Really. That’s what they do. They got rich building housing for military families, all over the world.
If you believe this book, the Hunts were one of the architects of the plan to develop El Paso. The plan we’re suffering under now.
Hunt builds the physical community. The “built environment.” They don’t build the kind of community that will help you move a couch, or get your cat out of a tree, or bake a casserole when your mother dies. They build buildings. It must have been a short leap for them to think that all they had to do to make El Paso a thriving city was to improve the built environment.
In 2012, El Paso was coming off a couple of years which had seen three and a half percent growth. Against that backdrop, El Pasoans were easily convinced that the city was getting ready to explode.
But El Paso was seeing the results of a couple of black swan events: widespread violence in Juarez, inducing juarenses to flee the city, and a population boost from Base Realignment and Closure. Those one-offs didn’t produce sustainable growth. Since 2012, El Paso has only grown by a little more than one percent.
El Paso’s built environment is not the only obstacle to the city’s growth. El Paso is far from the markets where manufacturers can sell their products. El Paso is far from the markets where manufacturers can source their raw materials. Despite the city’s propaganda to the contrary, El Paso is not home to an educated and motivated workforce. Utility rates are high. Our property tax rates are the highest in the country.
Which do you suppose means more to a family’s quality of life? Great public schools, or a world class children’s museum?
Will a Triple A baseball team fix our limitations? USL soccer?
I like watching soccer games. (We call it futbol at our house.) But even MLS soccer is a step below the European leagues, and USL is a step below that.
For El Paso to thrive, we need a balanced approach to development. We need to address our other limitations, the ones we can, and not just our lack of pretty buildings downtown.
We need early childhood education. Don’t tell me we can’t do that. Don’t tell me that’s not the City’s business. Water parks are not the City’s business. San Antonio offers programs that support early childhood education.
We need lower utility rates. Encouraging rooftop solar would go a long ways toward that. Why do we let the El Paso Electric Company build new generating stations when they could lay off a lot of their peak demand to customers with solar panels on their roofs? Why do we let the City pad our electric and water bills with exorbitant franchise fees?
Why don’t our City Representatives represent the citizens?
I don’t believe that our oligarchs have bad intentions. I don’t believe that their blueprint for the city was born of their desire to get richer.
But I believe that they were blinded by their hubris. They thought that their particular skills were sufficient to launch El Paso into the twenty-first century.
Focusing solely on the built environment has left us with an unbalanced development strategy, and the highest property tax rates in the country.
And no relief in sight.