I guess you’ve heard the news.
El Paso’s not growing.
Our birthrate is falling. School enrollment is down. Those aren’t causes. Those are effects. If you need to support a family, if you want to start a family, you have to leave town for a good job.
People have been leaving town for a long time. “Brain drain,” people call it. It doesn’t take much of a brain to figure out that the living situation is better someplace else.
It’s not just jobs. Even retired people are leaving town. The cost of living in El Paso is going up a lot faster than the benefit of living in El Paso.
Great Mexican food can only take you so far.
Taxes are going up. The streets are crumbling. Local government treats the citizens with disdain, and the local media are lapdogs to the oligarchs. For most people, it’s easier to leave than fight.
So what does El Paso stagnant population growth mean to you?
The fact that our population is stagnant, and declining, will mean that there will be fewer shoppers in your malls, fewer fans at your baseball games, and fewer passengers on your trolleys. There will be fewer people to buy your houses and rent your apartments and go to your bars and restaurants. Fewer people to read your newspapers.
That dwindling market will be compounded by the fact that the people who stay will have less money, because everybody will be paying more in taxes.
It’s not like the City of El Paso is trying to tamp down expenditures. They’re spending money a lot faster than we can earn it. And we’re not even paying for the 2012 Quality of Life Signature Projects yet, the Arena and the Children’s Museum and the Cultural Center.
Mayor Margo maintains that the city is growing, so don’t expect any relief from him. He has to maintain that fiction to keep the City’s profligacy flowing. The majority of City Council is only there to draw a paycheck and get along, so don’t expect any relief from them, either. And the newspaper is failing, so they’re grateful for any crumbs they can get, which includes the advertising revenue from the City’s legal notices, so don’t expect them to call attention the City’s falsehoods and failings.
Fewer people will pay more in taxes, and the voters will continue to be misinformed.
Not so many years from now, the City of El Paso will have to acknowledge its mistakes. They’ll likely blame the pensions, and the Federal Government’s immigration policies, and the “business climate,” and they’ll absolve themselves of any responsibility, and our local newspapers will parrot their responses, and the fat cats will leave the table fatter, and the average El Pasoan will read the news at their kitchen table in Austin, or El Lay, or Chicago, and congratulate themselves on their foresight for getting out when they did.
And then we’ll rebuild, poorer but wiser.
For another point of view on the benefits of growth see Strong Towns – the more we grow the poorer we become:
City leaders like growth and projects because it looks great on their CV. Gotta move on to bigger cities or offices, ya know. Businesses like growth initiatives because it often comes with freebies for businesses.
I am agnostic about growth.
I agree with your post 100%.
Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell. ~ Edward Abbey
So there are fixing up I-10 to make it easier to go?
Nobody knows who Victor Miramontes is, but in 1970, he graduated from my alma mater (Cathedral) and went to Stanford. Everyone was shocked! No ONE had ever left El Paso for greener pastures. Everyone was just so attached to their family and their hometown (El Paso). No matter that the best jobs were at Farah, The Popular or Fed Mart. Maybe even the Gas Co. or working for the City. Since then, there have been so many people who left El Paso. I graduated from Cathedral and was student council president. I left, along with L. David Myers, who is a Professor at Fordham. Gerry Kimmitt is now a partner at a law firm in Houston. Victor Arias, Jr. went to Stanford and co-formed the Hispanic MBA Association….that’s just 4 of us. Victor Miramontes, is now a partner with Henry Cisneros, former Mayor of San Antonio and now a major developer in San Antonio. There IS a future outside of El Paso. Where the “good old boys” don’t “run” everything. As much as I Love El Paso, it faces a bleak future….
David Nunes, I also know many people who have left El Paso and made a success of their lives somewhere else. But not everyone wants to leave El Paso. And for those that choose to stay, the issue becomes how to combat the issues that are causing the problems and the attendant brain drain.
Population growth per se is not the same issue as poor or no job opportunities. El Paso’s water resources, among other issues, cannot support millions of people. We need to plan for a successful city that supports its residents in sustainable ways!
I agree with Helen Marshall. Right now the city has been taking steps to build out to the current city limits and annexation of land has either begun or is coming shortly. There is a Municipal Management District in the Northeast meaning the area is primed for development all the way to the New Mexico border. Is there no limit to growth? Oh, yeah, someone wrote a book about that – I think in the 70s. More people, more garbage, we haven’t solved our recycling problem yet or our under served health needs, or under served legal needs, it goes on and on.
Sadly I can longer personally increase the Birthrate in El Paso….My children have left town (far away) for better jobs/ life. My taxes are rising; El Paso needs lots of upgrades (expensive) and yes I am thinking I may need to leave too.