February 16, 2018

Desert Hot Springs Planning Commission - 2/13/2018

Commissioners Sworn In

All five commissioners were sworn in for this term. Four of them were familiar incumbents, and the new one (taking Cathy Romero's seat) was Gary Gardner who was appointed by Yvonne Parks. The members of the Planning Commission for this year are: Dirk Voss (Chair), Jan Pye, Scot De La Torre, Gary Gardner and Larry Buchanan.


Cultivation: Cabot Road

First item was a CUP for a cultivation development (33,200 s.f.) on the east side of Cabot Road (map). It will be a 2-story building. The Planning Commission had already approved an identical proposal for the parcel next door, so this one was even more of a slam dunk than the usual cultivation CPU. Approved 5-0. Construction will start in June, the developer said.


Cultivation: Desert Land Ventures

This is the third Really Big Cultivation proposal in DHS that I'm aware of. Really Big as in 123.4 acres, 13 parcels, 1.9 million s.f. of development, some streets, all infrastructure (estimated $30 million - just infrastructure), and it's all going into that blank space along I-10, west of Palm, east of Indian. The proposal is for more than marijuana. The developer plans a 150-room hotel, along with the usual sorts of commercial projects you see around a hotel along the interstate. The approximate location is shown in the aerial view below:
Desert Land Ventures aerial view

As a Really Big Project, it includes a specific plan, a vesting tentative tract map, and a development agreement.

They want to put a dispensary there too. The city has a list of 16 parties who have been approved to get (or try to get) a CUP for a dispensary. I believe we have 8 dispensaries open. One dispensary has been permitted behind the AM/PM station at Palm and I-10. There is some site preparation there, and I believe at least some of the roads have been paved. That leaves 7 parties who have not started any development and may not yet have gotten a CUP. The Desert Land Ventures developer (he's owned the site since 2006) did not want to have to get in bed with some dispensary owner that he doesn't know. No one suggested the alternative. He could buy out the CUP rights from one of those parties.

The specific plan is flexible so that the developer can determine which parts will be industrial and which commercial. City staff and the commissioners expressed the desire that there be no cultivation on the parcels that are adjacent to I-10. The developer who, BTW, is also developing the new San Diego airport that will be over by Otay Mesa (!!) says he understands and he wants his development to be top notch, so he wouldn't have put cultivation. Those parcels need to have businesses that attract people from the highway. Some of it could be ancillary marijuana businesses, like a bakery, a testing lab, whatever else I can't think of right now.

The Commissioners, recognizing the value of the site, said it would be a window onto Desert Hot Springs, so it needs to look really good. The developer agreed, saying it's in his interests to do just that.

The developer said this development will extend over years and nobody knows what's going to happen to cannabis in the future, and that's one reason for the flexibility in the specific plan.

The part of the site that is north of Varner Road extends into the MSHCP area, but it was said that development of 10% of the area within the MSHCP is permitted! I had never heard that before, and I'm sure there are more strings to it than simply wanting to build in the MSHCP. The developer said they might put solar or wind power there.

Varner Road, which goes through the project, is supposed to be paved to a width of six (6!) lanes. Both the developer and the commission agreed this was excessive to start with, since it just deadends and it will be years before six lanes are needed, so they're going to start with something less (to be negotiated with staff, unless the city council says different). Comparisons were drawn with the "Bridge To Nowhere" (the Alaska one, not the Los Angeles one). Some day (after your prince comes) 20th Avenue will also be paved coming east from Indian. It would make sense, IMO, to connect that with Varner.

Approved 5-0.


Cultivation: Collective Solutions

This is a CUP for a cultivation site of 22,176 s.f. total, in three buildings on 1.26 acres. It will be on currently unpaved 15th Avenue, between Little Morongo and Cabot Road. This will include two 10,000 s.f. greenhouses. There will be a temporary trailer, but that has to be out of there before August 13.

Approved 5-0.


Dispensaries: Special Dispensary Entitlements

Currently, our city ordinances define a dispensary (which must be located in a commercial zone) and cultivation (which must be located in an industrial zone). But what about baking? Tasting rooms? And very small scale dispensing, such as at a hotel? This ordinance attempts to address some of those issues.

It would define light manufacturing as any kind of production of cannabis products using only "chemical synthesis," by which they mean baking or infusing, but absolutely not any extraction.

A Special Dispensary Conditional Use Permit would be created for light manufacturing, hotels that want to dispense cannabis, and cultivators who want to have a tasting room in their facility.

A cultivator's tasting room would be limited to offering samples of products produced on that site only. There can be no on-site sales and consumption; i.e., the tasting is free. Any sales must be "off-site," that is you carry it away with you...like a liquor store, where you can buy alcohol but can't consume it on premises. For existing cultivation facilities, the Director of Community Development would be able to approve the Special Dispensary Conditional Use Permit in most cases.

Hotels could get a Special Dispensary Conditional Use Permit if they want to dispense marijuana. Note that any hotel that serves alcohol cannot also dispense marijuana under California state law. Any sales at a hotel must be for on-site consumption only. No off-site sales. Just like a bar that serves alcohol. You can buy it and drink it, but you can't walk out the door with the glass in your hand (except in New Orleans). No cultivation or manufacturing would be permitted at a hotel.

A Special Dispensary Conditional Use Permit would also allow light manufacturing in a commercial zone. The simple reason for this is that light manufacturing is not nearly as profitable as cultivation and light manufacturers cannot now afford the price of land in our industrial zones. Light manufacturing facilities that already have a CUP (there are some at the cultivation sites) can get a Special Dispensary Conditional Use Permit with approval just by the Director of Community Development in most cases.

Gretta Carter, who represents some cultivators and other cannabis businesses, made a public comment. She said this ordinance is "about 90% there." She suggested that the commercial zone also accept lab testing facilities.

Ryan Fingerhut asked that the ordinance be delayed so that small improvements can be made in it.

Andrew Milks of Brown Dog dispensary said there are safe extraction methods that don't use flammable solvents. He would like "light extraction" to be permitted in commercial zones. He thinks dispensaries should have the right to some light manufacturing.

The Commissioners discussed the issue of intoxicated driving that might result from tasting rooms.

Approved 5-0 with some clarifications of the language in the ordinance.

permalink | February 16, 2018 at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2018

My First Hummingbird Nest

Hummingbird nest Feb 13 2018 (7958)

Hummingbird nest Feb 13 2018 (7957)

Just spotted it today when I noticed the future mother flying in exactly the same path twice very close to my house. I'll have to get a ladder to see down into the nest.

UPDATE: I can't get high enough on my ladder to see clear to the bottom of the nest, but for now here's a photo of the mother sitting.
Hummingbird In Nest (7960)\

permalink | February 13, 2018 at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

February 6, 2018

Miller High Life/Molotov Cocktail in DHS

Molotov Cocktail Arrest

Support Services Manager Tom Pittenger from Desert Hot Springs Police Department · 34m ago

On 02/05/2018, at approximately 1630 hours, Desert Hot Springs Police Officers were dispatched to a residence in the 66000 block of 2nd St, reference a family disturbance. The occupants of the residence refused to cooperate but after approximately 30 minutes, they exited the residence after police officers conducted a surround and call out due to circumstances noted on scene.

A probation search of the residence was conducted. During the search, Officers located two Molotov cocktails in the kitchen of the residence. Cal Fire Law Enforcement Division responded to assist in the investigation.

Bernadette Noriega (age 49), Jesus Noriega (age 28) and Mario Vigel (age 19) were arrested for PC 18715-Possession of Explosive Device, PC 148(a)-Resist or delay Law Enforcement, PC 273A(a)-Child Endangerment as well as several other related charges. All three subjects were transported and booked into RSO Banning Jail.


Bernadette Noriega, Jesus Noriega, Mario Vigel and a Molotov cocktail in a Miller High Life bottle

permalink | February 6, 2018 at 07:20 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2018

Fitness Trackers

Here’s the news story about Strava posting a “global heat map” of fitness tracker usage. The news concerns what it reveals about military bases, but I looked at the Strava heat map to see if it told me anything about Desert Hot Springs.
Strava Heatmap Desert Hot Springs

It seems to me that someone (or ones) in Mission Lakes Country Club are doing a lot of exercising. Some of the more heavily used routes around DHS are where cyclists ride, including the upcoming Tour De Palm Springs.

Strava global heat map.

permalink | January 28, 2018 at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2018

Desert Hot Springs City Council - January 16, 2018

These are some of what I think are the important bits of the January 16, 2018, meeting of the Desert Hot Springs City Council.


Fully Staffed Police Department

Five new police officers were sworn in. Chief Mondary said the police department is fully staffed. I think the definition of fully staffed is "up to the limit authorized by the City Council," because we all know our PD has never been staffed up the level we really need.


AIPP Cut To 0.25% In Industrial Zone

Some people didn't like that the AIPP rules were being assessed fairly for all kinds of property. That is, the value of the art or the amount of the in-lieu fee in effect since the program was approved in 2009 has been 0.5% of valuation for residential property and 0.75% of valuation for commercial and industrial properties.

The proposal was to eliminate the choice of putting a piece of art on site in the industrial zone. Development in the industrial zone would have to pay the in-lieu fee. I am not sure who didn't like it that the art paid for by the industrial developers would be displayed on the property developed. I didn't hear any of the City Council members express an objection to that.

This proposal went to the Planning Commission first, and they didn't like it. I could explain just why the Planning Commission didn't like it if the city's damn website would actually play the audio of that meeting, but it doesn't and they don't upload the audio to Youtube or any of the other several easy, reliable websites that actually play recorded audio flawlessly.

The choice before the City Council seemed to be to follow the Planning Commission's recommendation (leave things unchanged) or to re-insert the language taking the choice away from industrial developers. So imagine our surprise when Mr. McKee suddenly proposed to drop the rate for industrial development from 0.75% to 0.25%! Even more surprising was that Russell Betts immediately agreed to it! Ever since this program was approved, any mention of it would trigger a story-telling by Mr. Betts, in which story he would cast himself as the lonely white knight standing against everybody else who hates art. In reality, support for the AIPP program was widespread and the only discussion was the rates. The proposed rate was an even 1%, I believe, and Mr. Betts will tell you a story about how he had to fight to keep it as high as 0.75%. But now that it is 2018, he easily agreed to a two-thirds reduction in the rate.

Yvonne Parks had said she wouldn't vote for an ordinance that retained the 0.75% rate because she thought it was too high. But when the vote came, she still voted against it, even though the rate had been lowered to 0.25%. The vote was 4-1.

Some of the cannabis developers got up and complained about the surprising costs they've run into, and seemed to think this AIPP was something recently concocted to get more money out of them. In reality, the reason the cannabis developers are running into these expensive surprises is that many of them don't do sufficient due diligence (probably due to lack of experience in real estate) to find out all the expenses before they commit themselves. One cannabis developer argued that since he was having to build a road and put in underground infrastructure he ought to be excused from paying the AIPP. Again it's probably due to inexperience in real estate, but he didn't realize every developer is responsible for all that work and all those expenses. The city didn't come up with any new ideas to get in the way of cannabis development. Quite the contrary, they've now given them a two-thirds fee reduction.

In case you thought that the super-high price of land in our industrial zone would offset this rate cut, the cost of land is not included in the valuation against which the fee is assessed. IOW, it is a percentage of the value of the building only. Once you've removed the land cost, the value of the buildings will be whatever the usual value of such buildings are. The reduction in this fee is, therefore, a genuine cut to the amount of money that we would have expected to come into our AIPP fund.

Mr. McKee said he intended this to be temporary, and the council has asked that the ordinance be brought back before them in about 6 weeks to re-examine the rates. Mr. Betts said he didn't think it needed to be brought back; he was happy with the new 0.25% rate.


Resolution Setting Forth Certain Regulations Pertaining to Dispensaries

This item was removed from the agenda to be brought back at a later meeting. The proposed text in this agenda packet would have permitted a marijuana dispensary to change location, but they would still have to get a new CUP and any other of the usual necessary paperwork. The city started with 19 people who were allowed to seek a CUP and open a dispensary. Three of those people withdrew, leaving 16. Eight of those people have, indeed, opened dispensaries in town. The remaining eight still have all their rights intact, but the resolution would have specified that the right to apply for a CUP and open a dispensary is NOT transferable. The resolution also would have set the limit for cannabis dispensaries in the city at 16.

Here is a handy table provided in the agenda packet which you can use to keep track of the players. Click it for a bigger version.
DHS Marijuana Dispensary scorecard


New (and Re-Appointed) Commissioners

 MatasParksZavalaMcKeeBetts
CCACMichael PicardiBarbara EastmanMichael BurkeUntumane TurnerDonna Poyuzina
PlanningDirk Voss[hasn't decided]Jan PyeLarry BuchananScott De La Torre
Public SafetyDonna LozanoLee EastmanNina DuarteWalt MeyerTed Mayrhofen [this is not a typo]


New Library

Riverside County has proposed to build a completely new library on the vacant land between Aqua Soleil and the new county building at Park Lane and Palm Drive, entirely at County expense. The current library is 3,500 s.f. The proposed library would be 15,000 s.f.

When the current library opened in 1972 the population of the city was less than 3,000 and half of it was senior citizens. The official population is 9 times greater now, and it's 40% kids 18 and under.

This item simply authorizes city staff to continue to work with the county on this. After construction of the new library the old library will be converted to a broom closet, but it won't be big enough to let everybody keep their brooms there.

permalink | January 19, 2018 at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

December 9, 2017

No Smoke Here

Desert Hot Springs - December 9, 2017 (1504)
Desert Hot Springs today.

permalink | December 9, 2017 at 05:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2017

My First 4K Video

Waokiye at Cabot's Museum is the subject for my first 4K video.

I recently acquired a ThiEYE T5e which is $170 at Amazon, but just under $100 at GearBest which is in China. I know buying direct from China is a crapshoot, but a 41% discount is pretty substantial. Reviews of this camera point out that it is genuine 4K, not interpolated from 1080p.

I have a 4K display, but my Mac Mini can't do any better than 1080p, so the only way I can see this in 4K is to connect the camera directly to my monitor and play it from there. I also don't have any software that can output a 4K video, so I can only upload them exactly as shot. Can't even trim off shaky starts or ends without lowering the resolution to 720p.

The video above is on Vimeo, who claims they don't degrade videos. I've also uploaded this video to YouTube which supports 4K, but they degrade the videos somewhat. If you think you can see the difference, here's a chance to do an A/B comparison.

permalink | November 18, 2017 at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2017

Nude Bowl, With History

A bit of education.

permalink | September 22, 2017 at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2017

A Short, Pointless Life

DennisCruz
Dennis Cruz
, arrested in DHS in 2010, died yesterday at age 28 in the prison in Corcoran, shanked by a fellow inmate who had chased him into the prison yard.

permalink | September 14, 2017 at 04:43 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2017

Ivan Sewell New Commissioner At MSWD

With a unanimous vote, the MSWD board selected Ivan Sewell to take John Furbee's spot on the board until the next election, November 2018. Then, the voters will get a chance to re-elect him to the remaining 2 years of Furbee's term, or elect someone else.
Ivan Sewell Being Sworn In As MSWD Commissioner

The two other candidates were perennial candidate Malcolm MacLean and Steve Grasha. Mr. Grasha is the inventor of the misting system, which is so ubiquitous here in Coachella Valley, if I understood him correctly. He's also working with the Trump campaign in some capacity and said that after the meeting today, he was heading over to Arizona. He seemed a bit reluctant to bring this up, at first saying he had been working for a candidate for "national office." There being only two elected national offices in this country, it wasn't hard to guess who he meant, but it became clearer when he referenced Arizona and said that he knew his views on who is in the President's office were not popular in DHS. He never named Trump.

I have been disappointed with the MSWD board's reluctance to replace Mr. Furbee before he passed away. We could have had Mr. Sewall working for the public good months ago.

permalink | August 21, 2017 at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

August 4, 2017

New Riverside County Building

New Riverside County Building (0488)
In Desert Hot Springs
.

permalink | August 4, 2017 at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

John Furbee Memorial - August 18

Furbee-Memorial-DIGITAL

permalink | August 4, 2017 at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2017

John Furbee

DHS Boys & Girls Club Ribboncutting (8743)
L to R: Rep. Raul Ruiz, Mayor Yvonne Parks, Councilmember Scott Matas, unknown man in back, John Furbee, V. Manuel Perez
at the ribbon cutting for the Health & Wellness Center in 2013.

John Furbee - Local Philanthropist, Businessman and Civic Leader Passes Away

Desert Hot Springs, July 13, 2017: It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the passing of John Furbee, a long-time Desert Hot Springs philanthropist, businessman, civic leader and youth supporter. John passed away on July 12, 2017 surrounded by his loving family, following an extended illness.

John Furbee arrived in Desert Hot Springs over 50 years ago, and quickly established the well-known DHS Drug Store. He went on to own and operate several successful businesses within the city and served the community as the President of the Boys and Girls Club and Mission Springs Foundation and sat as Chairman of the Board of both the Desert Hot Springs Planning Commission and Desert Hot Springs Economic Committee.

His commitment and dedication to the city earned him the distinct honor of being named the Senior Inspiration Award Recipient for the City of Desert Hot Springs in 2006 and in 2012 the City Council named the Aquatic Center at the Community Health and Wellness Center the "John H. Furbee Aquatic Center" in his honor. This dedication was based on the significant contributions John made to the community he loved so much, including the donation of the property upon which the facility was built and a significant monetary contribution toward the Center.

John Furbee was a community hero, known for his dedication to the youth, animals, and local charity's. He had a kind heart and will be sorely missed by our entire community.

permalink | July 14, 2017 at 01:13 PM | Comments (2)

June 30, 2017

Some Photos

Some photos not previously shared.

The Perfect American - Long Beach Opera (3397)
The stage at Long Beach Opera at intermission during The Perfect American
.

Precision Electric Company (3909)
This is not an old sign
.

Pink Barbie (6811)
I've got my eye on this pink Barbie
.

Edward Wenzlaff Education Center (0484)
Edward Wenzlaff Education Center
, formerly Edward Wenzlaff Elemntary School in Desert Hot Springs.

Desert Hot Springs Police (0486)
Like it says on the label
.

permalink | June 30, 2017 at 10:23 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2017

Desert Hot Springs Planning Commission - June 13, 2017.

Commissioner De La Torre was absent and one seat is vacant, so there were just three commissioners present.

11940 Palm Drive

11940 Palm Drive (1567)
Over the years I've heard a lot of reasons why nothing could be done about this building at 11940 Palm Drive which I have considered the worst eyesore in the city since I moved here, 13 years ago
. Black mold so serious that the only complete demolition could deal with it. Demolition couldn't be immediate because cellphone towers on the roof would have to be moved. We can't locate the owners. As the Inland Empire's largest dovecote, we would have to get permission from the US Department of Interior to kill all those birds. Okay, just kidding about that last one.

11940 Palm Drive Code Citation (5994)
Evidence that the city at least sicced Code Enforcement on the building in 2010
. There was some improvement in the property following that.

Turns out none of that is true. All the building needed was an investor willing to pour money into it, and we've got one now, thanks to marijuana!

The matter of a conditional use permit for that building as a medical marijuana dispensary came before the Planning Commission last Tuesday night. The applicant (Stephanie Bodde and Desert Hot Springs Dispensary) had previously applied for a CUP for a dispensary at 66406 Pierson. That application was turned down at the March 8, 2016, Planning Commission. The main issue was lack of parking and the fact that nearby Rose Mortuary also objected to it. I thought that was the least we'd hear of them, but they went and found a better location.

There will be no other tenant in the approximately 6,000 s.f. building. The site has 20 parking spaces, two more than the minimum required. Entrance and exit will use the east entrance. The north and south doors are for emergency use only. Most of the second floor will go unused.

Chair Voss said that some residents may be concerned that too many dispensaries are concentrated in this area, but he went on to say that every dispensary in town moved into a substandard building and improved it. I think the two dispensaries in the Mission Lakes shopping center are pretty obvious exceptions to that. The IVTHC dispensary at 11555 Palm Drive opened in a fairly new building. But he's right about all the others. He wanted to make some changes to the external appearance of the building at 11940 Palm Drive to make it look better. He likes the new paint color that you see on the building now (brown), but he wants one additional color to be used, so it isn't just one big blob of brown. He would like to see more landscaping. He would like to see window treatments with wrought iron, and rock treatments on the exterior. He said he was going to leave the details of these matters to be hashed out between the applicant and city staff. The chainlink fencing will be removed (of course) and Mr. Voss would like to see a combination of block and wrought iron wall erected.

Commissioner Larry Buchanan said the building was erected in 1985 by Jack Webb for his real estate office.

Approved unanimously.


Other Planning Commission Actions

The city approved the Ho Ho Express Private Fueling Station to be located on Little Morongo south of Dillon a couple of years ago. The project has been delayed because the Coachella Valley Water District required them to build a 1½ mile water line. They were before the Planning Commission only to get a one-year extension of their entitlements. This was approved unanimously.


That Distribution Center to be constructed on the east side of Indian between 18th and 19th is still identified as a "Distribution Center" on city paperwork, even though the site will now be marijuana cultivation. Originally approved by Riverside County, several time extensions have been granted the project. This evening they came before the Planning Commission seeking another extension to November 2017. An extension will keep their mitigated negative declaration valid, so they can avoid having to go through a CEQA process. Approved unanimously.


Another marijuana cultivation project, Desert Grow, to be located on the north side of Palomar Lane in a site that has not been previously developed was approved 2-0-1 with Commissioner Buchanan abstaining.


Still another marijuana cultivation project, Din Cultivation, will be located on the southeast corner of Palomar Lane and Little Morongo, also previously undeveloped. This one was approved 3-0.


For a change of pace, the Commission then took up a proposal for a marijuana cultivation facility, Kim Cultivation, on undeveloped land on the north side of Palomar Lane, but further east than Desert Grow. This was approved 3-0.


Next, to really mix things up, the Commission considered a marijuana cultivation project located not on Palomar Lane. This one, MIRO, LLC or Desert Springs Cultivation, will be on San Gorgonio Lane. Approved 3-0.


Victor Muñoz brought a proposal for the Starlite Lodge Motel to the Planning Commission. The Starlite Lodge Motel is located on Palm Drive, a bit south of Hacienda, across the street from the Stater Bros. parking lot. He proposes to remodel and expand the existing one-story building and erect a new two-story building on a parcel south of the one-story building. The bus stop located there will not be moved. The developer says that they expect to do well because there is no motel in that area, and it's close to a lot of restaurants. That motel at Palm and Ironwood which has been undergoing incremental improvements for years does not seem to be a competitive threat.
Starlite Lodge

Approved 3-0.


The next item was a proposal to allow Post and wire fencing, not to exceed 48 inches in height, \along the perimeter of vacant property. "Post and wire," I take it, is legalese for chainlink fencing. The intent is to discourage illegal dumping on vacant parcels. Approved 3-0.


DHS Properties which already has approval for a marijuana cultivation site on Two Bunch Palms Trail returned to the Planning Commission only to get an amendment to their Development Agreement to permit extraction and manufacturing at the location. Approved 3-0.


Commissioner Romero asked if there is a moratorium on new residential construction in the Hot Water Overlay zone. Community Development Director Daniel Porras said he doesn't think there's a Hot Water Overlay zone (see, he's still new), but he would find out if there is a moratorium. Mr. Porras thought she had it confused with the Spa Zone sign toppers.

permalink | June 20, 2017 at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2017

Desert Hot Springs Public Safety Tax Survey

The two public safety taxes in Desert Hot Springs are set to expire in a couple of years, so, as before, the city hired a firm to survey the residents on how they saw things. They've published three documents from that survey which are available on the city's website. Here's one, the press release:

A recently commissioned independent survey shows 70% of respondents approve of the job the City of Desert Hot Springs is doing to provide city services. "We are thrilled that residents can see our hard work paying off. We appreciate their feedback very much," said City Manager and retired Police Chief Charles Maynard.

Amid nearly $10 million in state takeaways, the current administration and Council have avoided bankruptcy, reduced a $6 million deficit, maintained emergency reserves, and took [sic] steps to improve transparency. In March, the City was assigned an "A" rating with a stable outlook from Standard and Poor's for the 2017A and 2017A-T lease revenue bonds. Their Report cited strong fiscal management, budgetary performance, and liquidity as crucial factors for the positive rating.

"We must continue this momentum to secure our City's ongoing financial stability, safety and quality of life. We have taken decisive action to improve fiscal stability and public safety," continued City Manager Maynard. The City's overall crime rate has decreased 18 percent in the past year.

Constituents are particularly interested in maintaining and preventing cuts to public safety, including crime investigation and prevention, recruiting and retaining experienced police officers, increasing drug house investigations, and maintaining anti-gang and anti-drug programs.

"This community input is invaluable as we continue to work to decrease crime in Desert Hot Springs. Reducing and preventing crime, drugs, and gangs not only makes us safer, but more attractive to businesses that can revitalize our City. While we have reduced our overall crime rate, we must stay focused on patrolling our neighborhoods, anti-gang programs, cracking down on parole violators and monitoring sex offenders, even as the state continues to put more offenders back on our streets," elaborated Police Chief Dale Mondary.

The independent community survey was conducted March 24-30 by the highly respected opinion research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3 Research).

Constituents also overwhelmingly perceive there is a need for additional local funding with 87% saying there is "great" or "some" need. A majority, 57%, say there is "great" need.

Constituents expressed interest in the concept of continuing local, voter-approved funding to maintain and prevent cuts to public safety services with percentages as high as 77%. Existing, voter-approved local funding provides $5 million dollars annually for police officers and emergency response dispatchers, anti-gang enforcement operations, graffiti removal, code enforcement, and other public safety services. By law, all funds are specifically used only for Desert Hot Springs public safety services and are critical to the safety and survival of the City.

The City will continue to solicit feedback from the community about their public safety budget priorities. Residents can provide input and get more information by visiting: www.cityofdhs.org/Public_Safety_Conversation

Another document is a Powerpoint presentation summarizing the findings.

The survey consisted of 271 interviews conducted by landlines, cell phones and on-line. Seventy percent of respondents say they either strongly or somewhat approve of the city's work to provide services. Eighty-seven percent say there is a either a great need or some need for more funding for the city.

Crime is still viewed as a top challenge facing the City of DHS
Summarizing these issues, from top to bottom, they are

  1. public safety
  2. public safety
  3. public safety
  4. public safety
  5. not much to do [economy?]
  6. public safety
  7. economy
  8. economy
  9. public safety
  10. public safety

Amount residents pay in DHS taxes is a low tier concern
Of these seven issues, local taxes are the least concern.

Compared to ten years ago, residents now are more concerned about parolees, crime, gangs and juvenile violence. They have become less concerned about city taxes, the number of police officers, the number of sex offenders and the condition of the local economy.

Here's the language that would describe an increase in the utility users' tax, which is currently 7%.

To maintain and increase rapid police, fire and 911 emergency response times; police training, recruitment/retention; and crime investigation; and to hire additional police officers to patrol streets, shall the City of Desert Hot Springs increase its existing, voter-approved utility users' tax by 2%, raising approximately $714,000 [additional] annually, until ended by voters, with independent citizens' oversight, annual audits and all fund required to stay local?

I want to point out that the proposal is not to raise the UUT by 2%, but by two percentage points to 9%. An increase of only 2% would change the rate of the UUT to only 7.14%.

67% of likely voters said they would definitely or probably vote yes or were undecided but "lean yes." The no vote came to 29%, with 5% genuinely undecided and not leaning.

Here's the text for an extension of the public safety parcel tax:

To prevent essential public safety services cuts such as police/emergency response, anti-gang/drug, youth violence prevention and sex offender/parolee monitoring programs, shall the City of Desert Hot Springs extend its existing, voter-approved public safety measure providing approximately $2 million annually at the current rate of $135 per single-family residence, until ended by voters, requiring citizens review, audits, all funds to stay in Desert Hot Springs, with no tax increase for these parcels?

Note that this survey question does not say what will be done with the public safety parcel taxes for hotels, multi-family housing, commercial or industrial parcels. I imagine they would be considering increasing those, but they don't say that. But the question as is generates a 77% yes rate, which includes 54% definitely yes, 18% probably yes and 4% undecided but leaning to yes. 17% answered no. Six percent undecided. If they restrict the answers to likely voters, the yes rate increases to 78%; the no rate stays at 17%.

A measure lowering the parcel tax for homeowners is more viable
Check out the heading for this page and then look at the data
. Offering a tax cut lowers the total yes vote from 77% to 75%, but those answering definitely yes rose from 54% to 64%. 73% say they definitely or probably would vote for a tax cut, which is one point more than the definites and probablies for holding the rate at its current level. The undecided, but lean yes drops from 4% to 2%, but the those who say they are undecided but lean towards no added to those who are simply undecided goes up from 7% to 14%. I'd say the two offers are equally viable, which is pretty surprising to me.

Democrats give the parcel tax proposal an 83% yes rate, Republicans a 75% yes rate and independents 63%.

Latinos support it at the rate of 92%(!) while whites support it at the rate of 71%.

Homeowners support the parcel tax measure at the rate of 73%, while 83% of renters support it.

The measure draws support ranging from 74% to 79% regardless of how long the voter has been residing in DHS.

Police staffing and crime investigation are top priorities for renewed funding
Check out that highlighted item, "Recruiting and retaining experienced police officers." While overall support for that is a tad lower than the five items listed higher, those who answered "extremely important" rose to 55%, the highest rated "extremely important" issue.

A variety of public safety investments are very important to DHS residents

permalink | April 26, 2017 at 07:55 PM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2017

MedMen Cultivation Facility

This coming Tuesday, the marijuana cultivation facility proposed by MedMen will come before the Desert Hot Springs City Council. I wanted to share a few images from their proposal to build at Hacienda and Little Morongo. There's no paved Hacienda on the east side of Little Morongo, but on the west (county) side it's paved and called 13th Avenue.

MedMen cultivation facility aerial view

MedMen cultivation facility entrance
The little red figure on the right of the driveway is the public art contribution
.

MedMen public art
Here's a closer view
. They almost look like penguins, don't they? The artist will be Gerardo Hacer.

The piece will consist of two red metal penguins in origami form. MedMen's COO and cofounder [Andrew Modlin] envisioned a piece that drew upon his own affinity for penguins, which frequent his own original paintings. and functioned as a juxtaposition between penguins' natural habitat and Desert Hot Springs' climate. Furthermore, the penguins' lifelong companionship and partnership is emblematic of our hope to build a lasting relationship with the City of Desert Hot Springs. The installation is red as that is MedMen's signature color.

MedMen broke ground on a cultivation facility in Reno last year.

permalink | April 15, 2017 at 03:55 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2017

Good Nude Bowl Video

permalink | March 29, 2017 at 05:28 PM | Comments (1)

February 6, 2017

Planning Commission - January 31, 2017

This was a special meeting of the Planning Commission to deal with the heavy marijuana workload. There are currently only four Planning Commissioners. Those two statements aren't directly connected. It's city staff that has a heavy marijuana workload and, coincidentally, there are only four commissioners for now.

Basement Cultivation at Green Leaf Wellness

This item was the agenda for the January 10 Planning Commission meeting, but was continued because the owner of the dispensary didn't show up. Now, on January 31, the owner was present.

Green Leaf Basement Floor Plan
North is up.

Commissioner De La Torre asked if the cultivation area in the basement extended under any neighboring business, such as the nail salon. City staff said it did not. Aw, too bad, because when I first saw these plans I could tell that it would extend under the nail salon. When the owner came to the podium he explained that the basement did, in fact, go under the nail spa. The point of that question was to determine whether an additional fire alarm should be installed in the nail salon, in case of a fire in the basement. The owner went on to list security measures he was putting in place, such as hardening the exit doors and installing card readers so he can track every employee who goes into a cultivation room.

Commissioner Cirner asked about ADA compliance. The plans show only two ways to access the basement and both of them are stairways. Rather than answer that question, the owner described more security measures he was putting in place. Mr. Cirner seemed to accept that as an answer. At the end of the meeting I asked Community Development Director Rangel about ADA requirements. His answer was, basically, that full ADA access in this space would be cost prohibitive. Yes, of course, but I didn't know you could compromise on ADA improvements solely because of their cost.

Someone (I could neither see nor hear who) moved to approve with the addition of an alarm in the nail salon connected to the fire detection system in the basement, Mr. Cirner seconded. Approved 4-0.


Tentative Parcel Map by DHS Properties, LLC

This is an empty 14.9 acre lot on Little Morongo Road north of Two Bunch Palms Trail. This tentative parcel map is for condominium purposes for marijuana cultivation. The agenda packet showed the applicant to be DHS Properties, LLC, but staff said the applicant was David Snyder.

Tentative Parcel Map
This map shows the old city limits, prior to the annexation that reached to I-10
.

The CUP for this parcel was approved in November 2015.

With no discussion or public comments, Commissioner Romero moved for approval, Mr. Cirner seconded, approved 4-0.


Four Parcels on Cabot Road

These four parcels are all adjacent and all will be used for cultivation. But there are two owners and some differences between each parcel, so this item includes FOUR CUPs, two development agreements and one mitigated negative declaration. (No partridges.) The two owners are Cabot Building Partners and DHS Therapeutics. It's on the east side of Cabot Road, a couple of empty lots south of Two Bunch Palms Trail. 6.29 empty acres.

Commissioner Cirner moved for approval with the addition of two lights on poles, seconded by Commissioner De La Torre, approved 4-0.

The entire meeting wrapped up in only 35 minutes.

permalink | February 6, 2017 at 01:53 AM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2017

Planning Commission January 10, 2017 - Cultivation, Cultivation, Cultivation, Cultivation

Commissioner Terifaj is no longer with the Planning Commission. Here's the form to fill out if you want to be part of shaping the future of DHS. Mayor Pro Tem Joe McKee is the one to make the appointment to fill this seat. Present tonight were Andrew Cirner, Scott De la Torre, Dirk Voss (Chair) and Cathy Romero.

The agenda this night consisted of four public hearings:

  1. A marijuana cultivator's tentative parcel map
  2. A CUP for a marijuana cultivation facility
  3. Amending a CUP to allow for marijuana cultivation in a dispensary
  4. Subdivision of land to be used for marijuana cultivation

Tentative Parcel Map for We Care DHS

The CUP for this grow facility got final approval back in August. The location is vacant land on Two Bunch Palms just west of the only cultivation site that is currently operational.

Approved 4-0.


Conditional Use Permit and Development Agreement for A Green Culture DHS, Inc.

This location is the northeast corner of 15th Avenue and Little Morongo Road. 15th Avenue is just a dirt road there.

The building will have 22,479 square feet of cultivation area and greenhouse roofs, so their electric bill will be a bit lower. The design of the building includes two 9 x 12 feet rollup doors that the cultivators don't need, but the city has started adding requirements to the cultivators' CUPs that will make the building more likely to be useful for other purposes when the day comes that they decide not to cultivate there anymore.

A Green Culture DHS, Inc
It looks like it's going to be right purty!

Approved 4-0.


CUP Amendment for Greenleaf Wellness

All marijuana dispensaries are permitted to grow up to 99 plants in Desert Hot Springs. When the CUP for Greenleaf Wellness was approved, however, the dispensary did not include any plans for the 1,315 s.f. basement. Now, they've got plans and they've come back for this amendment. The owner, Thom Miller was not present at the hearing.

Greenleaf Wellness Basement Plan
I believe north is to the left. The shops on the street level face the north. Across the top would be Palm Drive.

Ted Mayerhofen commented that he had worked on this building before it was a dispensary. He thought there were security issues. He also said that delivery would have to be from the alley, and an ordinary truck would block that alley. OTOH, any delivery to any business in that little shopping center on the southwest corner of Buena Vista and Palm Drive could block an alley. Plus, I thought the main reason for alleys was using them to load and unload, because then the trucks are not blocking the main streets or taking up parking lot space. So what if it blocks a short alley for a short time? Later, the discussion of the Commission indicated that they understood a dispensary would have no large deliveries or shipments, so no big trucks would be in that alley anyway.

Commissioner Cirner raised the question of ADA access to the basement. In the floor plan above you can see there is a stairway coming down from the first floor and one door that exits to the exterior. It looks to me like that's the door that opens onto the stairway that goes up to Palm Drive. That would mean this basement space is not 100% beneath the dispensary, as it seems to extend to the eastmost end of the building.


The stairway from the one exterior door is on the left side of the building.

This would certainly not seem to be ADA compliant. Do small business have to conform to ADA when doing major renovations? I think they do. Installing an elevator in this building would, it seems to me, be very cost prohibitive. This cultivation space may never come to be.

The vote was 2-2, making it a denial. Commissioners Cirner and De la Torre voted against. Mr. Cirner had brought up the ADA issue, but Mr. De la Torre never expressed his concerns about the project. Then a motion was made to continue the hearing to next month's hearing (February 14) so some of their questions could get answered and to give the owner the opportunity to show up and explain. That motion was approved 4-0.


Coachillin Holdings Tentative Parcel Map

Before discussion started on this one Charles Rangel introduced himself as the new Interim Community Development Director.

Coachillin Holdings propose to build the biggest cultivation site in the city on Indian Canyon between 18th and 19th. You may have already noticed that there has been some grading there. The land is vacant, but the Google satellite view below is recent enough to show some of the grading.

The site is 150 acres and the developer proposes to subdivide it into 40 parcels. Mr. Rangel said that staff recommended this item be continued...again. This is not the first time this has come before the Commission and been continued. Part of the reason this time is that the developer handed a new map to the city on the very day of this meeting. That map would need to be reviewed by both the planning department and fire department before the staff could make any recommendation on that.

Another, bigger reason for the continuance is that the property has on it what the Army Corps of Engineers calls a blue-line stream. Here's the definition of blue-line stream as given by the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District:

Blue Line Stream - Any stream shown as a solid or broken blue line on 7.5 Minute Series quadrangle maps prepared by the U.S. Department of the Interior Geological Survey (USGS). A blue line stream may be any creek, stream or other flowing water feature, perennial or ephemeral, indicated on USGS quadrangle maps, with the exception of man-made watercourses. The United States Army Corps of Engineers uses USGS blue line stream markings as a preliminary indicator of “Waters of the United States”. Streams identified on USGS maps in such a manner are therefore generally subject to federal environmental regulations.

Blue-line stream
A USGS map of the site
. That's I-10 at the bottom. Dillon Road runs across the top of the map. It shows that "blue-line stream" coming down from the north, crossing Dillon and then Indian, then parallelling Indian as it crosses Coachillin's property. You can make it out in a regular Google satellite view, but it's also been used by off roaders, which somewhat obscures it. Before they can do anything on that site they need a sign off from the Army Corps of Engineers which will state, in effect, that they don't expect to be sending any ships up that stream, nor do they plan to dam it for hydropower or irrigation. BUT, the guy who does that at the Army Corps of Engineers retired in November and it seems he has not been replaced. Kenny Dickerson who represented Coachillin Holdings at this meeting, suggested that if both he and Interim Community Development Director Rangel went together to the Army Corps, they would get some action.

Coachillin Holdings disagrees with the requirement to put sidewalks on the streets around the project (except along Indian Canyon - there will be a sidewalk there). They also object to sidewalks inside their property. Their reasoning is that sidewalks make it easier for nefarious people to get closer to their valuable product. What a lot of nonsense. If your security plans are overwhelmed by simply providing evil doers a level path to walk on, then your security plans need a lot of beefing up. Every dispensary, every cultivator, everybody actually, puts in sidewalks. Never have I heard an argument that sidewalks attract crime. That sort of non-logic is usually used when a city is planning to extend a subway line or bike path, because everyone knows most stolen TVs are transported by either bicycle or mass transit. Crooks never have cars.

Coachillin is paying to build the roads around its facility. The sidewalks are a only a small part of that. Why would the city want to force people to walk in the street in an industrial zone?

Mr. Dickerson said that he would redo his proposal so that it only dealt with the parcels to the rear, which the blue-line stream doesn't cross. Mr. Rangel said that wouldn't help, because the Army Corps of Engineers would also have to sign off on a decision that the blue-line stream doesn't cross those parcels.

These are the remaining issues that still must be resolved before the Planning Commission can make a decision. Rather than bringing this proposal back month after month simply to approve a continuance, the Planning Commission voted to table it, meaning it hasn't been rejected and it isn't scheduled for a decision. Whenever Coachillin can get all their ducks in a row, they'll come back to the Commission.

Approved 4-0.


Special Meeting, Tuesday, January 31

Mr. Rangel said there is a bit of a backlog of proposed cultivation facilities that are ready for the Commission, so the Commission agreed to a special meeting on the 31st to review some of those.

permalink | January 11, 2017 at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)