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August 6, 2008

Unanimous Opposition to Green Path North at DHS City Council, August 5

The agenda for the closed meeting preceding the regular city council meeting had only two items on it: (1) existing litigation with Kathy Ward et al. and (2) "potential litigation, pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(C)." Attorney Duran told us that there was nothing to report on the first item, but that on the second item Councilmember Al Schmidt recused himself and the rest of the council voted 4-0 not to proceed with litigation. Decode that however you wish to.

Item 14e was removed from the agenda at the request of City Manager Rick Daniels. That was the item that would have adopted the policy rules and handbook that Al Schmidt and Karl Baker put so much work into. So, if that was the big thing you were excited about tonight, you'll have to check back at a future council meeting.

Plaques of recognition were presented by Mayor Parks and Police Chief Williams to the members of the parolee ad hoc committee: Russell Betts, Donn Sholty, Russ Martin, Scott Matas and Jeff Bowman.

Gabriel King reported on the Planning Commission. Next meeting for them is Tuesday, August 12 at 6 PM.

Camille Linde reported on the Citizen's Street Committee which has now shut up shop. One of the interesting points was that it was the city's policy to re-do 75% of the better streets that needed work, and only 25% of the streets in poor condition. At least that's how she reported it. Those two numbers wouldn't have to add up to 100%, unless she meant that 75% of paving money was spent on better streets while the remainder was spent on the worse streets.

In either case, it doesn't take a genius to realize that over time the poor streets would simply get worse and worse and eventually disappear into the desert. Looking around DHS you can see the effect. The committee inverted the policy, so now it's 75% for the poor streets and 25% for the better streets.

City Manager Rick Daniels said that staff would come up with the detailed schedule of street work so that every resident would know just when his street would be a mess. Actual work will begin in October and go on for about a year.

Dot Reed got up during public comments and shared an interesting story (that we could have anticipated). She took a couple of her grandkids (I think she said grandkids) down to the "Greyhound station" in Palm Springs, which is, of course, just the Amtrak station at Garnet. The first bus to come through had NO destination sign and the driver spoke NO English. Really. Even if that's legal, you've got to wonder about Greyhound's concern for customer service and passenger safety. So they waited for the next bus, which was, indeed, going their way. A couple of visitors debarked the bus, glanced around and asked if this was actually Palm Springs. Ms. Reed assured them that this desolate spot was the very place they had read so much about in their tourist brochures. Given the choice of a three mile walk across open desert or a ride in Ms. Reed's car, they chose the ride.

That was the quandary of a couple of healthy tourists with money in their pockets. How will it be when they've got that homeless facility going full blast just on the other side of I-10? I don't think we can conjure up enough Dot Reeds to ferry them all back and forth to town.

Jeff Bowman got up to spread the word that now was the time to snap up some great real estate bargains. He specifically recommended Redfin.com as a way to locate properties.

Father Pantels got up once again to encourage the council to move ahead on an urgent care clinic, specifically the one being proposed by Horizon Medical Group. He also made the point that this article in the Desert Valley Star contained some factual errors, but he was not specific.

Ken Colgrove got up to speak on three complaints:
1) a vehicle he owned was stolen and it turned up in Henderson, Nevada. The Henderson, Nevada, police said they had been unable to make contact with the DHS Police, and the vehicle then somehow passed into the custody of the Las Vegas police where it sat even longer. Mr. Colgrove said it had taken him 12 days to get through the the DHS Police.

2) he complained about a botched street "repair" in front of his house two years ago.

3) when the Tuscan Hills development went bankrupt, the rented fence disappeared, leaving the lake in the development exposed, an "attractive nuisance" I think they might call it. It took more than a week for the city to get a fence restored.

Mayor Parks and Councilmember Al Schmidt reported on a tour they took of successful small cities in Arizona to get an idea of which direction to take DHS in. The cities included Scottsdale, Happy Valley, Jerome, Sedona, Flagstaff and Taliesin West. They both made it clear that neither of them care for the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright. Heathens.

City Manager Rick Daniels reported a meeting with Senator Feinstein's staff to discuss her Wilderness Bill which would expand Joshua Tree National Park a little, bringing it up to (or closer to) the city limits of DHS by incorporating the BLM land that currently sits as a buffer between the park and the city. This would provide much greater protection of our view of the pristine Little San Bernardinos and make it that much easier to turn Desert Hot Springs into the gateway for Joshua Tree N.P.

Mr. Daniels went on to say that architectural firms are being retained for four projects, all of which are under $25,000 except one (he didn't say which one): the police station remodeling, designing the police substation in Tedesco Park, Cabot's master plan, and the remodeling of the Senior Center.

He also introduced two new staff people: Amir Modaressi [thank you, Dan Patneaude] Emir Something-or-other. Mr. Daniels couldn't get his name right and I couldn't hear it when the man said it once. Nonetheless, Amir will be in charge of the $10 million street paving project, so I expect we'll hear his name again. The other new staff person was Hal who will be in charge of park projects and all the other projects.

Finally, we got to the Green Path North resolution. Joan Taylor of the Sierra Club got up to say that she and the Sierra Club were mighty pleased that the city council was considering this resolution. The resolution itself contained some small errors, due to recent changes by the LADWP, but in essence it was dead on. It was quickly approved 5-0.

The question of awarding the visitor center contract to Cabot's came up. The Chamber of Commerce has always had the contract, but the contract has never been put out for bid, and the Chamber has recently made a poor showing for itself. Russ Martin got up to say that he was opposed to giving the contract to Cabot's only because of its out of the way location, that visitors to the city should be able to easily find a visitors center at a gateway into the city. Good point, Mr. Martin, but irrelevant to the choice, since the current Chamber of Commerce location is just as far off the beaten track as Cabot's is. Good signage (and a repaved Desert View) will get visitors to Cabot's. Future city plans should certainly include a prominent visitor center building on Palm Drive somewhere south of the city.

Cabot's got the contract by a 5-0 vote, although the City Mananger must still negotiate details and work out the exact price. The city wants to pay $50,000 and Cabot's is asking for a tad less than $59,000.

A contract was approved to extend pavement on Cholla Drive to Pierson Boulevard. That's $188,069 with Tri-Star Contracting.

The evening's entertainment was the conditional use permit for the construction of the Terrazas Residence at 12466 Skyline Drive. No snags. It was just nice to see architectural drawings for a 4,384 square foot custom residence on the hillside. The fact that the slope there is 20% or steeper is why a conditional use permit is required.

In the second segment of public comments at the end of the council meeting Reverend Paul Miller got up to announce that he would be filing as a candidate for the College Of The Desert Board Of Trustees. It wasn't long before Attorney Duran interrupted him to point out that announcing one's candidacy for office was not permitted in public comments. The Reverend immediately agreed, and said he should have known better than to announce his candidacy for the College Of The Desert Board Of Trustees.

The council meeting adjourned and we moved right into the RDA meeting.

On the RDA agenda was an item to amend the purchase agreement for the Jewish Community Center. Executive Director Rick Daniels pulled that from the agenda because he had not received the necessary paperwork. Florence Martin, though, had come to the meeting specifically to comment on that, so she rose to speak. She lives next door to the site. Her main questions were why did we pay so much for the building and what did we intend to do with it. Good questions. She also objected to the proposed amendment which, she said, was to change the seller from the Rabbi himself to the Community Center, thereby avoiding some taxes.

Also on the agenda were authorizations for the Executive Director to execute purchase agreements on properties at 11875 Palm Drive and 66030-66036 Pierson Boulevard. Some discussion ensued on both items in an attempt to clarify just exactly what places we were talking about. What I do when I see an address for some place the city is trying to buy is go to the Downtown DHS Flickr photo site. All the photos there are indexed by address, so in the search field you can enter "11875 Palm Drive" and you'll see what they're talking about:
11875 Palm Drive (1591)
11875 Palm Drive

66030 Pierson Boulevard is this one:
66030 Pierson Boulevard (0766)
66030 is on the left, 66036 on the right

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Green Path North | permalink | August 6, 2008 at 12:04 AM


His name is Amir Modaressi.

Posted by: Dan Patneaude at Aug 6, 2008 3:49:22 PM

A photo of Cabot Yerxa and Frank Lloyd Wright together examining some building under construction would be an amazing find...or an amazing Photoshopping.

The Desert Sun here reports that the "Hal" I refer to is Hal Goldenberg, and he will be in charge of "$45 million in city capital improvement projects."

The same article say Troy Strange will be a project manager for the redevelopment agency. Troy Strange was not presented at the city council meeting.

The article doesn't mention Emir With-The-Mysterious-Last-Name so we are still in the dark there.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Aug 6, 2008 11:53:54 AM

Good thing Frank didn't offer his ideas to Cabot, as council would have seen the resulting architecture as "blight" and had it torn down.

Posted by: a few comments at Aug 6, 2008 6:36:06 AM

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