Dear Friends and Media:

As I warned a few weeks ago, there is an effort underway by a local law firm, Kemp Smith LLC, to cancel the establishment of the Downtown National Register Historic District. The project was approved by the County Commissioners Court 5-0 on February 8, 2016 and is now under threat.

The opponents of the historic district claim downtown property owners will be subjected to City ordinance 20.20.080, which purports to regulate National Register properties in El Paso. The ordinance has never once been enforced and the HLC Chair has announced that it never will be enforced.

There was an attempt to delete the ordinance on August 21, 2018, but the City Council came out of executive session that day and voted 7-1, with Rep. Annello dissenting, to leave the ordinance on the books after Karla Nieman told them whatever she told them. That was in spite of the strong recommendations of the HLC and City Plan Commission.

The County is now asking the City to remove the ordinance once and for all so that downtown property owners are reassured.

The Downtown Management District and a number of individuals in the local business community are focusing on destroying the County’s project rather than asking for the repeal of the City ordinance they claim to be worried about. County Commissioner Stout’s comment today before the DMD Board, who cut him off rudely, was very enlightening in this regard.


Vic Kolenc of the El Paso Times wrote a lengthy report, and so did David Crowder of the El Paso Inc.

I have no comment at this time, beyond reporting the facts above and referring you to local media reports.

Enjoy your day,