Future El Paso

Isn’t anyone else concerned that the City of El Paso is operating on a plan that was largely conceived in 2001?

A lot has happened since 2001.

Amazon has decimated retail. Shopping malls are withering. Sears filed for bankruptcy. (The expression “Solid as Sears” was once a indication of strength.)

Socializing takes place on the internet. In the old days, you used to have to go to a bar to get in an argument with a stranger. These days, arguments with strangers are a few short keystrokes away.

The wealth and income and opportunity gap between the classes has widened. And the Riches are driving the pickup truck into the ditch, while the Poors are riding back in the bed of the truck with nothing to hang onto.

I can’t see what a successful downtown El Paso will look like. Will it be all $200 a night hotel rooms? A cluster of big box entertainment facilities that will be dark sixty percent of the year, and underutilized the other forty percent? Clubs and restaurants and retail fighting for a dwindling number of customers?

Out of town conventions?

The Meetings and Conventions business is changing, too. Conventions in the future are going to look like a cross between a TED talk and Burning Man. They may be virtual. Big convention halls will be replaced by a number of closely linked small spaces designed to facilitate one-on-one interactions that allow for real life networking. Building large convention spaces will be just as effective for economic development as building a school for typewriter repair.

If you want to forecast where we’re headed, just look at the recent history of where we’ve been. Between 2012 and 2017, the City’s total liabilities increased by 230 percent. Our population grew by only one and a half percent. More young people are leaving El Paso than ever before. Taxes and fees for municipal services go up every year, and will continue to rise, because City Council can’t stop spending money.

We’re aiming at targets that will be obsolete by the time we get there. The future will look very different than the present, and we’re still aiming at the past.

The first step to recovery is recognizing you have a problem. City Government lacks that level of self-awareness.


  1. Once again you’ve hit that sweet spot, Rich. Thanks for sticking with it, and I hope you make it on to City Council, and are able to get your voice heard by a wider audience.

  2. no one speaks of the firefighter and police pensions, which have been bolstered by higher contribution levels, but still not even close to solvency in the period 2023-2028, which will have the highest number of retirees hitting the pension obligations in el paso history. NO ONE speaks of it. an arena approved in 2012 is not gonna be built on 2012 concrete and steel(think tariffs) prices. nor insurance or bond ratings. we are headed for financial ruin. stockton california? i am not religious but am praying Rich gets elected along with hogan and someone not peter scarsbeaner. anello and crew voted against the west tirz but sam morgan and ordaz and two names hernandez will doom the budget. and beer prices may go up?

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