The Downtown-Seguno Barrio plan is Unjust
By El Paso Catholic Diocese
Segundo Barrio revitalization should take into account the hopes,
dreams and desires of all affected, including the poor. There is a rich
heritage, a unique culture, a true sense of neighborhood and historical
architecture in the affected area. The plan should consider all of
these as valuable realities and not focus only on economic benefit and
tax revenue. It was disturbing to learn that the present plan was
conceived without any consultation with residents, area businesses, key
institutions. We are in disagreement with a re-vitalization program
that was planned without public backing or the input from those
affected. Read more››
Texas Attorney General Issues Statement Against City's Reinvestment Zone
By KVIA newsThis latest statement released by Attorney General Abbott is now one more hurdle the Paso Del Norte Group will have to overcome in order to see the downtown area be revamped. Read more››
New Day Viene: Fresh Paint and New Ambitions
By Border BlogThe new Mural at Sagrado Corazon is the beginning of a major, from-the-ground-up movement that has the ambition of snatching the barrio’s soul and heart back from the machinations of Downtown Plan Wet Dreamists and resisting the destruction of the historic and spiritual Segundo Barrio. Read more››
Students with Barrio Roots Oppose Downtown Plan
By Daniel Collins, UTEP Prospector“We held demonstrations whenever we could,” said Sotelo, graduate student in interdisciplinary studies. “We were there with the city council saying this plan doesn’t speak for us. This isn’t our plan. This is a destruction plan; not anything that will actually be fruitful for the local community, for the people that actually live there. Where will they go?”. Read more››
Susie's Flip Flop: Is She Disngenuous or Just Dizzy?
By PDS newsWhen they came back to the public hall, Ms. Byrd decided she wanted to change her vote on the eminent domain issue. (What happened during her backroom meeting? Did she get admonished by William Sander’s son-in-law, Robert O’Rourke? Or did she get a phone call from the big chief himself who helped her see the light? Or some other "advisor?") Read more››
By Molly IvinsPeople have the most remarkable ability to convince themselves that what they are doing is for the greater good if they are also making a great deal of money out of it. Or, as Upton Sinclair put it, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." Read more››
El Paso on the Verge of Becoming One of the Worst Eminent Domain Offenders in U.S.
By PDS news“People in this city have to realize that it’s not going to stop with downtown,” Anderson said. “Once they decide there’s nothing wrong with taking homes from private individuals so that someone else can make money, they’ll keep on going." Read more››
The Downtown Controversy Continues
By Daniel Collins, UTEP Prospector“Whether you push something that’s wrong back or not, that’s not the issue; it’s wrong on principle. If you have a gun and say ‘oh, well, I’m not going to use it for two years,’ well, it’s still wrong to use that gun if you’re pulling it out on people who haven’t done anything.”
Eminent Domain for Private Development, More Harm Than Good
By Institute for JusticeWhen the government uses eminent domain to take private property for private development projects, it “usually results in zero-sum gain and may actually hinder the area’s development.” That is the finding of an important new report released this month by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Read more››
Sacred Heart Mural: A Vision that Respects the Barrio's History and Culture
By Rev. Rafael Garcia
Restoration of the Segundo Barrio, respecting its people, history and culture will probably attract more people than the generic mall-like environment found everywhere. I urge you to pray for and work for a grass-roots, community centered, restorative improvements of the Segundo Barrio and not approve the typical destructive, economically driven methods that benefit those on the top, displace the poor and creates a more materialistic society. Read more››
Chavez Ravine: The Destruction of a Chicano Barrio Set to Music
by Mike Davis
The destruction of this “poor man’s Shangri-La” — wrought by a sinister collaboration of corrupt politicians, professional red-baiters and the city’s most powerful corporate interests — becomes a powerful metaphor for a larger history of dispossession. Cooder denounces the “paving over and the malling up” of Los Angeles working class history, particularly on its Chicano Eastside where tens of thousands have been uprooted by stadiums, freeways and jails. Memory here is an act of resistance.
Bringing in the TIRZ: City Hall Leaves Many Questions Unanswered
by Dr. Yolanda Chávez Leyva
UTEP history professor asks the questions about the designation of 180 acres in Downtown and Segundo Barrio as the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone that the City refuses to answer.
Urban Renewal Video: Dynamic American Cities
by U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ca. 1956
could be no better film than this to show how old, character-filled
neighborhoods in cities across the nation were wantonly destroyed
during the "new is better" 1950s. The term used was "URBAN RENEWAL",
a.k.a. “URBAN REMOVAL.” Cities across the United States are shown, in
old, established residential and business districts of great charm, and
new, "urban renewal"-inflicted areas of equally great ugliness; the
camera keeps cutting from some beautiful old Victorian structure to
some drab, ugly 50s utilitarian structure which served as it's inferior
replacement. The storyline will sound familiar to El Pasoan's today.
Arte y Resistencia: The Segundo Barrio Paints a Mural
by César Medina, El Diario De El Paso
Paso artists Francisco Delgado and Mauricio Olague, together without
about 60 volunteers from Bowie and other neighborhood residents, plan
to cover the entire Segundo Barrio with art as a "form of protest"
against the plan to raze their community.
Remembering La Gloria: Fighting Demolition in San Antonio
by Dr. Yolanda Chávez Leyva, Paso Del Sur Group
We did get a restraining order the first time around. We did a delaying tactic while we were waiting for the order…we did a human chain. We tried to delay until the person with the restraining order came in. After that, we switched and we chained ourselves to the building. We were trying to do whatever we could because the bulldozers were there.
A House Divided: A Story About Eminent Domain
by Cindy Anderson
While Susette Kelo lost her battle to stay on her own land, Kelo v. New London continues to reverberate across the country. Across all forms of media, from national news programs to weblogs to local newspapers, eminent domain has emerged as a hot topic in nearly every state in the country. In addition to genuine outrage over the ruling and empathy for the property owners in New London, at least part of the response probably stems from psychological proximity. People wonder, could their homes be taken in the name of eminent domain?
Even a Supreme Court Loss Can Propel a Cause
by David Savage, LA Times
The Kelo ruling set off a political earthquake, and the tremors were felt across the country. On Dec. 18, the Institute reported that 34 states had tightened their laws since the June 2005 decision and made it harder for city officials to take private property for development. "This is a remarkable and historic response to the most reviled Supreme Court decision of our time," the Institute said.
How to Carry out a Landgrab in a Few Simple Steps
A Do-it-Yourself Handbook
1. If you’re the richest guy in town, form a group.
2. Keep the membership list secret.
3. Keep your secretive group exclusive—membership is by invitation only. Your yearly membership dues have to be high enough so that most people in town can’t afford them.
4. Include the owners and publishers of several major news media in your membership list. This will insure positive coverage of your plan ...
News Bulletin: Artists Add to Barrio Blight
by Jaime Ojo
According to El Paso City Hall, any art that is not condoned by the Creative Class will be officially designated as blight.
El Paso is the Poster Child for Eminent Abuse in Texas
by Stuart Blaugrund
Many people, including the mayor, say they don't understand why the El Paso 2015 Plan is so controversial. Eminent domain, they say, will be used as a last resort. This claim makes absolutely no sense. Actually condemning private property may be the last thing you do, but your ability to do so is so ominous that the threat of eminent domain will permeate all so-called "negotiations" between the REIT and current owners of Downtown properties.
New Mexico Governor To Outlaw Eminent Domain Abuse
New Mexico will join more than 37 states throughout the U.S. who have enacted laws against eminent domain for economic development.
Ciudad Juárez: Gentrification and Displacement Visit a Border City
by Frontera NorteSur, La Jornada, El Diario
The soaring real estate prices near Anapra are sparking concerns about the possible displacement of tens of thousands of low-income residents who provide much of the labor force for the foreign-owned maquiladora plants. “Where are the city’s poor going to go?” wondered Cesar Fuentes Flores, an urban planning researcher at the Colegio de La Frontera Norte in Ciudad Juarez. “This was the part of the city where they went before, now many go to the south, but with (land speculation), just where?” Fuentes cautioned that the gentrification of Anapra could disperse new social conflicts throughout the city.
Struggling with the Creative Class
by Jamie Peck
At various points, Florida concedes that the crowding of creatives into gentrifying neighborhoods might generate inflationary housing-market pressures, that not only run the risk of eroding the diversity that the Class craves but, worse still, could smother the fragile ecology of creativity itself. He reminds his readers that they depend on an army of service workers trapped in ‘low-end jobs that pay poorly because they are not creative jobs’ while pointing soberly to the fact that the most creative places tend also to exhibit the most extensive forms of socio-economic inequality. Ultimately, though, since it is the creatives’ destiny to inherit the earth, it is they who must figure out how to solve these problems, in their own time and in their own way, as part of what Florida characterizes as their ‘growing up’. The uncreative population, one assumes, should merely look on, and learn.
The Curse of the Creative Class
by Steve Malanga
Moreover, as the ideas of [Richard Florida, author of the Rise of the Creative Class] reach beyond urban-planning types and New Age liberal politicians, they find resistance from the urban Left. Indeed, the professor’s relentless argument that governments should help furnish bobo-friendly amenities ultimately comes to sound like a new form of class warfare: old-economy workers have no place in his utopian dreams.
60 Minutes: Is Eminent Domain Being Abused?
by CBS News
Cities across the country have been using eminent domain to force people off their land, so private developers can build more expensive homes and offices that will pay more in property taxes than the buildings they're replacing.
But now, people who don't want to sell their homes at any price - just to see their land go to another private owner - are fighting back. Correspondent Mike Wallace reports on this story, which first aired last fall.
Urban Planners Are Blind to What Jane Jacobs Really Saw
by Leonard Gilroy
Given urban planners' almost universal reverence for Jacobs, it is ironic that many have largely ignored or misinterpreted the central lesson of "Death and Life"--that cities are vibrant living systems, not the product of grand, utopian schemes concocted by overzealous planners.
Private Property and Public Use: Restoring Constitutional Distinctions
by The Texas Public Policy Foundation
Eminent domain will continue to adversely affect those who have relatively little influence in politics, most typically the poor, minorities and the elderly. It remains a benefit for those with more money and better connections. Eminent domain is routinely abused to transfer property from one person to another in order to build luxury condominiums and big-box stores. Americans are fed up with this abuse.
Memories of Home: All That's Left After Gentrification
by Antonio Reyes López
Numerous articles and studies have shown that urban economic development programs have not fulfilled their promises to bring jobs to impoverished neighborhoods and increase the living standards of community members. Instead, long-time residents, usually African-Americans and Latinos, are forced to move out of their neighborhoods due to forces of gentrification. For many people the loss of community caused by gentrification is very traumatic.
La Fe Clinic Bans Artist Because She is Against the Plan
“When Ms. Estela Reyes demanded that I vacate the building, I left without resistance. Before I left, I informed Ms. Reyes that I strongly agree with the position of Paso Del Sur. Although I did not discuss this further with Ms. Reyes, I believe it is an injustice for people living and working in El Segundo Barrio to lose their homes, their livelihoods, their memories and histories through eminent domain."
A Photographer's Viewpoint: City Should Honor, Not Erase its Mexican Imageby Bruce Berman
"The image was just one of many presented by the Glass Beach Brand
Consultant firm to the City Council, apparently, to let our city movers
and shakers know of how we are perceived by the outside world, what our
“image,” is, how to “sell,” our city. For the price of $100,000—dished
out by El Paso’s taxpayers—the out of town consulting firm proposed as
part of its marketing strategy that the city needs to clean up its
“Mexico-heavy” image and replace it for one represented by two
clean-cut actors who just happen to be Anglo and European and who are
young, educated and enjoy entertainment."
The Fight Has Just Begun": Interview with Stuart Blaugrund
by Dan Huff, El Paso Inc.
Attorney Stuart Blaugrund, who represents downtown businessmen opposed to the PDNG plan, said he will be lobbying the Texas legislature in January to change the language of the law from “ blighted area” to “property,” in hopes of making it difficult for Downtown-Segundo Barrio plan supporters to argue that perfectly serviceable buildings could be condemned along with poorly maintained ones in El Paso’s proposed demolition zone. The Paso Del Norte Group has argued it’s an all-or-nothing situation Downtown. Read more
"Resisting Conquest": Subcomandante Marcos Talks to El Paso-Juárez Activists"We
are here to tell those of you that came here from El Paso: You are not
alone. We are united by our attitude toward those in power, toward
those on top. We are united by our choice to cast our lot with los de
Excerpts from Subcomandante Marcos' talk to a group of
activists from El Paso, New Mexico and other parts of the U.S and
Mexico. Members of the Paso Del Sur Group were at this discussion.
Chavez Ravine on PBS: A History of Eminent Domain Abuse
The Battle of Chavez Ravine refers to approximately ten years of violence (1951-1961) over the Mexican-American community of Los Angeles' Chavez Ravine. The eventual result was the forced removal with the use of eminent domain of the entire population of Mexican-Americans living in the community. The initial relocation was for the purpose of developing public housing. Although this part of the plan failed, during this phase the City began to label the area as "blighted" and thus viewed Chavez Ravine as ripe for redevelopment. Some years later, the City made the controversial decision to use the land to build a stadium. The remaining members of the Chavez Ravine community were forced to relocate. While some left the neighborhood after being told by the government to leave, others fought to the end, including with gunfire. Eventually with bulldozers and armed men, the poor shanties and dirt-road streets were razed. Read more.
Those Who Live in Glass Beaches: De-Mexicanizing El Paso's Image
by Jenni Burton
the slideshow, those polled complained about our “Mexicanness.” What
the hell do you want—this is the U.S.-Mexico border! What are we going
to do, move the whole city? If these are the kind of tourists that
we're trying to draw, I want nothing to do with them. What, does this
company want us to be like Santa Fe or something -- no actual Native
Americans or Mexicans to be found, but all the art and culture copying
that of the original inhabitants? Read more
Crónicas de El Paso: The Plan
by J.B. Ochoa
Among the mayor's perceived strengths, earned from his oppostion to Wardy's more extravagant schemes, was his ability to withstand the lure of big money. Sadly, there has never been a more spectacular sellout than the mayor's embarrassing lust for the developers' wealth, to the delight of his new age, addle headed supporters of eminent domain for private gain epitomized by council members Robert O'Rourke, Suzy Byrd, Steve and Presiliano Ortega and Ann Lilly. Read more
La Toma: I Wish to Take Possession of This Land Today
by Susie Byrd
First printed in the El Paso alternative newspaper, El Bridge, in 2001—back when Susie Byrd was not yet a politician and identified more with the conquered than the conquerors. We’ve republished it to show not only how times have changed when it comes to Susie, but how things haven’t changed that much when it comes to forcibly taking over other people’s land. Please make sure to check out our own updated, scholarly footnotes of Ms. Byrd’s piece. Read more
Will the Government Take Your Home?
by Parade Magazine
“The fact is, a shopping mall does usually produce more taxes than a house,” says IJ attorney Dana Berliner. “An office building does produce more taxes than a church. But if that’s the rule—that anyone’s home can be taken away from them because something else will produce more taxes—then no one’s home is safe.” Read more
After Ohio: National Backlash Against Property Seizures
by the Cincinnati Enquirer
"When you see this (Ohio) decision, that property owners are assured the rights that everyone believed they had, you're going to see similar constitutional amendments offered in other states. I think it will have a sweeping effect around the country." Will Texas catch up before greedy El Paso developers carry out major destruction in our city? Read more
Voices of Dissent: "Now They Want to Kick Us Out" and "Make Room for a Koreatown in the Segundo Barrio"
"I pray to God every day that this can be stopped. I'm praying to God that our homes won't get torn down. My doctors are nearby. Where am I going to go? I don't know if my health can take this (forced relocation.) No, I don't want to move." Read more
El Paso on the Verge of Becoming the Next New London
by the Texas Public Policy Foundation
While there are many abuses of eminent domain to be addressed, there would be no better place for Texas policymakers to start than by eliminating the practice at the core of urban redevelopment plans like those in New London and El Paso. It is simply wrong to take private property from one person and give it to another who is politically connected on the promise they will generate increased tax revenues to fill the cities' coffers. Read more
Tearing out the Heart of Las Cruces: An Unhealed Wound
by Denise Chávez
In the 70s, several historic buildings—including St. Genevieve Parish, the Loretto Academy and the Rio Grande Hotel—were demolished to build a strip mall in downtown Las Cruces as part of a "revitalization plan." It failed miserably. Today the mall area has little pedestrian traffic by day and none at night. Retail has suffered a slow death. After more than thirty years, writes Las Cruces author Denise Chavez, the divisions and wounds this downtown plan created in the community have not yet fully healed. Read more
Voices of Dissent: Taking Risks With Other People's Lives
Interview with José Rodríguez, County Attorney and former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development attorney under Ford and Carter Administration, 1974-1977. Read more
Voices of Dissent: For Whose Benefit?
Interview with Pete Duarte, former CEO of Thomason Hospital and former Executive Director of Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe.
PDNG to Barrio: "Trust us, we know what's best for you"
by Sergio Troncoso
I hope that the Paso del Norte Group's plan to 'revitalize' downtown El Paso and specifically El Segundo Barrio will be defeated. I believe those who support the plan do not adequately understand the cultural and historic significance of El Segundo Barrio. Read more
Why do I care?
The Destruction of the Segundo Barrio is Very Personal
by David Dorado Romo
Recently, Councilman O'Rourke stated publicly that David Romo's current residence in the Canutillo area strips him of the right to oppose the destruction of the Segundo Barrio. This essay, in part, is his response to Mr. O'Rourke's assertion.) Read more
The Barrio Before and After
prepared by Alberto Rivas, M. Architect
Want to see the size and scope of the senseless destruction that will occur if the PDNG downtown plan that has been adopted by the city comes to fruition? Click here to get a visual sense of the demolition zone and what El Paso stands to lose to private redevelopers. Click here
Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the U.S. City
by Mike Davis
The City of Los Angeles—which has thrown away hundreds of millions in tax dollars unsuccessfully trying to induce middle-class professionals to gentrify downtown— has never geared its redevelopment programs to support, rather than displace, inner-city residents. The concept of reshaping urban space to celebrate Mexican culture or, even more radically, to stimulate neighborhood self-design, was not well received by a planning bureaucracy still committed—consciously or unconsciously—to architectural Americanization. Read more
Not for Distribution: Behind the Demolition Plan
by David Dorado Romo
Finally a group of people are willing to invest in this dream, I thought. Then I saw their map (labeled not for distribution) that showed a huge chunk of land slated for demolition. … If this mass demolition takes place, it will be commemorated as one of the most barbaric acts of cultural destruction in our city's history. Read more
La destrucción de la comunidad fronteriza en nombre del progreso y el desarrollo económico
por Carlos Marentes, Centro de los Trabajadores Agrícolas Fronterizos
Se eliminaría así un entorno de convivencia humana, de vida comunitaria, de personas que a través de muchos años han creado un sistema que les ha permitido sobrevivir su pobreza y su exclusión. Ahí están nuestros familiares y nuestros amigos, nuestras iglesias, las clínicas de salud comunitarias, las oficinas de gobierno y de correo a unas cuantas cuadras... Read more
In the Name of Progress: The Destruction of The Border Community
by Carlos Marentes, Sin Fronters Farmworker Center director
This would eradicate large segments of a neighborhood and networks of Segundo Barrio residents who have, through the years, created communal support systems that have allowed them to survive poverty and exclusion. This is where our families live, our friends, our churches, community clinics, government offices, the post office. They are all here and within just a few blocks. Read more
Another View of the Segundo Barrio
by Peter Viola
As she leaned against a tree to hold herself up, she immediately became very emotional, stating in Spanish that she disagreed with the plan and that in her opinion it was all about money. She lamented that it would displace her grandchildren who are very happy in the neighborhood. She continued to say, at this point tears visibly welling up in her eyes that the plan was clearly for the rich people and questioned repeatedly where are the rights of the poor? Read more
Voices of Dissent: Resistance From All Sides
Alicia Chacon, Gloria Gonzalez and Yolanda Leyva
Interviews with three women who are against the demolition plan: former County Judge Alicia Chacon, Segundo Barrio resident Gloria Gonzalez and UTEP History proessor Dr. Yolanda Leyva. (A version of this piece was previously published by Newspaper Tree. Here is the original, uncut version of that piece, by David Dorado Romo.) Read more
A Plea to El Pasoans to learn from the Past: Revisiting Tucson, Arizona’s Efforts to Revitalize Downtown in the 1960s
by Dr. Lydia R. Otero
Destruction of vital landmarks, and older adobe homes in the name of progress in Tucson concealed the hostile sentiments that stood at the core of urban renewal’s objectives. Sites that could have been restored to celebrate and honor Mexican and Mexican American contributions were destroyed along with the barrio as city officials attempted to consolidate their power to cleanse the area of its people and history in order to attract more commercial projects, and more tourist to Tucson. This is clearly what is taking place in El Paso. Read more
History Repeats Itself: The Chavez Ravine Case in Los Angeles
Check out this brief cartoon version of the Chavez Ravine history. You’ll see some surprising similarities with how the Chavez Ravine community was treated and what's going on today in El Paso’s Segundo Barrio. We recommend that you click on the timeline buttons titled "more 1950" and "Year 1952.” Though it is not an exact parallel, there are some frightening similarities here. Read more
EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE: INDIVIDUALS SPEAK OUT IN LETTERS
Some built livelihoods Downtown
by Todd Mick, Vice President of Starr Western Wear
Now, the Paso del Norte Group and a few members of City Council would have you believe that those of us who have sacrificed everything to make a living and a life Downtown are standing in the way of progress, and that somehow we advocate the status quo. Read more
Eminent Domain Abuse is Un-American
by Stuart Blaugrund, attorney
As a former El Pasoan whose family played a vital role in the city's Downtown retail and commercial activity for de cades, I am saddened and outraged by this threat to our heritage. The protection of homes, small businesses, and other private property rights against government seizures and unreasonable interference is one of our country's fundamental principles and a core commitment of our nation's founders. Read more
Devil is in the Details
by Gil Kimmelman, downtown business owner
At the end of the day these owners will no longer own their property and the City government will have facilitated the expropriation of private property to be given to another private entity i.e. the REIT thereby subverting the constitution’s fifth amendment, which only allows the exercise of eminent domain over private property for PUBLIC USE. The PDNG plan uses the government to take private property and turn it over to another private entity. Read more
The Castle Coalition:
A National Struggle Against Eminent Domain Abuse
Learn from citizens nationwide who staged effective grassroots battles to save their homes and small businesses from the government’s wrecking ball. These determined activists fought against eminent domain abuse brought on by tax-hungry city officials and greedy developers—and they won. Read more
ON STADIUMS & ARENAS DOWNTOWN
Stadiums Raise Taxes: That's About It
An Interview with economics professor Andrew Zimbalist
The sports arena to be built in the Chihuahuita-Union District neighborhood proposed by the PDNG plan is, in the words of City Manager Joyce Wilson, "a lightning rod for tax increases." According to economics professor Andrew Zimbalist, author of several books on sports economics, raising taxes is about all most stadiums in this country do. In El Paso, they would only draw money from one part of the city to the other. "By having a sports team or a new stadium or arena, you don't increase the level of per capita income," he states, "and you don't increase the level of employment. There's no direct economic development benefit." Read more
A Downtown Revitalization Plan that Will Succeed
by Enrique N. Medrano
A sports arena will not revitalize downtown El Paso.El Paso's history will revitalize downtown to a degree that would amaze most El Pasoans. What El Paso does not need downtown is a sports arena. Most of the time the arena will be empty. Read more