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.
- public safety
- public safety
- public safety
- public safety
- not much to do [economy?]
- public safety
- public safety
- public safety
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
March 29, 2017
Good Nude Bowl Video
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.
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.
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.
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:
- A marijuana cultivator's tentative parcel map
- A CUP for a marijuana cultivation facility
- Amending a CUP to allow for marijuana cultivation in a dispensary
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
November 4, 2016
DHS Dispensary #6
The city's sixth medical marijuana dispensary is open, and this is the one that's only one block from where I live! Great for the day I'm in a wheelchair. They give their web address as IVTHC.com, but it looks like they let their domain registration slip, because there's nothing there now. They are on the west side of Palm Drive almost at 4th Street, 11555 Palm, immediately next to the dentist's office, in that set back building that used to be a dentist's office.
Here's their Weedmaps page. They opened only yesterday, November 3. Hours are 10 AM to 7 PM, every day of the week.
It's the building on the left.
Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable)
Over the last week I've had my first go-round with Spectrum, which has taken over Time Warner Cable, and it is not good. I've been paying about $80/month to Time Warner for internet service only, 30 Mbps download, 5 Mbps upload. I've been getting mailers from Spectrum that seem to say they are offering internet at 100 Mbps for only $30/month. But if you read the fine print you'll see that's only if bundled with other services that I don't want.
So I called Spectrum a week ago, Friday, October 28 to inquire. The deal I was given then was a bundle of only phone and internet, for a total of about $60, and the internet would be 100 Mbps. But they had to give me a new modem to handle the phone. The sales person said the 100 Mbps would be available within about 10 minutes (!) and the modem would be shipped FedEx and arrive Monday or Tuesday.
An hour later my internet was NOT 100 Mbps (using Speakeasy speed test), so I called sales again. Got a different person who said my order was "incomplete," and it wouldn't be complete until I got that new modem. He said that even though the modem I have now could handle 100 Mbps, they would not upgrade me until I received the new modem. It was not a hardware limitation, but solely a policy decision by Spectrum not to give me what I want immediately, even though they could do it. Further, this sales person told me that when I received the modem via FedEx I didn't have to do anything. My speed would simply jump up to 100 Mbps. I wouldn't have to call Spectrum or even install the new modem. The mere receipt of it would, of course, FedEx would update its tracking and Spectrum would see that I had it and that would trigger whatever needed to happen.
This seemed weird and unbelievable, but it satisfied me, because I didn't want phone service at all. My intent was to never take the new modem out of the box, get my 100 Mbps internet for only $60 for a year, and then when the special offer ended in a year I'd figure out what to do then.
On Monday, I got a call from Spectrum saying I needed to listen to instructions about my upcoming new phone service. What that is, is the explanation of how 911 works and how 911 may not have the location of my phone for a few days, and that if I moved I needed to update my info so 911 would be updated. No problem. Except I had listened to those instructions on Friday as part of the first sales call. I told this caller that, and she said there was no record of it. I told her if she needed to play some recording for me, then go ahead and play it. She played a recording, but it wasn't about 911. Sounded more like a sales offer. Then it ended. So I hung up.
By Wednesday I still had not gotten the modem and my speed checks showed my 30 Mbps had had actually fallen to less than 10 Mbps (sometimes less than 5!), so I called tech support. They could not find anything wrong, so they scheduled a tech visit for Friday, November 4 (today, as I write this). While I had the tech on the phone I asked him about the modem and he told me it would be delivered later on Wednesday.
The modem was never delivered.
On Thursday my service was back up to 30 Mbps and that seemed stable throughout the day, so late in the day I called Spectrum to cancel Friday's tech appointment. The technician I got on the phone, though, only wanted to talk about a service appointment he saw that had been scheduled for the same day I was calling, Thursday, from 10 AM to 7 PM! But that service call had been cancelled. Also, my entire order from last Friday had been cancelled. And he couldn't find any tech appointment for me on Friday! So, everything I had called Spectrum about over the last week had just disappeared.
So the tech on the phone offered to re-send the modem, but I asked if I could just go pick it up at the local office, so he set it up that way.
Today, Friday, I went over the Spectrum office on Palm Drive whereupon I was told by the service person that the ONLY way I could get 100 Mbps was to pay $99/month plus a $199 activation fee! So I told her to forget the modem and came home empty handed.
I called Spectrum sales again and asked what kind of deal I could get on internet. I was told I could only get a bundle of TV, phone and internet, for a total of $90, which is more than I'm paying for internet now, so I didn't want that. All I really want is faster service for the same or less money. I asked the sales person if there were any other options for getting internet service and he said no! No? We went back and forth on that for a bit, until he acknowledged that I could get 50 Mbps if I pay $110/month. So that was the end of that deal.
I'm sticking with my 30 Mbps at $80/month. Let me know how your experiences with Spectrum go.
October 2, 2016
DHS in Palm Springs Life
Palm Springs Life has a good and accurate article covering all the aspects of marijuana cultivation coming to Desert Hot Springs.
September 29, 2016
Canndescent Ribbon Cutting
Canndescent is the first cannabis cultivator to go into real operation in Desert Hot Springs, which means it's the first legal cultivation site in California, outside of dispensaries themselves. Boy Scout Troop 1606 brought the American flag and led the Pledge of Allegiance, which the cannabis people thought was a bit unusual. But! One of the Scouts is trying to raise money for a trip to Washington DC for some Boy Scout function. Canndescent covered his remaining financial need with a check for $3,300. I would like to be there when he tells other Scouts how he raised his money.
"Transforming Agriculture." I imagine in a few years as the cannabis industry settles down we'll get used to seeing slogans like you'd see in Iowa or any other predominantly agricultural state.
Canndescent also presented the city with its first tax payment of $135,000. The tax rate is based solely on cubic footage of the grow area, so the city doesn't have to wait for a crop to mature and be sold to get taxes. I don't recall if the taxes are paid quarterly or every 6 months, and no one said if this tax payment is one full payment, or does it cover through the end of the calendar year or perhaps the fiscal year? Nevertheless, $135,000 is almost the cost of one cop for one year. So it's a start.
Their armored vehicle which doesn't seem to use CNG.
An historical plaque that Canndescent will erect. I suppose this fulfills their "art in public places" requirement. The plaque says:
This marks the site of the first municipally-permitted cannabis cultivator operating in California. On November 5, 1996, California became the first U.S. state to legalize medical cannabis use. On October 21, 2014, Desert Hot Springs became the first city in California to legalize cannabis cultivation. On September 19, 2016, CANNDESCDENT commenced production.
Video of the grow room so you can see all the fans and appreciate the resulting noise.
September 25, 2016
Joint Meeting Of The City Council & Planning Commission, September 13, 2016
This was a special joint meeting of the City Council and Planning Commission solely to consider an Ordinance Amending Chapter 17.180 "Medical Marijuana Facilities Location." The proposed amendment clarifies and expands the current law. The current law did not address manufacturing (making edibles, packaging product, extraction, etc.). The amendment would put manufacturing in the industrial zones along with cultivation. The amendment also included restrictions on extraction methods. Some extraction methods use flammable solvents.
Testing and distribution facilities are addressed in the amendment, too, and they will be restricted to the industrial zones. The definition of "delivery" is also in the amendment. The existing ordinance is silent about delivery which, I think, made it illegal. Does merely defining it in a zoning ordinance make it legal, in the absence of any sort of restriction? Maybe it does.
Attorney Jennifer Mizrahi first covered some corrections to be made to the proposed amendment. After that, Mayor Pro Tem Joe McKee said that section 17.180.060(d) Operational Requirements needed to be culled because as written it would be too burdensome. Here's my summary of the 12 paragraphs that make up that section:
- "Manufacturers are limited to certain equipment, methods, solvents, gases and mediums when creating medical marijuana extracts."
- "Medical Manufacturing Facilities with a state license of a Type-6 (non-volatile) or a Type 7 (volatile) classification may be allowed to operate under this Chapter."
- All of the usual laws regarding air, water, health and safety apply. The usual permits are required.
- Class I and Class II solvents (as defined by the FDA) are forbidden.
- But "butanes, ethanol, carbon dioxide, propane, heptane or other solvents exhibiting low to minimal potential human health-related toxicity for extraction, or other methods approved by the State" are okay. Any solvent must be at least 99% pure.
- Extraction using hydrocarbons must conform with the standards of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and with proper ventilation.
- If CO2 is used for extraction, that also must conform to ASME standards. And there has to be proper ventilation.
- If any other method of extraction is used, there must be proper ventilation and ignition source controls.
- "The amount of residual solvent per gram of finished extract cannot exceed 300 parts per million when quality assurance tested."
- An exact duplicate of 3 above.
- "Manufacturers may use heat, screens, presses, steam distillation, ice water, and other methods of extraction without employing solvents or gases to create kief, hashish, bubble hash, or vegetable oils or fats derived from natural sources, and other extracts."
- "Manufacturers using extract to create ingestible products shall only use food-grade ingredients."
Attorney Mizrahi said that in a discussion earlier that day with Mr. McKee he had expressed his desire to get rid of 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 12; leaving the "less stringent" requirements.
Council Member Anayeli Zavala said she thought it was important to retain the level of detail in the paragraphs that Mr. McKee wanted to eliminate.
Ms. Zavala also spoke about another provision in the proposed amendment. That provision is 17.180.060(e) which requires marijuana manufacturing facilities to hire a Ph.D chemist to "supervise the design, installation and operation of the facility’s systems and manufacturing processes." She asked if the intent was for the chemist to be there only during setup, or is the chemist supposed to supervise on an ongoing basis.
Council Member Russell Betts said he didn't see anything in the proposed amendment that gives the city the ability to shut down a non-confirming business. The attorney assured him that provision was in there. [There's only one thing on the agenda, this proposed amendment, and it's only 10 pages long, but that's still too much for Betts]. The relevant bit is at 17.180.120(d): "Failure to abide by any laws mentioned in this subsection shall constitute a public nuisance and shall subject the medical marijuana facility to revocation of any and all entitlements, licenses and permits." Then again in 17.180.130(b) which begins "A conditional use permit approved for a Medical marijuana Facility may be suspended or revoked for any violation of this Chapter..."
Mr. Betts went on to ask if a testing lab could be safely located in a commercial zone. The amendment is written to restrict them to industrial zones, but his concern is that industrial land has become so expensive here that a lab might benefit from being able to open in a less expensive commercial zone.
Planning Commissioner Dirk Voss said he was ready to approve the amendment now.
Commissioner Paula Terifaj said she thought that labs should be permitted in commercial zones.
When Mayor Matas opened the public hearing, the first speaker was Jeff Ridge. He said that he thought the 99-plant limit for dispensaries should be changed so that cultivation in dispensaries is restricted in some other way, such as square footage or wattage used. He said the 99-mature-plant limit made it very difficult for dispensaries to operate. He also suggested delivery services should be required to have city or county permits from any city or county that bans delivery service before the service can deliver there. The intent would be to keep delivery services from going into cities where they are banned.
Bob Sellen spoke next. He was there representing a new group called DHS Can. He said they think it's good to have laws in place until the new state laws go into effect. He said there is no independent third party testing lab for marijuana.
Gretta Carter spoke in favor of the amendment, saying that until the state regulations come into place, city regulations like this protect the marijuana industry.
Dan Osborne with Clonetics Laboratories said the testing will keep the medicine safe for patients.
Brent Furman expressed support for the amendment. He said Ph.D. chemists are usually brought in after the "crude" oil has been extracted to oversee the refining process.
Andrew Milks supports the amendment. He said he would like to see the 99-plant cap removed. The coming California regulations restrict it by square footage, not by number of plants. The smallest state license will be 5000 square feet. He asked for a matching municipal limit.
Back when the original medical marijuana ordinance was debated and approved, the issue of whether the limit should be by square footage or number of plants was discussed quite a bit. I thought square footage would be a lot simpler to administer, but others said counting plants was easier. Representatives from the marijuana industry commented then that the 99-plant limit was fine and they could certainly work with that. Somehow it is now unusable! Five-thousand square feet is more square footage than any dispensary in town, and I mean the entire dispensary, not just the grow room. Organic Solutions of the Desert, the large dispensary on Ramon in Palm Springs is something closer to 5,000 square feet. Maybe it's a coincidence that Organic Solutions of the Desert is also the stinkiest of the dispensaries in the Coachella Valley.
Michael Dixon said he was concerned at the lack of a reference to the most recent state legislation, SB 837. He has found several inconsistencies between that legislation and the proposed amendment. He said the most qualified people in the marijuana industry are not Ph.D. chemists, but those who have had the most innovation in extraction. The proposed amendment's only quality standards concern potency and residual solvents. More than that needs to be tested. He also said there needs to be consideration of the fact that the amendment's definition of "manufacturer" is so broad it includes the simple re-packaging and labeling of products that goes on at a dispensary.
Nicole Salisbury recommended there be a neutral third party tester, rather than having each cultivator hire their own chemist. She also said that testing labs should be permitted in commercial zones. She expressed dissatisfaction with the 99-plant limit, saying it is too small.
Katy Podine said that the ordinance could be re-amended at any time, so there is no real risk in fast-tracking this amendment. She said that the definition of "manufacturer" was taken directly from state law.
Planning Commission Chair Cathy Romero said the discussions so far all focused on safety and quality and warned against the possibility of over-regulating. She said that if a business in Desert Hot Springs wanted to extract the oils of a lavender plant or frankincense or sandalwood, she doubted that the city would be so concerned with quality and safety.
Commissioner Voss pointed out that the provision in the amendment for a Ph.D. chemist already defines the position as neutral and third-party. Here is that paragraph people have been talking about:
As a condition of obtaining a City-issued medical marijuana regulatory permit and conditional use permit, a licensee of a manufacturing facility desiring to operate under this ordinance shall first verify that the licensee employs or contracts with a person who has a PhD in chemical sciences who shall supervise the design, installation and operation of the facility's systems and manufacturing processes. The licensee shall submit to the City a written statement that he or she certifies under penalty of perjury that the name of the employee/contractor is true and correct. The employee/contractor shall also submit a written statement that he or she certifies under penalty of perjury his or her educational qualifications and verifying that the supervisor is employed full-time to supervise the design, installation and operation of the facility's systems and manufacturing processes.
IMO, since the paragraph permits the chemist to be either an employee or an independent contractor, I have to disagree with Mr. Voss. He cited the fact that the paragraph requires certification. But the only verifications actually required are certifications of the chemist's name, qualifications and that he is employed full time.
Commissioner Andrew Cirner also warned against the risk of over-regulating.
Commissioner Terifaj expressed concern that the city might be approving something that would be in conflict with state law in 2018. The attorney pointed out section 17.180.060(f) [it's identified as "(e)" in the agenda packet due to a typo, but this comes right after the requirement for a chemist] which says state regulations take precedence over city regulations..
State Regulations. In the event the State of California implements health and safety regulations applicable to Medical marijuana Manufacturing Facilities, upon implementation of such state regulations, all Medical marijuana Manufacturing Facilities operators shall immediately implement the state regulations. Should there be a conflict between the provisions of this Chapter and the state regulations, the state regulations shall control.
Ms. Terifaj suggested that the city go ahead and approve the zoning component of this amendment, while forbidding extraction until the state regulations are in place.
Commissioner Voss moved for approval of the amendment, with all of the corrections that the attorney listed. In 17.180.060(e) the reference to full-time employment (for the chemist) would be removed. In item 17.180.060(d) all items would be deleted except for 1, 2, 8 and 10. Here those are for your reference:
1. Manufacturers are limited to certain equipment, methods, solvents, gases and mediums when creating medical marijuana extracts.
2. Medical Manufacturing Facilities with a state license of a Type-6 (non-volatile) or a Type 7 (volatile) classification may be allowed to operate under this Chapter.
8. All other methods of extraction shall be conducted in an environment appropriate to the solvent being used, with consideration to proper ventilation and ignition source controls.
10. All equipment, systems and manufacturing processes must meet or exceed all applicable state and federal requirements and regulations regarding air, water, health and safety, and handling, processing and storage of hazardous materials, solvents, gases and waste. No manufacturing facility shall commence operations or be issued any form of certificate of occupancy without first obtaining all required fire, environmental, health and safety, planning, and building certificates, permits and approvals required under City’s Municipal Code and all other applicable county, state and federal regulations
The motion did not change the zoning rule that restricts manufacturing to the industrial zone. Commissioner Cirner seconded the motion. Chair Romero asked Commissioner Voss why his motion did not address the 99-plant limit. He said he feels okay with what we have in place.
The motion was approved 5-0.
Then attention went back to the City Council as they discussed the revised amendment approved by the Planning Commission.
Mayor Matas said he had received information about the dispensaries' problems with the 99-plant limit only the evening before, so he has not had time to fully inform himself on the subject. He said he will organize a subcommittee (himself and Mayor Pro Tem McKee) to meet with the dispensary owners and make sure their voices are heard.
Mr. McKee said that at a later date the council needs to address delivery modifications, the 99-plant limit, and labs in commercial zones.
Ms. Zavala moved to approve with the additional requirement that the Ph.D. chemist is required to visit the facility quarterly. Council Member Yvonne Parks seconded. Approved 4-1 with Mayor Pro Tem McKee voting against.
Desert Hot Springs Fall Festival & Fireworks Show
What better to way to kick off the fall season than to get outdoors and attend a family fall festival? It will be a memorable event with carnival rides, a petting zoo, pony rides, face painting, fire trucks to climb on and police cars to sit in, an art gallery show featuring 25 artists, live music with three live bands, tasty food trucks, a Coachella Valley Brewing beer garden and a full professional fireworks display to top off the evening in grand finale festival style.
The event is privately funded by a generous contribution by the Cannabis Alliance Network "DHSCAN" and other private business contributors with a crew of volunteers working to organize and put on the October 1 event in Desert Hot Springs.
"A big shout out goes to all the businesses that helped make this event possible and especially Cannabis Alliance Network who stepped up with a real show of community support," said Councilman Russell Betts.
Betts, who is leading the organizing effort to put on the event, explained that the event, now in its third year, was coming up short on funding and that as soon as DHSCAN became aware of the need, it stepped in to assure the event would go on. "It is actually a greatly expanded event with their help," said Betts.
"Without hesitation our members said this is something we want to do for the community," said President of DHSCAN Jason Elsasser. "DHSCAN is very happy to support what is looking to be a big Desert Hot Springs fun family event and looks forward to this being one of many great events ahead."
The festival also boasts a Hospitality Patio especially for Police Officers, Fire Fighters and their families to enjoy the fall festivities completely free as a form of appreciation for their dedication and service to the community.
Food is provided at a charge by Bruces Cayote Kitchen serving up BBQ and Jolly Polly selling desserts.
The organizers ask everyone to give a hearty thanks to DHSCAN and its members, Desert Valley Disposal, Solar City, MSA Consulting, Desert Pacific Properties and Q&A Associates Law Offices.
For more information, call 760 333-1374. Ask for Russ.
DATE & TIME: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1 (2 P.M. TO 10 P.M.)
LOCATION: 64949 Mission Lakes Blvds, Desert Hot Springs, CA.
(Corner of Mission Lakes Blvd and Little Morongo Road)FOR THE KIDS – FREE from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
ART SHOW & GALLARY
- Petting Zoo
- Pony Rides
- Super Mega Slide
- Kiddie Chair Swings
- Euro Bungee
- Face painting
LIVE MUSIC – FREE 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Featuring the work of 25 artists
FIRE AND POLICE DEPARTMENTS FUN
- Desert Country (Country Western)
- Gin Piston (Danceable Rock and Roll)
- The Brosquitos (Indie Fusion)
- Climb on a fire truck and in a police car.
- Meet Smokey Bear and McGruff
FIREWORKS SHOW: 9:30 p.m.
- BBQ by Bruce's Cayote Kitchen
- Desserts by Jolly Polly
- Fireworks by Pyrospectaculars by Sousa.
August 10, 2016
August 10, 2016
Cpl. Christopher Saucier
760-329-2904 x 382 firstname.lastname@example.org
Burglary Suspect Arrested After Pursuit
On 08/10/2016 at approximately 0825 hours, DHSPD officers responded to the area of Hacienda Avenue and Tamar Drive in Desert Hot Springs regarding a reported vehicle burglary. The caller reported that he caught a subject burglarizing his vehicle and the suspect then fled the area on foot with the victim in pursuit before losing sight of the suspect. Officers arrived in the area and located the suspect running in the 12800 Block of Miracle Hill Road. The suspect continued running from officers and subsequently forced his way into a nearby residence. Officers then surrounded the home. At that time the suspect exited a side window from the home and attempted to flee again and was apprehended by officers in the back yard. Gabriel Gallegos (21) was arrested and later booked into the Riverside County Jail in Banning for charges including Penal Code 459 - Burglary 1st Degree, Penal Code 488 - Petty Theft, Penal Code 148 - Resisting Arrest.
June 8, 2016
Desert Hot Springs City Council Meeting - June 7, 2016
Quick & dirty summary of the June 7, 2016, City Council meeting.
- New cop sworn in. Sharon Smith from Beaumont.
- Rich Malacoff retiring. He's held various titles, but for the past three years or so, he's been the one person staying in the planning department while his bosses came and went.
- The Walmart initiative was adopted by a 4-1 vote with Joe McKee voting against. The only real question on the table was whether to adopt the initiative or send it to the voters. In either case, Walmart would be approved. But if it had been sent to the voters, it would have cost the city $20,000 plus a loss of at least six months of sales tax revenue from Walmart. The petition had been signed by 2,200 people, which is about two-thirds the number who voted in the last city election. Approval of the initiative by the voters was nearly guaranteed. The question for the council members should have been how to respond when the voting public has clearly expressed a preference for Walmart. Under the California constitution, the will of the public (as expressed via the ballot) is supreme. But only Russell Betts addressed this aspect of the issue. Others, especially Joe McKee, continued to talk about the possible negatives and positives of having a Walmart store. That would have been a good discussion while the petition was being circulated. But those 2,200 signatures put it in an entirely different light. Will a council member choose to defy the public will? Joe McKee thought he should.
- Desert Valley Disposal's franchise agreement was extended by one year, which means that their annual payment to the city ($100,000) gets increased by $10,000. DVD had already delivered the check for $110,000 to the City Manager, and he had to wait for this vote to deposit it.
- The council approved putting DVD billings onto the tax bills of residents. This is an annual vote.
- A conditional use permit was approved for a marijuana cultivation site to be operated by GFarmaLabs. The site is located on Little Morongo Road south of Dillon - that is, down that dirt road, which the applicant will have to pave. Ultimately it will be five buildings with a total area of 102,000 sq.ft. The interesting difference about this proposal is that they intend to erect a temporary structure immediately so that they can get some marijuana grown and sold this year, which will help them pay for the permanent structures. Cultivators are not able to get standard bank loans because of the federal laws against marijuana. There was a bit of discussion about the porta-potties that would be on site before the permanent buildings were erected. They will be the more substantive temporary restrooms that are less likely to blow away. They will not be the standard little single booths that we see at most construction sites. The temporary structures can only be there for 18 months. The temporary structures must have the "exterior appearance of a standard rural nursery."
- The 2016/17 budget was approved. $1.3 million was put into a genuine reserve fund.
- A request for $5000 from Health Assessment and Research for Communities was approved.
- The council voted to accept a bid from Swagit Productions to set up a stationary camera system for the Carl May Center. This will allow all meetings to be video-recorded and it will save the city money. The city has been paying about $23,400/year for the current video contract. Bids for a camera system only were:
- Swagit - $24,847
- Digital Integration - $29,973
- Insight - $48,024
- GST - $18,627
- Swagit - $11,530/year
- GST - $5,061/year
- the existing service - $23,400/year
- Approved installation of a 4-way stop at Little Morongo and Two Bunch Palms.
- Approved an ordinance that will permit the city to hire a few (one or two?) qualified people to work around the time of Independence Day and New Year's Day whose sole job would be to locate and cite those using illegal fireworks. The council allocated $5000 for this, and it is unpredictable how much will come back in the form of fines. The police and fire chiefs report that whenever they show up at a location where obviously illegal fireworks are being shot off, there is a total and mysterious absence of people! This makes it hard to issue a citation.
- Approved accepting a used bus from Sunline. This is one of the smaller buses used by SunDial. The bus is free. It's a 2012 Ford F450 (running on CNG) with 172,809 miles. The engine was replaced at 145,000 miles. SunLine will provide instruction for the driver. The main intended use is to shuttle seniors to the Senior Center, but it may be used for any other appropriate task. There will be ongoing unspecified expenses. Whether the insurance is paid by for the city or the agency contracted for the Senior Center is "negotiable," according to the city attorney.
- Reports by council members and city staff were dispensed with at this meeting.
Marijuana Cultivation Groundbreaking
This took place on Little Morongo, between Two Bunch Palms and Pierson.
All these t-shirts bore the number 1411, but I don't know the significance of that.
May 19, 2016
Illegal Cultivation Site Discovered
You want to know what stupid is? Here's stupid:
Back in January the City Council approved the Bunch Palms Trail cultivation facility that would be new construction at the corner of Cabot and Two Bunch Palms Trail. It is one of the few cultivation sites that plans to use greenhouses. The owner (or one of the owners maybe) John Van Beek, without putting a shovel in the ground, went down the block and started cultivating at Francisco's Auto Repair on Little Morongo Road completely without ANY permits.
IOW, the guy with complete legal entitlements to cultivate decides to forego that and open an illegal cultivation site in one of the very few cities in California to permit legal cultivation. It's double-stupid. He gets it for the illegal grow, and he ain't gonna make much progress on his legal site after this.
May 11, 2016
Robbers Nailed In DHS
May 11, 2016
Sgt. G. Paiz
On Monday May 09, 2016, at about 1403 hours, Officers were dispatched to the 11900 Block of Palm Drive, regarding a robbery that had just occurred. The victim said two suspects, a male and female, robbed her of her purse and its contents, at gunpoint. The suspects were last seen running north from the location. The victims property along with the weapon were dumped at a nearby trash bin. An area check was conducted but the suspects were not found.
On Tuesday May 10, 2016, at about 1157 hours, the robbery suspects were detained to the front of 7-11, 65971 Pierson Blvd. One of the suspects had the victims stolen property on their possession. The suspects were arrested, booked and transported to RCJ-Banning.
Suspect-Marcus Eugene Benavidez-Downing 38 years old
M, H, 5-7, 250, Bro , Blk,
Desert Hot Springs resident
Suspect-Marlena Contreras 27 years old
F, H, 5-5, 200, Bro, Bro
Desert Hot Springs resident
Marcus Eugene Benavidez-Downing
April 21, 2016
The Desert Hot Springs Marijuana Meeting
Everything you missed at last night's meeting. For the most part, a very interesting couple of hours. That is I, in the red t-shirt on the left of the screen as the video starts.
"I am a very conservative individual. I have totally done a 180 on my opinion" regarding marijuana, said [Desert Hot Springs Mayor Scott] Matas, who describes himself as a right-of-center registered Republican.
April 15, 2016
State Of The City - Desert Hot Springs
The Chamber of Commerce has shared this video of Mayor Matas' first State of the City address [fixed link]. And I get a little cameo role in the first minute!
April 13, 2016
Three Cultivations Sites And One Dispensary Approved
I listened to last night's meeting of the Planning Commission from my private personal health facility, where I can exercise my right shoulder and hack up my left lung without disturbing the general public. Got to keep track of which marijuana facility is going where.
Last night the commission approved three more cultivation sites and one more dispensary.
Desert's Finest Patient's Cooperative
The dispensary (Lawrence Bynum - Desert's Finest Patient's Cooperative) is going to occupy the long-former location of Thai Palms on the northeast corner of Palm and Acoma. FINALLY, something to fill that blank in a prominent corner location. This is certainly going to be the most visible dispensary right here in the city. The site, which the dispensary will be renting, is connected also to the empty lot just east across the alley. There will be parking in that lot and quite a bit of discussion was about how MUCH of it would be used. There also was a general lamentation about the planning standards of the 1940s and '50s in this town. Yup. That's our legacy.
The site will have no more than one green cross displayed, and that will be painted on the south-facing Acoma side of the building. There will be potted plants along Acoma as well, including a few palm trees.
You can see on this interior plan that the dispenary's space includes the area behind the barber shop next door. More than half of the space can be used for cultivation. This is, as far as I can recall, a larger space than at other dispensaries in town, but all the dispensaries are limited to 99 mature plants.
After the approval, there was some discussion about a billboard on Palm that can be seen as you are coming into the city that is promoting a low price at some dispensary. I don't recall seeing that sign, but there did used to be a sign that you could see as you headed south on Palm Drive that advertised "Home of the $5 Gram," but that was for PSA Organica, which is one of the newer dispensaries in Palm Springs. The city attorney explained to the commission what the city was able to control and NOT able to control in public advertising. At least one commissioner thought advertising like that could sully the image of the city as "Dime bag DHS. While it did look like the low class sort of advertising you can find in Los Angeles, I think some price competition between dispensaries could be beneficial to the patients.
The first cultivation site on the agenda last night was by Ryan Po of DHS Diversified located at 65441 Two Bunch Palms Trail. That building has been used as a recycling center up to now.
One thing I have not heard is where are the tenants of these industrial buildings that are being snapped up for marijuana cultivation, relocating to? The Pentecostal church surely has enough money from its sale to relocate into a residential area of the city, but the industrial businesses must be leaving town. There are no spare buildings in our industrial zone now, and anyone who tried to buy a site to put up a new building would be competing with the marijuana industry. I hope all these cultivation sites become fully developed and employ as many people has they have been saying they will.
An advantage to going into an existing building, is that electric service is already there. Mr. Po said he has 400 amps, which was plenty.
Kamran Amirianfar for Blue Mango was there last night for two different sites, each requiring a separate CUP. The Planning Commission handled them separately. The first will be at 65118 San Jacinto Lane; the second at 65265 San Jacinto Lane.
The interior of 65118 is divided into 18 separate units which have been rented out to industrial tenants. The interior will be redone to create space for four large cultivation rooms and five smaller rooms for curing, processing, shipping, etc. Chair Romero encouraged them to removed the ficus and palm trees that decorate the street frontage, to be replaced with more drought tolerant plants.
65265 San Jacinto Lane will not require nearly as much work to re-arrange the interior. They'll keep most of the existing interior partitions and have two large, interconnected, double-deck growing rooms. The interior features a mezzanine from which, I imagine, one could gaze across the big spread of green leafy plants, as any farmer likes to do. They will also be cultivating up on the mezzanine.
Both sites were approved unanimously.
The single non-marijuana item the Planning Commission considered was a request to be permitted to erect vinyl fencing on top of existing "retaining walls" between new homes in the Gallery Vista Santa Fe homes at the northern end of Sonora Drive. The agenda packet describes them as "retaining walls," but it seems unlikely there would be an actual retaining wall between each house, unless they were built on a fairly steep hillside. Nevertheless, the fencing was proposed only between the newest homes (which I think are Coachella Valley Housing Coalition sweat equity homes). There would be no vinyl fencing facing the street.
The Planning Commission rejected the request.
April 8, 2016
"Stupid" seems to be the word for this
Mr. De-Jesus rolled his red pickup truck up in front of a property on Foxdale, in full view of the security camera facing the street. Then he stole "multiple" televisions from that property, loading them into the rear of his red pickup truck. Then he drove his red pickup truck over to the pawn shop. So when our police went to visit the pawn shop to see if the TVs had shown up there, voila! They were all sitting there in the red pickup truck.
April 6, 2016
Burglary and Possession of Stolen Property Arrests
On 04/06/2016, at approximately 0853 hours, DHSPD Police Officers responded to the 11000 block of Foxdale Dr. regarding a residential burglary where multiple televisions were reported stolen. Officers obtained video surveillance footage of a red Ford pickup truck in front of the location at the time the victim's burglary alarm was activated. Another reporting party advised seeing a suspicious red Ford pickup truck in the area a few minutes later. Officers conducted an area check for the vehicle and located a similar vehicle at a local pawn shop with multiple televisions in the tailgate. Officers contacted Pedro De-Jesus and four other delinquent juveniles.
Investigation and further evidence revealed they were all in possession of the stolen property and connected to the burglary. Pedro De-Jesus and the four other juveniles were arrested and booked into Riverside County Jail and Juvenile Hall. There is some other outstanding property located that did not belong to the victim. If anyone has any further information regarding this case please contact Officer Perez. (DHSPD Case# 1604D-1391)