Debbie Nathan on the PDNG and Plan El Paso

Lest We Forget

Here’s a piece local hero Debbie Nathan wrote for Texas Monthly back in 2013.

These days El Paso can feel like a big city (especially during rush hour on Interstate 10), but it’s still close-knit enough to retain the qualities, both good and bad, of a small town: there’s a coziness to it, which residents boast about, and yet also a fair amount of squabbling, the kind of brother-and-sisterly infighting that makes it hard to get things done. There’s no better example of this than Plan El Paso.

. . .

To understand why, you have to go back to 2006, the year that the city council adopted a precursor to Plan El Paso known as the Downtown Plan. Developed by the Paso Del Norte Group (PDNG), an exclusive association of private-sector leaders, this plan aimed to improve downtown by building a sports arena, a hotel, shops, and an “arts walk” resembling San Antonio’s River Walk. To make room for these changes, the plan also marked swaths of Segundo Barrio, a historic yet faded neighborhood, for razing.

Read the entire article at

Ms. Nathan has since left El Paso. That’s El Paso’s loss.


  1. Thank You Rich for reminding us of this article….still timely. “The Oligarchs” wanted to bulldoze Segundo Barrio for their benefit and when that didn’t work, moved on to Duranguito….plus her comment about El Paso being known for stray bullets and “politicians with their hands in the till….” Gassandra Hernandez. Article is 10 years old, but still relevant. And, I’d Totally forgotten how City Council and Joyce Wilson behind the scenes, working on behalf of The Oligarchs. Shameful. And Tommy Gonzalez continued their bidding.

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