EL PASO, Texas - After a frustrating year of parking problems that affected business at Rosa's Cantina, owner Adolpho Telles received some good news at Tuesday's City Council meeting. He will be allowed to expand the number of parking spaces for the Borderland icon.
Telles lost a fight to stop TxDot from acquiring a half-acre lot that was being used for the restaurant's overflow parking. TxDot took the land for its Border West Expressway project, which eliminated more than 60 spaces of overflow parking.
Seeking a solution, Telles purchased a property behind Rosa's Cantina and planned to turn it into overflow parking. The city's planning commission recommended approval of an ordinance granting a special permit to allow for parking spaces.
But some neighbors who live along Magdalena Avenue are against the idea..
Council weighed in during Tuesday's meeting and voted to approve the the ordinance.
Telles said TxDOT did pay him for the land, but the loss of his property meant more than half of his parking was gone. He said the parking issue has had a negative impact on the Cantina's business.
More than a dozen people sent letters to city officials expressing their concerns.
A standard letter circulated to homeowners to sign in part read: "Permitting Rosa's Cantina to convert a home into a parking lot would initiate a process of neighborhood deterioration. It would begin to break up our close-knit community. I own and/or have lived on Magdalena for decades. To see my neighborhood turn into a site of debauchery where human waste will follow, is a violation of our familial human rights and lack of common decency."
Telles will be required to install an eight foot perimeter wall in lieu of landscaping. There will also be no entrance to Rosa's Cantina from Magdalena street.
Rosa's Cantina is in Rep. Cissy Lizarraga's district. She voted against approving the ordinance.
"Of course my heart goes out to them because their parking was taken away because of TxDOT and TxDOT wasn't willing to compromise. But that said, there is heavy, heavy opposition," Lizarraga said. "I have been down there. I have spoken to the neighbors. It's a dead end street, and there is just residential homes all around there. And they are concerned about the impact they are going to have of having a parking lot with a cantina in the middle of their neighborhood."
Rep. Alexsandra Annello liked the owner's plan.
"I met with the owners of Rosa's Cantina and I actually think what they are proposing is a really good solution. We have many parking lots like that in 5-Points," Annello said. "They are planning on building a wall and put security up there."
Mayor Dee Margo was worried about the safety of those visiting Rosa's Cantina.
"Now they park on Doniphan and cross the street. And while Doniphan is reasonably busy now, when the construction finishes on Paisano it will be a major thoroughfare," Margo said. " And I am very concerned we are going to have a number of pedestrian deaths."
Telles plans to begin construction on the overflow parking lot soon.