« September 2012 | Main | November 2012 »

October 31, 2012

DHS Planning Commission - September 11

The audio recording of this meeting of the Desert Hot Springs Planning Commission is available here.

Public Comments

Dean Gray said there is unbalanced code enforcement when it comes to parking on unpaved surfaces. He said some businesses get a pass while others get tickets. Tickets have been issued at South Of The Border restaurant and at Gypsyland. However, tickets are not issued to Living Waters Spa or Sea Mountain Inn. He asked the commission to look into this and make sure there is fair and balanced code enforcement. [I'm sure Mr. Gray knows that Code Enforcement is part of public safety and, therefore, overseen by the Public Safety Commission, not the Planning Commission.]

Modified Redwood Fence On Residential Property

Code Enforcement had cited Gary McConnell, the owner at 12700 Inaja Street, for constructing a wooden fence. The city code says that in residential zones fences "must be constructed of a solid masonry wall, wood framed with a stucco exterior, or wrought iron with pilasters." Mr. McConnell has filed a request with the Planning Commission to authorize an exception, which is within the powers of the commission "The Applicant proposes to construct the fence with two and three-eighths of an inch galvanized steel posts set two and a half feet deep, in a 10 inch diameter hole filled with concrete; installing three horizontal 2' x 4' wooden rails; installing vertical fence boards so the bottom of the finished fence is approximately one inch off the ground; using screws as fasteners on the wooden rails and vertical wooden fence boards; and applying a water seal to the wood." [I'm pretty sure the "2' x 4' wooden rails" should be 2-inches by 4-inches, i.e. 2x4s.]


12700 Inaja Street.

Here's a PDF copy of the 3-page letter from Mr. McConnell describing the construction, with example photographs.

Martín Magaña explained why the fence requirement is what it is. First, there's the high winds. With gusts up to 90 MPH, wooden fences can be blown down. The extreme heat will warp the wood, so that the attachment points come loose. He also mentioned the stains that result from overspray from irrigation systems, but later Mr. McConnell pointed out that happens regardless of what the fence material is.

Mr. McConnell said he was unaware of receiving a citation from code enforcement, but he did get a business card from a code enforcement officer. He said the quality of materials and construction are key to building a fence that can stay up in our weather conditions. He described his construction.
Fence Post Example at Planning Commission (1179)
A sample fence post brought by Mr. McConnell.
He said using redwood helps. Many bad fences in the city use Douglas fir. Wind resistance is improved by spacing the boards apart, he said, and leave a gap at the bottom so the fence doesn't touch wood, and to provide another way for the wind to pass through. He showed photos of a block wall that showed efflorescence. That doesn't happen with wooden fences. He said there is also a correlation between unmaintained wooden fences and houses that unmaintained. The property owners either won't or can't maintain their property. It's not just the wooden fence that becomes unsightly.

His wooden fence is much more affordable than a block wall. "Let's face it, the houses around here don't sell for a lot of money." Generally, he said, someone buying a $100,000 house don't care if they have a wood fence, a block wall, or chain link.

Commissioner Colarossi said that a dog could go under the wooden fence due to the gap, or stormwater could flow under. Mr. McConnell said that you could dig a trench at the fence line and install materials that would prevent any animals from digging under. A solid material would also prevent the flow of water, something that would not rot or deteriorate.

Mr. Colarossi said he agreed with Mr. McConnell about "effervescence."

Mr. McConnell said he thought that when it is constructed a semi-transparent stain should be applied to the wood.

Commissioner Becker suggested a very low block wall with a redwood fence atop it.

Commissioner Burke said that Mr. McConnell was knowledgeable and cooperative, and he agreed with Mr. McConnell.

In answer to a question from Mr. Colarossi, Mr. McConnell said the posts would be no more than 8 feet apart. He said he would use exterior grade screws. "Never nails."

Chair Sobotta asked about using steel rails. Mr. McConnell said he had considered that and is open to doing that.

Mr. Becker asked Mr. Magaña about other fences in the neighborhood. He answered that they are all block walls. Mr. McConnell said that "properties that are down from this are all wood." He clarified that he meant houses to the south. His property was built in 1981. The properties across the street were built since 2004 when the fence code was enforced.

Attorney Sparks explained that the commission had two issues to consider if it intended to approve Mr. McConnell's request. One is whether the fence would survive desert conditions and the other is whether it would retain an acceptable appearance. What kinds of fences the neighbors have is not material.

Mr. McConnell said every city in the valley allows wooden fences except for Desert Hot Springs and Cathedral City. Mr. Sobotta said he didn't think that was correct. He had personal experience that the standard in Palm Springs is block walls. Commissioner Gerardi said it was his understanding that NO city in the valley permits wooden fences. Mr. McConnell said his research was done on the internet and acknowledged it might be out of date.

Mr. Burke said Mr. McConnell had addressed the two issues that the attorney brought up.

Dean Gray came up to comment. He said our current fence ordinance makes no sense. Every time he drives around the city he sees a new wood fence. Some are done very well. He thinks Mr. McConnell is an expert, although he had never met him. Mr. Gray said he has been a carpenter since 1970. He got his contractor's license in 1993. He has over 40 years of construction experience and has built many fences. He recently visited Long Beach and saw a fence he built in the early 1980s still standing. Wooden fences do much better in an earthquake than a block wall will. He said he has seen block walls built in the last ten years that are already falling over. [He didn't point out the block wall in front of the Carl May Center itself that is a chronic maintenance problem.] He said redwood can survive almost forever. Not all parts of the city get 90 MPH gusts. He said the fence ordinance needs to be revisited and that Mr. McConnell's request should be approved.

Mr. Colarossi asked how the commission could know that the fence could withstand 90 MPH gusts. Mr. McConnell said he is not an engineer.

Mr. Burke suggested that Mr. McConnell could bring some documentation to show his prior experience, and that would allow the commission to approve his fence. Mr. Becker said that he should supply a set of drawings. Mr. Magaña said he should get the drawings stamped by an engineer, saying the fence could withstand 90 MPH winds.

Mr. Burke asked the other commissioners if it would be sufficient for Mr. McConnell to bring documentation including an engineer's certification as to the fence's wind-worthiness to another Planning Commission meeting. Mr. Sobotta suggested checking with Victorville and Palmdale to see if they have a standard for wooden fences.

Mr. McConnell said he would agree to those conditions. Mr. Colarossi said he also wanted a barrier beneath the fence that would prevent water erosion or dogs digging. Mr. Sobotta listed the details that should be included in the drawings of the fence.

Staff was directed to continue this item to a future meeting by a vote of 5-0.

Political Sign Regulation

George Fisher had requested to have this subject agendized at a previous meeting.

Mr. Fisher came to the podium and said that next year is an election year and the 50th anniversary of the city's incorporation. He would like to see an amendment to the city code because political signs are currently exempt. He would suggest...

  • Restricting each parcel to only one free standing political sign on each street frontage.
  • A 32 square foot limit in commercial and industrial zones. The signs may be double-faced.
  • In residential areas campaign signs would be restricted to 6 square feet.
  • No freestanding campaign sign could exceed 4 feet in height.
  • No campaign signs in the public right of way. (The right of way includes the sidewalk, the space between the sidewalk and curb, the curb, the street and any median in the street.)
  • No campaign signs on foreclosed or unoccupied properties.
  • On Palm Drive, Two Bunch Palms Trail, Hacienda Avenue, Pierson Boulevard, and Mountain View there would be designated areas for campaign signs with the approval of property owners.
  • No signs may be posted on trees, power poles, street lights, or other signs.
  • Campaign signs must be removed within 7 days after the election.
  • No illumination of campaign signs.

Mr. Sobotta asked what areas he thought would be designated for political signs. Mr. Fisher said the area on the southeast corner of Dillon and Palm would be one, subject to the approval of that property owner. Off of the main streets, people could put them in their yards.

Mr. Colarossi brought up "dynamic signs that are out in the road, huge billboard signs." He said the wordage on those signs should be limited so they don't unnecessarily distract drivers.

Mr. Becker pointed out that there could be campaign signs in the city that are put up by people from outside the city - candidates for judgeships, county positions, state positions, etc. He said this is a case where the "80/20 rule" would apply. There are always only a few people who are a problem. He specifically cited the Bentley stickers on that fence just south of Vista Montaña on Palm Drive during the last election. Not only were they a terrible eyesore, but they stayed there too long after the election. Mr. Becker suggested researching political sign ordinances in other cities and then have a study session about it.

Dean Gray came up to comment. He said he had been on the sign committee and they had researched these issues. He says it's a problem that political signs are taped to light poles and utility boxes. But the Constitution guarantees free speech. He'd like to see some restrictions, but the Constitution prevents that. The people from out of town will not register with the City Clerk. He'd like to see an ordinance with a $500 or $1,000 penalty. He thinks more research is needed.

Attorney Sparks said there are two ways that a zoning text amendment could be made. One is for the city council to direct staff to bring the amendment to the planning commission, and then to the city council. The other way is for an individual to submit a zoning text amendment application to the city which requires fees to be assessed. Staff now needs to discuss with the city manager the appropriate way to do this - that is, does the city manager want to bring it to the city council, which would then send it back to the planning commission via staff.

She said that despite the first amendment cities are permitted to regulate size, location, and timing of political signs. The rules are different for residential vs. public property. Attempts to limit the number of signs have been struck down by the courts. She said the problem with looking to other cities' ordinances is they may be antiquated and may never have been challenged in court.

Mr. Burke asked about the possibility of giving a list of suggestions to candidates when they register. Ms. Sparks said first amendment research would need to be done on that as well.

Staff Report

Martín Magaña reported that proposed zoning code updates will be brought to the commission beginning the next month; a billboard ordinance will be brought forward; the YK Spa, a new spa to built at Hacienda and Tamar, was about to get its grading permit; Dollar General was close to beginning construction (within a couple of weeks); the traffic study of the General Plan Update has been completed; a draft EIR for the General Plan Update will probably be ready in mid-October; the General Plan Update will probably be brought to the commission in January or February [anybody placing bets?]; a conditional use permit request for Save-A-Pet in the old video store location will come to the planning commission; the Health & Wellness Center is nearing completion.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | October 31, 2012 at 08:04 PM | Comments (0)

Venice, Not New York City

Venice Italy
"Tourists sit in St. Mark Square during a period of seasonal high water in Venice, Saturday. The water level in the canal city rose to 50 inches above the normal level, according to the monitoring institute."

Filed under Photography | permalink | October 31, 2012 at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

Emergency Preparedness

New Mexico. Mrs. Fidel Romero Proudly Exhibits Her Canned Food. [Two Women Standing in a Kitchen Pantry. Pantry Contains Preserved Fruits and Vegatables.] 1946
Mrs. Fidel Romero of New Mexico proudly shows off her emergency fruits and vegetables to a friend in this 1946 photo from the U.S. National Archives, but she has neglected to take into account the vagaries of seismic motion, gravity and mason jars.

Filed under Photography | permalink | October 31, 2012 at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

Ayn Rand in the news

First, Atlas Shrugged Part II whose official title appears to be Atlas Shrugged: Everything Has A Breaking Point [if only] is in theaters now. Locally, it's playing at The River. The makers of the movie are proud of this video which features the music of Michael "Nomad" Ripoll. (His website).

I'm impressed by the part where they take Ayn Rand's Russian accented voice and distort it so it sounds like she's talking over a telephone and then play music over it so that it is completely incomprehensible. You'll be asking yourself why some old Russian was mumbling in the recording studio.

Second, I'm sure this election campaign has set a new record for distortions and quotes out of context by all sides, even the non-aligned. Therefore, here is the context and here is the full quote:

Have you ever read Ayn Rand?
Sure.

What do you think Paul Ryan's obsession with her work would mean if he were vice president?
Well, you'd have to ask Paul Ryan what that means to him. Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we'd pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we're only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we're considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that's a pretty narrow vision. It's not one that, I think, describes what's best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a "you're on your own" society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.

Of course, that's not the Republican tradition. I made this point in the first debate. You look at Abraham Lincoln: He very much believed in self-sufficiency and self-reliance. He embodied it – that you work hard and you make it, that your efforts should take you as far as your dreams can take you. But he also understood that there's some things we do better together. That we make investments in our infrastructure and railroads and canals and land-grant colleges and the National Academy of Sciences, because that provides us all with an opportunity to fulfill our potential, and we'll all be better off as a consequence. He also had a sense of deep, profound empathy, a sense of the intrinsic worth of every individual, which led him to his opposition to slavery and ultimately to signing the Emancipation Proclamation. That view of life – as one in which we're all connected, as opposed to all isolated and looking out only for ourselves – that's a view that has made America great and allowed us to stitch together a sense of national identity out of all these different immigrant groups who have come here in waves throughout our history.

Filed under Film/Movies,Libertarianism,Politics | permalink | October 31, 2012 at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2012

Emergency Supplies

Now that everyone has emergencies on their mind, The Wirecutter has published a list of items you might consider adding to your emergency supplies. He covers power (solar, battery, handcrank, etc.), communication devices, warmth, cleanliness, water, socks, food, lighting and more.

Filed under California,Coachella Valley | permalink | October 30, 2012 at 08:56 PM | Comments (0)

Bay Area Burners, Photographers, Artists - I have an event for you!

Playa Messiah

ASMP NorCal presents a Burning Man book event on November 13th with George Post at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

Long-time playa photographer George Post first met the Burning Man at Fort Mason when the 1991 Man was erected and displayed on a floating barge tied between the piers on the Summer Solstice of that year. Following the ceremonial "Raising of the Man" and the generator-powered illumination of his neon nervous system, a film of the first (1990) Black Rock Desert burn was shown in the Cowell Theatre. Impressed by the photographic possibilities, George journeyed to the 1991 event and has continued to attend every year since.

Now the Northern California Chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) presents a Fort Mason evening with George and his new book, "Dancing with the Playa Messiah," in the Southside Theatre in Building D on November 13th. Social hour with light refreshments begins at 6pm, program to follow from 7-9pm. General Admission is $10 (free to ASMP General Members, $5 for ASMP Associate and Student Members).

George's self-published book is a 216-page 12" x 12" hardback with nearly 1000 color photographs from 21 consecutive years of documenting Burning Man. George will present a slideshow of images from his book and talk about the technical challenges of documenting Burning Man in a harsh, dusty desert environment; the changes brought about by the exponential growth of the event; and the transition from film photography to digital.

Autographed copies of the book will be available for purchase after the program.

Go here for full details and ticket pre-sales. The Southside Theatre is a small 160-seat venue, so advance ticket purchase is recommended.

See more about George's book here and here on Facebook.

Filed under Burning Man,Photography | permalink | October 30, 2012 at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)

The Current Official Word On 2013 Burning Man Tickets

We know you're wondering. Even as last year's tickets were just going on sale, we began reviewing what worked, what didn't, and ways we could improve the system for future years. We are listening to your feedback, collecting input from many voices and experts in the community, and are deep in the process of working out the plan for this year. These are not decisions we take lightly and there are many factors to consider, so please be patient as we determine the ticketing plan for 2013.

Translation: "Whoa dude, what a shitstorm! We are working hard to get all the dregs of ganja that the Feds have missed within a two-hundred mile radius of San Francisco. When we're finished with that, you won't believe what we will roll out for 2013! Stay dusty!"

Filed under Burning Man | permalink | October 30, 2012 at 05:10 PM | Comments (0)

Another Pie Chart (but no pie)

"For Health...eat some food from each group...every day!", 1941 - 1945
An image from the U.S. National Archives
that was produced by the Department of Agriculture during World War II.

I draw your attention to groups one, two and three. The scan quality isn't the greatest, so let me save you eyestrain and tell you what they say:

One: "Green and yellow vegetables...some raw--some cooked, frozen or canned."
Two: "Oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit...or raw cabbage or salad greens."
Three: "Potatoes and other vegetables and fruits - raw, dried, cooked, frozen or canned."

Other than the fact that group two is obviously aimed at getting your vitamin C, there's no clear demarcation between these three groups. Were they really just trying to say that three-sevenths of your diet should be fruits and vegetables?

I do like that another one-seventh of your diet was supposed to be butter or margarine. The Olive Growers Council of California wasn't organized until 1978.

Filed under Food and Drink,Health,History | permalink | October 30, 2012 at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

DHS City Council Study Session - September 11

The audio recording of this study session of the Desert Hot Springs City Council is available here. Mayor Parks was absent from this meeting.

Meeting Guidelines & Procedures

Mayor Pro Tem Pye and Councilmember Sanchez, as a committee, brought forward revisions to the meeting guidelines and procedures. A copy of the proposed revision is available here. Changes are in red. Grey text indicates new numeration.

Councilmember Sanchez began by going through it item by item. These guidelines are to apply to commissions and committees as well. They do not apply to committees whose members are not appointed by the city council; for example, the parks committee, streets committee, economic development committee. An example of a committee to which the guidelines do apply is the Youth Violence & Gang Intervention Committee.

Councilmember Betts suggested inserting an item 2.3 to say that council and commission members orientation will take place before they take office.

The guidelines move the city council (and commissions) from Robert's Rules of Order to Rosenberg's Rules of Order which are only 10 pages long! Page 1 is the cover, page 2 is background information about the League of California Cities and Judge Dave Rosenberg (his bio), page 3 is the table of contents, finally at page 4 the rules begin. Page 10 is the back cover. IOW, only six pages of rules. The four pillars of "modern parliamentary procedure," according to Rosenberg:

  1. Rules should establish order. The first purpose of rules of parliamentary procedure is to establish a framework for the orderly conduct of meetings.
  2. Rules should be clear. Simple rules lead to wider understanding and participation. Complex rules create two classes: those who understand and participate; and those who do not fully understand and do not fully participate.
  3. Rules should be user friendly. That is, the rules must be simple enough that the public is invited into the body and feels that it has participated in the process.
  4. Rules should enforce the will of the majority while protecting the rights of the minority. The ultimate purpose of rules of procedure is to encourage discussion and to facilitate decision making by the body. In a democracy, majority rules. The rules must enable the majority to express itself and fashion a result, while permitting the minority to also express itself, but not dominate, while fully participating in the process.

Under Courtesy and Decorum:

The chair should always ensure that debate and discussion of an agenda item focuses on the item and the policy in question, not the personalities of the members of the body. Debate on policy is healthy, debate on personalities is not. The chair has the right to cut off discussion that is too personal, is too loud, or is too crude.

The rule on "point of privilege":

Can a member of the body interrupt the speaker? The general rule is "no." There are, however, exceptions. A speaker may be interrupted for the following reasons: Privilege. The proper interruption would be, "point of privilege." The chair would then ask the interrupter to "state your point." Appropriate points of privilege relate to anything that would interfere with the normal comfort of the meeting. For example, the room may be too hot or too cold, or a blowing fan might interfere with a person's ability to hear.

Ms. Pye said the reasons for switching to Rosenberg is because Rosenberg is more simplified, but it makes no major changes. Other California cities are switching to Rosenberg.

The rule on scheduling a closed session used to say...

The Closed Session, if any, shall commence at a time designated by the City Manager. Unless the Mayor and any one Councilmember, or two City Council members call for a Closed Session to be held at a different time and date.

The suggested revision is

The Closed Session, if any, shall commence at a time designated by the City Manager. Unless the Mayor and two Council Members call for a Closed Session to be held at a different time and date.

City Manager Daniels said state law requires three council members to call for a closed session. Mr. Betts cited 54956.(a) of the California Government Code which says "A special meeting may be called at any time by the presiding officer of the legislative body of a local agency, or by a majority of the members of the legislative body..." He didn't find any reference specific to a closed session. Mr. Daniels said a closed session is a "special meeting."

Mr. Betts suggested the starting time of regular city council meetings be changed to 7 PM. No decisions were to be made at this meeting, so Ms. Pye suggested leaving the time blank and then making a formal decision on it with a council vote at a later meeting.

Then Ms. Pye asked the public how many were there for item 2 on the agenda ("Sports Field Facility Use Agreements"). EVERYbody was. Ms. Pye said that out of respect for their time, she would like to go directly to that agenda item at this point, and return to the discussion of meeting guidelines later in the meeting.

Sports Field Facility Use Agreements

Councilmember Matas introduced this item. City staff, the parks committee and local youth organizations have been working on this for some time, he said. DHS Little League was formed by Chuck Hayden in 1972. AYSO has been in DHS since 1986. AYSO operates the concession stand at Mission Springs Park and has about $20,000 worth of equipment stored there. DHS Jr. All American Football formed six years ago and then re-formed four years ago. These groups are all part of larger organizations which oversee them, assuring the safety of the children.

The concession stand at Wardman Park was built by Little League volunteers in 1973. There is a question of how another group using the park could use the concession stand. The concession stand in Mission Springs Park was also built by volunteers from AYSO and Little League, but was funded by the water district.

There are two recommendations that were brought to the parks committee: 1) the city completely takes over the concession facilities, using city staff to run it; or 2) allow Little League to continue to run the concession stand in Wardman Park and that if some other organization held an event in Wardman Park and asked to have the concession stand open then Little League would be required to open and operate it under a profit-sharing agreement; and a similar deal for AYSO and the concession stand in Mission Springs Park.

DHS Youth Soccer League has a proposed schedule for their use of Mission Springs Park.

The fields need to be closed occasionally to allow reseeding. AYSO is putting in $2,800 every year to seed the fields at Mission Springs Park.

The fields are heavily overused. The city needs more parks.

Jeanine Plute gave the staff report. Last spring staff determined that there were no current facilities agreements in place. She said staff needs direction on how to proceed on the concession stands and how to resolve conflicting time schedules. AYSO and Jr. All American Football have worked out a plan so they do not conflict.

Dean Gray came up to make a comment. He said Mission Springs Park should be extended to Palm Drive. He said a lot of tax money has gone into the parks and new, emerging organizations should be encouraged. He commented on the large percentage of the DHS population that is Hispanic. He said the concession stands should be available to new organizations so that they too can raise funds. But the most important thing is to create more parks.

Ms. Pye asked Mr. Daniels to address attempts to expand Mission Springs Park. THe city tried to increase the parks DIF a few years ago, but ran into resistance from developers [so now that's pending the new General Plan]. The new Parks Master Plan is nearly complete. We are "horribly underserved by existing park facilities." The city has not been able to keep up with its growth. In 2009 the city looked at expanding the park south by 5 acres. The property owner would not agree to sell. To expand the park toward Palm Drive would cost about $6 million just to acquire the property. They have talked to Riverside County about acquiring 5 acres from them on the north side of Park Lane.

The city has half the parks it should have. We don't have money to acquire new parks, especially with the demise of redevelopment.

Last year the city applied for a $5 million grant that would have allowed us to build 5 acres of soccer fields on the county property, but we did not get the grant.

Mr. Matas said that about half of those who participate in Little League are Latino.

Roger Rice represents DHS AYSO which was formed in 1986. There is one national umbrella non-profit that DHS AYSO works under. There are about 450 to 500 kids in DHS AYSO ranging from age 4½ to 17. All adults are volunteers. The kids pay $65 which gets them a 10-game season, a uniform, and coaching. He explained their structured training programs for kids and adults.

Mr. Rice said 100% of the participants in DHS AYSO are residents of Desert Hot Springs. The $65 charge covers secondary health insurance that comes through the national AYSO. If they go to a tournament the kids don't have to pay extra, but the organization does. AYSO also depends on fundraising to cover expenses.

Mr. Matas said that Little League does background checks through LexisNexis. Mr. Rice said AYSO has a Child Volunteer Protection Advocate, which is Mr. Rice himself. It's one of the positions mandated by AYSO. Other mandated positions are regional commissioner, treasurer, registrar, and safety director.

Emily Truman, the treasurer for DHS AYSO came up. Mr. Matas wanted to know what their budget was and to get an idea of the financial support from the community. She said that last year they brought in $48,000 and spent it all. They are allowed to have a reserve of no more than $12/child. If there's more than that they have to document that it's for future improvements, like re-sodding.

The translator called out the first name on a request to comment slip, but I couldn't understand her. The commenter said he has been coaching AYSO for 14 years. Three years ago "we started 5 teams" and they are registered in "the league of Palm Springs." In that league the kids play better and get more challenge. But he still supports AYSO. "We've been having a confrontation with DHS United." They come and use the field and try to "give us orders" to move to another spot. "We are only looking for a small area in the park." "We have 75 kids that we've been coaching." More parks are needed.

Mr. Sanchez asked him to clarify that "Milan" is not with AYSO or DHS Soccer. He said it was not. Milan is five teams with kids from DHS, ages "U 12" to U 16." Milan has been going for three years. Milan is registered in the Palm Springs Soccer League. They pay $40 per kid. Mr. Matas said Milan is considered "club soccer." They have never submitted a schedule to the city.

Mr. Betts said he thought there were two groups competing for time and space in Mission Springs Park, but now it's three or four groups.

Mr. Matas said Pumas and Milan have been around for a while.

Miguel Sanchez spoke next. He's one of the coaches for the "UE." He grew up here. He said we've never had a club team here in DHS. the club team is for kids with more experience. It would be a good idea to expand the parks. Mr. Sanchez's team is for kids under 8 - there are 13 or 14 kids on his team. The kids pay $65 per parent.

City Manager Daniels asked if kids play both AYSO and club soccer. Miguel Sanchez answered that some kids play both.

Jesus Marquez spoke next. He's the president of DHS United League. Their purpose is to diminish obesity, vandalism and gangs. It's also that the kids will be at higher level when they reach high school. He wants to be able to work things out with other organizations. The Puma team is with DHS United. They are covered by insurance. They are trying to get involved with Cal South. The problem they are having Cal South is that they are a new organization "and the problem that they are having with AYSO." DHS United has a board of directors. They have been trying to set things up as a non-profit. The other teams from Palm Springs "have done a lot of fraudulent activity." That's the reason they returned to the city of DHS. They are trying to associate with Cal South for training for parents and coaches.

Ms. Pye called 6 minutes. She explained that they would allow six minutes for a speaker when a translator is being used.

Councilmember Sanchez asked Mr. Marquez to speak to each of the missing application materials. He answered that Cal South is asking for field permits in order to approve tournaments. He's also still waiting for the 501(c)3 non-profit approval from IRS.

Ms. Pye asked Mr. Marquez understood that until he gets his 501(c)3 the city has to view him as a for-profit organization and would have to charge the for-profit fee. He said he understood.

Mr. Sanchez said the cities of Indio and Coachella charge the same price to non-profit and for-profit organizations.

Another commenter with the last name Marquez came to the microphone. She represents DHS United. She has participated in other leagues where the fees are high and they don't pay much attention to the kids. In DHS United the kids get a lot more respect. In the other there is a 2-year spread in the teams, and it's difficult for a 10-year old and 12-year old to play on the same team. In DHS United the teams are all one age. She has two kids, one in high school. She is with club soccer because her kids love to play soccer and one was participating with AYSO and he wanted a little more competition. Kids in La Quinta make comments that kids from DHS come from a bad city. Her oldest son wanted to show that DHS is a good city.

Mayor Pro Tem Pye, in an attempt to save time, said that she believed they had gotten the gist of DHS United. A Planning Commission meeting was scheduled in the same room at 6 PM, only 20 minutes hence. She asked to take the comments out of order, skipping over the DHS United speakers to get to other speakers.

Councilmember Sanchez said that all the comments from those who want to speak should be heard, even if they run out of time.

Myra Giltra spoke next. She has lived in the Coachella Valley for 20 years. DHS needs more parks. She has two sons in DHS United and they love it. They've never played soccer anywhere else. It's a lot easier to get to games here in DHS rather than having to go out of town.

Michael [last name unclear] came up to speak. He has been coaching for AYSO since 1993. He grew up playing club. Most high school players get their development in AYSO. Every player plays at least three quarters in AYSO. AYSO conducts background checks on their volunteers. He wondered if DHS United did the same. They AYSO budget is available to anyone who wants to see it. He would like to see the budget of DHS United.

Councilmember Betts said every comment that relates to the agenda subject ("direction to finalize the sports field facility use agreements and sports field seasonal permit application policy") is great, but it's turning into one group against another. He thinks every group there is doing great work. The city council can't pick between one group and another. It can set policy for the use of the fields.

John Martin from DHS Jr. All American Football & Cheer spoke next. They use Mission Springs Park too. It's the only place they have to practice, and they practice 3 nights a week. They are not allowed to raise money outside the boundaries of Desert Hot Springs and Sky Valley. Next year the fees to play on the high school field will rise to $12,000 - which is $1,500/day. Currently they pay $300/day.

Meeting adjourned, unfinished.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | October 30, 2012 at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

FBI Drug Arrest Statistics

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition reported yesterday that the just-released FBI report on crime in the U.S. in 2011 showed that 81.8% of all drug arrests were for possession and 49.5% of those possession arrests were for marijuana. Here's the FBI crime report. Just scroll down to the bottom of that front page and the FBI lays out the percentages on drug arrests right there, easy-peasy. But they're columns of numbers, a bit hard to visualize, and I saw a big disparity between nationwide arrests and those in the western U.S. So, putting my crude pie chart skills to use, I churned out the thing below.  This almost cyan color  represents arrests for marijuana possession.

  • Nationwide: 43.3%
  • Northeast 48.5%
  • Midwest 52.1%
  • South 51.3%
  • West 23.5%

American Drug Arrest Percentages For 2011

I tried to look up their definition of "synthetic drugs" (all other drugs being a gift from God, I suppose) and found it in this Word document. (Would you trust a Word document from your FBI?) It says "synthetic narcotics―manufactured narcotics that can cause true addiction (demerol, methadone)." The FBI suffers from the same problem as many government agencies - not enough English majors. So it's not clear if demerol and methadone are the complete and total list of synthetic drugs, or if they are just two examples.

"Dangerous nonnarcotic drugs" are defined as simply "(barbiturates, benzedrine)" with the same grammar issue.

All these figures are for arrests only, not convictions.

| permalink | October 30, 2012 at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

Real vs. Fake

The Atlantic is doing a quick & dirty job of separating the real photos of Sandy damage from the fake. Some of the most shocking photos are real, like this one at Ground Zero:
flooding at Ground Zero

Here are real photos of this morning's rainbow in NYC.

Filed under Photography | permalink | October 30, 2012 at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

Halloween in Churchill

Palr bear migration peaks around Churchill, Manitoba, right around Halloween.

Helicopters will hover overhead, while police cruisers and firetrucks will circle the town. Officials set large traps with seal meat, and the cells of the town's "polar bear jail"—a detention center for delinquent bears—will fill up. Children are prepped on the best ways to avoid becoming what locals call bear-bait.

As a child, Brandi Spence, 20, remembers bear patrol officers visiting her school ahead of Halloween to lecture trick-or-treaters. "For costumes: don't wear white, don't dress as a bear, or you might get shot," she remembers being told. "Don't have raw meat on you."

Poor kids, what's Halloween without raw meat in your pockets?

| permalink | October 30, 2012 at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

Now We Have A Reason To Avoid Paradise Valley

It has been announced that a sculpture entitled "Giddy-up Daddy" will be installed at the Paradise Valley, Arizona, municipal complex to memorialize Bill Keane who drew the Family Circus comic strip. Former Vice Mayor Mary Hamway, who is spearheading the project, spoke the truth when she said "This doesn't belong anywhere else but here in Paradise Valley."

"The project will cost $80,000 to $100,000, which will be raised through fundraisers and grants because the town doesn't have a funding mechanism for public art."

| permalink | October 30, 2012 at 08:45 AM | Comments (1)

October 29, 2012

What happens when iOS meets a light bulb?

Philips Hue light bulbs is what. Here's a nice readable article about it. Here's the official Philips website (a bit overdesigned for my taste) for the light bulb. They say you can only buy the bulbs in Apple stores or at Apple.com, but I have been unable to find it at Apple.com. The MacObserver article says the bulbs are $56 each, but doesn't say how much the starter pack is. The starter pack includes 3 bulbs and the wireless unit that can control up to 50 bulbs. No word on how much RAM is in those light bulbs.

Ah, here you go - starter packs are $199 each.

Here's the iOS app to control the light bulbs. But you'll also be delighted to know there's an Android app for it too.

Filed under Technology | permalink | October 29, 2012 at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

Video From NYC

An alert photographer got video of that facade falling away from the building at 8th Avenue and 14th Street in Manhattan:

Filed under Photography | permalink | October 29, 2012 at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)

Surfer Dude Shows You Hero2 versus Hero3

A video detailing the differences between the two GoPro cameras. In a remarkable departure from past productions, this video is SILENT! It brings out these things that were not obvious in the previous marketing material:

  • The Hero3's housing has a redesigned latch that seems to require two hands to open, making it more secure.
  • The width, height and hinge on the housings are identical, so you can still use the backs you already have.
  • The flat front of the new housing makes it less likely that you'll scratch the plastic in front of the lens.
  • When the camera is out of the housing the lens is better protected on the Hero3 also.
  • The batteries are different! Aargh! They've attached a little handle to the new battery making it easier to pull out, but it looks like the cover is harder to remove.
  • The microSD card slot is covered. On the Hero2 the SD card slot is open to the whole world.

Filed under Photography | permalink | October 29, 2012 at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

Average Annual Daily Traffic On Urban Highways

A ranking of the busiest highways in the nation. I kind of had an inkling of how it might go, but I was impressed:
 1. Los Angeles - 405
 2. Los Angeles - 60
 3. Orange County - 5
 5. Los Angeles - 110
 9. Los Angeles - 101
10. Los Angeles - 91
11. Los Angeles - 5
14. Los Angeles - 605
15. Los Angeles - 210
17. San Diego - 15
20. Los Angeles - 10
Finally, in 21st place we find a California highway that is NOT in southern California:
21. San Francisco-Oakland - 80

Filed under California,Cities/Urbanism,Travel | permalink | October 29, 2012 at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

Mercator Telescope

Time lapse video of a night at the Mercator Telescope on La Palma.

Nice thing about this video is the camera is on a stationary tripod, not on tracks, so it doesn't move during a shot. Those tracking shots have gotten a bit overdone, I think. Recognizable Beethoven for the music is good too.

Filed under Photography,Science | permalink | October 29, 2012 at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

Like Passing Ships

As Apple shrinks the iPad, Google announced today that they are expanding the Nexus to a 10-inch model. Wi-Fi, no cellular. More details here. Let's compare the numbers:

Nexus 10iPad 4
$400 16 GB$500 16 GB
$500 32 GB$600 32 GB
nope$700 64 GB
2560 x 16002048 x 1536
10.055 inch diag.9.7 inch diag.
300 ppi264 ppi
5 MP rear camera5 MP rear camera
1.9 MP front1.2 MP front
1080p video1080p video
603 grams603 grams
263.9 x 177.6 mm241.2 x 185.7 mm
8.9 mm thick9.4 mm thick
2 GB RAM?
No CellularCellular $130 extra

Similar enough that the decision comes down to price, your need for cellular, customer support, OS, and their respective app stores.

Filed under Technology | permalink | October 29, 2012 at 04:03 PM | Comments (1)

Sheriff Seeks Burglary Suspect

Wanted For Cabazon Thefts
Riverside County Sheriff's Department is seeking the public's assistance in identifying this person.

On Monday, October 8, 2012, between the hours of 1:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., multiple vehicle burglaries occurred within the retail shopping district located along Seminole Drive in Cabazon. Large quantities of valuable items were stolen in these vehicle burglaries, which included various personal credit cards belonging to multiple victims.

On this same date, approximately 2:30 p.m., a credit card stolen in one of these burglaries was used at the "GAP" factory store located within the retail district. The stores video surveillance captured the suspect as she purchased items with this card just moments after the vehicle burglary took place.

Some three hours later, approximately 5:30 p.m., this same suspect used a different stolen credit card taken from a separate burglary within the retail district at the Target store in the City of Riverside. Once again the retailers' video surveillance captured the female suspect as the cards were used at the check-out isle and upon her exit from the store.

The suspect in these crimes is described as a Hispanic female adult, 20-30 years of age, 5' 4" tall, weighing approximately 165 pounds, with long dark hair. Her clothing description at the time was a bluish/ grey blouse with dark colored pants. It appeared this female suspect wore jewelry around her neck area and right wrist.

This retail shopping district along Seminole Drive in Cabazon has experienced a significant amount of vehicle burglaries over the past 3-months, where some 50-plus vehicle burglaries have occurred. The property loss from these vehicle burglaries alone is in excess of $100,000.00 (one hundred thousand dollars).

Investigators with Riverside County Sheriff's Department assigned to the Cabazon Station are seeking the public's help in identifying this suspect. Video and still photographs of the suspect have been obtained from both retailers' during the crime spree.

This investigation is active and on-going and we urge anyone with information, or who can identify this suspect, to contact Investigator Jacqueline Lane at the Cabazon Sheriff's Station (951-922-7100), or the Riverside County Sheriff's Department Dispatch Center (1-800-950-2444), or email at cabazonstation@riversidesheriff.org. Your identity will remain anonymous.

Filed under Coachella Valley | permalink | October 29, 2012 at 02:05 PM | Comments (0)