Latest Press


El Paso Transit Provider Wins National Recognition

Friday, June 24, 2011

El Paso’s Sun Metro has been named the most Outstanding Public Transit System of the Year for all agencies in North America by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Sun Metro will receive an award for their efficiency, effectiveness, ridership, and transit planning. Jane Shang credits the award in part to Sun Metro’s partnership with Dover, Kohl & Partners through the Connecting El Paso and El Paso Comprehensive Plan projects. “It was a team effort,” says Shang. Dover-Kohl assisted Sun Metro in planning its Bus Rapid Transit System which is expected to begin service in 2012 and add one new line every two years until the major transportation routes through the City are serviced via BRT. Parking facilities, transit stations, and street retrofits have been constructed and more are underway. Dover Kohl is assisting with the design of transit stations at the former Northgate Mall complex and at the East Side Transit Terminal as well as with changes to land use and zoning regulations to create transit oriented development around all of the City’s proposed stations.

City of El Paso Requires Street Trees and Landscaping for Pedestrians

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New requirements approved by the City of El Paso require the installation and maintenance of street trees in all thoroughfare planting strips, as well as parking lot landscaping, and landscape buffers for auto-oriented development. New landscaped areas must include drought-tolerant, desert-appropriate plantings. The ordinance is different from conventional buffer ordinances in that it exempts urban format buildings with shallow setbacks, continuous street frontage, and storefront windows. The ordinance recognizes that street-oriented urban format buildings with awnings or arcades can provide a more interesting and comfortable streetscape to the pedestrian than vegetative buffers.

Landscaping: Previous Code

  • 7.5% of property must be landscaped
  • Trees optional between curb and sidewalk
  • Frontage landscape buffer: 1 tree for every 50 feet within first 20 feet of property
  • Required for every 1,000-square-feet in landscaped areas: 1 tree; 20 5-gallon shrubs; 10 1-gallon groundcover plants.
  • Landscaping: New Regulations

  • 15% of property must be landscaped
  • Trees required every 30 feet between curb and sidewalk
  • Frontage landscape buffer: 10 foot area with landscaping and 1 tree for every 30 feet within first 20 feet of property
  • Frontage landscape buffer: 10 foot area with landscaping and 1 tree for every 30 feet within first 20 feet of property
  • Required for every 1,000-square-feet in landscaped areas: 2 trees; 40 5-gallon plant material; 20 1-gallon plant material.
  • Only 10 percent of required landscaping can be palms
  • Exempts urban format buildings from front and side buffer requirements
  • The Plan El Paso project is still underway and the Comprehensive Plan document is being written, yet City leadership is moving ahead with initiatives described in the plan.

    City of El Paso Allows Homes to Face Major Streets

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    The City Council approved an ordinance that allows homes to face arterial roads. Additionally, stone walls are no longer required along the perimeter of new subdivisions. Other recently adopted ordinances will make arterial roadways more pedestrian-friendly with increased planting strips, on-street parking, and narrower travel lanes. City neighborhoods will present a new, more welcoming image while providing a safer pedestrian environment by allowing the natural surveillance of “eyes-on-the-street.” This change to City policy was recommended during the Plan El Paso charrettes led by Dover, Kohl & Partners.

    El Paso Approves SmartCode Rezoning

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    The 450-acre former ASARCO site was rezoned to SmartCode transect zones at the City Council meeting on Tuesday. This was the first rezoning to SmartCode in the City since the adoption of the optional form-based code. Several more sites are expected to follow. The approval lays the regulatory groundwork for the east portion of the former ASARCO tract to become a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with a trail system along preserved arroyos. The west portion of the site is planned as a multi-use commercial and office regional center with areas for clean light-industrial uses, and destinations such as an amusement park or racetrack. Both sites are scheduled for environmental remediation prior to the addition of uses. SmartCode requires streets that are safe and comfortable for pedestrians, ample public spaces, walkable block sizes, urban format buildings, and a mix of housing types and uses. The rezoning is a major implementation action step in the Connecting El Paso Plan which was approved in January.

    Accessory Dwelling Units Now Allowed in El Paso

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    The City of El Paso approved an ordinance allowing accessory dwelling units on all single-family residential lots in the City as recommended during the Plan El Paso planning process. Accessory dwellings like garage apartments or “grannie flats” add affordable housing inconspicuously into single-family areas. “For Smart Growth or New Urbanism to work, accessory dwelling units are an essential element,” said Mathew McElroy, Deputy Director of Planning and Economic Development. The ordinance allows rental apartments to help homeowners pay the mortgage of the main house and the relaxation of side and rear setbacks to accommodate ADUs on even small lots. Susie Byrd, City Council Representative for District 2, said, “The way we currently meet affordable housing needs is with large garden apartments and apartment complexes at the periphery of the city… this is very expensive in terms of infrastructure and transportation costs to the City and the resident…I think this is a much better model.”

    El Paso, Texas Adopts First Round of Ordinances Based on Plan El Paso Discussions

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    The City of El Paso last week adopted major initiatives based on ideas created during the Comprehensive Plan process headed by Dover-Kohl:

    1) Reducing the minimum size of parks in new neighborhoods from 1 acre to ¼ acre provided those pocket parks meet certain design criteria including that they be lined with trees and faced by buildings;

    2) Allowing pocket parks to be immediately fronted by homes without a throughfare between the two to create cottage courts and comfortable outdoor rooms with green spaces;

    3) Allowing blade signs of a pedestrian scale as was once allowed during the City’s heyday; and

    4) Resolving that Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach, by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and CNU be adopted as a recommended guideline for the City of El Paso by all departments.

    The Plan El Paso project is still underway and the Comprehensive Plan document is being written, yet City planners are moving ahead with initiatives described in the plan.

    Obesity Prevention Action Plan Approved

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    The City of El Paso has resolved to fight obesity through improvements to the built environment, increasing access to healthy food, creating employee wellness programs and policies, and raising awareness.

    Click here to read the Resolution

    Connecting El Paso Plan Received Unanimous Approval from City Council

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    The El Paso City Council approved the Connecting El Paso Plan on Tuesday, January 18 with unanimous approval and accolades from the Council to the volunteer citizen planners, planning staff and consultant team which worked on the project. The plan was described by City Council representative Beto O’Rourke as likely to “result in historic change” for the growing City.

    Connecting El Paso focuses on areas which are expected to become new centers of the City under the City’s new transit plan: Remcon Circle, 5 Points, and the Oregon Corridor. The plan also proposes redevelopment at the former ASARCO site, which includes over 450 acres of developable land near the center of the City. In the next five years the City will complete new bus rapid transit centers and street improvements at each of the transit sites and compact, mixed-use transit-oriented development is expected to follow in time. At the ASARCO site connected networks of pedestrian-friendly streets, protected open spaces, office and commercial uses, and regional landmark destinations are planned.

    The plan was the result of a year-long initiative involving the multi-disciplinary consultant team and hundreds of El Paso residents with close support from Senator Eliot Shapleigh, Roberto Puga, Trustee for ASARCO site, and the Texas Department of Transportation.

    Visitors Since the Start of the Project: