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May 31, 2011

DHS City Council - May 24 - Selecting The Festival Advisory Committee

The audio recording of this meeting of the Desert Hot Springs City Council is available here. There were two microphones to go around. One for the public and one for the council and staff, so there are spots where the audio is pretty weak.

Mayor Parks was late to this meeting held at the Lozano Center in Tedesco Park, so Mayor Pro Tem Betts called the meeting to order.

Emergency Operations Plan

Chief Veik introduced Cap (Cath?) Henderson from the Office of Emergency Services. She discussed the roles of the city council and staff during an emergency. The plan is being updated. The Skyborne fire station is the Emergency Operations Center. She said that the city council needs to be trained on particular numbers and acronyms. I have no idea what she was referring to. The passive voice was used.

She sees the city council as having an advisory role in an emergency. They will also serve as the front people to the media.

City Manager Daniels said a small office center adjacent to the Skyborne fire station is being equipped to function as the emergency operations center.

Mayor Parks (having arrived) asked where was she to report after she had determined that everything was okay at home in an emergency. Does she come to the EOC? "Who is our PIO?" she asked. She said that the current role assignments must be up to date, and everyone must know their role.

Cap/Cath said that people need to be trained in multiple roles. Jason Simpson, for example, lives in Murrieta, so if he is not in DHS, who takes on his job? She said you do not want media at the EOC, so city council members should probably go to city hall, not the EOC.

Chief Veik said they will work to identify which of the remaining city employees have been trained. Others will be given the opportunity to get training. By the time of the Big Shake Out next fall, they will do a first "table top" drill.

City Manager Daniels said that the goal is to keep city government functioning in an emergency. Decisions must be made as to priorities, coordinating fire and police, authorize purchases, deployment of personnel, etc.

Festival Advisory Committee

Seven of the ten nominees were present. Craig Michaels withdrew his name because he might want to bid to be involved in putting on the festival. D. Tom Hile could not make it to tonight's meeting due to a schedule conflict. Melody Hinks did not show up. Those who were present:

  • Brian Michaelz
  • Ed Trost
  • Linda Lennon-Roth
  • Mickie Riley
  • Paul Ryan
  • Stephen Frisbee
  • Warren Bradshaw

Mayor Parks asked them all to begin with a short statement identifying themselves and providing a little background.

Warren Bradshaw: Has lived in DHS for 26 years. Worked for 18 years for Cathedral City as their Housing Programs Manager. Recently retired.

Stephen Frisbee: Moved to DHS just a year ago. His primary interest is an opportunity to be involved in the community. He had been the general manager of destination resorts throughout the country, mostly in Virginia, Colorado and California. In the past seven years he's been in China.

Paul Ryan: Chief Operating Officer of Fantasy Springs. "All boats float in a high tide." Anything that's good for the Coachella Valley is ultimately good for his business.

Mickie Riley: Owner of Rilington Communities. He is a semi-retired real estate developer. He moved his business to the Coachella Valley in 2002. His passion is health, fitness and wellness.

Linda Lennon-Roth: Has lived in DHS since 1997. Most of her adult life has been as a concert promoter. She has been a trust officer at a major bank. Currently she's doing time-share sales.

Ed Trost: He moved with his wife to the desert 11 years ago. They live in Palm Springs. He runs the largest sanctioned tennis tournament in the country called Babolat World Tennis Classic. Golf brought him to the desert. He worked for the management company that ran Desert Dunes. His background is varied, but always in the area of health and fitness.

Brian Michaelz: He is a married, family man with three grown children and twin boys born not long ago. He wants to be involved with the community.

Mayor Parks explained that all of the questions had been sent to the nominees in advance. The first question was "What event planning, production or other experience do you have that will be useful to the committee?"

Brian Michaelz: He's been in radio broadcasting for the past 20 years. In radio one has to wear many hats, everything from janitor to production. He began doing concert promotions on the side. He and his wife formed their own business, an audio production company. He's had experience with different genres of music. Everything from Christian to country, rock, Tejano, Spanish music. He's been very involved in the music world for quite some time. In his hometown in Texas he was president and vice president for numerous terms with a revitalization association which was trying to revitalize their downtown area. They brought in a battle of the bands and numerous headlining acts. He has a background in diversity and likes diversity. The diversity that will be involved in this festival drew his interest.

Ed Trost: Over the last 8 years he has been responsible for the largest sanctioned tennis tournament in the U.S. It's held at five different venues in the Coachella Valley, primarily at Mission Hills Country Club. It's an 8-day event and he is involved in all aspects of planning, from budgeting to marketing to food and entertainment, safety, bathrooms. His prior experience with American Golf Association got him involved with the tennis tournament. He was vice president of sales at American Golf. He had 75 sales people working for him. They sold outings and events at the 300 golf courses they managed. He is well acquainted with event planning and production. About two years ago he became involved in a company that was involved in social media, so he's fairly versed in Facebook and Twitter. An event like this festival could benefit from that knowledge.

Linda Lennon-Roth: Has 15 years concert promotion experience. She has produced concerts in small theaters, in large auditoriums up to 18,000 capacity, but large 4-walled outdoor venues, such as the Los Angeles Coliseum, Oakland Coliseum, Royals Stadium in Kansas City. She is familiar with all components of concert promotion such as talent, event staffing, advertising, box office management. Most people don't realize it takes a lot of coordination and skill to set up an event in a plot of bare land. It's a little different than going to an auditorium where management will tell you what to do. You have to do everything yourself. Everything from staging with an earthquake certificate to other aspects. Her contribution would be to help set out the promoter qualifications and responsibilities. She has made mistakes and had numerous successes over the years. Help create numerous revenue sources that would help the city recoup the $265,000 that has been spent. Assist in formulating a promoter agreement with safeguards to protect the city. Her greatest fear would be that the promoter cancels the event due to lack of ticket sales or financial inability to pay the bills, thus leaving the city with 11,000-12,000 screaming fans outside of the gate, pushing on the fence. We need to make sure this event is successful. She has the time to oversee this and she thinks someone needs to oversee the promoter's activities from day one. "We don't want to have egg on our face a second time." We need to do everything possible to bond around it or financially make certain we're not going to flop this time.

Mickie Riley: Brings a couple of things to the table. He looks at this event as a business opportunity. He has not done promotions or events, but he has developed millions of dollars of real estate. Due to that he has been involved in all components of business: finance, sales, marketing. He agrees that Twitter and Facebook could be a huge avenue for promotion. Up until recently he employed 400 people. He has 35 years of experience, starting companies from scratch, building communities, and managing people in all aspects. The number one thing is his extensive business background. Secondly, he brings a passion for health and wellness. In 2008 he was rushed to Eisenhower with congestive heart failure. He was sent home to die. He decided to change his life. He dropped his weight from 235 to 175 pounds. He ran 7 half marathons last year. He will do 10 this year, plus one full marathon. He wants to do anything and everything to help people bring health, wellness and fitness to Coachella Valley. This is a great opportunity to be part of a $600 million industry.

Paul Ryan: This is what he does on an almost daily basis. Come Saturday night he will be doing Earth, Wind & Fire. This year alone they've done everything from Shakira to Lionel Richie to you name it. In some years in his career he's done more than 130 shows. This year they will probably do about 50 headliner shows. He created the concept of Rock Yard, an outdoor free festival environment. It's referred to as "mini-Woodstock." It's almost impossible to get in there on a weekend night. He started doing live outdoor events when he lived in New Jersey. He worked for a large gaming corporation that was built on entertainment. They had three large properties doing about 300 shows a year. He has worked with every entertainment company, every buyer. What he is best known for in his career are the outdoor events. He was asked to be here and he was asked by someone who he has tremendous respect for who said that the city could use different people with different expertise. This valley needs every thing and every focus to grow. What's happening with Coachella Fest is fabulous for everybody. They do the Date Festival, the Tamale Festival, and they do them not because there's really anything in them for Fantasy Springs or the Cabazons. They do them because they believe they grow the valley. He said that after listening to the people who were there, the city had a "can't go wrong" situation. If he's needed, he'd like to help.

Stephen Frisbee: The most challenging logistical event for him was getting to and from the Great Wall. Being the manager of a destination resort requires year-round planning for special events. The largest international event he participated in was the hosting of the World Cup ski races in Vail, Colorado, when he was Director of Resort Operations. He has also been involved in planning very special, high level State Department visits when he was working for Colonial Williamsburg.

Warren Bradshaw: He said it sounds like the city has a good line up, and it's going to be a god team no matter who is on it. Most recently his experience has been in the valley. In 1998 he created the La Quinta jazz festival for two years. In 1985 he got his Masters in International Marketing and Management. Palm Springs hired him as a contractor to set up musical events on "Main Street." He worked with the Chamber of Commerce and the musicians union. That led into working with Sonny Bono for three years and creating the Palm Springs Film Festival. He was a minor part of that. He has worked for 18 years in Cathedral City government and understands what city councils need and want and must have. He understands committees and city contracts.

Councilmember Baker said he was afraid we would be there all night. Mayor Pro Tem Betts said he didn't think they needed to go through every question. Mayor Parks agreed. The next question: "Can you commit to attending at least five committee meetings over the next year?"

All answered yes.

"One of your duties is going to be to work on a Request for Qualifications - called an RFQ," Mayor Parks explained, "for what is needed in this particular promoter or production company or whatever you decide as a committee. Now, some of you may have associations with somebody who makes application or puts in an RFQ. So, the question is 'How you avoid ethical challenges.' For example, if you find that you are professionally familiar with one of the RFQ respondents will you be able to be unbiased during committee deliberations?"

Mickie Riley: Everyone's probably on the same page here. At the end of the day we're all professionals and we all understand conflict of interest and the importance of this event. Full disclosure is absolutely paramount. One would have to recuse oneself from any vote that would be in conflict.

Linda Lennon-Roth. She agreed with Mr. Riley. It's a business decision.

Ed Trost: He also agrees. Conflict of interest and full disclosure are absolutely critical. He was president of his HOA for four years.

Brian Michaelz: Anyone who's been in this industry for any amount of time knows there is a fine line between business and personal. Full disclosure is very important.

Paul Ryan: He answered a little differently. He's been a licensed employee in a heavily regulated industry his entire career. He does a lot of repeat business with people he knows. Part of good experiences vs. bad experiences is a lot of what you do in business. Simply knowing someone doesn't mean you have to pretend you're dumb, deaf and blind. Sometimes it's good to be able to say "I know that person and he can't deliver," or "I know that person and they always deliver a quality product." Just knowing someone is not necessarily a conflict. Full disclosure would be saying you know that person. A conflict could exist if you pretend you don't know a person or had no experience with them.

Stephen Frisbee: Agreed with Mr. Ryan's contacts. You shouldn't just recuse yourself, but should express yourself. Full disclosure is the key. Good ethics is the result of strong personal integrity.

Warren Bradshaw: "All I can say is ditto to what everyone has said." He thinks the main thing is remembering what the goal of the city is, no matter how it gets done.

"What do you see the role of this committee being," was the next question asked by Mayor Parks.

Warren Bradshaw: He was impressed by the paragraph listing the goals of the city. He had already been thinking those same things. Who's the target market? What type of event is going to attract that target market? What the goals of the city are: to fill hotel rooms, to gain publicity, to gain a [new] reputation, to have a successful on-going event that will continue to grow year after year and become identified with the city.

Stephen Frisbee: He wasn't sure he had a full answer. He had hoped to learn the city's goals by being part of this process. There are marketing issues and the target market, but ultimately what he does not have a sense of, what is it for the community? How does it bring the community together? And not just a big splash for an international event. He wants to be part of it to be sure it benefits the community not just financially, but bringing people together.

Paul Ryan: He hopes the committee brings common sense, integrity, experience. The first day the committee meets they need to decide what the objective is. What are the goals? What is the city looking for?

Mickie Riley: The committee needs to bring diversification. It's like a board of directors. You may have a doctor, you may have an attorney, you may have a business person. Different skill sets will make a stronger committee. One of the goals would be "What is the long term goal?" This is certainly not a one time event.

Linda Lennon-Roth: Our goal would be, collectively, to be part of an annual event that would benefit the city, its image, local business, visitors and residents alike. Something that we could do year after year, that could grow. Something that would put the respect and attention back on the city.

Ed Trost: He said he would answer a little differently. He thinks there are two major goals of the committee. One is to define what the vision is for this festival. What does "wellness" mean? Do we want to model it on other wellness festivals? It's unique with respect to music and wellness. Next, the committee would go to the objectives, the nuts and bolts. Ultimately, after the vision, the committee needs to figure out who is going to take this on. What promoters and vendors are out there that the city can hire with confidence?

Brian Michaelz: He sees this committee as an extension of the Mayor's office. It's also an extension of the city council and staff. He said he is literally half the man that he used to be. "I used to be quite huge," he said. Wellness is very important to him. Music crosses all bridges, all boundaries, all diversities. The ultimate goal is to help put together and plan this festival.

Mayor Pro Tem Betts said that the quality of candidates is so high, he suggested that all seven could be accepted. Councilmember Baker said that would result in a committee of 9. He said there had been no reference checks in this process, and there need to be checks. He suggested the selection be delayed until backgrounds could be checked.

Councilmember Pye said she wanted to stick with the original plan and pick five people. She said that we keep saying we have plenty of time, but before long we may see that we've run out of time. She suggested that the background checks be done after selection.

Councilmember Matas asked one question, "Are you a resident of Desert Hot Springs."

Brian Michaelz, Ed Trost, Mickie Riley, and Paul Ryan answered "No."

Linda Lennon-Roth, Stephen Frisbee and Warren Bradshaw answered "Yes."

Mr. Matas said this shows diversity in the valley. He said they should stick with the process (meaning picking five). The bigger the committee, the stickier it gets.

The councilmembers had scored the answers to each question. The plan was to give the scores to staff so they could add them up and report the totals before the end of the meeting.

After a 5-minute recess, the results were announced. Mayor Parks said that if anything turns up in the background checks, they will go with one of the those who was not selected. The chosen:

  • Brian Michaelz
  • Ed Trost
  • Linda Lennon-Roth
  • Paul Ryan
  • Warren Bradshaw

Neighborhood Stabilization Program Update

Steve Schick came to the podium to make a comment. He said the NSP is good for the community. It benefits everyone in the community, contractors and locals, and it will eventually bring tax money to the city. It's created good jobs and good homes. The program should not be cut, shrunk or eliminated.

Dana Nicol of Nicol Construction came up to speak. He has done one NSP house. About 80% of his subcontractors and employees are from DHS.

Mayor Pro Tem Betts left the meeting at this point.

Rudy Acosta made a brief presentation. The NSP was introduced 2 years ago. The city has received $2.8 million which allowed us to buy 14 foreclosed homes. Eight have been completed, four of those have been sold. Six homes are left to fix up. They are the "worst of the worst," he said. You can get a PDF version of the presentation here.

The goals were to stabilize neighborhoods and eliminate blight, create and expand job opportunities, stimulate the local housing market, leverage local investment, and approve qualified homeowners.

The city council instituted a local hiring and local buying policy.

Mr. Acosta presented 12550 Tamar as the worst of the worst. It's a 1,470 s.f. home. Here's the work it needs:

  • Remove and replace: countertops and replace all bath room fixtures, cabinets, shower surrounds, enclosures and lighting.
  • Remove and replace: all tile and carpet throughout the house.
  • Remove and replace: all kitchen cabinets, countertops, fixtures and appliances
  • Repair damaged drywall; remove plywood on exterior, add insulation and stucco
  • Paint interior and exterior
  • Add new landscaping at front yard remove asphalt drive and replace with concrete
  • Remove and replace all windows with retro-fit vinyl low e windows
  • Remove swamp cooler and replace with air conditioning
  • Remove and replace chain link with block wall
  • Remove illegal apartment in garage; convert to garage.

There is about $830,000 left to spend on the six homes. An additional $282,000 will come from the housing fund. Sticking with the program is the most cost effective way to go, Mr. Acosta said. Other options cost 2 to 3 times as much.

City Manager Daniels said the remaining "rat traps" need complete reconstruction. The money came from the job stimulus bill. It should be viewed as a jobs program. It also removes blight and stimulates local business. Mr. Daniels handed out a spreadsheet showing how money has been spent in the NRP and NSP. You can get that spreadsheet here.

It shows that all the contractors used are located in Coachella Valley. Three are in DHS, seven are from other cities. Seven of the contractors have employees who are DHS residents. Three have no DHS employees. When you add it up, the contractors have 64 employees and 31 are residents of DHS. The balance are residents of other Coachella Valley cities. Thirteen of the suppliers/subcontractors are located in DHS. One is in Palm Desert and another is in Anza.

Mr. Daniels said the city doesn't know how many jobs have been created or how much sales tax revenue has been generated, but they do know it has been a positive number.

The cost to the RDA to finish these six homes as part of the NSP is $282,000 - that's the 10% match from the housing fund. The alternative would be to reimburse the county $533,000 for the cost of buying the homes, demolish the six homes, and then some day sell those empty lots to private investors.

The choice is between, on the one hand, spending $282,000, generating jobs, rehabbing homes, removing blight, getting new homeowners, and, on the other hand, spend $533,000 and create 6 vacant lots. A total of about $620,000 when you add in the cost of demolition.

Mr. Acosta said that after talking to contractors, it appears the cost to the RDA housing fund will actually be only about $180,000 to finish the six homes.

Mr. Matas made the motion to stay on track with the NSP and rehab the six homes. Approved 4-0.

Mr. Daniels said the June 7 agenda will include an award of the contract for the NSP homes.

Councilmember Pye said this is more than just a jobs program. She said it is an economic development tool. Both vacant lots and blighted homes pull down the economic growth of the city.

City Manager's Report

Staff made a presentation to the PSUSD and Desert Healthcare District seeking funds for the Health & Wellness Center. Bids for the project were submitted on this day. 10 were received. This is a re-bid, and the current low bidder is slightly above the previous low bid. Steel and asphalt prices are increasing. The award should be on the city council agenda in June. Groundbreaking can be scheduled in June.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | May 31, 2011 at 04:51 PM | Comments (0)

I heard it's going to be really dusty this year

This YouTube video never gets old for me. It came out about a year ago, and is timelessly relevant.

BTW, despite a 20% increase in the ceiling on tickets, sales are so brisk they have decided NOT to have ticket sales at the gate. They will, of course, still have "Will Call" which means the entire entry line will still be delayed because of vehicles in the "wrong" lane, unless this year they get smart and put up signs along the 5-mile entry road telling the "Will Call" people to get over to the right (unless it's left this year).

Filed under Burning Man | permalink | May 31, 2011 at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

Verified: Americans are not the only woefully ignorant people

The hot rumor in China these days is that Hitler was taken in and cared for by a Chinese family in Vienna as a young man. The nonsense goes on to say that Hitler secretly supported China and his ultimate ambition was to share world domination with China, which would get everything east of what is now Pakistan. Now, we should all be accustomed to man-on-the-street interviews in the U.S. where some young person can't identify the countries we fought against in World War II, but I really thought that the Chinese were fairly reliably teaching their kids about Japan's attacks on its Asian neighbors and its ties to Germany. Maybe China needs to bring in some supplemental teachers from Korea.

| permalink | May 31, 2011 at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

Vacancy on the DHS Public Safety Commission

Commissioner Tim Young has resigned from the Public Safety Commission.

City of Desert Hot Springs
65-950 Pierson Boulevard• Desert Hot Springs • California • 92240
(760) 329-6411



Pursuant to Section 2.24.030 of the City of Desert Hot Springs ("City") Municipal Code, notice is hereby given that one (1) vacancy exists on the City's Public Safety Commission.


The Public Safety Commission shall consist of five (5) members, and one (1) alternate, appointed by one member of the City Council, and ratified by a majority vote of the City Council. Public Safety Commission members shall be appointed for two-year terms (current term expires February 2012).

Regularly scheduled meetings of the Public Safety Commission are held on the second Thursday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the Carl May Center, 11-711 West Drive in Desert Hot Springs. The Public Safety Commission serves as liaison between the community leaders, citizens and the Desert Hot Springs Police Department on a wide-range of public safety issues.


Applications are available in the City Clerk's Office, or may be downloaded from the City's website at: www.cityofdhs.org. You must be a resident of the City and a registered voter to serve on a Commission.

Deadline to submit completed applications is Thursday, June 9, 2011 to:

City of Desert Hot Springs
City Clerk's Office
65950 Pierson Boulevard
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
(760) 329-6411, Ext. 107


Submit via Electronic Mail to: [email protected]

This notice was duly posted as required by law. Final appointment will not be made by the City Council for at least ten working days after the posting of this notice at the City Hall Public Notices Board, the City Clerk's Office, and the Carl May Community Center, and City Website.

Unlike some members of other city commissions, all members of the Public Safety Commission speak clearly and into the their respective microphones, which are turned on. I hope that who ever seeks to be appointed to this position can maintain those high standards. Maybe if Chief Williams would sit in on the other commissions they would become as attentive to this matter.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | May 31, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Comments (2)

May 30, 2011

Case Closed

Self-defense, identification and evidence, all in one package. "A 40-year-old Bangladeshi woman cut off a man's penis during an alleged attempted rape and took it to a police station as evidence, says police in a remote part of Bangladesh." "'We shall arrest him once his condition gets better,' [police chief Abul] Khaer added."

| permalink | May 30, 2011 at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)

The soul of The Soul of a New Machine Dies At Age 71

Tom West, who became a pop figure upon publication of Tracy Kidder's Pulitzer winning The Soul of a New Machine (which is still not available for Kindle), died in Westport, Massachusetts, last week.

Tracy Kidder's book, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and is taught in business classes and journalism schools, chronicled Mr. West's role leading a team that built a refined version of a 32-bit minicomputer at a key juncture for the computer industry and his employer, Data General of Westborough.

The book's success turned a quirky, brilliant, private, and largely self-taught man into a somewhat reluctant guru. Mr. West was proud of what he had accomplished, and he liked Kidder.

But Mr. West had little taste for the byproducts of fame.

"It offends me when people think they know me because of the book," he told Wired magazine in 2000, more than a dozen years after he retired to relax and sail in a community where few knew he was the soul of "The Soul of a New Machine."

Filed under Technology | permalink | May 30, 2011 at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)

iPad Usability

Actually, it's the usability of iPad apps. No fingers are pointed at Apple (at least none that I have found so far). It sounds like a lot of content providers went back the drawing board to create iPad apps and forgot everything they ever learned about designing good websites. The actual report [PDF] is here.

We thought we had driven a stake through splash screens many years ago and eradicated them from the Web, but apparently splash screens are super-vampires that can haunt users from beyond the grave. Several new iPad apps have long introductory segments that might be entertaining the first time, but soon wear out their welcome. Bad on sites, bad in apps. Don’t.

Filed under Technology | permalink | May 30, 2011 at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

There's Going To Be More To This Story

Carmen Montenegro was arrested yesterday by Ontario, California, Police on suspicion of murder.

Ontario Police were called to the area of H Street and Holmes Avenue about 2:45 p.m. Sunday after several people called 911 to report a woman pushing a trash container that appeared to contain human remains.

Responding officers confirmed that there were human remains in the trash can and began investigating.

The remains have not yet been identified.

| permalink | May 30, 2011 at 05:21 PM | Comments (0)

Germany To Shut Down All Nuclear Power By 2022

It was announced today that the German government plans to phase out all nuclear power plants by 2022. Seven plants were closed in March 2011. Six more will be closed over the next 10 years. The final three will be shut down in 2022. 22% of Germany's electricity comes from nuclear reactors. In this BBC report, Swedish Environment Minister Carlgren speculates that Germany will end up having to import nuclear-generated power from France. Germany hopes that wind farms will fill part of the gap, but that means more power lines from the North Sea (where the wind farms are) to southern Germany, where most of the nuclear power plants are located.

On a related note, here's a news story from January 2007 about Germany's plans to phase out its black coal mines by 2018. The intent was to review that plan again in 2012. Note that this is not a plan to eliminate coal-fired power plants. China is the world's biggest coal producer; the U.S. is in second place.

| permalink | May 30, 2011 at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)

A Different Uranium In Drinking Water Story

Theodore and Stacey Sawyer of Naples, Maine, discovered their private well water had almost six times the acceptable limit of uranium in it. The discovery was triggered by a urinalysis as part of a medical exam to try to determine the cause of Mrs. Sawyer's dizziness and other ailments. Not the way you want to find out about uranium in your drinking water.

They called Culligan - which in Maine is represented by Water Treatment Equipment, Inc. They installed treatment in April 2008 at a cost of $950. The company told them not to drink their well water until test results showed that the uranium had been reduced to acceptable levels. In June 2008, Water Treatment Equipment reported to them that it was now safe to drink their well water.

It wasn't until 2009 that Mrs. Sawyer looked more closely at the test paperwork and saw that it had come back "Unsatisfactory" but that the equipment salesman, Daryl Quinn, had simply covered over the "Un." Uranium levels in their drinking water had actually risen.

The salesman has been fired and convicted of a felony, mail fraud, and ordered to make restitution to the Sawyers. Naturally, the Sawyers are also suing Culligan and Water Treatment Equipment.

I'm going to make the wild guess that private wells, at least in Maine, are not subject to the sort of regulation and inspection that public water systems are.

Filed under Food and Drink | permalink | May 30, 2011 at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2011

Lenticular Clouds

Compare & contrast:

Lenticular clouds
Lenticular clouds
by Bossco at 7:51 PM yesterday.
Lenticular Cloud Forming at Sunset
Lenticular Cloud Forming at Sunset
by NancyCain at 7:50 PM yesterday.

Time of day based on each camera's clock as recorded in the exif data.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Photography | permalink | May 29, 2011 at 03:55 PM | Comments (2)

May 28, 2011


A flowering catalpa in Big Pine, California.
Catalpa in Big Pine (2320)

Catalpa in Big Pine (2319)

Filed under California,Photography | permalink | May 28, 2011 at 07:20 AM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2011

DHS City Council - May 17

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

Before the Pledge of Allegiance, Mayor Parks called for a moment of silence in memory of Paramedic Firefighter Dave Lezchuk who died due to cancer. She said that Councilmember Scott Matas would be leaving the City Council meeting early in order to go to the memorial service in Palm Desert.


Mayor Parks asked for representatives of the DHS Chamber of Commerce, Cabot's Pueblo Museum, and the DHS Hoteliers to come forward. This was to present them (again) with the CVA Palm Tree award for cooperating on the highly successful DHS Spa Tour. Mayor Parks presented each organization with a certificate of recognition.

Judy Bowman, President of the Hoteliers, stepped up to the microphone.

Ever since we've been here in Desert Hot Springs people have said "Wouldn't it be nice if you put on a spa tour. We want to see the spas. Wouldn't it be nice if you did it. Wouldn't it be nice if you did it." A couple of years ago somebody came up and said wouldn't be great if we did it, and I will put it together. That person was Rayce. And this wouldn't have happened without his work. He has a marvelous way of what I call "herding cats." Getting people to come together and to work and to cooperate on this great event. We will do it again next year. We haven't set a date yet. But every year it gets bigger and better. First year it cost us money. Last year we were able to giver over $3,500 to charities. So, we're looking forward to another event and thank you for the cooperation of these groups. And it really is a fabulous day in Desert Hot Springs when everybody works together to make something happen. So I'm very proud to be part of the Hoteliers and to be part of this organization and this wonderful tour.

Rayce Jonsrud then spoke. He said all three groups got behind this and that they expect great things next year.

Barbara Maron from Cabot's spoke next. She said Cabot's was happy to embrace this idea, to make partnerships. She reminded us that it was Cabot Yerxa who discovered the water and brought L.W. Coffee here to develop the city.

DVD Bills

Mayor Parks said that anyone who had come to the meeting who had a past due Desert Valley Disposal bill could talk with city staff in the Senior Center to try to resolve the situation. She also said that anyone who wanted to pre-pay next year's DVD bill in order to avoid having it put on their tax bill, could do so at the Senior Center.

Public Comments

David Johnson from Food Now spoke about the May 26 fundraiser (along with Family Services of the Desert) which would be a retirement party for Mary Prado. It will be at Playoffs from 5 to 9. Arden Wallum will be the celebrity bartender.

Rayce Jonsrud came back to the podium to say that Rock N Art would take place at Playoffs plus in a storefront a few doors up the street on Friday, May 20.

Dot Reed talked about the Soroptimist's House Of Hope. It has helped many women get into recovery from drugs and alcohol. The previous Saturday they had an emergency board meeting. They started in 1981. In 1984 they got county funding and clients. They expanded to a second house in Banning in 1989. After that they opened a re-entry home for sober living. Now, however, they will probably not get a new county contract, which means they will lose half of their budget, $101,000. Soroptimists have decided to close their re-entry home on June 30. The house in Banning has been placed on the market. Only the original Desert Hot Springs house will remain. Ms. Reed is looking for funding wherever it can be found.

Russ Martin spoke about Kristin Wright, Nancy Wright's daughter. She grew up in DHS and attended Palm Springs High School. She is proud of her roots in DHS. She attended UC-Santa Barbara, receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in biopsychology/neuroscience. She worked on the join genome project for Lawrence-Livermore. She conducted research in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Boston University for 3 years. For 4 years she conducted educational research at Stanford University. On Thursday, May 26, Kristin will receive her Masters Degree in Mind and Brain Education from Harvard.

George Fisher reported there were 16 graduates of the CERT class, the first one in Desert Hot Springs. A second class will be November 4-6, 2011. There can be up to 35 participants.

He also announced the Memorial Day ceremony at Veterans' Park on May 30 at 11 AM. The Desert Hot Springs High School band will play.

Marilyn Heidrick asked why the Register Of Demands has stopped appearing in the agenda packet. She wants it to be restored. It has not been there since Karl Baker's $18 grilled cheese.

A person whose name I could not catch spent a couple of his 3 minutes reading from the Brown Act. He said the last time city council minutes were included in the agenda for approval were in January. He said that without the minutes, the people don't know what the city council is doing.

[I just want to say that I almost never read the minutes.]

Councilmember Matas' Comments

Mayor Parks said that Councilmember Scott Matas would be leaving to go to the memorial service, so he had asked permission to deliver his end-of-meeting comments now before he left.

Mr. Matas reported that the Youth Council attended a Board of Supervisors meeting on that day. They also went to the Sheriff's Department where Sheriff Sniff addressed the students for an hour!. Then they went to the Economic Development Agency where the Foreign Trade Department was presenting the line up for the Canadian golf tournament that is coming to Desert Dunes for the next few years. They also visited the RCTC. [I'm rather amazed that Mr. Matas had spent his day doing all that, showed up at City Council, and then was off to attend a memorial service - when does he see his family?]

The Youth Council wraps up with a meeting on June 8 and then a dinner on June 11 to bid the Seniors farewell.

RDA Plan Amendment

Every member of the City Council has potential conflicts of interest in this, so straws were drawn among the four members remaining after Mr. Matas left. Councilmember Pye got the short straw, so she got a lot of free time outside the Carl May Center.

Jason Simpson presented the staff report. The actions come in two parts. The first part is the Redevelopment Agency authorizing the transmission of its report to the City Council. The second part is the approval by the City Council.

Mr. Simpson said that in addition to the elimination of eminent domain powers from the RDA, the staff recommends excluding Rancho Del Oro from the RDA.

Then Mr. Simpson presented a Powerpoint that was probably the best explanation of the real-world effects of the RDA.

He said that at the next City Council meeting they would get a list of all the objections submitted by the public, and staff's responses to those objections.

In addition to removing Rancho Del Oro, staff recommends removing a section of 10 to 11 acres of vacant land near Two Bunch Palms. There is a limit on the ratio of vacant land to urbanized land that can be added to an RDA, so if Rancho Del Oro (urbanized) goes, then some vacant land has to go too.

The overall infrastructure needs of Desert Hot Springs through "build out" is between $600 million and $1.5 billion. And, guess what, that won't all come from RDA. Mr. Simpson explained that only $132 million will come from the RDA. CFDs and assessment districts on new development will provide some infrastructure. There will be bonds. And there are always grants. For example, we've gotten $2.2 million, each, in grants recently for the Indian and Palm Drive overpasses. And there was $2 million for those streets between Pierson and Hacienda. Congressman Lewis has earmarked $16 million for additional improvements on Indian Canyon. DIFs will pay for some of it. Other tax sources will contribute some funds to infrastructure too. There is no money in the General Fund to pay for infrastructure.

Desert Hot Springs has had the biggest drop in home values of any city in California. In 2008 the tax increment revenues to the RDA were $10.2 million. In 2011 they are expected to be $4.8 million.

He showed an example tax bill for a residential property in DHS. In this example, the base amount on the bill is $1,468.30 (the ad valorem tax, I believe), while the total is about $1,600. The city's general fund receives about $184 from that.

Then he presented a tax bill projected 10 years into the future at a 2% growth rate (the maximum allowed by law). The base amount goes to almost $1,800. If the property were included in the RDA, the total tax would be the same, but distribution would be different. The RDA would get about $292/year from this parcel.

Mariano Pasamonte came up to comment. He has lived in Rancho Del Oro for 15 years. He owns a small contracting company and wanted to pick up a few jobs. But the RDA rules wouldn't let him participate. He went on some of the job walks for RDA homes. He learned that the contractor has to front the money and then wait 6 to 8 weeks to get paid after the job is finished. He can't do that. Usually he asks for a deposit, gets progress payments, and 10% is withheld until final payment. The NRP/NSP isn't working for the small guy.

Jane Nocela said she is glad Rancho Del Oro won't be in the RDA. The RDA is a glorious slush fund. Her opinion is that a homeowner must take care of his own home. Pay for its upkeep himself or get a loan. Those that can't do that should rent.

Jacquie Carroll said she is glad to hear about the recommendation to exclude Rancho Del Oro. She appreciates that there will be responses to all the comments submitted. She congratulated Mayor Pro Tem Betts for asking the tough questions. She said Mayor Parks appears to strike balance. She thanked Jason Simpson for putting together the staff report. She also acknowledged Councilmember Pye's ability to listen well, although she was outside the meeting at this time.

Charles Nocela was happy to hear that Rancho Del Oro had been removed. There are big tax problems at the local and federal levels.

Attorney Duran said that all written comments would be responded to. The law requires the city to wait at least 7 days before it can take the next action.

Mayor Pro Tem Betts asked for clarification that the motion was to move this amendment on down the line. And then it will come back to the council for a final vote. City Manager Daniels said that is correct. The first item is to accept the report as the RDA Board and refer it to the City Council. The second item is to act as the City Council and provide direction on the RDA Amendment. City staff will then begin to prepare a point by point response to all written comments. The revised RDA map will have to be resubmitted to the Planning Commission. A special meeting of the Planning Commission will need to be scheduled before June 7. Then, if all goes to schedule, the City Council will take its final action on June 7. Responses to comments should be available May 30 or June 1, Mr. Daniels said. Detail transcripts of phone calls received about the RDA were not kept, and they will not be formally responded to. Only comments received in the public hearing, in writing or by email will get responses. Mr. Betts was concerned that he get an opportunity to review the comments and responses before the final vote. Mr. Daniels said they will be available at least 7 dys prior to the final vote. Mr. Betts said he'd like to see the comments as they come in. Mr. Daniels said copies of all the comments had already been provided to the council at their previous meeting.

Mayor Parks said staff needs to have the opportunity to respond. Mr. Betts said some comment may come in that jog a point of inquiry. Mr. Daniels said copies of all questions and responses would be provided to the city council at the earliest possible opportunity, but at least 7 days before the public hearing for the final vote.

Councilmember Baker said that when he ran for office the city had terrible streets. The RDA included the part of town that was most neglected and allowed us to pave those streets. Including additional areas will provide a means to finance road repairs there as the need arises. The general fund does not have money to pay for roads. He said he drove all of the streets in Rancho Del Oro and he would not say it is a blighted area, although there are some houses that need attention, as is true everywhere in the city. He sees that in the future they will need new streets. Without the RDA and with a CFD or any other sort of funding district, Rancho Del Oro will have to float a bond issue to pay for the road improvements. Mr. Baker said would reluctantly accept staff's recommendation to exclude Rancho Del Oro but he finds himself in a position similar to Pontius Pilate. "I don't agree with you, but I will abide by your wishes."

Mayor Pro Tem Betts said that those who regard the RDA as a slush fund should come down every time an RDA project comes up. He said there benefits and drawbacks to the RDA.

Mayor Parks said she is one of the original buyers in Rancho Del Oro. The original plans called for Cholla to go through to Barona; it had an Arizona crossing connecting the two portions of Rancho Del Oro; it had a community park in the wash. Those are viable with RDA, she said, but without RDA funds it can't happen. It is close to 20 years old, the streets are 18 or 19 years old. Streets have a maximum life of 20 to 25 years, and there won't be any general funds to pay for street repairs. She said she hoped the residents of Rancho Del Oro don't regret this decision in 5 years.

Mr. Betts said that when roads need to be paved in Rancho Del Oro, it will be an obligation of the city. Future councils will not be able to just ignore them. Mayor Parks said the challenge will be finding the money.

Approved 3-0.

RDA Plan Amendment, Part 2

This part came in chunks. The first chunk had to do with removing eminent domain from the plan. Approved 3-0.

The second chunk dealt with removing Rancho Del Oro plus about 11 acres near Two Bunch Palms Resort.

Kathryn Moore said she is opposed to including Rancho Del Oro in the RDA.

Marilyn Heidrick plunked some books on the podium and asked if we all have RDA overload. She printed about 200 pages of the RDA Plan Amendment and ran out of ink. She is concerned with including Rancho Del Oro in the RDA. She said there flaws in the Urban Futures report concerning Rancho Del Oro, so she thinks there may be other errors as well.

Robert Bentley said Rancho Del Oro is in the sights of the city council. He has been fighting the RDA since 1982. In 2008 the city [actually the RDA] borrowed $36 million. RDA basically steals from the schools and police and things like that, he said. There are many reasons to be afraid of the RDA. False statements are repeated again and again, he said. One of those is that participation is voluntary. None of us believe that. It's objectively false. The promise of removing eminent domain from the plan is worth nothing. A majority vote of the city council could restore eminent domain.
Robert Bentley (2282)
Robert Bentley addressing the City Council.

The second chunk was approved 3-0.

DVD Delinquent Billings

This was to place delinquent Desert Valley Disposal bills on the tax rolls. The Mayor announced that the staff people who could help one resolve a delinquent DVD bill had moved themselves from the Senior Center to the Chamber offices.

Jason Simpson said that DVD customers can pay up any time before the end of June. In future years, this will not be necessary because everyone's bills will go on the tax rolls.

Mayor Pro Tem Betts said that [as last year] the city council had a public hearing taking place at the same time that people who are concerned with the issue are next door trying to resolve their individual cases.

Mayor Parks asked Judy to go over to the Chamber office to see if anyone there has not had their concerns addressed. Judy said she'd already been over there. There were only three people and their only concern was what the deadline was. All had their questions answered and had left.

Jason Simpson said the process has been more efficient and pro-active, which is why fewer people came to raise issues at this city council meeting than we have seen in previous years.

Councilmember Pye said that the notice said the deadline was June 16. Mr. Simpson said the database of delinquencies will be reconciled by June 30.

Approved 4-0.

DVD Annual Billings On The Tax Rolls

People can pay their full annual DVD amount in advance, if they prefer.

Councilmember Pye said that she had been contact by three people with concerns. At least two of those people have had their concerns allayed. One was concerned that this would allow DVD to raise its rates at any time. That is not true. Rates must be approved first by the city council.

Approved 4-0.

Annexation No. 29

Martín Magaña introduced Emery Papp who, he said, had not been formally introduced to the council before this.

The annexation is about 624 acres in two non-contiguous pieces. It is largely residential. Comment letters were received from Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity. The city attorney put together some supplemental mitigation measures in response to those.

Maps and additional details about the annexation can be found in my report on the April 26, 2011, Planning Commission meeting.

Ms. Pye asked about a letter received from a couple who live on Mountain View. She wondered if their concerns had been addressed. Mr. Papp said their concerns dealt with land use issues. They had purchased a 4.5 acre lot and built a primary residence that they intend, in the future, to become a second dwelling unit. Riverside County zoning permits a second dwelling up to 1,800 square feet. Their house is about 1,650 sf. City zoning, however, has a smaller limit on the size of the second dwelling: 1,200 sf. But since they have put significant investment in their property and have approval from the county, the city will consider allowing them to move forward with their plans.

Mr. Baker asked the attorney if that would not simply grandfathered in. Attorney Duran said it is a legal, nonconforming use and the property owners have a vested right to continue with their plans.

Sandy Rauen, the owner of the property in question, came to the podium. She is concerned with the annexation map. She said it is designed to circumvent the LAFCO rules. 90% of it is owned by the proponents. There is a section west of Mountain View that is not included. The neighborhood is going to be split. She took objection with the fact that at a November 2010 city council meeting, there was a lot of discussion of this annexation even though it was not on the agenda. She said the city should review any history of transferring property or any other special treatment given to the proponents of this annexation. There are a few things that appear illegal to her. She is opposed to the annexation. The first time many of the residents got notice of this was just last week.

Barbara Wilkes said she is opposed to the annexation. She is on a small strip that is attached to the property to be annexed. She said it is a little teeny tiny strip. She asked if there was a way to annex without going all the way down Mountain View.

Here's a direct link to a map.

Steve Wilkes is opposed to the annexation. He doesn't care about annexing raw land, but the people who already have homes there have concerns about what will happen. It makes no sense to do a little strip of land. You'd think the annexation would go all the way to Long Canyon. He isn't sure what services they will get. "City water? City sewer? garbage? Road maintenance?" The county listens to the residents but, for the most part, nothing has happened. On numerous occasions they've tried to get things done by the city. The McArger Wash comes to mind. Where the dirt road meets the paved road, it's been a cliff for years. They contacted the city to no avail. They were ignored. The wash was temporarily repaired not long ago. He believes it's in the city, but he's not sure. That is his only legal ingress and egress, but it is not passable.

Alex Bias spoke next, introducing himself as "Mayor Bias." He congratulated the city on bringing Annexation 29 to a vote. He said it would be a good project that would enhance the city. He met Robin Trotochau when she was about five years old. He taught her how to count money. He said this will be one of the greatest projects to come to the city in years.

Andre Petra said he is against the annexation. He just bought some property near Mountain View with the plan that since it is in the county he could build a garage to work on his cars. He is concerned with whether the city would permit him to build a garage that is large enough.

Norman Smith also spoke against the annexation. He spoke against it in 2007 as well. He moved to the desert to get away from the manias. He doesn't want it to change.

Robert Hirsch runs a dog boarding/rescue facility. He came to "this horrible city" and asked to be able to set up a kennel and was told to go to "blank blank blank." He doesn't want to be part of the city. He doesn't understand what purpose the annexation serves. Will the roads be paved? Will they get city water? If not, what's the purpose.

Joan Taylor from the Sierra Club asked to have it clarified whether the language they had asked to be added to the mitigation measures had, in fact, been added. They had requested the language "if required by law" be removed from all the mitigation measures. Attorney Duran confirmed that the revisions requested by Sierra Club had been made.

Nichole Kristin from Terra Nova Planning and Research represented the applicant. This is the first of several steps in completing this annexation. Additional environmental reviews will be required for any development that actually occurs. The LAFCO process will take time, she said. The proponents plan to meet with residents before it goes to LAFCO. She clarified that MSWD would be the water provider, of course, not the city.

Attorney Duran said that the applicants did comply with all the legal noticing requirements. Ms. Kristin said the city complied with the requirements. The proponents provided a certified list of property owners to the city.

Mario Gonzales thanked city staff for their work during the long process of this annexation.

Robin Trotochau came to the podium and thanked city staff and councilmembers individually. She said her goal is the highest and best possible use of the land, the water and the environment.

Councilmember Baker said he thought that some of the county's zoning would be grandfathered into the annexed area. He also said that just because you get annexed, does not mean your road will get paved. He said it is illegal to have non-contiguous parts annexed in the same annexation. He said that since this is a developer-funded annexation, if the city wanted to extend it over to Long Canyon, the city would have to pick up the additional expenses. He said he is pleased that someone wants to be part of DHS, and is also pleased at plans for a good design for growth to the east.

Mayor Parks said she lives near McArger Road. The city limits are where the pavement ends. Mayor Pro Tem Betts said he didn't know what the city could do about water runoff there, nor how that might be impacted by this annexation.

Mayor Parks said she wanted to address the question of a "little strip" raised by the Wilkes. She said the areas east and west of Mountain View were not little strips. She described it as a pretty good sized area.

Here Attorney Duran asked for a 5-minute recess. When the meeting resumed he said his concerns had been satisfied.

The first resolution (environmental assessment, mitigated negative declaration, general plan amendment) was approved 4-0.

Next was an ordinance to revise the zoning map. Approved 4-0.

Consent Calendar

Approved 4-0 without discussion:

  • Authorizing the City Manager to execute a tow franchise agreement with AARCO.
  • Approve the merger of 5 parcels for the YK Spa Resort.
  • Authorized the City Manager to execute a contract with Graphic Solutions to design a master directional sign program. Total estimated cost $32,700.
  • The directional sign kiosks were maintained by the Building Industry Association Desert Chapter, which is no more. This item creates a new agreement with the replacement organization, the Desert Valley Builders Association.
  • Receive and file the 2009-10 Single Audit Report Certification from the State Controller.
  • Approve additional consulting services with DLR Group/WWCOT for bidding and phasing services for the Health & Wellness Center.


Councilmember Pye said she attended the MSWD board meeting. When the board began to discuss the petitions she left early because she thinks the city should stay out of it.

She took the blame for the missing Register of Demands. She said she had a conversation with Jason Simpson, but did not push.

Mayor Pro Tem Betts said the register of demands has to show up in the agenda packet. He attended the SCAG General Assembly in La Quinta. He's working on the numbers that are given to us for low and moderate-income housing. Mayor Parks told him to get his committee together and go for it, "I give you that authority," she said.

Councilmember Pye said that every councilmember had received an iPad this week. She said it's not a toy. She held up a printed copy of this night's agenda which was certainly more than two reams of paper - and each councilmember got one. "This is the last printed agenda we're going to get," she said. They will save the city money.

Mayor Parks congratulated Gabriel Papp who was in the audience. She said he is looking great and he will be welcomed back to the city when he is able.

City Manager Daniels said that as the Carl May is under reconstruction, meetings may be held in the Lozano Center or at the high school or elsewhere. {Take note of the location announced for each meeting - you can't assume where each will be).

He said the register of demands may be posted on the city's website. The law does not require it to be in the city council agenda.

The Flamingo Hotel has been secured and cleaned up.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | May 27, 2011 at 02:15 PM | Comments (1)

Metro Gold Line

The complete line, from East L.A. to Sierra Madre, in 3:15.

Filed under California,Photography,Travel | permalink | May 27, 2011 at 07:54 AM | Comments (0)

Awards For Teachers

Teacher Of The Year Awards (2322)
Some of the awards handed out to DHS teachers at Wednesday's Chamber breakfast.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs,Photography | permalink | May 27, 2011 at 06:58 AM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2011

Looks Like Landscaping

Save A Lot landscaping (1850)

Filed under Desert Hot Springs,Photography | permalink | May 26, 2011 at 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

Mass Transit Is Good

On the L train:

| permalink | May 26, 2011 at 02:33 PM | Comments (1)

Annual Whitewater Canyon Closure

I've stripped some of the legal mumbo-jumbo out of this to make it a little more readable. If you need the legal mumbo-jumbo, click here for the original PDF.

[T]o prevent wildfire during severe burning conditions, the following acts are prohibited on Public Lands within the Bureau of Land Management's Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office jurisdiction beginning May 22, 2011 and continuing until further notice:

Whitewater Closure

The following is prohibited on federal lands unless otherwise noted:

1. It is illegal to enter and be upon public lands that are described and identified as the "Fire Closure Area." Violation of this order is punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 12 months, or both.

[T]he following persons are exempt from this order.

a. Persons with a permit from or contract with the BLM that specifically authorizes the otherwise prohibited act.

b. Persons using the Whitewater Canyon Road as a means of accessing the Whitewater Preserve operated by the Wildlands Conservancy.

c. Owners or lessees of land in the area for the purpose of accessing that land.

d. Residents in the area for the purpose of accessing their residence.

e. Persons engaged in a business, trade, or occupation in the area requiring passage through or upon BLM land in order to conduct such business, trade or occupation.

f. Any other person meeting exemption or requirements specified in the order.

g. Persons with a permit specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act.

h. Any Federal, State, or local Officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force in the performance of an official duty.

i. Hikers utilizing the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and specified connector trails when in compliance with all other applicable fire restrictions and orders.

The area, roads, and trails affected by this order are a combination of BLM public lands, private lands and conservancy lands within the boundaries of the Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office, Bureau of Land Management. For information call (760) 833-7100.

John R. Kalish
Field Manager

Whitewater Canyon Closure Map
Clicking on this image will get you the full-res PDF.
The crosshatched area is closed. The roads and the Pacific Crest Trail remain open. It's not entirely clear to me what the status at the Whitewater Preserve is.

Filed under California,Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs | permalink | May 26, 2011 at 12:26 PM | Comments (5)

Saline Valley Motorcycle Video

Quick motorcycle trip via helmet cam on Steel Pass Road leaving the warm springs in Saline Valley. He's crossing the bottom of the valley which is thick sand. The video ends when he reaches Saline Valley Road which is dirt, rocks and washboard.

Filed under California,Travel | permalink | May 26, 2011 at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2011

Saline Valley Report

The day we drove up to Saline Valley was cold and windy, like so many of the days we've had during this long, long spring. I'd never seen (in my few years in California) so much snow on the eastern Sierra in May:
Snow on the Eastern Sierra (2318)
The view back at the Sierra from the very northern end of the Saline Valley Road.
Elevation of the road there is about 7,400 feet. We encountered falling snow when we reached the next high point, a little above 7,000 feet. When we finally got down to the springs (1,600 feet) the peaks of the Inyo Range were snow-capped. I'd never seen them like that before, but the excess melted within a day leaving only the usual spots of snow.

Sunrise in Saline Valley (1419)
Sunrise striking the Inyo Range
the morning after our arrival. Not enough snow to get excited about.

Sunset in Saline Valley (1509)
The rays of sunset on the hillside east of the springs

Rain in Saline Valley (1513)
On Saturday there was rain the valley above us
, but no floods reached us. I'd never seen serious rain like this in Saline Valley.

Palms at Volcano Pool (1836)
The view from my tent
. Those are the palms that provide shade to the Volcano Pool in the afternoon.

Volcano Pool (1454)
The Volcano Pool.

Construction of the Volcano Pool (1428)
New this year, someone has put up photos of the original construction of the Volcano Pool in 1967.
It was BLM land then. It became part of Death Valley National Park in 1993.

Construction of the Volcano Pool (1430)
The common knowledge is that the tubs at the springs in Saline Valley were built by hippies
. Do the people in these photos look like 1967 hippies to you? To me they look like the Young Republicans.

Ginger Vodka in the Volcano Pool (1511)
One afternoon in the Volcano Pool I shared my ginger vodka
which is made simply by slicing up fresh ginger and shoving it into a bottle of vodka, where you let it infuse for a few weeks. It was a big hit with the Volcano Pool crowd and the bottle was exhausted fairly quickly. Kirk and I are working on different kinds of infused vodkas and will select two kinds to take to Burning Man in large quantities as a gift for our fellow campers. One will be cucumber vodka.

Our group was small this time, only seven guys. The overall crowd was small too. Probably not more than 30 people in the whole place. It's the first time I've ever been able to find the Wizard Pool empty in the middle of the moonlit nights. The Wizard Pool is usually the focal point for nightlong partying by young people.

Nathan in the Volcano Pool (1459)
Nathan in the Volcano Pool
. He was the only new face (to me) in our group.

Erik (1434)

Darrel in the Volcano Pool (1447)
Darrel in the Volcano Pool

We had our usual noisy military overflights. But this year we had something new:
Military Flight (1451)
Two or three times we had this version of a C130 fly low over the springs
. Damn easy to get a photograph of them. The jets, it's hard to even keep an eye on them as they scorch the tops of the palm trees.

Military Flight (1450)
Here he has the restrooms in his sights
- except he probably doesn't have sights.

Ron in the Shade (1491)
One day it was hot enough that I retreated into the cool, muddy shade of the palm trees to read.
And I can report that taking a Kindle camping is wonderful. It's easy to hold in one hand while keeping a beverage in the other. If I don't want to put on my reading glasses I can crank the text size up to Huge. And best, I was carrying 8 different books. Get tired of one, switch to another. Who would want to haul 8 standard books along on a camping trip?

Underwater (1460)
Somebody in the Volcano Pool
. Sorry, I don't remember who it was, and can't recognize him.

Burro (1500)
We saw fewer burros than usual.
This one hung around every day and I caught him enjoying a snack of cardboard. We saw one coyote, but heard none.

Eureka Dunes (0254)
One day we took Steel Pass Road as far as we dared, which allowed me to get my first glimpse of the Eureka Dunes
. To go further would mean traveling down what my campmates call "the steps," a series of narrow drops that present a challenge to Jeeps. I have heard them talk of these steps for years, and they sounded like a nearly impossible passage. Despite that, I would occasionally catch a video on the internet and sometimes see vehicles larger than Jeeps coming into the springs from Steel Pass Road that suggested the steps were not nearly so daunting as had been suggested.

The Steps on Steel Pass Road (0247)
So here is my first view of one of the steps
, and I was not impressed. Narrow, yes, but Darrell thought his Ford Explorer could go through okay. It's a bit of a drop. I wouldn't want to take my Ranger down it, but I've seen our Jeep drivers handle much worse stuff. The real challenge would have been trying to get back up the steps. If we had decided to go down in the Explorer, we would probably have continued on around and come back into Saline Valley on Saline Valley Road. Ultimately, the wise decision was made not to even attempt it, since we were alone out there.

Upper Spring (0264)
We made a brief stop at the Upper Spring
which is a natural spring with no hippie-built tub. It's surrounded by chainlink fence to keep the burros out. It's two miles up Steel Pass Road from where we were camped.

Chicken Strip (2313)
I made my first hike out to the Chicken Strip, the landing strip at the springs
. I had avoided doing this before, because I thought you had to take a long, roundabout way of getting there in order to avoid slogging up and down through washes. Totally wrong. It's an easy walk from the Lower Spring.

Chicken Strip Welcome Area (2303)
The welcome center at Chicken Strip

Chicken Strip Log (2310)
The log for planes landing there.
The last entry was April 30, 2011, but the pages extended back to 2009.

Chicken Strip (2296)
The view from the Chicken Strip of the Lower Spring

The complete set of photos is here.

Filed under California,Naturism-Nudism,Photography | permalink | May 25, 2011 at 03:18 PM | Comments (1)