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May 5, 2010

Desert Hot Springs City Council - May 4

Before the meeting, City Manager Rick Daniels showed off his new iPad (3G model), which he said he had just gotten that day. I haven't been able to whip up any witty remarks about that.

The audio recording of this Desert Hot Springs City Council meeting is available here.

Closed Session

There was no reportable action on any of the items on the closed session agenda, but I do want to point out that among the items was real property negotiations concerning 11940 Palm Drive, which is the building on the northeast corner of Palm and Pierson:
11940 Palm Drive

They are also negotiating on what the agenda calls only "11900 Palm Drive," but that's just one storefront in this building:
11880 - 11886 - 11896 - 11900 - 11906 Palm Drive (6917)

So my guess is they really are negotiating for the whole building.

Community and Cultural Affairs Commission

Dot Reed gave her quarterly report on the C&CA Commission. There was the Party In The Park. Coming in the fall is the Wellness & World Music Festival. The holiday lighting contest is being worked on. The members of the Commission worked on Relay For Life. The city team raised over $2,000. Councilmember Baker asked why the Parks & Recreation Commission became the Community and Cultural Affairs Commission. Ms. Reed did not know the details. Mr. Baker suggested that someone from C&CA contact the rockwork facility at Dillon and Little Morongo to discuss the possibility of using his work as AIPP. They also discussed some of the sculptures made from Harleys at Cabot's as possible AIPP.

Public Comments

Vance Kazanjian said he has been coming to Desert Hot Springs for more than 45 years, but now he has a place in DHS he doesn't come to very often. He had an issue with Desert Valley Disposal. It wasn't clear what the matter was, but comments from Councilmember Baker much later in the meeting seemed to indicate that it was the old issue of "I don't use the trash pickup, so why should I pay a bill to DVD?"

Mr. Kazanjian also presented new American and California flags to the city as gifts. I've noticed the American flag outside the Carl May has been getting a bit ragged, but a survey of the whole city could easily turn up one in worse shape.

Cathy Romero and Yolanda Rustad reported on Cabot's Earth Day success. There were at least 1,400 visitors and 138 tours of the museum were given. Fifty-five tickets for Vortex Lounge were sold. They had a budget of $5,000 and stayed within that, thanks to private donations (goods, services and time) valued at $20,000. Ms. Romero encouraged everyone to visit Cabot's to see what became of the cob structure, the thing being built of local clay, sand and straw. She said the resulting bench represents the theme and desire of the event.
New Bench at Cabot's (5765)
The bench.
(More photos of the bench here.)

To provide a community-building opportunity here in Desert Hot Springs, to show what can come organically and with synergy right from our midst; a feeling that this is our city no matter our age, our circumstances, or position; that if we work together and take a chance on each other, we don't need a lot of money to make this the kind of place that provides us with a quality of life we all seek. We have much of what it takes right here if we're willing to try new ways of approaching things. We're not the city often portrayed in the media. We're a city of hard working families, wonderful kids, who need only a speck of encouragement to get involved and become our future leaders. This could be the city Cabot Yerxa imagined when he stood on his Miracle Hill. A community of diversity and inclusiveness, of opportunity and well-being. And this is my definition of "sustainability."

John Card talked about building Junior All-American Football and Cheer. They need 46 more kids. they are ordering almost all new equipment. Football, he said, is for boys and girls ages 7 to 14. And girls can go into Cheer (I suspect boys would be welcome in Cheer as well, but don't take my word for it). Six-year olds can be Mascots! No rule says you can't have more than one Mascot. This Saturday, May 8, from 8 AM to 1 PM, is the last football clinic at the high school. The Oakland Raiders have agreed to send "representatives" to try to help raise support. No guarantee that a player will be there, but the Raiderettes may show up.
Oakland Raiderettes
Oakland Raiderettes.

So, be there to see what happens or stay home. Your choice.

Noel Erickson congratulated the city for the work being done and said she is proud to be a resident. She is the Program Director for St. Elizabeth's food pantry. This Saturday is the "Postal Drive." Put your donations out by your mailbox on Saturday and the letter carrier will pick them up and get them to where they should be. She went on to say that ANY items, including perishables could be put out! Okay, she said that, but let's be sensible. If you really want to put out fresh milk or meat, I suggest you keep it cold in your fridge while keeping a sharp eye out for your letter carrier. Then, when you spot him or her, hustle that fresh stuff out to the curb. Or, make your donation less perishable, and then give some cash to St. Elizabeth's so they can get the perishables they need.

Dot Reed reported that Relay for Life raised $18,500, but the books don't close until August 31, so donations are still very welcome. She pointed out that the picture of Elvis that had been hung at the back of the room had been stolen.
Exhibit at the Carl May Center (5641)
A photo from April 8th, before the theft.

George Fisher reminded us that this Saturday from 5 to 6:30 PM there will be another presentation on the San Andreas Fault at the Carl May, with pictures and lecture by Pat Hinrichsen. Mr. Fisher also thanked all the volunteers who helped at Relay For Life. He singled out the fire department for the medical support and the kids at the high school, who were all great.

Anthony Zalesi and Tony Clarke came to the podium. Mr. Clarke introduced Mr. Zalesi as the Wellness Director for the Wellness & World Music Festival. Sponsor and artist interest is very high, he said.

Brian Harnick along with Jim Ducat and Ray Amador from the Coachella Valley Boys & Girls Club got up to announce that as of Monday (the day before) they had taken over operation of the Boys & Girls Club in Desert Hot Springs. They plan on a grand opening celebration next fall.

RDA Changes to the Planning Commission

This was a resolution to send the proposed RDA revisions to the Planning Commission where they will do all necessary analysis and determine the exact boundaries. Here's a map of the proposed area.
RDA Map Proposal

Rudy Acosta explained that areas within the MSHCP are not included in the proposed RDA area. Councilmember Betts asked why the area around Palm Drive and Dillon Road is not included. While the northeast corner is not going to be annexed into the city, the reason for the other corners is either that the county has already included it in its RDA, or it's not blighted.

RDA Map Proposal Palm & Dillon
Palm & Dillon.

Approved 5-0.

Award Contract to GHA for Facades and Demolitions

GHA Enterprises are the ones who did the new facades downtown, and now the city is ready to move on to other storefronts. They also propose to demolish 12063, 12065 and 12069 Palm Drive. Those are shown in the photo below.
12069 - 12065 - 12063 Palm Drive (6913)
That's the former Furbee hotel and drug store and the two store fronts north from there.

The most the RDA will pay is $685,000. The low bid (from GHA) came in at $762,188. Part of the reason for the higher price is the city pays prevailing wages and those rose by 14% in January! (Good news/bad news.) So the proposal is to award only $685,000 and then "value engineer the project," which means (I'm pretty sure) to negotiate with GHA to figure out what can be cut in order to get the cost down to $685,000.

Approved 4-0, Councilmember Betts having recused himself.

Consent Agenda

Other items on the consent agenda, approved 5-0 without discussion were:

  • The state is proposing to delay and defer payment of our share of the Highway Users Tax. Jason Simpson and Rick Daniels have already sent a letter to the California Department of Finance to request a hardship exemption. This item was a resolution from the city council to express its opposition to the state's position.
  • The city is already paying Kirkpatrick Landscaping $6,000 per month to provide landscaping services on eleven Landscape and Lighting Maintenance Districts. This proposal was to pay an additional $2,440 per month for landscaping services at Cabot's, on medians throughout the city and along Palm Drive.
  • $79,850 to Tri Star for paving, sidewalk, curb and gutter improvements on Verbena Drive. The map indicates its the eastern side of Verbena between Hacienda and Flora, so this is to provide better access to Cabot Yerxa Elementary.

Reports

Councilmember Jan Pye said she recently got a question from a constituent about whether the parcel tax vote in June was for a continuance or an increase. She explained that it was a continuance at the same rate, not an increase. She also said that the Parks & Recreation Commission became the Community & Cultural Affairs Commission when they took over the July 4 celebration and some other events that were not strictly parks.

Councilmember Baker said that lease problems have been resolved, and the new temporary clinic will locate itself in the former Blockbuster store.

Mayor Pro Tem Matas said the bids for the Indian/I-10 interchange had been opened. The original estimate had been that it would cost $25 million, but the low bid came from Granite Construction at only $16 million. Other bids were only slightly higher. Construction will begin in August.

Mr. Matas was also part of a group that met with representatives from the Los Angeles Dodgers to talk about bringing an RBI Program to Desert Hot Springs. "RBI" stands for "Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities." It's great that DHS can be both a bedroom community AND an inner city. Whatever it takes.

City Manager Daniels said FEMA has given tentative approval for about $1 million for street repairs to fix the damage caused by winter flooding. That money will be used for Cactus between Hacienda and Two Bunch, plus Ambrosio.

The annexation at Indian & Pierson has been approved by LAFCO and will be part of the city within 30 days.

He reminded everyone that the parcel tax must be approved in order for the annexation to I-10 to be completed.

Fresh & Easy will begin demolition by May 9 (just barely clearing the Planning Commission's requirement to start demo within 60 days of their approval).

The Senior Alliance has donated a new commercial gas stove ($8,000 - $9,000) for the Senior Center. This will be the SECOND stove in the kitchen there.

Vandals continue to damage restrooms at Tedesco Park and throughout the city, playground equipment at Mission Springs, and a gate to the Wardman tennis courts.

He announced that there will be two public meetings this month to find out from the community what they want in "parks, programs, field and facilities" as well as recreation facilities. The meetings will be:

May 19, 6-7:30 PM, Lozano Center in Tedesco Park

May 20, 6-7:30 PM, Carl May Center, West Drive by the skate park

Dog park? Boxing club? A lake for canoeing? Whatever you've dreamt of, come and tell them. This is part of the preparation for the Parks Master Plan, which is necessary for becoming part of the Desert Recreation District. If you can't make the meetings or have questions, contact Laura Green, 760-329-6411, ext. 100.

The new clinic is being fast-tracked so it can be open in 30 days. It will open with 3 doctors plus other professional staff. Mr. Daniels anticipates that by August there will be an approval for a permanent clinic with 10 doctors.

The California Redevelopment Agency's court challenge of the state's taking of RDA funds has been lost, but an appeal is being planned.

He announced the science fair(s) at Tedesco Park:

Family Science [Two] Day[s]

Saturday May 8

Sunday May 23

9 AM to Noon, both days

Tedesco Park

The City of Desert Hot Springs has received a grant from the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians for two Family Science Days. There will be:

  • Scales and Slime Show - to compare and contrast reptiles and amphibians.
  • Feather and Fur Show - live animals presented by a Traveling Scientist.
  • "Passive" Activities (I think they mean "Quiet") - a nature scavenger hunt and a touch table of animal skins, shells and bones.
  • Recycling and Upcycling Station - a relay race focused on separating trash for different reuses and disposals; and craft based on reusing materials (something more than ice cream sticks, we are sure)
  • Geology Station - hands on activity using a magnet to pull iron ore out of dirt and a microviewer station to observe different sands and minerals.
  • Bird Station - a game where participants use different object to represent bird beaks and pick up objects, plus hands on activities showcasing the adaptations of birds of prey.
  • Water Station - a game where participants follow the path of a water droplet through the water cycle and hands on activities to illustrate the properties of water.

Finally, Mr. Daniels gave a brief slide presentation. The city has gotten $1.4 million in federal funding to completely reconstruct Cactus from Pierson [the map must have been prepared by the feds because it misspelled it as "Pearson"] to Hacienda, as well as Acoma, Buena Vista, Cahuilla and Desert View from Cactus to West, plus Estrella and Flora from Cactus to East Arroyo. New pavement, curbs, gutters and sidewalks will be built. He also said "concrete driveways at every house." Cactus will be forty feet wide which, he said, will be wide enough to "land an aircraft carrier." If he can pull that off, we will get more worldwide publicity than we can handle. Side streets will be about 32 feet wide. Measure "A" will provide $2.19 million, for a total cost of $3.59 million. It's going out to bid now. Bids will be opened May 25. Approval will be brought to the council on June 15. Construction will then start in late June and should be completed before January.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | May 5, 2010 at 10:45 PM

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