Last year, El Paso, TX’s comprehensive plan Plan El Paso was named the Best Smart Growth Plan by the Atlantic Cities and honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for achievement in smart growth. Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council sat down with Carlos Gallinar, El Paso’s Deputy Director for City Development and Planning, to learn what El Paso is doing to become one of the premier cities of the Southwest.
“Cities that are going to compete in the 21st century will need to start linking their built environment with economic development,“ contends Gallinar. Whereas in the past, companies moved to cities that offered the best tax breaks, now they are looking for places offering the best amenities.
The City unanimously adopted Plan El Paso after an intensive two-year public engagement process, and the plan features strong smart growth components. “It talks about livability. It talks about linking health with the built environment. It talks about renewable energy sources. It talks about more open space and more parkland,” says Gallinar. “There is an emphasis on redeveloping our downtown, because as you redevelop the downtown, that is less land you have to consume out in the fringes.”
El Paso has an aggressive smart code rezoning policy that ties walkability and design to economic development. The city is bringing back its trolley and working on a modern bus rapid transit system that would extend to 80% of the city, with transit oriented development hubs around key station areas. “Market studies have shown that people want varied transportation systems, you don’t always want to drive.”
Hear more from Carlos Gallinar by clicking on the video above. This video is part of the Local Leaders Council’s “Meet the Experts” video series, which provides information for local leaders interested in learning more about smart growth strategies. Want to know more about all the videos in the series? Join our mailing list stay in the know.