El Paso, Texas, approved the SmartCode in late

El Paso, Texas, approved the SmartCode in late July as an optional alternative to the city’s conventional zoning and subdivision codes. With a population of 609,000, El Paso is believed to be the largest city in the US to have adopted the SmartCode. “With the price of gas climbing, having a higher density is the way to go,” said Ann Lilly, representing the city’s West Side. The city worked with PlaceMakers for six months to tailor the code to the 21st-largest city in the US.

John Neal, special projects manager for the city manager, said one developer is considering using the code to start a new urbanist project on El Paso’s West Side. On greenfield sites, the city is requiring a minimum of 80 acres for development under the new code. Neal says the 80-acre minimum was established so that development will have the best possible chance of fulfilling New Urbanism’s principles.