Dear Media and Friends,

Assistant City Attorney Russell T. Abeln is legal counsel to the City’s Historic Landmark Commission. During yesterday’s City Council meeting, he made a presentation under agenda item 35 in which he stated the City’s position on Ordinance 20.20.080(A)1, which has stymied the County’s effort to establish a National Register Historic District in Downtown El Paso.

You can see his eight-minute presentation here, starting at the 2:47 mark.

Until yesterday, the general understanding has been that the City had the authority under 20.20.080 (A) (1) to regulate all National Register properties in El Paso.

But Mr. Abeln explained yesterday that the City only has the authority to regulate National Register properties that are located in an area with an existing local H-overlay. This interpretation means that the ordinance will have zero impact on the proposed Downtown National Register Historic District.

There is a local H-overlay Downtown Historic District that was established on January 21, 1992 under Ordinance No. 10877. It is much smaller than the proposed National Register Historic District (see the attached map).

Thus, Ordinance 20.20.080 (A) (1) allows the City to regulate the 19 individually listed National Register properties that are within the H-overlay Downtown Historic District, but those properties would be regulated even without that ordinance, because they are designated as local landmarks within that district.

CONCLUSION: Ordinance 20.20.080(A)1 is not an obstacle to the creation of the proposed Downtown National Register Historic District because it does not impose a regulatory burden on property owners whose properties do not have an H-overlay.

This is great news for downtown property owners.

Enjoy your day,