November 21, 2018

Mission Springs Water District Board Meeting - November 15 & 19, 2018

The Board of Directors of the Mission Springs Water District meets monthly on a Thursday for a study session and again on the following Monday for the "regular" session. Same agenda for both meetings. Usually, most of study and talking takes place at the Thursday meeting while votes and ceremonial affairs usually happen at the Monday meeting. I write it up as if it all took place at one meeting.


West Valley Wastewater Reclamation Facility

Earlier, the new sewage plant was designed to handle a million gallons of waste per day (1 MGD). But one of the purposes of the WVWRF is to provide a backup for the Horton WWTP and to allow some of Horton's flow to be diverted so that routine maintenance can be performed at Horton. Diverting the flow would mean sending 0.75 MGD from Horton to the WVWRF, leaving the WVWRF able to handle only 0.25 MGD from other sources, which is not enough. Therefore, the proposal now is to increase initial capacity at the WVWRF to 1.5 MGD. That increase adds about $7 million to the initial cost of construction of the plant.

Also, inflation and the general rise in construction costs since the initial cost estimate add another $3 million. Design changes were made to get the construction cost as low as possible, but the total estimated cost now is about $28 million. This plant along with the Horton plant should be able to handle the district's wastewater for the next ten years.

The cost reductions were:

  • Go with one belt filter press rather than two;
  • Use sludge drying beds for emergency backups (as at Horton);
  • Rather than build a brick and mortar building, the district would put up a prefab metal building for sludge handling;
  • Also, the administration, lab and control buildings would be prefab instead of brick and mortar;
  • They would use gravity rather than a pump to move effluent to the spreading basins;
  • The headworks building would be modified to an open air structure; and
  • Defer the rotary drum thickeners until later.

This item was brought before the board to ask, in effect, the question, now that we have a substantially higher price, should we proceed? The board said yes, proceed.

A groundwater analysis showed that the wastewater treatment plant would have no effect on the quality of drinking water from Well 33, which is in the neighborhood. In the future, when the capacity of the WVWRF is doubled to 3.0 MGD, there are potential impacts on the well after 30 years, which is likely beyond the life of the well itself. An anti-degradation analysis was done to measure potential impacts on the groundwater basin there, which is Garnet Subbasin (not the Mission Creek subbasin). This analysis showed potential degradation of the Garnet subbasin with TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) after about 15 years.

From the Water Research Center:

"Dissolved solids" refer to any minerals, salts, metals, cations or anions dissolved in water. Total dissolved solids (TDS) comprise inorganic salts (principally calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, bicarbonates, chlorides, and sulfates) and some small amounts of organic matter that are dissolved in water.

The EIR and regulatory approval for the plant will potentially be completed by summer of 2019. MSWD may be eligible for up to $8 million in grants for this project. Construction could begin in the autumn of 2019 with about an 18-month construction time.

President Randy Duncan asked Matt McCue, finance director, his opinion on whether the district could take on this expense. There are variables, he answered, saying that re-doing the most recent rate study may be necessary because there are pressures both up and down. Some predicted capital expenditures that were included in the last rate study have not been made, so perhaps rates could be lower. But at the same time there are other rising costs working to push rates up. The district's debt-service ratio "couldn't be any better," he said. The district has almost zero debt.

The wastewater treatment plant in Yucca Valley that is under construction now is a 1 MGD plant (with MBR) which is costing them about $31 million. MBR is Membrane BioReactor. The WVWRF will be built withOUT MBR, but when additional capacity is needed, MBR will be installed and the capacity of our plant will go to 3 MGD.


Proposed Assessment District 18

Proposed Assessment District 17 (to build sewer lines) failed by only 8 votes to get two-thirds approval by the property owners which only means sewers for the areas that would have been included will be later and more expensive. The defeat of AD 17 was attributed to two main reasons: first, a lot of the properties in the area are owned by landlords who, apparently, are motivated only by short term profit, and, second, about 60 property owners who said they would support AD 17 when polled never returned their ballots during the actual voting.

AD 18 would include Mission Lakes Country Club plus six unsewered areas in Desert Hot Springs. This proposal will be structured so that if the full assessment district fails, any of the smaller areas that received sufficient votes could form their own assessment district.

As in the past, MSWD will search for grants to cover up to 50% of the cost of sewering these areas. If they are successful, the actual per parcel cost for the property owner will be in the range of $6,400 to $6,600. A bargain. (In 2004 this charge was $4,124.) That price does not include the property owner's expense of actually hooking up and mitigating their now useless septic tank.

They hope to have this approved by the property owners in 2019 so that in 2020 they can begin to seek grant funding.


Holiday Schedule

Christmas and New Year's Day are on Tuesdays this year, so this was a proposal to grant employees an extra day off for the Mondays preceding those two holidays. Approved by the board, 5-0.


ACWA/JPIA Captive Insurance Company

This is a proposal to be voted on at the upcoming meeting of the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA). If ACWA forms its own insurance company strictly for ACWA members, they can get lower rates. The insurance covers third party bodily injuries, employment practices liability, public officials errors and omissions, inverse condemnation, drone liability, and workers' comp. The savings come primarily from greater flexibility in investments.


Solar Plant

Even though the ribbon cutting (or switch flipping) has already taken place at the AQMD-grant-funded solar plant on Little Morongo south of Dillon, electricity is not yet flowing to the system because, you know, Edison. Staff estimated that everything would finally fall into line before the December board meeting. It is expected to save the district more than $300,000/year.


I-10/Indian Sewer Financing District

Not much activity lately. Not enough info has been received yet to put together a resolution. The property owners who will benefit from the sewer are the ones responsible to pay for it 100%, so it is up to them to support a financing district to make that possible. As with any sewer construction project, the longer they wait, the more it will cost them.


Holiday Parade

A discussion as to whether MSWD will participate in this year's Desert Hot Springs holiday parade. It will be Saturday, December 8, in the evening (for the first time in anyone's memory). Not all the Directors will be able to be there, but yes, MSWD will participate.


General Manager's Report

There are substantial leaks in the roof at MSWD headquarters on Second Street. Some drywall has been replaced, some mold has been discovered and mitigated. Bids for repair or replacement are being considered. Initial estimates are around $180,000, but staff expects to be able to lower that.


Farewell to Director Bowman

This was Director Jeff Bowman's last board meeting. President of the Board, Randy Duncan, walked around to the podium and spoke.

Director Bowman, when I saw "we," I'm referring to myself, the rest of the board, staff, and even most or all of our contractors. While we seldom disagree on issues, we have all grown to respect and value your opinions and ideas when it comes to the board, both as a director and a person. Regardless of whether we disagree or not, regardless of the direction we decide to take, we all believe you always have the district's best interests at heart. On a personal sidenote, you and I have competed for the same seat (I lost that one) but that was a clean, fair race. And I respect you for that. I think you can take comfort in knowing that the only reason, I think, you lost this seat was because of a very dirty and unethical race. So now, if I could, you would join me down here. We would like to thank you for nine years of service as a Director of the Mission Springs Water District.

A representative of the office of Senator Jeff Stone presented Director Bowman with a proclamation.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Politics | November 21, 2018 at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2018

Mac Mini with 4K

I can now watch 4K videos with ease. I've got a couple of cameras that can shoot in 4K, and earlier this year I bought a 4K monitor. I could plug a 4K camera directly into the monitor to watch real 4K, but I couldn't watch 4K videos from any other source in 4K because my old Mac Mini (2012 model) could do no better than 1080. But finally, last month Tim Cook announced the new Mac Mini, greatly enhanced and with the ability to handle 4K.

Here's a test video I used: Driving Downtown - Los Angeles 4K - USA. 4K videos of Oahu, or aerial flights over Paris are quite lovely. But to judge the technical abilities of my hardware, I need to look at something familiar. Three hours of downtown Los Angeles in 4K...on a Sunday, so the traffic is unusually light.

For the new Mac Mini I went with the "3.2GHz 6‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz)." On all previous models of Macs that I've owned, I've maxed out the RAM, but the max on the new Mini is 64GB! That would cost an additional $1,400. I don't think I've had a computer before that could hold more than 16GB, so I decided I could probably live with 32GB of RAM on this one. And I got the 1TB SSD drive.

The 4K is beautiful and realistic.

Filed under Photography,Shopping,Technology | November 14, 2018 at 06:02 PM | Comments (2)

Desert Sun on Steve Grasha

Here's the article:

The Mission Springs Water District's newest board member, Steve Grasha, has tweeted at Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, that the senator should shoot himself in the head and that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio should be beheaded.

These and other tweets are part of a long history of Twitter posts that include violent, sexist and racist language from a man elected to serve customers of the water district, which services most of Desert Hot Springs.

By Wednesday, after this article published online, it appeared Grasha had removed his Twitter account from public view. Iinks in this article to his tweets are no longer active.

Grasha was easily elected to the MSWD board last week with 33 percent of the vote. In an interview on Thursday, he acknowledged he uses extreme language in his posts but said he did not think it was inappropriate for a public official.

“I think people should be honest, we have a crisis of honesty in our country,” he said. “What they should be concerned about is newspapers like yours, trying to tear down the only honest person."

Grasha has written many tweets saying politicians or journalists should be executed or urging them to kill themselves. He has used terms like "lying c---" and "stupid c---" to insult women.

Grasha also has repeatedly faced judges in Riverside County Superior Court. He was charged with two counts of felony stalking and one felony count of making death threats in 2013. All the charges were either dismissed or discharged.

He said the case was falsified by former District Attorney Paul Zellerbach. Grasha said he then worked with current District Attorney Mike Hestrin to unseat Zellerbach. A representative of the DA's office said Grasha did not "formally" work for Hestrin's campaign.

“I ended his career with one email, boom,” Grasha said of Zellerbach's tenure in office.

He was also named, along with relatives, in two lawsuits brought by Rimcrest Community Association, a condo and apartment complex in Palm Springs. He was sued by the condo association for minor infractions; both cases were dismissed.

He has also been taken to small-claims court regarding debt collections at least twice; judges ruled against him and ordered him to pay both times.

Further, he was sued for libel in 1999 by Environmental Engineering Concepts after publishing a letter stating the company had its California State Contractors license revoked, which it had not. The company had been a competitor of Grasha's company, TrueFog. That suit was settled in 2000.

MSWD board member Nancy Wright, who was re-elected last week with 31 percent of the vote, said she recently became familiar with Grasha’s social media history and said it wouldn’t preclude her from being able to work with him on water district issues.

“I’m a professional and I can work with anyone,” she said, adding she did have some concerns about a lack of transparency with his campaign finances. Grasha did not file any campaign finance forms with the county this year or in 2017.

California Fair Political Practices spokesman Jay Wierenga said the agency had received a complaint against Grasha and that its enforcement division has an open case involving Grasha relating to "potential violations of the campaign disclosure provisions of the Political Reform Act," according to documents provided by the FPPC.

In a phone interview, Grasha accused The Desert Sun of poisoning children by running print advertisements from the Mission Springs Water District. He also said his constituents had no reason to be concerned about his language.

“The only people that should be concerned should be people like John Brennan,” he said of the former CIA director, whom Grasha accused of being a Muslim who wants to destroy the country.

In response to a tweet from journalist Anna Navarro in October 2017 in which she said 1,000 Puerto Ricans had died after Hurricane Maria and millions were without power, Grasha replied: “Listen you’re [sic] lying c---. Not a single Puerto Rican has died because of that f------ Hurricane. Go f--- yourself b----.”

In August of this year, officials in Puerto Rico acknowledged 3,000 people died as a result of the hurricane after the results of an independent study were released.

Grasha has tweeted at journalist and author Kurt Eichenwald to “take a bottle of pills and kill yourself,” and that former President Barack Obama was a “criminal and should be hunted down and trapped like the lowlife scum that he is.” He once responded to a tweet by conservative commentator Bill Kristol about meeting an American citizen who immigrated from Afghanistan and fought against the Soviets by saying if the man was a "hero" he would have killed Kristol.

In response to a tweet from former Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward calling for the end of amnesty and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Grasha tweeted he felt threatened at a local convenience store.

“I walked into a 7-Eleven near my house the other day and it literally felt like I was in a foreign country and that I needed an armed security force to get me out of the store safely and alive,” he tweeted Jan. 5.

Other tweets have praised President Donald Trump for his relationship with porn actress Stormy Daniels.

“President banged a porn star and walked away with a $211,000 profit! Greatest. President. Ever,” Grasha tweeted on Oct. 30.

The majority of his tweets are about local or national news, retweets of the president’s tweets or retweets of statements of support for the president from other individuals.

His Facebook profile also contains frequent posts about regional and national news and politics. During the campaign, he posted a picture of MSWD board member Jeff Bowman (who was not re-elected last week) naked, with two other individuals — a man who appeared naked, and a topless woman. Bowman, who owns and operates a clothing-optional resort in Desert Hot Springs, appeared to be officiating a wedding.

In the post, Grasha said Bowman was with “a seemingly underage girl” and accused him in an email, provided to The Desert Sun, of child pornography. In an interview with The Desert Sun, he accused Bowman of possibly molesting or trafficking a child, based on the image he shared, which he said originated from Bowman’s website.

“The voters decided that wasn’t cool,” he said, adding that he didn’t send out the email or Facebook post to be underhanded. “That was a chance I had to take because people have a right to know what might be going on.”

Bowman vehemently denied all of Grasha's accusations. He said the wedding in the photo was from 2006 and the pair pictured were "a lovely couple" who were both of age and had a valid marriage license.

“There’s no words to describe when your life is slandered in such a way that your integrity is called into question, your business,” he said. “For something that was so sacred to be taken and spun 180 degrees and then the slander, defamation of character. I have never met a person that has done something so heinous."

Grasha said he believed the post may have led to action from the Riverside County District Attorney.

John Hall, the district attorney's office spokesperson, said the office was unaware of the photograph Grasha referenced and said the sexual assault task force, which is separate from the Gang Impact Team, conducts regular sweeps of registered sex offenders, and Bowman was neither a target of the task force nor a registered sex offender.

In an email to Bowman, Desert Hot Springs Police Chief Dale Monday said Bowman had never been implicated in any child pornography or child sexual exploitation.

Grasha dismissed that statement.

In addition to a prolific social media footprint, Grasha formerly published an online newsletter, the Palm Springs Village Voice, and is the owner of TrueFog USA, which sells the type of misting systems seen outside many Coachella Valley bars and restaurants.

Grasha made several unsuccessful bids for public office before his election to the MSWD board. In 2014, he ran for the District 1 seat on the Coachella Valley Water District board but was defeated by G. Patrick O’Dowd. He ran for a seat on the Palm Springs City Council multiple times, including a special election in 2002 and a regular election in 2013.

He said in 1999 that he had registered as a Democrat to run for the congressional seat encompassing the Coachella Valley (the 44th Congressional District, at that time). He announced in 2011 that he would run for Congress in 2012 as a Republican, challenging then-incumbent Mary Bono Mack for the 36th Congressional District seat, but did not win.

Grasha said winning an election was a "new experience" for him and said Thursday that MSWD voters had overwhelmingly voted to make a change.

He has flip-flopped between saying he was a Democrat or Republican in previous campaigns, though many local races are nominally nonpartisan, and in a 2003 interview with The Desert Sun he said he wasn’t concerned about the way those inconsistencies would look. That year, he had touted himself as a Democrat to try to get the endorsement of the Desert Stonewall Democrats, a powerful local LGBTQ political group, during the Palm Springs City Council race.

“I understand the process. I understand politics. I understand I should be kissing up to these (special interest) groups,” he said.

In interviews with The Desert Sun during his MSWD and CVWD campaigns, Grasha expressed serious concerns about the levels of chromium-6, a cancer-causing agent found at varying levels in drinking water across the county, and accused Wright and Bowman — and The Desert Sun — of poisoning children.

After his election to the MSWD board, Grasha released a statement on social media saying he was “honored” and thanking Bowman, whom he accused of poisoning children and being a child molester, “for his commitment to public service and our water district since 2009.”

Grasha said in the statement that the water district was facing challenging circumstances.

“I will work together with anyone and everyone who wants to create a better path forward for families that rely on our sacred duty to protect our most precious resource, our water supply,” he wrote. “And I will fight for all of you, each and every day to make your lives better and our entire community stronger."

Bowman was the third highest vote-getter on Election Day, netting 21 percent of the vote. Malcolm McLean finished last among the four candidates, with 15 percent of the vote.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Politics | November 14, 2018 at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

November 3, 2018

Los Angeles Just After Sunset

Disney Hall Twilight (5252)

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (2112)

L.A. City Hall (2808)

Filed under Architecture,Cities/Urbanism,Photography | November 3, 2018 at 06:16 PM | Comments (1)

October 24, 2018

U.S.-Mexico Border Flyover

From the Washington Post. The 3D map is annotated and shows where walls and fences have been constructed.

Filed under California,Politics | October 24, 2018 at 07:01 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2018

Dodge City Voter Suppression

For the upcoming election, Desert Hot Springs (population 29,000 or so) will have four polling places. Dodge City, Kansas, (population 28,000 or so) will have only one polling place. The four polling places in DHS will be within walking distance of most of the city. In Dodge City that one polling place will be as shown on the map below:

In DHS about half the population is Hispanic. In Dodge City it's more like 60%.

I picked a semi-random spot that looked like it was in the middle of old Dodge City, Central Avenue and Ash Street, and Google maps tells me it's about a 3 mile walk to the polling place. But when I ask for mass transit directions, Google comes back with this message:

Sorry, we could not calculate transit directions from "Central Ave & E Ash St, Dodge City, KS 67801" to "11333 US-283, Dodge City, KS 67801"

IOW, no bus. Here's a map of their bus system. It does look like the Green route would get you within a half mile of the polling place. The streetview image below shows the intersection of two highways (US 400 and US 283) that you'd pass through on the way to the polling place. Looks easily bikeable and even walkable, but not very enjoyable.

Kansans can vote by mail, but it doesn't look like you can choose that permanently, as in California, so you'd have to fill out a request for every election.

Unrelated note, Dodge City still has brick streets! I remember these, especially in small towns in Iowa. I'd thought almost all had been paved over. Maybe the weather is really, really nice in Dodge City.

Filed under Politics | October 19, 2018 at 10:47 PM | Comments (1)

October 18, 2018

Box Canyon Flood

Box Canyon Road was flooded out twice this month, the second flood being far greater magnitude than any flood I've seen on that road. Check out the video:

Coachella Canal - Cleveland Street Branch to Salton Sea (1181)
This is a photo I took in 2007
showing the drainage channel going from the Coachella Canal (foreground) to the Salton Sea (background). The drainage channel can be used to send excess water from the canal into the Salton Sea, but I haven't heard of that option being used in the 15 years I've lived here. The farmers can use all the water they get. The drainage channel actually extends under the canal so that it can also carry runoff from the Mecca Hills (behind me as I took this photo) to the Salton Sea. Otherwise, all the rain that falls on the Mecca Hills will simply pool next to the canal, eventually undermining it.

So the huge flood from Box Canyon Road (or as much of it as possible) squeezed through this opening (also photographed in 2007):
Drain Passing Under the Coachella Canal (5027)

Before the flood could get to the Salton Sea it had to pass under 70th Avenue as well as the railroad and highway 111. The panorama below shows where the flood hit 70th Avenue:
70th & Cleveland, North Shore, California (1958)
Not only was the bridge destroyed, but the entire concrete drainage channel is simply gone.

Below is a closer view of the 70th Avenue bridge. Those are date palms along the road with their fruit wrapped in cloth bags to protect it from birds.
70th & Cleveland, North Shore, California (5671)

Filed under California,Coachella Valley,Photography | October 18, 2018 at 09:09 PM | Comments (3)

October 15, 2018

Wende Museum Of The Cold War

I recently visited the Wende Museum of the Cold War in Culver City, which had been on my gotta-see list for quite a while. Open to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday; no charge for admission; check the website for variations on that. It's right next door to Veterans Memorial Park which is right next door to Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

City of Culver City (4838)

On the other end of the museum sits the House of Warrior Poetry (Dance. Parkour. Acrobatics. Action Arts. Yoga. Movement.).
House of Warrior Poetry (4829)

Veterans Memorial Auditorium - Culver City (4836)
Veterans Memorial Auditorium - the marker out front was placed in 1950, so call it 1950.

Kimmy Schmidt Fashion (4850)
In the museum I thought the cover of this magazine said "1961."
Only when I went to edit it did I see it was actually 1981! It sure has the look of 1961.

Yuri Gagarin (4862)
Yuri Gagarin hanging out with kids.

Wende Museum of the Cold War (4874)
Sly Lenin.

Entertainment Center (4877)
Soviet radio.

You can see all the photos here.

Filed under Architecture,Books,Film/Movies,History,Photography,Politics,Public Safety,Technology | October 15, 2018 at 11:12 PM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2018

2018 Burning Man Photos

View of My Camp from Box Office Camp (0117)
A view of my camp from the elevated deck at Box Office Camp
. This was taken my second day on the playa.

Trago Peak (0108)
Trago Peak on the eastern edge of the playa.

Stephanie & Klank (0280)
Burner Buddies Stephanie and Klank.

Stack of cars (0169)
Every year there's one art piece that is obviously dangerous, and BMOrg will let people play on it until someone gets seriously hurt and then they make some changes
. Before this one had been open for too many days, someone fell off and it was shut down.

Sphere (0299)

Sperm Kites at Kidsville (0138)

Setting Up Box Office (0121)
The front of Box Office while we were setting up.

Self on trike (0131)

Rainbow Arch (0303A)

Rain on the playa (0107)
My first evening on the playa.

My truck at the Nugget Casino in Sparks Nevada (2082)
My truck in the Nugget Casino parking garage in Sparks.

Menorah Bike (0142)
A menorah constructed on a tandem bike.

Men Working On Themselves (0239)

Little Black Dress Party (0218)
At the Burner Buddies Little Black Dress Party.

GPS Tracks From Burning Man 2019
GPS tracks as I traveled around Black Rock City on my trike and on the bus going out to Box Office on Gate Road, plus my exodus in the truck.

Galaxia Temple Burning (0344)
Galaxia Temple Burning.

Galaxia Temple (0261)

Elephant Art Car (0156)

Crashed Plane (0290)

Champagne Bitches Art Car (0147A)
The Champagne Bitches art car stopped in front of Burner Buddies for a while.

Burner Buddies Drive-Thru (0216)
Customers at the Burner Buddies Drive-thru.

Burner Buddies aerial on Saturday by Frank Martin
Aerial view shot by Frank with Burner Buddies camp highlighted.

Burner Buddies & Me - 2018
Burner Buddies group shot by Ed.

Art On The Playa (0259)

Art car on the playa (0312) denoised

My complete set of 2018 Burning Man photos can be seen here.

Filed under Architecture,Burning Man,Photography | September 25, 2018 at 08:00 PM | Comments (1)

September 14, 2018

Videos from Burning Man 2018


My videos.

Filed under Art,Burning Man,Naturism-Nudism,Photography | September 14, 2018 at 08:04 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2018

El Capitan State Beach

When I was at El Capitan State Beach with Great Outdoors Santa Barbara I walked what used to be the paved bike path from El Capitan to Refugio State Beach. Part of the route has eroded away, so much so that the path is closed, although pedestrians still hike along the closed portion.

Aniso Trail (1)

Refugio State Beach (0095)
Refugio State Beach
.

Offshore Oil Drilling Warning System (0075)
Sirens for the offshore drilling platforms
.

El Capitan State Beach (0090)

Aniso Trail flower (0080)

Aniso Trail (0094)

Aniso Trail (0086)

Aniso Trail (0077)

Aniso Trail (0079)

See the complete set of photos here.

Filed under California,Photography | September 11, 2018 at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)

Supersonic Passenger Aircraft

Aerion Corp. of Reno is developing a supersonic airplane that could carry 12 passengers. Their intent is to develop a plane that would not require any change in regulations in order to fly legally. The plane would fly at just below the speed of sound over land, so there would be no sonic boom, with speed increasing to Mach 1.6 over water, but they say it will be able to fly at Mach 1.2 without generating a sonic boom. Target price is $120 million. Twenty-three jets have already been sold at that price. The first flight is planned for 2023.

Filed under Technology | September 11, 2018 at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2018

LAWNBR 2018 Video Slideshow - ThiEYE Camera

Here's the third of the slideshows of my photos from the Los Angeles World Naked Bike Ride back in June.

Filed under California,Cities/Urbanism,Cycling,Naturism-Nudism | August 12, 2018 at 08:02 AM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2018

"Ignite"


Just released, this video documents the 2017 Burn. 2017 was my 11th time at Burning Man, and that makes the narration in this video seem a bit over the top...because I've been there and seen it and I know every second of this video is just real. The only "special effect" in this video is that it was shot at a high frame rate so that it could be slowed down a bit to make this.

There's no great voiceover narration to thrill you as you bike across the playa. No dramatic music. But the excitement is the same, nevertheless. It's just hard to convey the feelings in a video. I can still recall clearly how stunned I was by the first Burning Man I went to. It was bigger, brighter and louder than what I was prepared for. Today, Burning Man has about twice as many attendees as it did in my first year and the technology has leapt forward. If 2017 had been my first year, I probably would have needed a bucket to catch my melting brain.

Filed under Burning Man,Photography | August 10, 2018 at 07:16 PM | Comments (0)

August 6, 2018

Los Angeles World Naked Bike Ride 2018

The Los Angeles World Naked Bike Ride for 2018 took place on June 23. They do it in two loops, the first loop being shorter than the second loop. The day started out completely overcast with a bit of drizzle, temps in the 70s, despite trans-100 temperatures back home in the desert.

I've accumulated a number of action cameras and knew this would be a good opportunity to do some comparisons while getting a ton of photos of the other riders. The complete set of photos is here.

I used four action cameras:

  • ThiEYE (link to photos) on my helmet, facing rearwards for both loops.
  • Lightdow (link to photos) on the handlebars facing forward during the first loop.
  • GitUp (link to photos) on the handlebars facing forward during the second loop.
  • And GoPro Hero4 Silver (link to photos) mounted above the rear wheel facing rearwards for both loops.

As you will see, quality was all over the place, but the GoPro tended to do the best under the varying lighting conditions. The full sun came out on the second loop.

I have prepared video slideshows of the photos from each camera, but I've only uploaded two three. Due to upload limitations at Vimeo, I won't upload the others until sometime in September. Here are links to the two three that are up:

Los Angeles World Naked Bike Ride 2018 - Lightdow Camera.


Los Angeles World Naked Bike Ride 2018 - GitUp Camera.


Los Angeles World Naked Bike Ride 2018 - ThiEYE Camera.

They both all end when their batteries died. The GoPro had the longest battery life. It was the only camera still running at the end of the first loop. It ran far longer on the second loop than the other cameras, but died just as we came to the intersection of Silver Lake and Sunset Boulevards. Next year I think I may try hooking it up to a USB battery so I can actually photograph the entire ride (for the first time ever).

Below are some of the more interesting shots, IMO.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (105605)
That's Rocky and his husband.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (103820)
This guy happened to park next to me
. It was his first WNBR.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (105923)
This guy stayed dressed like this for the whole ride
. The ride is clothing optional and a lot of riders wear some clothing, but to be 100% dressed in serious bike rider drag on a fun ride like this seemed weird. Creepy almost. He certainly looks uncomfortable to me.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (110116)
There were a number of Metro Bikes in use
. Some riders covered the seat as they are supposed to; some didn't.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (110724)
This little guy rode the first loop only and was our only child rider
. Usually, we have a few kids, but only one this year. He was accompanied by at least four adults and it looked like they must go on rides together quite a bit. He was a good rider and communicated well with those around him.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (110619A)

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (110622A)

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The LAWNBR is conducted with the close cooperation and supervision of the LAPD
. In prior years they would run us "like a funeral" (in their terminology), meaning they stopped traffic for us at most intersections and gave us right of way. The downside of that is the line of naked riders would stretch out further and further as the faster riders at the front left the slower riders behind, so occasionally the cops would stop all the riders until everybody had caught up. That could mean standing in the street for 10 or 15 minutes sometimes. This year, we were supposed to handle intersections as just ordinary vehicles, with a few exceptions. So a lot of the photos here are shot while we are waiting for a light to turn green. Once we got to Sunset Boulevard on the second loop, and we began the long straight run back to the end of the ride, the cops stopped traffic for us at almost every intersection. Maybe we were behind schedule.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (111658)
Spiderman's costume lasted the length of the ride pretty well
. Sometimes full body paint shows some wear and bare spots before we get to the end.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (111936)
That's Ed
.

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You get to see more than just naked bike riders while doing the LAWNBR.

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Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions building
.

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This guy.
I had a brief discussion with another rider about whether the guy knew he had a glaring typo in his sign.

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L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (113654) Anthony Quinn-Victor Clothing Co mural
The Victor Clothing mural with Anthony Quinn.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (113748)
Passing the Bradbury Building.

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Coming up on the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

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Waiting at a light near the LADWP.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (115139)
Between the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and Disney Hall.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (134754)
Electric skateboard.
He wasn't with us at the end of the ride, so maybe his battery ran out.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (134759)

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (134529)
The double-wheeled bike on the right is supposed to float better on sand, the rider said.
He brought it from Florida. I have to admit, he never got stuck in any sand during the naked bike ride.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (134319A)
Couldn't find matching shoes or saddle, I guess.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (134339)
The guy on the phone would later be seen drinking a foamy beverage from a brown bottle.
He must've had a supply in his backpack.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (134513)

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (115234) Disney Hall - Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (115454A)

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The second loop begins.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (134119A)

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L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (135738A)
Metro Bike with seat covered.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (135752A)

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (140038) Union Station
Passing Union Station.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (140142) Union Station

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (141534)
We didn't get to go right up the middle of Chinatown this year.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (141502)
The Los Angeles State Historic Park has re-opened.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (141632A)
This bright red seat might work for that other guy with the bright red trim.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (143032)
Jim practicing to be a North Korean dictator.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (143126)

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (143150A)
Just so you know I'm not the only nerd on the ride.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (143416)
The passengers on the Amtrak bus from Oxnard get a special greeting.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (143456)
These two followed me though an intersection on a yellow light, so for several blocks I had almost nothing to photograph behind me but them.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (143938)
They held us all at the rotary where we enter the Los Angeles River Greenway Trail.


In the several years I've done the LAWNBR we've approached this intersection from just about every angle, both on sidewalk and on pavement, due to construction. But, finally, all construction is complete. We approached it from North San Fernando Road this year.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (144121)

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Out of the rotary and onto the bike trail.

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Dodger Stadium is up on the other side of that hill.

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L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (144616A)

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (144745)
We often see kayakers on the Los Angeles River
and water birds, but I don't recall seeing geese before.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (145728)

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (150045)
A major stopping point on the L.A. River bikepath.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (150350)

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This is where they hold us after we exit the bikepath.

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These guys with matching skin tones and bikes.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (155605)
I think L.A. Tourism should adopt this rider as their new "Welcome To Los Angeles" maiden.
Postcards, posters, billboards. They'd love her in Iowa.

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (155645A)

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (155710)

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (160225)

L.A. World Naked Bike Ride 2018 (161015)
It's Los Angeles.

Filed under California,Cities/Urbanism,Cycling,Naturism-Nudism | August 6, 2018 at 07:46 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2018

DHS City Council - June 19, 2018

End Of RDA Oversight Board to the Successor Agency

The DHS "RDA Oversight Board to the Successor Agency" has reached the end of its duties. Its responsibilities are passing on to a county-level board. Mayor Matas presented certificates of recognition to the members of the Oversight Board.


Public Comments

Planning Commissioner Gary Gardner came to the podium to give the Planning Commission update.

Nina Duarte thanked all the volunteers for the Emergency Preparedness Seminar.

Linda Barrack, President and CEO of Martha's Kitchen in Indio, spoke about homelessness. During the first five months of this year, Martha's Kitchen housed 57 people from Desert Hot Springs.

Mike Picardi reported on the first "Jammin' In the Desert." He then spoke against the federal government's policy of separating children from refugee parents at the border. He asked the city council to approve a referendum condemning this practice.

Bruce Hutchison complimented Doria Wilms, Assistant to the City Manager. He said if it weren't for her, he would not have stayed in DHS.

James Velasquez said he has seen some DHS dispensaries are not in compliance with rules that will be enforced on July 1.

Mark [no last name given] talked about cannabis tourism in Colorado.


66071 and 66079 Pierson Boulevard

These two adjacent parcels have been property of the late RDA. They are being sold for $98,010 to Richard Feenstra. Both of these parcels are vacant. One extends from Pierson to Acoma.

The RDA originally paid $315,950 for these parcels.

Approved 5-0.


66146 Pierson Boulevard

This is another RDA parcel which is also being sold to Richard Feenstra. This one is going for $22,542.

Approved 5-0.


APNs 641-191-008 and 641-191-009

These are two adjacent vacant lots on the north side of Ironwood; one on West, the other on Santa Ysabel. They are being sold by the Housing Authority (not the RDA) to Richard Johnson for $12,500 each ($25,000 total). These were acquired with low or moderate income housing funds, which is how they ended up in the hands of the Housing Authority rather than the RDA. The proceeds of the sale return to our Housing Authority rather than being turned over to the county for redistribution, as in an RDA sale.

A realtor who did not state his name said that NAI (the real estate agency handling these sales for the city) had not returned calls his agency had made to them and he thought he "might" have people who would make an offer higher than $12,500.

The properties were listed on MLS. Any real estate agent could have found them easily. They were listed for 20 months. Several offers were received that were lower than $12,500. An offer was received on the day of this city council meeting for $10,000 per parcel.

Approved 4-1 with Mr. McKee voting against. Mr. McKee did not speak during these items and did not explain his vote.

Besides these two parcels, the Housing Authority is retaining 13 other parcels where affordable housing might actually be built someday.


Contract For City-wide Janitorial Services

There were bids from three firms: Santa Fe Building Maintenance ($105,367.24), Merchants Building Maintenance ($81,032.68) and R&R Janitorial Services ($284,520.00). Staff recommended Santa Fe, who had a contract with the city some years ago. Staff said references for Merchant Building Maintenance came back negative.

Mr. Betts moved to deny and to put this out for bid again for at least 30 days with bids solicited from every janitorial service the city has ever had any dealings with. This was seconded by Mr. McKee.

Danny Porras said staff had contacted every city in the valley to find out who they contract with. Bid requests were sent to every firm named.

The motion to deny was approved 3-2 with Mayor Matas and Mayor Pro Tem Zavala voting against.


Furbee Pool Maintenance Contract

The city got two bids for this: 1 Stop Pool Pros for $128,070 and Ocean Springs Tech for $139,104. 1 Stop Pool Pros has been the current contractor and city staff recommended awarding the contract to them again.

Mr. Betts moved to award to Ocean Springs Tech, a DHS firm, and to lower the contingency amount from $25,000 to $10,000. Mr. Porras explained the contingency fund is to pay for broken equipment, and some of the equipment at the Furbee Center is very expensive.

Approved 4-0 with Ms. Pye voting against.


General Municipal Election November 6, 2018

The deposit for candidate statements will be $400. The nominating period is July 16 through August 9. The filing fee is $25. The cost to the city for the election is estimated at $30,000 to $45,000. Approved 5-0. Mail-in ballots will be sent out about October 8.


Rotating Mayor Selection

A resolution to be submitted to the voters which would change the city's mayorship to a position that rotates among members of the council in order by longevity for a one-year term each. Not coincidentally, this measure was proposed by Russell Betts who has run for mayor and lost, but who has the greatest longevity on the council and would (if this were to be approved as proposed) be the first to serve as rotating mayor.

Mr. Betts cited Rancho Mirage as an example of a city with orderly leadership. This is not the first time Mr. Betts has held up Rancho Mirage (or Palm Desert) as an example of what we should be like, ignoring the fact that none of us here in DHS have chosen to live in RM or PD. IOW, why would we want to be like Rancho Mirage, which recently has taken on our former role as disruptive asshole city of the valley?

The proposed resolution would not take effect until November 2020 to determine who becomes the new mayor in December.

Mr. McKee, who co-sponsored this proposal, cited the current matter that a sitting council member can run for mayor from a "safe seat," so that if they lose they will still remain on the council. Rather than filling the position in order by longevity, Mr. McKee proposed that the order of rotation be determined by ordinance because "it will give us the ability to look at something and make sure that if it's not working well, we can change it without going to another election."

Now there's a variation on this proposal that am sure will never fly. In effect, the mayor will not be selected by an objective, pre-determined method (rotation by longevity, for example) but by whatever method three members of the city council prefer. And they could change that preference with every election, if the voters let them.

He went on to say that the council is getting along well with Mayor Matas in his seat, but he called this situation "an outlier," a polite way of saying "unheard of in DHS history." He's certainly right about that. He described the current role of mayor to have a lot of responsibility and very little power, which Mayor Matas immediately agreed with.

Donna Poyuzina expressed her opposition to the proposal, saying "We are not Rancho Mirage." She wants to vote directly for mayor...and it sounds like she'd be happy to re-elect Mr. Matas several times.

Gary Gardner opposes this because the Mayor's position should be filled only by someone who wants to be Mayor. (Mr. McKee had pointed out that taking the job is voluntary, any member of the council can excuse himself or herself from being Mayor).

Michael Picardi said that, in effect, our city council members represent different parts of the city. If that's true, I want him to tell me which one represents me. Mr. Picardi favors a 4-year term for mayor.

In response to a question from Mayor Matas, City Clerk Soriano said that each item added to the ballot costs the city $10,000 to $15,000.

Mayor Pro Tem Zavala said she is still undecided on this proposal for a 4-year mayoral term, but she will vote for this so the voters can decide.

Ms. Pye pointed out that the council has not budgeted for these items. She said this is a decision for the voters, not the council. She said there has not been enough time for people to even discuss it with the council.

Mr. McKee disagreed with Ms. Pye, but he said that if the voters don't approve this, he'll be back to say "I told you so."

Mr. Betts said that if Mr. McKee wanted to suggest a basis other than longevity on which to selecting the rotating mayor, he would be open to that.

Mayor Matas said that if this rotating mayor proposal is put on the ballot, then the voters should also be given the choice of a directly elected 4-year term mayor.

Ms. Zavala said she didn't know which proposal she would prefer personally, and as far as a rotating mayor goes she didn't know what method she preferred for choosing the mayor, but she is okay with submitting it to the voters.

Ms. Pye said the public has not had enough time to figure this out.

Mr. McKee made a motion. "The first part of the motion is that the mayor's term...the mayor's or fifth person that's left on the council will be four years; and that the people, as a second item, will vote on having a rotating mayor with a methodology being formatted by ordinance at a later date...beginning in 2020." Upon questioning by Mayor Matas Mr. McKee clarified that he meant there would be no 2-year term for mayor. He also clarified that "no matter what" the term of mayor will be four years.

Ms. Zavala asked "That first component, is it basically putting in another measure saying 'Would you like a 4-year mayor.'" Mr. McKee clarified that yes, that is what he meant.

Mr. Betts pointed out that the motion would have to come back to the council in written form in time for them to vote on it before the deadline to add items to the ballot.

Attorney Mizrahi clarified that Mr. McKee meant for the 4-year term mayor to be directly elected and that he meant a rotating mayor would serve for only one year at a time.

Mr. McKee now rephrased his proposal, first, whether we should have a rotating mayor and all council seats be for four years, and, second, if not, should the mayor's term be four years. Ms. Zavala and Mr. Betts both said this would require two separate ballot measures, with one able to supercede another. Attorney Mizrahi said she would have to research that.

[There have been several times we've had conflicting statewide items on the ballot that included language saying that if the other measure got more votes, then it would win, and vice versa.]

There was a discussion among council members (Mr. McKee's motion still had not received a second) about how many people would need to vote for a provision for it to be approved. Mr. McKee said that "if you vote to get rid of the mayor, then the other thing becomes void."

Since no one had made any proposal to "get rid of the mayor," it's hard to know what "the other thing" would be. Mr. McKee rephrased it a litte for clarity. "If you voted to get rid of the mayor there's no requirement then to have the mayor with four years."

At this point, let me interrupt to say that I'm disgusted both with how incredibly clumsy Mr. McKee has become with words and that five politicians and a lawyer can't figure out how the vote would work. Let me tell you how it would work. The ballot will have two questions, one for a directly elected 4-year term mayor; the other would rotate the mayorship on an annual basis among the council members. Call them questions 1 and 2.

Question 1Question 2Outcome
Scenario 1>50%<50%Question 1 wins
Scenario 2<50%>50%Question 2 wins
Scenario 3>50%>50%Higher votes for 1 or 2 wins
Scenario 4<50%<50%No change, we stay with a 2-year directly elected mayor

An individual who votes NO on both questions is voting to retain the 2-year term for a directly elected mayor. A person who votes YES on BOTH questions or who does NOT vote on both questions is leaving the decision to the other voters. A YES vote on one question while leaving the other question UNVOTED is a vote in favor of that one question, but it's not as strong as if the voter had also voted NO on the other question.

Mr. Betts proposed approving the rotating mayor proposal now and then considering a separate 4-year term mayor proposal at the next council meeting. Ms. Zavala said she would not be at the next council meeting.

Mr. Betts seconded Mr. McKee's motion. Mr. Betts clarified that the directly elected 4-year mayoral term question would come back at a future meeting.

Ms. Zavala, who clearly needs to study a bit more on California politics, wanted to specify that neither measure would pass if it didn't get more than 50% of the vote. Mr. McKee explained to her that a No vote would be a vote to retain the current system. Ms. Zavala was having none of that. She didn't explicitly say so, but I think she wanted that written into the proposal. [This may go down in future joke books as the first voter referendum in California that included a provision saying that if enough voters didn't approve it, it did not pass.] This was accepted by both Mr. Betts and Mr. McKee, without laughing.

Ms. Pye pointed out how confusing this is for the five council members, saying that if it was delayed a year, people would have more time to discuss it.

City Manager Maynard explained the basic concept of democracy, that if either question got less than 50% it would fail. He said that does not need to be specified in the provision [there goes the joke book opportunity]. Mr. Betts did not understand this. Ms. Zavala was still confused and needed to rehash this.

Mr. McKee understood the matter, but apparently hadn't understood it before. Now he said he was sure the proposal for a directly elected 4-year mayor would get many more votes than the proposal for a rotating mayor, so there's no point in putting the rotating mayor proposal on the ballot.

Why, one must ask, did he cosponsor a measure for a rotating mayor, if he is completely sure that the majority of voters prefer a directly elected mayor?

Mayor Matas thought the voters should still be provided the choice.

Gary Gardner came to the podium to say that the attorney needs to write a new proposal to be brought back to the city council to allow the public to discuss it more fully. [He did not seem to account for the looming deadlines to get items on the ballot.] But then he began a more philosophical point of what should and should not be on the ballot. He cited marriage equality as something that should not be on the ballot. [Quite true, but this is California and putting marriage equality on the ballot was totally legal and I've heard of no viable proposals to limit the power of voter referenda in this state.] He said this change should be initiated by the voters through the initiative process.

I think that may have been a point Ms. Pye was trying to make earlier, although I'm not clear about that. Why this should originate in a petition initiative, neither explained.

Mike Picardi spoke next saying that if the 4-year mayor proposal got a majority then it automatically would override any rotating mayor proposal. He didn't explain why. He did not see these as two competing measures. "One is the extension of the other." [Clearly, he understood these two provisions even less than the four non-Pye members of the council.]

Ted Mayrhofen said he never heard any complaints about the mayor's 2-year term, except from Mayor Weyuker. He said the council was reinventing the wheel and wasting resources on something that is not necessary.

Mr. Betts said that if someone wanted to add a ballot measure through the initiative process they still had time to do so. [Unrealistic nonsense.]

Attorney Mizrahi asked to be allowed to summarize the changes she had heard about this motion to make sure everyone was on the same page.

  • Rotating mayor proposal only this night.
  • Directly electing a 4-year term mayor will come back on July 3, to include language explaining that if both measures get more than 50%, the higher vote total wins.
  • The order of rotation to be adopted by ordinance.
  • Beginning 2020.
  • Ordinance controlling the order of rotation to be adopted 6 months prior to November 20 [of each election year].
  • All seats on the council would be for four years.

Again, Ms. Zavala asked for language to be included stating that if both proposals fail, then the status quo continues.

Approved 4-1, with Ms. Pye voting against.


Palm Springs Airport Commission Nomination

Ms. Parks had been our representative on the airport commission. Ms. Pye had already volunteered, so Mr. Betts nominated her. Approved 5-0.


Second Reading and Adoption of an Ordinance Amending Chapter 17.180 (Medical Marijuana Facilities Operation and Location) of the Zoning Code

This was on the Consent Calendar, but Mr. McKee had pulled it for discussion. The ordinance presented in the agenda included this:

B. There are no changes to the following:
i. Size of structure(s)
ii. Existing or approved grade elevations.

Mr. McKee said the council did not add that. Just before that in the ordinance is this text:

There is a ten (10) percent or less than deviation to each of the following:
i. On-site circulation and parking, loading and landscaping;
ii. Placement and/or height of walls and fences., and structures;
iii. Exterior architectural features, including colors, and/or modification of finished materials that do not alter or compromise the previously approved theme;
iv. The density or intensity of a development project;

Mr. McKee pointed out the difference between 10% of a 50,000 s.f. building and 10% of a 3,000,000 s.f. building. He suggested this be brought back with some provision other than the simple 10%. He suggested 10% up to some limit, 5% up to some higher limit, 2.5% up to yet a higher limit, etc.

Attorney Mizrahi explained that she had merely moved these items in the ordinance. The two items under B had been under A originally, while A originally had said "no changes." Item A was changed to the 10% rule, but the 10% rule wasn't to apply to structure size or grade elevations.

Mr. McKee moved to remove those items under B.

Approved 5-0.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | July 27, 2018 at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2018

DHS Planning Commission, June 12, 2018

Chair and Vice Chair

Jan Pye having moved on to the city council, Commissioner Gary Gardner nominated Larry Buchanan for Chair. Commissioner Scott De La Torre nominated himself for Vice Chair. They were both elected unanimously, 4-0.


CUP Time Extension International Cannabis Group (formerly GFarma Labs)

This is on the east side of currently unpaved Little Morongo, south of Dillon. This development will have five buildings. Approved 4-0.


Amendment To CUP To Permit Distribution At We Care DHS

This cultivation facility is on the south side Two Bunch Palms Trail between Cabot and Little Morongo. Approved 4-0.


Liquor License For Carniceria Rancho Grande

The store already has a license for beer and wine. As ususal, there are too many liquor licenses out there, so the city must make a finding of "public convenience or necessity." The only time I've seen one of these requests voted down was the one that came from the Shell station at I-10 and Indian. I believe the city was worried that people would buy liquor and then immediately drink it on on the freeway.

A representative of Rancho Grande came to the podium. Commissioner De La Torre asked what sort of liquor they would be selling, and would the liquor be in a locked cabinet or not. The answer is it will be a locking cabinet near the cash register.

Mr. De La Torre moved to approve on the condition that they extend the hours of their security guard to cover all hours that the store is open. Commissioner Gardner suggested that in one year the police prepare a status report on crime in the area around the carniceria that may have resulted from the change in license. Approved 4-0.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs | July 14, 2018 at 05:44 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2018

Desert Hot Springs City Council, June 5, 2018

STUDY SESSION

Cannabis

Ted Mayrhofen commented that the odor of cannabis in the industrial zone was noticeable.

James Velasquez of VetsLeaf said his business uses an enzyme system to prevent cannabis odors from entering the environment. He encouraged the city to focus on "infrastructure."

Greta Carter spoke next. She said that for a long time she recommended DHS as the place for cannabis developers to invest, but now there are other cities that are preferable. Some cities have committees to help cannabis businesses with their advertising, and to help them organize as trade organizations.

Ryan Fingerhut said that the hotel industry in the Coachella Valley did $5.5 billion in business in 2017. In 2016, the Coachella Valley hotel industry paid $24 million in TOT. He went on to say that DHS saw 2.6% of that TOT. Some of his numbers have got to be wrong. 2.6% of $24 million is $624,000. But we know from the previous City Council meeting that TOT revenue in DHS was more than $1.9 million this fiscal year. I suspect his total figure for the valley ($24 million) is too low. I learned from the recent Question C campaign in Palm Springs that single-family rentals alone bring in more than $6 million TOT to that city. Take that $6 million plus our own almost $2 million in TOT away from $24 million, and you're left with only $16 million TOT for all the hotels in Palm Springs plus all the hotels and single-family rentals for the rest of the valley (outside of DHS). The number is just too low. But, if we assume that the figure of 2.6% is correct, then the total TOT in the valley would be more than $73 million, which is a reasonable figure in my seat of the pants opinion.

Mr. Fingerhut's point was that DHS needs to develop something to attract more visitors here.

John Sclafani from Desert Land Ventures and chair of the Cannabis Advisory Board for DHS, said he had heard that DHS has authorized 11 million square feet of cultivation. He thinks demand needs to be created for this cannabis. He said we need a tax advantage here in order to make exporting cannabis to other parts of California profitable. Also, we must create reasons for people to visit DHS. He said the "advisory board" is open to everyone in the city, not just industry people. He wants to have a wellness R&D center, for example, that will be open to tourists.

Karl Baker spoke next. He said he has seen many plans in DHS fail due to poor planning. Representatives from the city's spas, the water district, the electric company, and long-time DHS residents need to help plan. We can be the Napa Valley of boutique cannabis, he said. DHS needs to create a brand with a well-coordinated plan.

Simone Sandoval from High Road Consulting group spoke in favor of tasting rooms at cultivation sites. She also spoke of Napa Valley and compared the development of micro brew brands with how cannabis could be developed.

Jocelyn Cane representing CV-Cann said the advisory council is in favor of expanding cannabis business in DHS.

Richard Cromwell (the younger) spoke about cannabis testing. He wants testing labs to be able to operate in commercial zones.

Mayor Matas said he would like to fund a strategic planner who understands the cannabis industry.

Councilmember Betts said DHS has had a plan since day one, despite the comments of some members of the public. He said he would be willing to reduce the current cultivation tax ($25 per square foot for the first 3,000 square feet and then $10 per square foot for the remaining space) to a simple $10/s.f. but he would want that to be a trade for jobs. IOW, local hires.

Councilmember McKee said the state is more screwed up on this subject than DHS is. He thinks testing should be okay in either commercial or industrial zones. He supports legalization of cannabis lounges. The city may need to create a special license for that, something similar to a brewpub. He supports sales in hotels & spas.

Mayor Pro Tem Zavala said the city council has been in a reactive position in relation to the cannabis industry. But she feels a strategic plan needs to be devised. She also does not oppose testing labs locating in the commercial zones. She believes, however, that cannabis lounges would be contrary to our push for pedestrian safety. But she's okay with tasting rooms in the cultivation facilities.

Mr. McKee moved to put together a study group of staff, industry and two council members. City Manager Maynard suggested that he put together a study group of staff and industry and present their findings to the city council. He revised that to call it a "task force" with "experts from the marijuana industry" who would sit down with staff to provide suggestions. Ms. Zavala wanted a moderated study session to make a strategic long-term plan for cannabis in DHS. Mr. McKee said the proposal needed an outside consultant. The final motion was for staff to work with the cannabis industry for input while also getting an expert outside consultant for strategic planning. Approved 5-0.


REGULAR SESSION

Farewell to Yvonne Parks

Scott Matas and the rest of the council honored Ms. Parks with a plaque. She moved here in 1994, became active in the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary, and was appointed to the Planning Commission in 1997 where she served for two years. She was reappointed as a Planning Commissioner in 2004 and '05, where she served as Vice Chair. She ran for City Council and won in 2005 — she had run before, but lost. In 2007, she ran for Mayor, won and held that seat until 2013, being re-elected twice. In 2015 she ran for city council again and was elected again as Scott Matas became Mayor, vacating a council seat.


Public Comments

Mike Picardi said the city should look at funding the library. Other cities in the valley fund their county libraries. He also said he agreed with revisions made in the Art in Public Places proposal that would be coming up later on the agenda...but he had to leave the meeting early.

Ted Mayrhofen said the previous mayor Sanchez and current mayor Matas both ignored the Public Safety Commission and started up a Human Rights Committee. He complained that the difference between the two has not been made clear. He claims his own human rights had been violated. He said the Public Safety Commission fell apart years ago and has done nothing. He is a Public Safety Commissioner.

Greta Carter thanks Mayor Matas and Richard Cromwell (the elder) for their support in setting up a cannabis certification program with College Of The Desert. One course will be "compliance," another will be HR, the third will be professional development. They will be offered in DHS. Also, High Road Consulting will be working to get out the vote in the November election. They will be hiring people qualified to take voter registrations.

Judy Shea suggested that COD use $3 million of its bond money to build a computer lab for the new DHS county library.


Replacement for Yvonne Parks

The city council had agreed to consider only candidates who had prior experience as a city council member. Jan Pye was the only person to submit an application. Mr. Betts suggested that city staff should have contacted other potential candidates to let them know of this opportunity. IMO, if a retired city council member didn't know that Ms. Parks was resigning and didn't know that the city council was looking for a replacement, then they would not be somebody I would want on the council. Ms. Zavala moved to approve Jan Pye for the position. Mr. Betts repeated his earlier opinion that someone who would be running for election in November should not be appointed by the city council, and said he would abstain from this vote for that reason. Ms. Zavala's motion was approved 3-0-2 with Mr. Betts and Ms. Parks abstaining. Ms. Pye was immediately sworn in. This is the third time she has been appointed to the city council.


Budget 2018-19 and 2019-20

DHS Three Funds

The primary sources of income for the General Fund are...

  • Property Tax $3.2 million
  • Cannabis taxes $2.9 million (25% of which is sequestered into an emergency rainy day fund)
  • Development fees $2.3 million
  • Transient occupancy tax $1.9 million
  • Sales tax $1.6 million

Major sources of income to the Public Safety Fund are...

  • Public Safety Parcel tax $2.4 million
  • Utility Users tax $1.9 million
  • Prop 172 Sales tax $132,600
  • School Resource Officer reimbursement $121,000
  • Supplemental Law Enforcement Grant $100,000

The annual costs paid from the Public Safety Fund are...

  • Police $8.1 million
  • Animal Control $360,862
  • Fire $2 million

Danny Porras, Director of Community Development, described some upcoming city projects.

  • A bridge on Dillon Road to cross the Little Morongo wash. $431,000 in FY '19-'20.
  • Relocation of bus shelters. $86,400 each in both FY '18-'19 and '19-'20.
  • Pothole, street striping, sidewalk repairs. $69,120 in FY '18-'19 and $151,200 in '19-'20.
  • Palm Drive bicycle & pedestrian improvement project; new sidewalks, ADA ramps, new street lights, a median, bike lanes, all between Camino Aventura and Two Bunch Palms Trail. $700,000 in '18-'19 and $326,499 in '19-'20.
  • Palm Drive from Two Bunch Palms Trail to Pierson Boulevard. New street lights, new traffic lights, signal synchronization. $2.3 million in '18-'19; $1 million in '19-'20.
  • Desert View sidewalk project from Verbena to Palm Drive. $509,000 in FY '18-'19.
  • Indian Avenue widening project between I-10 and Dillon Road. Palm Springs, Riverside County and CVAG are involved with this one too. Our share, $291,6000 in '19-'20. Mr. McKee asked Mr. Porras to find out about the widening of the Indian Avenue bridge over the railroad, south of I-10.
  • Sidewalks on Palm Drive between 8th and 12th Streets. $108,000 in '19-'20.
  • Upgrade to Palm Drive at I-10 to include palm trees on both sides of Palm Drive (meaning some will be in Cathedral City), sidewalk on the west side and an improved median. $108,000 in '18-'19.
  • Restriping and slurry seal Mission Lakes Boulevard and Two Bunch Palms Trail. $30,000 in '18-'19.
  • Replacing overhead street name signs and traffic signal head casings at all 14 intersections with traffic lights. $81,000 in '18-'19.
  • New city directional signs. $30,000 in '18-'19.
  • Installation of median curbs on Palm Drive. $81,000 in '18-'19. Mr. McKee said that Mr. Betts told him that in China they sometimes put fences in the median to prevent jaywalking. He wondered if it were possible for us to do. Newsflash for Mr. McKee: cities in the U.S. also put fences in the medians to prevent jaywalking. I've seen it often and am of the opinion that it is the only thing that will put a stop to the slaughter of jaywalkers on Palm Drive.
  • Citywide asphalt overlay, paving and road reconstruction. $480,000 in '19-'20.
  • Upgrading sidewalk lights to LED on Palm Drive and Pierson Boulevard. $25,000 in '18-'19.
  • 8th Street storm drain. I'm amazed that this has been delayed this long. I thought everything had been cleared and financing arranged while Rick Daniels was City Manager, but here we are. $1,587,000 in '18-'19 and $1,575,000 in '19-'20. This will run from Mesquite to West. Mr. Porras said it is "in design."
  • Design (design mind you, not construction) of open channel for Big and Little Morongo Creeks between Pierson and Dillon. $45,000 in '19-'20 and again in '20-'21. The open channel will be designed to hold water. It can be used for recreation. Actually, I'm not really clear what this is.
  • New playground equipment and park improvements in Tedesco and Mission Springs Parks. $43,200 each in the three fiscal years '18-'19, '19-'20 and '20-'21.
  • Walking path on Mission Lakes Boulevard at Palm Drive. $212,867 in '18-'19.
  • Cabot's Museum administrative offices. $43,299 in '18-'19.
  • Design of a new park south of the city corporation yard. $209,110 in '19-'20.
  • Completion of the city solar system. Ultimately, these are funds from AQMD, meaning funds from the Sentinel power plant. The solar array is 90% complete now. $496,050 in '18-'19.
  • IT infrastructure upgrades. $324,000 in '19-'20. Mostly A/V in the new city hall.
  • City Hall construction. $4,745,000. '18-'19, '19-'20.
  • The will-it-ever-happen General Plan update. $200,000 in '18-'19 and $150,000 in '19-'20.

Mr. McKee said the marijuana tax set-aside was intended to create a cushion in the event that the city's cannabis revenue suddenly dropped or ended.

Mr. Betts moved to approve the budget as presented with the addition of a $100,000 "place holder" for repairs and upgrades at Wardman Park. The budget surplus, however, is only about $40,0000. Adding a $100,000 item to the budget puts the city in deficit. Mr. Betts argued that all the city needs to do is to reduce the amount of money spent on something else, but he had no suggestion for what should be cut. His motion died for lack of a second. Then Mr. McKee moved to approve the budget as presented. Approved 5-0.


Safety Enhancement Zone

This was proposed to be on Palm Drive between Two Bunch Palms Trail and Camino Aventura. Fines can be doubled for traffic violations in the safety enhancement zone. This item includes two parts: first an ordinance authorizing the city council to establish safety enhancement zones by resolution and, second, the resolution establishing this zone south of Two Bunch Palms Trail.

Mr. McKee noticed that in the paperwork the zone was sometimes described as between Two Bunch and Aventura and sometimes between Pierson and Aventura. Chief Mondary admitted it was his error, that his intention had been to cover the area from Pierson Boulevard to Camino Aventura. Mayor Matas asked if there was a reason not to extend it as far south as Dillon. Mr. Porras responded that it could be extended to Dillon, but they had only studied as far south as Camino Aventura. Mayor Pro Tem Zavala pointed out that the ordinance included more than traffic and pedestrian violations. It includes fireworks, noise, vandalism, littering, public consumption of alcohol, etc.

Ms. Zavala moved for approval with removal of those provisions that are not traffic safety related, and covering the distance from Camino Aventura to Pierson. Mayor Matas wanted the zone extended to Dillon, in order to more fully protect the intersection at Camino Aventura. Ms. Zavala suggested the city should study the stretch from Aventura to Dillon first.

Approved 5-0.

Mayor Matas allowed one public comment after the item closed. A bus driver said she thought the safety zone should start at Dillon Road.


Desert Valley Disposal Assessments

A public hearing to place the annual residential trash bills on the tax rolls. Approved 5-0.


Desert Valley Disposal Delinquent Accounts

This is to place delinquent accounts (not residential) on the tax roll. Approved 5-0.


Streamlining Additional Entitlement Process

This would allow already approved cultivation facilities that are in good standing with the city to add marijuana testing and/or distribution facility to their list of approved activities through administrative action, not city council action.

Mr. McKee expressed his opinion that the standards in the ordinance were not objective, so that any time a developer is excluded from the expedited process, he'll come complaining to the city council.

Mr. Betts moved that the standards in the ordinance be defined as no more than a 10% change, and that a report be made to the city council in 6 months on the results of this ordinance. Approved 5-0.


Amendments to Art In Public Places

The existing ordinance places a cap of $20,000 on the "in-lieu fee." The amendment would remove the cap. Secondly, the amendment would require developers in the industrial zones to ONLY pay in-lieu fees. No longer could they fulfill their AIPP requirement by building art on their property. Thirdly, lighting and landscaping costs would no longer count toward fulfilling the AIPP requirement. Fourthly, it clarified some of the procedures relating to the Cultural and Community Affairs Commission and AIPP.

Daniel Porras summarized the sources of fund in the AIPP to date: $109,662 from commercial development, $80,436 from industrial development, and $90,241 from residential development. Total AIPP revenue from 1/1/2014 to 4/23/2018 has been $280,338.22. He also provided a bit of a pie-in-the-sky estimate for future AIPP revenue IF all 62 cultivator CUPs are fully developed as planned. That would generate $5.2 million in AIPP fees at a rate of 0.75%, the current AIPP rate for industrial development.

No one from the public rose to comment in favor of these amendments. Ryan Fingerhut came to the podium to speak in opposition. He said that these amendments would single out developers in the industrial zone and not let them have a say in the art that is developed at their expense, while commercial and residential developers still get that choice. He pointed out that there are people in the industrial zone all day long, coming and going, eating lunch, entertaining investors, and those people will want to enjoy art as much as anyone else.

A gentleman who didn't identify himself commented that back in January the city council approved a first reading of an ordinance that set the AIPP rate at 0.25%, but there was never a second reading. Now we have this new ordinance. What gives?

Greta Carter cited the tale of the goose that laid the golden eggs.

Mr. Betts asked the city attorney to explain what happened to the earlier ordinance that set the rate at 0.25% and for an explanation of why now other, higher rates are being considered. Ms. Mizrahi explained there was no second reading and no requirement for a second reading...but the ordinance would not become law without approval at a second reading.

Mr. McKee said he supported the 0.25% rate, but only if industrial developers were required to pay the in-lieu fee. He revealed that an item for future city council consideration would be a policy that would allow the tax rate on cultivation to be cut in half in order to help with infrastructure development. City Manager Maynard said not all members of the city council had seen this proposal. Mr. McKee then criticized the art project at VetsLeaf, saying it would be hidden back in a corner away from anyone else. He said that if industrial developers wanted to be able to fulfill their AIPP obligation by building on their own site, then the rate should be more like 0.5%, not 0.25%.

Mayor Pro Tem Zavala said that see, too, thought some of the art was borderline. She said that art installed at industrial sites would not be seen by as many people as art in a median in the city. I don't believe one of the standards of the AIPP ordinance was that the art had to be seen by the maximum number of people. Her arguments could apply just as easily to commercial and residential developers paying an AIPP fee. More people would see their art if it were in the median of, say, Palm or Pierson. Ms. Zamora emphasized the "public" aspect of the art, saying it needed to be where it was easily accessible.

What I see here is a city council, every member of which has some property interest in a residential and/or commercial zone, and who are treating industrial developers as a "them." None of the city council have any financial interest in the industrial zone that I'm aware of. Mr. McKee and Ms. Zamora talk like the industrial zone is way out on the Aleutian Islands. I find myself passing through the industrial zone maybe half a dozen times a week. How do the city council members avoid going there?

Ms. Zamora continued her explanations, never explaining why her opinion would apply only to the industrial zone.

Both Mayor Matas and Mr. Betts cited the rocks that appear to have been just dumped in front of the new county building on Pierson Boulevard as an example of failed AIPP. There is supposed to be landscaping for those rocks.

Ms. Pye moved to approve the amendments as written with the tax at 0.75%. Mr. Betts tried to amend the motion to a tax rate of 0.5%. The motion failed with Ms. Zavala and Ms. Pye voting in favor. Mr. McKee moved to approve the amendments as written with a tax rate of 0.25%. Approved 3-2 with Ms. Zavala and Mayor Matas voting against.


Community Development On-Call Services

Business is picking up at City Hall and, despite new hires, the city is still understaffed and sometimes needs to call in outside help to deal with the volume. The city received statements of qualifications from three firms: PPM Group, Dudek and HCG. Staff recommended going with PPM Group up to $200,000 per year.

Mr. McKee clarified that any money spent on this will come solely from fees, not from tax revenue.

Approved 5-0.


City Council Meeting Schedule

There will be NO city council meetings on the following dates: July 17, August 7, December 18 and election day, November 6. Approved 5-0.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs | July 13, 2018 at 08:06 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2018

Desert Hot Springs City Council, May 15, 2018

STUDY SESSION

Budgetary Adjustments For FY '17/'18

Revenues have been $2,825,404 higher than budgeted. Expenditures have increased $2,775,466 more than budgeted. Those increased expenses break down like this:

  • $1,351,803 for 16 new job positions, job classification changes, salary and benefit increases.
  • $424,500 for an increased use of contract labor, plus there was an increase in the CalFire services contract.
  • $147,000 to improve the animal control shelter, to upgrade the animal control vehicle, and to buy a new vehicle for the Police Department.
  • $64,451 for on-going general repairs and maintenance of city equipment and public facilities.
  • $432,868 to cover costs for new equipment, new software, etc. required for the 16 new hires.
  • $124,907 for general repairs and maintenance at the Health and Wellness Center and to make a final payment to the Coachella Valley Boys and Girls Club.
  • $229,937 in transfers out of the General Fund into other funds: $155,000 to the Citywide Lighting and Maintenance Fund because the assessments being collected were not sufficient; $52,695 into the Cabot's Museum Fund for increased cost of insurance, Cabot's Sponsorship and maintenance; $22,242 to cover costs of a vehicle purchase.
  • $141,280 in staffing costs were charged to the Citywide Lighting and Maintenance District Fund, the Gas Tax Fund and the Successor Agency Fund.

The $2,825,404 higher than expected revenue breaks out like this:

  • $40,000 Property Tax Pass Thru;
  • $175,000 Triple Flip VLF;
  • $200,000 Dispensaries;
  • $872,000 Cultivation;
  • $350,000 Planning Fees;
  • $415,000 Building Fees;
  • $85,000 Grading Permits;
  • $315,000 Engineering Fees;
  • $208,000 Transient Occupancy Tax;
  • $165,404 Other.

The 16 new hires were allocated thusly:

  • Police 4 sworn, 3 non-sworn;
  • Finance 1;
  • HR 1;
  • City Manager's office 3;
  • Community Development department 2;
  • Citywide LLMD/Streets 2.

At the end of this fiscal year (June 30, 2018) $2 million will be transferred from the General Fund to the City Hall Capital Improvement Project Fund. In the next two-year budget cycle, $1.2 million will be transferred. At least half of that money transferred from the General Fund to the City Hall Fund will be replenished by DIF fees "over time." The estimated total cost for the city hall project is $7.2 million. $4 million will come from bonds and restricted funds; $3.2 million will come from the General Fund, to be replenished over time via DIF fees.

Approved 5-0.


Draft Two-Year Budget and Capital Improvement Projects for Fiscal Years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020

General Fund - Expected Major Revenue

The budget will be brought before the City Council for approval at the June 5 meeting.


REGULAR SESSION

Public Comments

Mike Picardi announced the first "Jammin' In The Desert" concert. It will be Friday, June 15 at Tedesco Park, 5 to 9 PM. Subsequent concerts will be on the third Friday of July, August and September.

He also expressed his opinion on the new county library which is to be built in the space between Aqua Soleil and the County building on Palm Drive. He wants the city council to discuss making additional funds available for that library. The new 15,000 s.f. library will be the first one built in Desert Hot Springs in 46 years (that's 1972). Other county libraries in other cities have been remodeled and expanded over that time.


City Manager Report

Community Development Director Danny Porras reported new traffic signals will be installed at the following intersections:

  • Pierson & Cholla
  • Palm Drive & Desert View
  • Palm Drive & Camino Aventura
They are all funded. All that remains to do is to work out the final design details and then put them in.

The bus stop near Buena Vista on Palm Drive will be moved further south.

Fire Department Battalion Chief John Cortez was filling in for our Fire Chief this night.


City Council Comments

Mayor Pro Tem Zavala agreed with Mr. Picardi that she was disappointed that so long has gone by since the county spent any money on the library here. She was, however, more optimistic, saying "Progress is being made." She said the county is not telling us to "be happy." She favored looking at the city budget to see if there is money there to add to the library project.

Councilmember Betts said that the new DHS library is one of three new ones in the county. He said he got a call from a person he did not identify because some people in DHS had indicated they were unhappy with the proposal. Mr. Betts told the unidentified person that we are happy.

So, it would seem that it's important to the county that we say we are happy.


Annexation No. 29 to DHS Community Facilities District No. 2010-1

This would just be a routine thing, annexing a new business into CFD 2010-1, but in this case the developer of Blackstar Industrial Properties (one of the cannabis developments going in along Indian between I-10 and Dillon) came to the podium to express his thanks to city staff for their involvement and support. He said he has built over a billion dollars worth of assets in the western U.S. over the last 25 years, and in terms of complexity (on a scale of 1 to 10) this development was a 10. He identified individual city staffers, saying working with them was a breath of fresh air. He expects their business to be up and running before the end of the year. Their site is the one where you can see actual vertical construction happening now.


Marijuana Manufacturing Facilities Are Not Subject to DHS Cannabis Taxes

This has been previously discussed by the council, but this is the act to actually codify it into an ordinance. A couple of representatives from the cannabis industry spoke in favor of this. No one from the public expressed opposition.

Mayor Pro Tem Zavala said this was premature. She would prefer negotiating a lower level of tax rather than no tax. Councilmember Parks agreed with Ms. Zavala, pointing out that no other city in the valley has exempted cannabis manufacturing from special cannabis taxes. I would have thought that Ms. Parks, a Republican, would have recognized this no-tax measure as a way of attracting manufacturing to DHS - and that means more jobs and more occupied structures.

Councilmember Betts pointed out that the voters approved taxes on cultivation and dispensaries, not manufacturing, so the city council couldn't impose a manufacturing tax without returning to the voters. Mr. Betts is right about that. Here is Measure HH as voted on and approved by the voters in November 2014.

Shall an ordinance implementing an annual tax of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) per square foot for the first 3,000 square feet and then ten dollars ($10.00) per square foot for the remaining space utilized in connection with the cultivation of marijuana for medical or casual/recreational use, for the purpose of raising revenue to fund general municipal services, be adopted?
“Space utilized in connection with the cultivation of marijuana” means any space or ground, floor or other surface area which is used during the marijuana germination, seedling, vegetative, pre-flowering, flowering and harvesting phases, including any space used for growing, planting, seeding, germinating, lighting, warming, cooling, aerating, fertilizing, watering, irrigating, topping, pinching, cropping, curing or drying marijuana or any space used for storing related products, supplies or equipment, no matter where such storage may take place or be located.
The City Council may repeal the tax, but it may not increase the amount of the tax or broaden the scope of the tax, without voter approval.

And here is Measure II, approved by the voters at the same election.

Shall an ordinance implementing a monthly ten percent (10%) tax on the proceeds from the sale/provision of marijuana for medical or casual/recreational use for the purpose of raising revenue to fund general municipal services be adopted?

Both of these measures are written narrowly so that they pertain only to cultivation and selling. Manufacturing is not mentioned.

Ms. Zavala said that since the current ordinance did NOT say manufacturing is not taxable, the city can, therefore, tax it. I'd like to see the court case to resolve that nonsense! The ordinance also does not say the city can't impose a special tax on blogs written under the influence of cannabis; does that mean I should worry? The list of activities that are included as "cultivation" is long and specific. There is nothing in that list that sounds even remotely like manufacturing.

The city attorney is of the opinion that the word "provision" in Measure II (the dispensary tax) can be stretched enough to include manufacturing. IMO, if you're going to stretch it that far, you can consider every step of "providing" cannabis to be subject to the dispensary tax. And I mean everything from the cultivator all the way to the final retail sale. This would mean applying a 10% tax at every step of the process, resulting in a tax far higher than the 10% that voters intended.

The way the law is currently written, the city will get its 10% tax on manufacturing only once, when the manufactured items are sold at a dispensary.

Approved 3-2 with Ms. Parks and Ms. Zavala voting against.


Fire Services Contract

The proposed contract would be for three years, July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2021. The rates are:

  • 2018-19 $1,994,479
  • 2019-20 $2,130,752
  • 2020-21 $2,270,152
Approved 5-0.

| June 17, 2018 at 05:17 PM | Comments (0)

June 1, 2018

U.S. Botanic Garden

Some photos from my visit there about a month ago.

U.S. Botanic Garden (4644)

Cleistocactus winteri (4782)

Nepenthese 'Miranda' (pitcher plant) (4762)
Pitcher plant.

U.S. Botanic Garden (4746)

Yellow Kangaroo's Paw (4709)
Yellow Kangaroo's Paw.

Parodia warasii (4665)

The complete set of photos from the U.S. Botanic Garden can be seen here.

Filed under Cactus,Photography | June 1, 2018 at 07:37 PM | Comments (0)