Wednesday, February 3, 2016

RIP New Urbanism in El Paso

There are several reasons. First, in 2013 voters, upset by the city's financing of the ballpark and other issues, elected a regressive City Council. In many respects it is the best Council ever bought and paid for by developers of land mainly in east El Paso. Following that election, the new Council hired Tommy Gonzalez to be the City Manager. Pushed by powerful players such as Ted Houghton, more miles of freeways and freeway loops have been built and will continue to be built and expanded over the next few years as westsiders know all too well. Freeways create sprawl. Rather than boulevards, we built freeways. Why? So we could move construction equipment and materials more easily around the city in order to build more developments and eventually more freeways not to mention ticky-tacky strip malls. The trend has been away from smart growth, Plan El Paso, building codes which could have encouraged sustainable, energy-efficient housing and soon-to-be changes to the landscape ordinance.

Note how Plan El Paso appears on the city web site. Scroll through the first few pages and you will see unreadable gibberish. 

Along with clamping down against New Urbanism, the new "regime" has now opened the doors to a new El Paso brain drain. Many of the city's best and brightest city planners are beginning to look at work outside of El Paso. 

The new regime has also stymied work by the Open Space Advisory Board. Recommendations are held up. The new Director of Planning has covertly taken over what will and won't be on agendas. Agenda items today are largely for "information" rather than discussion and action.

What can be done? It goes without saying that we need more innovative, progressive policy makers on Council. It also means that we all need to become aware of city codes and work to change those that lead to unsustainablility and the destruction of our environment. Especially it means that as consumers we begin to choose other options for housing, neighborhoods, connectivity, walkability and transportaion. If they build it, they will come? No, if the sprawlers want to sprawl, let's have nothing to do with it except to do everything that we can to limit it and regulate it. Then let's build better and smarter.

1 comment:

  1. Marshall Carter-TrippFebruary 3, 2016 at 4:09 PM

    Problem is if they won't build it we can't use it...$97 million for trolleys and $27 million for the Brio bus to duplicate the regular bus on Mesa, and you still cannot take a bus downtown to have dinner in the evening or attend a concert, and take a bus home afterward!! You HAVE to drive!!!