The New Downtown Plan

The El Paso Inc. reported this week that there’s a new plan for downtown El Paso.

This month, the DMD, an entity governed by Downtown business and property owners that provides services and promotes economic development in the city’s core, released its “Central Downtown El Paso Area-Wide Planning and Revitalization Strategies” report.

. . .

“There are a lot of things we still have to do that are still left over from the 2006 plan and are ripple effects from what we have,” said Joe Gudenrath, executive director of the El Paso Downtown Management District.

. . .

“You can talk about renewal and resurgence, emerging urban neighborhoods, without automatically talking about demolitions of buildings,” Gudenrath said. “That area is primed for (renewal), and you don’t have to poison a discussion with things like demolition, displacement, gentrification, things like that.”

You remember the old downtown plan, don’t you? Eminent domain, and a Walmart in Segundo.

Well, let’s not poison a discussion by talking about things like demolition, displacement, gentrification, things like that.

Like what that image at the top of this page represents. That image I lifted from the new Downtown Plan.

Let’s not talk about it. Let’s not poison the discussion by talking about what the plan really means.

This might be a good time to remind you that downtown El Paso is covered by TIRZ 5, so any increase in property tax revenues from downtown actually stays in downtown. If any of this contemplated redevelopment in downtown is financed by the City of El Paso, that’s taking taxpayer money and giving it to downtown developers with no chance of any return on that investment.

But taking money from the taxpayers and giving it to the developers is standard operating procedure for the City. That’s why our taxes are so high, and our streets are crumbling, and El Paso is one of the Least Affordable Cities in the Nation.

This is just one more piece of the class war that the City of El Paso, the Chamber of Commerce, and MountainStar Sports Group are waging against the working class, small businesses, and people who live on fixed incomes.


  1. Not sure where this plan fits into the other plans I have in my files. I have Plan El Paso from 2012 that is hundreds of pages long, 2015 Strategic Recommendations from Borderplex that looks like death by PowerPoint, and Strategic Plan 2016. Haven’t read any of them in depth and having A plan is, I suppose, better than having no plan. But which one?

    Agree with you re: TIRZ that is an artifact from what I believe is a mystery school for billionaires run by the Koch brothers where these guys go to learn how much easier it is to milk taxpayers rather than to compete in free markets.

    1. You got a name for that school or institution? cuz to my knowledge the Koch bros put the majority of their lobbyists dollars into promoting free market competition and combating rent seeking.

  2. Since we’re talking about urban planning, I posted these notes here or on Brutus’s blog several years ago and I recall it really pissed people off, so worth another go round (bleow). This is sort of how ANTIFA might go think urban planning and I certainly do not endorse their methods, but there is a quirky wisdom in this Portland architect’s ideas about making a city human and f*****g the planners who want to just decorate and control the grid. Draw your own conclusions.

    REVILLAGING by Mark Lakeman
    Notes taken by Jerry Kurtyka 5-7-2017, OUR Ecovillage, Vancouver Island, BC

    We have the smallest rate of social gathering spaces of all first world places. The Stone Age did better. Portland legalized intersections to be transformed into public squares. The urban grid is a form of colonization designed to separate and control.

    Permaculture is a design system that is an urge toward connection and mutuality. You will feel frustrated when you live in a colonial context because it is designed to make you powerless. In a street grid you are in a paradigm designed decades ago. When were these lines imposed upon you?
    Note the story of when this happened to you. Rediscover the patterns that are inherently human.

    We need to become a culture of YES and stop being so cynical and afraid of each other. There is power in reinstating the village heart. Columbus dismembered the social body. The United States is a colony that broke away from an empire to become an empire itself.

    You need to get out of the mindset that says you have to get a return on your creativity versus just being creative, just getting into the groove of the universe. NIMBY always shows up. People are threatened by the dynamics of change. When was the last time you spontaneously built something?

    Patriarchy says to us that over every unit there must be a male person, from God down to the individual. We have all been tricked into oppressing our own families. The grid is an expression of this because it does not provide for gathering space. It is systemic “place-less-ness.” The game of Monopoly helps us to play this system.

    We live at the community level but are disempowered by authority structures above and around us. Permaculture is about regenerating human patterns and self-empowerment. The colonial grid can be turned into the village heart.

    The edges animate and define a space. Cultural rituals are used to bring people together cyclically.
    What is the relation between public and private space? People figured out placemaking 5000 years ago with solar alignments and water temples. A being has to create its own habitat to thrive but we have become sociopathic.

    We are questioning the idea that you have to leave home to meet your basic needs for work, food, education, child-rearing, etc. We have created many of our own problems by vacating the place where we live and abandoning the idea of public space. What is your threshold to decide to make your own choices?

        1. Theresa,

          In response to your comment about my stamina, I’ve republished one of El Chuqueño’s first posts. It was titled What’s Wrong With El Paso?, and it ran on 28 August 2012.

          Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing.


  3. El Paso is not going to have to worry about a plan. I don’t see how bankruptcy is not in the near future, giving another stadium to the local wealthy families to house their hobby teams will speed that up.

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