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Judge grants temporary restraining order in Duranguito case

City told to hold off on demolition

Judge grants temporary restraining...

EL PASO, Texas - A judge granted a temporary restraining order Monday against the City of El Paso, prohibiting it from demolishing buildings in the Duranguito neighborhood, but the order does not change what's already been approved. 

Attorneys for four Duranguito residents filed for the temporary restraining order last Tuesday.

The order will prohibit the city entering into new contracts related to acquiring, demolishing, rehabilitating, or building new construction on the property. It also prohibits the city from authorizing any demolition of any structure on the property.

However, owners who have already received a demolition permit can still follow through at any time. 

The order, granted by Travis County District Court Judge Judge Amy Clark Meachum, will not prohibit the city from spending Downtown arena bond money, which is something for what the order originally asked. It still allows the city to continue authorizing actions that will dispossess, or incentivize the removal of people from the area. 

The temporary restraining order is in place until July 3, when another hearing will take place. 

In a news release, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which represents the Duranguito residents, described the project as the "city’s planned construction of a new basketball arena."

"The city is prompting the evacuation of buildings and their demolition by writing into their contracts with building owners that they must demolish the buildings before they get paid," TRLA attorney Cassandra McCrae said in a news release. "The city is setting off a domino effect that will result in the razing of Duranguito well before our trial date on July 17."

City Attorney Sylvia Firth said the order won't have much affect on their plans. 

"We have already entered into contracts so the lack of inability to go into new contracts won't affect us," Firth said. She also added the city didn't plan on demolishing any of its sites until after the July 17 hearing. 

But Duranguito supporters tell ABC-7 they won't back down, and they're thankful a judge signed off on some restrictions.  

"They want to create a done deal so that by the time we go in front of the court there's nothing to protect. But thankfully the judge is not allowing that," Dr. David Dorado Romo, with El Paso Del Sur, said.

"We firmly believe that the city has complied with the contract with the voters and that we're in the process of delivering the project as approved by the voters," Firth said. 

ABC-7 reached out to Alejo Restrepo, one of the property owners who received permission to tear down some of his buildings. He said he had no comment. 

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