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City Of El Paso Named a Finalist for 2018 All-America City Award

The City of El Paso announced Wednesday afternoon that the National Civic League (NCL) has named the City of El Paso as a finalist for the 2018 All-America City Award.

The All-America City Award (AAC) is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious civic recognition award.

‘We are pleased that the City of El Paso is once again a finalist for the All-America City Award. The City won in 1969 and 2010, and I am confident we will do well this year,” said City of El Paso Mayor Dee Margo.

Participants had to submit an award application outlining three community projects that address their communities’ most pressing challenges.

The City’s Department of Community and Human Development submitted the following projects that highlight the city’s efforts to improve quality of life:

  1. Empowering El Pasoans for Services and Leadership
  2. Career and Adult Educational Opportunities
  3. El Paso Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Program.

The 20 cities named as finalists will send a delegation to Denver, Colorado, in June to make a live presentation to a panel of judges. Each community will bring a team of residents, nonprofit leaders, business representatives, government officials and young people to participate in presentations and workshops for three days. The 2018 AAC finalists represent collaborative, inclusive and innovative civic engagement.

“Mayor and Council, the City’s executive team, and City staff have all worked hard for this honor, and I am proud that we are one of only two Texas cities to become a finalist,” said City Manager Tommy Gonzalez. “We are excited to tell the City of El Paso’s story and showcase all of the advancements we have made.”

Listed alphabetically by state are the 2018 All-America City finalists:

Allentown, PA

Ann Arbor MI

Battle Creek, MI

Beaverton, OR

Cincinnati, OH

Charlotte, NC

Columbia, SC

Decatur, GA

El Paso, Texas

Kershaw County, SC

Las Vegas, NV

Longmont, CO

Miami Beach, FL

Mount Pleasant, SC

Pasco, WA

Placentia, CA

San Antonio, TX

Springdale, AR

Stockton, CA

Tacoma, WA.

To see complete details, visit the All America City Award website

City Introduces ‘Uptown Parking Benefit District,’ Meter Revenue to be Reinvested

During Tuesday’s regular session, City Council adopted a Parking Benefit District ordinance making it possible for parking meter revenues to be reinvested into neighborhoods where the funds are generated to address security, traffic safety and public improvements.

“This parking management program will make a visible difference in the neighborhoods where it’s utilized,” said Monica Lombraña, City of El Paso Managing Director of Aviation and International Bridges. “It will improve mobility by creating parking turnover and will foster and support neighborhood safety and public improvements that are welcoming to both residents and visitors alike, and will also promote economic growth.”

Examples of public improvements that may be funded through a parking benefit district include: security services, street maintenance, sidewalk improvements, lighting enhancements, wayfinding, use of public transit, or improvements that promote alternate forms of transportation.

In accordance with the ordinance approved today, potential improvement projects would be identified by city staff in collaboration with an advisory committee comprised predominately of business representatives and residents who work or live in or within 1,500 feet of a parking benefit district. Recommendations would be presented to Council for approval.

With the same vote, Council established the community’s first parking benefit district – the Uptown Parking Benefit District – which will serve as a model for other neighborhoods around the city. This district located in West Central El Paso includes a portion of Kern Place and the medical area near the University of Texas at El Paso.

City Sends Delegation to ‘Sister Cities’ Mayoral Summit in Guadalajara

A delegation from El Paso comprised of City officials and business leaders is gathering in Guadalajara, Mexico, along with other cities and counties from the United States and Mexico, as part of the All Mexico – U.S. Sister Cities Mayor’s Summit that begins February 15.

“The City continues to take advantage of every opportunity to promote our community, both economically and culturally. This summit opens relationships between Guadalajara and the El Paso del Norte regional businesses, higher education institutions, and civic associations. The positive outcome here is the beginning of new development between our two cities and the world,” said City Council Representative Peter Svarzbein.

The Summit is an effort to discuss ways to advance sister city programs between the United States and Mexico and is the third of an ongoing bi-national series of Summits to reaffirm and strengthen sister city relationships in key countries.

The conference theme of Independence & Interdependence focuses on celebrating the historical ties between the United States and Mexican civic society, business, cultural and education institutions.

“The Resilient El Paso strategy is a roadmap for collaboration regionally, nationally and globally. The City is committed to cultivating local, regional and global relationships supportive of prosperity for our people and sustainability for our city,” said Nicole Ferrini, Chief Resilient Officer and Director of Community and Human Development.

Ferrini added, “The path forward is paved by global connectivity, international best practices and cutting-edge local experimentation.  As a desert-oriented, binational metroplex, we are positioned to lead the world in the practice of urban resilience.”

For more information, visit the summit’s website.  Below is a list of those in the El Paso delegation.

Video: Your City in 5 – Week Ending February 9th

In this edition of YC5, host Rick Isaias brings you the latest on the news and events from around the city, including:

• City Council approves improvement projects

• City acquires land for preservation

• Plan set for Cohen redevelopment

• Library receives state funding grant

• City unveils resilience strategy

• Public Health celebrates 10 years

• City’s government TV station changing channels on cable

• Permits required on Valentine’s Day

For programs and services provided by the City of El Paso, visit the city’s website.

‘Ask Laura’ Now Available on Planning and Inspections Website

The Planning and Inspections Department, in partnership with the Purchasing and Strategic Sourcing Department, launched virtual information officer Ask Laura, an interactive online avatar on the Planning and Inspections webpage.

According to news release, city official say, “Ask Laura will assist customers in navigating the Planning and Inspection’s website, provide instant responses to questions, and offer links for additional information.”

Government Technology has called Ask Laura “a real game changer” 

Customer Service – Ask Laura provides users with a unique customer service experience by providing immediate information on topics that include where to find City Code requirements for zoning, platting, and permitting and information on submitting applications and the required fees to rezone or subdivide a property.

Efficiency – Ask Laura will significantly reduce the amount of time that the Planning and Inspections Department spends in responding to frequently asked questions. This allows staff to be reassigned to other strategic initiatives.

“Ask Laura” is available by visiting

City Offices Return to Monday through Friday Operating Schedule

Starting Tuesday, January 16, the City of El Paso will again be open five days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“I have received numerous requests from the community to have all City departments operate Monday through Friday, this action shows we are here to serve our constituents,” said City of El Paso Mayor Dee Margo.

“Opening all offices five days a week follows the City’s mission statement of delivering outstanding services to our residents, businesses, and visitors,” said El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzalez.

Via a news release, city officials added, “The new operating hours will make the City more accessible to residents and more business-friendly.”

Central Business Association, Mexican Consulate, City Team Up for Downtown Posada

Thanks to the El Paso Central Business Association (CBA) alongside the Consulado General de Mexico and the City of El Paso, the ​37th Annual Posada returns to Downtown El Paso​.

A traditional Mexican celebration, a posada is a re-enactment of Joseph and Mary seeking “shelter” so that Mary can deliver the Christ child. Traditionally the shelter is denied and a procession where children are given candy to help in the search for shelter. There are special songs (villancicos), food, and traditions that accompany this reenactment.

Organizers share that there will be piñatas for the children, champurrado (a hot chocolate drink), atole, pan dulce and buñuelos as well as singers, dancers and actors.

Via a news release, organizers added, “an additional reason for celebrating this Posada for all the citizens of El Paso is to feature our friendly relationship with our sister city Cd. Juarez, Mexico…and it’s open to all regardless of their religion or ethnicity.”

WHAT: Border Posada
WHERE: Saturday, December 16, 2017
WHEN: Starting at 4:00pm at the Paso Del Norte International Bridge located at 1001 N. Santon
Celebration to be followed at San Jacinto Plaza located at 114 W. Mills Ave.


City: All Departments to Open Monday through Friday Once Again

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, members approved a measure to have all City departments to open five days a week.

“I have received numerous requests from the community to have all City departments operate Monday through Friday, this action shows we are here to serve our constituents,” said Mayor Dee Margo. “We are working hard to recruit industry to our City and these new operating hours show we are business-friendly.”

“Opening all offices five days a week follows the City’s mission statement of delivering outstanding services to our residents, businesses, and visitors,” said City Manager Tommy Gonzalez.

“While this action affects only 6% of City employees, we will continue to work to provide flex-time for employees while providing exceptional services to our community.”

City departments will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday effective Monday, January 15, 2018.


El Paso Ranked 5th in ‘Top Places to Retire’ By U.S. News and World Report

El Paso ranks among the top 5 places to retire, according to a 2018 U.S. News and World Report of 100 Best Places to Retire in the USA.

“This recognition is a testament to the quality of life that El Paso has to offer retirees,” said Mayor Dee Margo. “To be ranked in the top 5 acknowledges the effort by our city employees to deliver on our vision for a vibrant community.”

El Paso is listed just ahead of Austin (9th) and McAllen (6th) and just behind San Antonio (3rd) in the 100 city list.

El Paso is lauded as the 5th Best Place to Retire in the analysis intended to help people narrow their choices of where to live in retirement.

Profile author Alexis Garcia writes, in part, “It’s easy to write El Paso, Texas, off as another southern cow town. Sure, you’ll find an overwhelming number of steakhouses here, and you’re bound to come across someone sporting a wide-brimmed cowboy hat. But gone are the days when old El Paso was known as the “Six Shooter Capital” – a place known for its outlaws and vices.”

The publication’s rankings were based on a weighted average of these six indexes: Housing Affordability, Happiness, Desirability, Retiree Taxes, Job Market and Healthcare Quality.

To view the entire list, click here.

City: El Paso Ranks in Top Ten of 2017 Digital Cities Survey

The City of El Paso ranked in the Center for Digital Government’s (CDG) top ten Digital Cities Survey winners in cities with populations over 500,000 category.

According to CDG, the City achieved this ranking because of its variety of engagement and mobile-first strategies.

“El Paso has a mobile-strong strategy and has worked on new content management to ensure that the City websites are available for citizens and staff,” said Department of Information Technology Services (DoITS) Director Enrique Martinez.

The annual survey recognizes cities using technology to improve citizen services, enhance transparency, and encouraging citizen engagement.

The City was recognized for:

  • Free Wi-Fi accessibility on buses, in public buildings, facilities, libraries, and some park and recreation locations
  • Upgraded all City websites to a new content management system
  • Online agenda management system, which streamlines creation of City Council agendas
  • City TV, the award-winning municipal TV station, has livestream capabilities and programming available on YouTube
  • Rebranding of the budget think tank as “Chime In,” allowing the public to make suggestions on how to save money or improve services
  • “Ask Laura”, the artificial intelligence virtual information officer who answers website visitors’ purchasing questions
  • Pay-by-cell app for remote payment of parking meters

Donations, Volunteers Needed for Annual El Paso Thanksgiving Celebration

El Paso’s biggest Thanksgiving Dinner tradition will celebrate its 12th consecutive year and organizers are asking for the community’s help.

Donations and volunteers are needed to help prepare and serve the food for the less privileged in our community. On Thanksgiving Day, more than four hundred volunteers will spend their Thanksgiving Day helping to serve a complete holiday meal to those who are less fortunate.

Feeding the Nation’s Homeless Foundation, a 501(c) 3 not for profit charity, is co-sponsoring this event with the City of El Paso.  Council members Sam Morgan, District 4 and Alexsandra Annello, District 2 are the honorary co-chair of the event.

People interested in helping deboning turkeys prior to the event may contact Melody at the Rescue Mission (915) 532-2575.

People interested in volunteering on Thanksgiving Day may contact Former Representative Carl Robinson at (915) 740-7826

Tax deductible contributions should be sent to:

Feeding the Nation’s Homeless Foundation

109 N. Oregon, Ste 1106, El Paso, TX  79901

SDI Technologies Expands Main Distribution Center in El Paso

On Tuesday, the El Paso City Council approved an incentive package resulting in the expansion of SDI Technologies’ main distribution center leading to more jobs.

Via a news release city officials stated, “This agreement will double the size of their employees and greatly increase their investment in the community.”

“This partnership is a testament to the commitment we have to existing business in our community,” Mayor Dee Margo said. “Oftentimes economic developers are too focused on attracting new business that they forget to take care of the businesses in their backyard. We are very fortunate to have success in growing companies that already call El Paso home.”

Founded in 1965, SDI Technologies designs, manufactures, and distributes a broad range of consumer electronics that are both innovative and high in quality. SDI markets these products under some of the world’s most recognizable brands such as iHome and Timex.

“SDI Technologies is exactly the type of company we want in El Paso. These type of advanced manufacturing and advanced logistics jobs is what our community is looking for. This agreement will show similar companies that we are serious about bringing similar businesses to El Paso,” City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said.

The El Paso distribution center serves retailers and consumers all over the U.S. SDI will be doubling their permanent workforce within 5 years and invest over $15 million in the community. SDI has six offices throughout North America and Asia with over 400 employees.

“The most important reason why El Paso was the number one contender among other cities, was the strength and capabilities of its workforce. A large number of our employees have been with us for over 25 years. We are where we are in our industry in no small part thanks to them,” said Ed Nehmad, Vice President of Operations for SDI Technologies Inc.

Deputy City Manager Cary Westin said one of the most exciting aspects of this deal is that SDI is investing in their El Paso distribution center when they could be investing in their other locations.

“This truly is a sign that El Paso is a place the private industry is ready to invest in,” Westin said.  “Now is the time to continue our efforts and aggressively pursue businesses interested in relocating to El Paso.”


City of El Paso Receives “SolSmart Gold” Award

The City of El Paso is being honored for being a national leader in advancing solar energy by a federal program created to recognize communities fostering solar energy growth.

SolSmart, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, is lauding El Paso as a SolSmart Gold designee for adopting programs and practices that make it faster, easier, and cheaper to go solar.

“The City of El Paso is supporting the growth of renewable energy by incorporating efficiencies into our permitting and inspection processes to make solar energy more accessible,” El Paso Deputy City Manager Cary Westin.

A SolSmart designation is a signal that the community is “open for solar business,” helping to attract solar industry investment and generate economic development and local jobs.

To achieve designation, cities and counties take steps to reduce solar “soft costs,” which are non-hardware costs that can increase the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system.

Examples of soft costs include planning and zoning; permitting; financing; customer acquisition; and installation labor. Soft costs now represent roughly two-thirds of the total price of an installed residential system.

El Paso has implemented key services that help reduce these costs as well as enhancing customer experience, including:

  • A streamlined permitting pathway for small photovoltaics (PV) systems with turn-around time of 24 hours
  • Elimination of excess inspections and consolidation of inspection trips for solar PV.
  • An online solar permitting checklist to guide customers through the process
  • A dedicated, City Council-appointed advisory committee charged with making recommendations regarding renewable energy strategy and industry development.

The SolSmart designation team, led by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), evaluates communities and awards them points based on the actions they take to reduce soft costs and other barriers to solar. Communities that take sufficient action are designed either gold, silver, or bronze.

To date, SolSmart has recognized 111 communities for achieving SolSmart gold, silver, or bronze and only 53 have been recognized as gold.

City Completes Duranguito Petition Review; Council to Discuss on Oct 31st

On Monday, City of El Paso announced the completion of its review of signatures on a petition filed to try to impose historic designation zoning on the site selected by City Council for the Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center by placing the matter on the ballot of the next general election.

The petition was filed on September 11, 2017.  The City Clerk’s office authenticated a total of 1,974 signatures of registered voters on the petition. The process was completed within the 20 working days as required by the City Charter.

The City Clerk’s office certified that the necessary number of signatures required under the City Charter, 1,666 signatures, have been submitted but the certification does not automatically place an item on the ballot.

The City Council is the body required to call an election.  The matter will be placed on the agenda for the City Council meeting to be held on October 31.

The proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance included in the petition seeks to create a new Historic District and related use restrictions in the area bounded by San Antonio Avenue, Paisano Drive, Durango Street and South Santa Fe.

Via a news release, city officials said, “On June 27, the Council was advised about what Texas law provides in regards to attempts to impose or repeal zoning by initiative or referendum…Texas Courts have consistently held for decades that zoning matters have been removed from the field of initiative and referendum, irrespective of broad Charter provisions.”

The group Paso del Sur, who submitted the petition on behalf of residents of Duranguito, released the following statement:

Today the Citizen’s Initiative submitted by Paso del Sur on behalf of the residents of Barrio Duranguito on September 11, 2017 was validated by Interim City Clerk Laura Pine.

This second petition was signed by more than 2,200 El Paso voters, and went through a 26-hour validation process by members of Paso del Sur prior to submission to ensure the validity of all the signatures collected.

The City Clerk validated 1,974 signatures, exceeding the required number of 1,666 signatures.

The first petition, which was submitted on May 15, 2017, contained over 2,400 signatures and called upon City Council to establish a historic overlay in Duranguito. City Council refused to take action, which triggered the second round of the petition initiative. With this second petition City Council is bound by its own charter to present the item for a vote in the next general election as a ballot item.

Thousands of people have supported the petition initiative across two rounds. Both petitions were made possible by a diverse group of volunteers ranging from students, elders, and members of grassroots community organizations. Volunteers were able to reach the required number of signatures needed despite the fact that they were limited to only gathering signatures of registered voters who had voted in the May 2017 election – a day with a record-low voter turnout. Apart from signing petitions, hundreds of El Pasoans have also spoken at City Council, attended neighborhood meetings and community events, and have written letters to voice their opposition to the City’s reckless and fiscally irresponsible push to destroy El Paso’s history.

We await City Council’s response in hopes that they will respect the wishes of their constituents who demand that Duranguito be protected from demolition and established as a historic district.

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