The City of El Paso is going out of its way to develop some land on the fringe of the city.
First it was TIRZ 12, up by Transmountain on the west side. Now it’s TIRZ 13, out in Northeast.
It’s crazy. Since 2012, El Paso’s population has grown a little less than three tenths of one percent a year. That is less than can be attributed to natural growth, i.e., births minus deaths. Hardly anyone is moving to El Paso. All those new houses on the east side, and in northwest El Paso, are mostly being bought by native El Pasoans leaving the nest, but not the city.
So why is City Council so hot to incentivize sprawl out there on the fringes?
I’ve got a theory. My theory is complete conjecture. Complete speculation with no basis in fact beyond my extensive life experiences.
Suppose there were a major developer, with a major development machine, headquartered in El Paso. And suppose the lack of demand for houses in El Paso, because not very many people are moving here, and a lot of people are moving away, meant that the developer might have to lay a bunch of people off.
Well, that developer might try to find some work for his employees instead of laying them off.
So he might ask his friends in City Government to free up some land, so he could keep his crews working, instead of laying them off.
And since market forces alone can’t justify developing the land, he might quietly ask for some tax incentives to offset the cost of development. Via Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones.
Of course, that’s wild speculation and complete conjecture. But it makes sense of a nonsensical situation.
“When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” — Sherlock Holmes
Or maybe we shouldn’t expect City Council to make sense.