El Paso

'Paso del Sur' group submits petition to save Duranguito

Reaction from Duranguito residents mixed

'Paso del Sur' group submits petition...

EL PASO, Texas - More than 2,400 signatures were collected on a petition to preserve the Duranguito neighborhood in Union Plaza, according to Paso Del Sur.

The petition was submitted to City Clerk Richarda Momsen Monday afternoon. 

Since February, members of Paro Del Sur, a grassroots group organization, have been collecting signatures.

Members are hopeful an "H-overlay" will be established in Duranguito, creating a historic district in the area.

Members of the coalition include residents of Barrio Duranguito, business owners of El Tiradero Market, Paso del Sur, and the El Paso History Alliance, as well as the people of El Paso who stand against the displacement of the community.

What happens if the petition is submitted? It depends on how many signatures were collected.

Section 3.11 of the City Charter states that citizens are allowed to petition for an ordinance that City Council must place on the agenda and vote on. If council fails to pass the ordinance, the citizens can then petition that the ordinance be placed on the ballet for a vote in the next general election.
The catch is the petition requires 1,830 signatures in order to make it on the agenda. That's 5 percent of the 36,611 people who voted in the last city election, in 2015. Petitioners told ABC-7 they met the requirements, including one that mandates every signature be from a registered voter.
City Attorney Sylvia Borunda Firth told ABC-7 just because petitioners have the signatures doesn't mean it'll be placed on the agenda for a city council vote.

Borunda Firth said a petition must include specific language of an ordinance petitioners want the city to adopt.

If the petition does go to council, however, the city has the jurisdiction to make a historical designation.
"City council can make a historic designation, just like the state and the federal governments, but all three have different historical designations that can be given," the city attorney said.
Paso Del Sur, the group that gathered the signatures, released a statement Sunday night: "The city propaganda machine would have us believe that the fight for Barrio Duranguito has been lost—that there is only one holdout in the neighborhood unwilling to sell. However, with the submission of this petition we will show that the people of El Paso stand firm, in solidarity with the residents and small business owners in Duranguito, calling on the Mayor and City Council Representatives of El Paso to move the arena, not the people."
ABC-7 talked to some residents still living in Duranguito for their reaction.
Jose King said the petition to save Duranguito was organized by people who do not live in the arena's footprint.
"That is what upsets me the most. If we are being offered something and they are trying to help us out, that is great. But then you have some people who want the place to stay here, but we are the ones who are going to suffer the consequences. Because if it stay we are going to be left with our hands in the air, and who is going to help us? Right now when they are offering us the help, this is when we need to act," King said.

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