Lost Dog open space citizen initiative approved in El Paso, Texas

Voters in El Paso, Texas, approved Proposition A on Saturday, permanently prohibiting development on the 1,107 acres known as Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Number Twelve (TIRZ 12). TIRZ 12 includes the Franklin Mountains, Transmountain Road, and Lost Dog Trail. According to unofficial election night results, 89 percent of voters favored preserving TIRZ 12 as open space, with 11 percent voting against the initiative.
Proposition A was backed by citizen group Progress 915 through a campaign called Save Lost Dog. In 2018, the group submitted 1,977 valid petition signatures for the initiative to the El Paso city clerk. A total of 1,666 signatures (5 percent of turnout at the last general election) was required to qualify the initiative for the ballot.
The initiative effort started after the El Paso City Council voted 5-4 in favor of creating TIRZ 12 in May 2018. City officials stated at the time that they intended to sell 750 acres of the land in TIRZ 12 to a private entity for housing and commercial development. The council then voted in September 2018 to place a two-year moratorium on the sale and development of the land after receiving feedback from the public.
Approval of Proposition A effectively blocks any future private development of the entire 1,107-acre property, which is adjacent to Franklin Mountains State Park. The initiative also prohibits any major roadways on the land. Progress 915 argued prior to the election that “the Franklin Mountains and Transmountain Road are without a doubt some of the most scenic and iconic parts of our cultural identity” and that “development will damage the western slopes of our mountain, degrade the view and completely alter the area forever.” The group also argued that development would require over $100 million of incentives to developers and that El Paso property owners would pick up the tab.
The city council had stated prior to the election that approval of the initiative would “require the City to expend $11.3 million or more to preserve the land” and that a funding mechanism had not been identified.
City officials reported that voter turnout for the May 4 election was 5.13 percent of registered El Paso voters.