in perpetuity. Yesterday was the first meeting of City Council beyond sixty days from the September 20th meeting when an update was promised. Board members of Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition, Judy Ackerman and Raul Amaya, spoke to the issue during the Call to the Public. City Planning Staff will give an update next Tuesday, December 6. They will report that Dover Kohl will begin work on the Northwest Master Plan that includes the Scenic Corridor and that they should begin in late January following their completion of the City’s Comprehensive Plan. Public charrettes will be scheduled around that time. Petition organizers are meeting with attorneys regarding any question about any deadline by law to proceed to a petition for a ballot referendum if necessary. The crux of the matter is trust. When all is said and done, people want to see the Scenic Corridor preserved forever.
The real question is whether SmartCode can guarantee preservation. Currently the City is sponsoring a three day workshop about SmartCode. There are about 118 people in attendance – many from the City and one that I know about from PSB. 19% of the attendees are developers. The workshop is being conducted by the Placemakers, a collection of professionals (“planners, designers, architects, an attorney, an MBA, a journalist and a marketing communications veteran”) who are city planners who promote the principles of New Urbanism – the design of walkable, diverse, compact communities.
I’ll report more about the workshop tomorrow at elpasonaturally. I was able to hear keynoter, Jeff Speck, yesterday at the workshop and at his public lecture last evening. What I heard about neighborhoods, community, walkability, health, and more is exciting and promising. It’s good news that they are here and that the City is adopting SmartCode.
Of course, a huge cloud over preservation is just what TxDOT plans to do. Elpasonaturally has learned that they are already making changes that will preclude much of the landscaping with trees as previously promised to the public. It also appears that the intersection at proposed Paseo del Norte will eat up quite a bit of the corridor which will give excuse to some to go ahead with plans to plow through the natural landscape of the Scenic Corridor. These machinations may precipitate a need to proceed to a ballot.
Although he did not touch on specific highway projects such as Transmountain, Jeff Speck in his lecture last evening did give some hard evidence how such road projects have caused greater congestion and are a greater harm to the public health, safety and welfare. Adopting SmartCode and allowing TxDOT to continue these behemoth projects in El Paso are contradictions.
The time has come and gone for applications for an upcoming vacancy on the Public Service Board. I decided to apply and you can read my cover letter submitted with my resume.
Since the last e-letter promoting buying locally for the holidays, many more suggestions have been emailed to me. Check out the right hand column at elpasonaturally for new ideas for shopping including Hyundai Sun Bowl tickets, the Unitarian Universalist Community of El Paso annual Christmas bazaar, the upcoming gem and mineral show, and the Happy Hawaiian Holidaze Open Hut Arts & Crafts Fair at the Hal Marcus Gallery.