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Government on All Levels Add Burdens to Business

Last updated on June 13th, 2024 at 12:08 pm

Ron Johnston Another SideON THE BORDER—With both the White House and FMI addressing the quest to erase “food deserts” around our country, there has been substantial press on the subject. The reference is to rural, or even urban areas, where there is an insufficient supply of supermarkets or grocers to serve the community with healthy, nutritious food.

A noble cause, yes.

The new MyPlate model for eating, replacing the outdated, more complicated food pyramid by the USDA, is another example of some good (albeit few), common sense initiatives coming out of Washington.

Common sense is not necessarily how one might describe a new requirement passed by the city council of El Paso, a food desert of a different kind.

By a vote of 6-2, the council passed an ordinance requiring developers of commercial buildings and shopping centers to up their expenditures on landscaping.

According to a report by local station KVIA (ABC-7), the new guidelines require developers to plant one tree for every 30 feet of parkway (between the sidewalk and street) and also add a tree per every 30 feet of frontage (space between a sidewalk and parking lot).

The new requirement specifies that, overall, developers must landscape up to 15 percent of all new properties, as recommended by the city’s Open Space Advisory Board subcommittee and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board Tree subcommittee.

How about the empty space between councilmen’s ears?

Mandating more landscaping “provides some level of visual interest and provides a comfortable walking environment with shade,” was the explanation given by Mathew McElroy with El Paso’s planning and development department.

Why not add rose petals strewn along the lane too?

McElroy was simply following city council’s behest that his department evaluate all current building codes to ensure they squared with the new “smart growth” goals established by El Paso leaders.

While aesthetics and comfort may be desirable, why do councilmen to congressmen insist on adding to businesses’ expense ledger, be it El Paso or D.C.?

At a time when towns and municipalities, cities and states still struggle with declining revenues and consequentially with cuts in essential services and layoffs, does this sound like “smart growth?”

Not to Eddie Holguin, one of the two councilmen who voted against, telling ABC-7 that businesses have a tough enough time succeeding without adding more costs.

Nor Richard Dayoub, president of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, who echoed that landscaping costs, including watering, would ultimately be passed on to shopping center tenants and their customers.

Good ideas, bad timing. Better off sent south, wherever your border.

About the author

Shelby Team

The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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