City lists homelessness, vacation rental review, crime prevention among priorities in strategic plan

Improvements to the quality of life, infrastructure, and more in the city are the lofty goals of a process that ramps up next week during an initial Palm Springs City Council study session.

Combined, more than 50 priorities are listed under four broad topics outlined in a 21-page strategic plan. City staff prepared the plan following a pair of City Council “visioning sessions” held last fall and it will be the topic of discussion during the study session Feb. 22.

“(These) priorities are meant to act more like a compass, keeping the organization focused and moving in the same direction toward the most important outcomes,” City Manager Justin Clifton wrote in a staff report prepared for the study session. “[M]any of these priorities, like improving homelessness and reducing crime, are very large in scale. Establishing these priorities is not meant to convey that problems in these areas will be solved within a particular time frame.”

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The four themes, and their associated work items include:

Quality of life

Combating homelessness, often identified by city residents as the largest issue facing the community, is listed as item 1A under this theme, with crime reduction, affordable housing, economic development, and “neighborhood issues” following. Work items include (bit are not limited to):

  • Building a homeless navigation center
  • Implementing a neighborhood policing model
  • Pursuing new affordable housing developments
  • Monitoring for better broadband opportunities for residents
  • Lobbying for the College of the Desert West valley campus in the city
  • Reviewing the city’s short term vacation rental (STVR) program
  • Creating a Section 14 reparations program

Environmental stewardship

Accelerating the city’s climate action plan was listed atop this this theme, with new policy consideration and the development of internal policies and practices next. Work items include:

  • A review of the Desert Community Energy program
  • Exploration of community composting
  • Creating green purchasing policies

Community infrastructure

Improving city facilities, long a priority before combating COVID-19 became a city priority, makes the list of infrastructure needs, as well as developing a five-year capital improvement plan and designing the city for the future. Work items include:

  • Focusing on parks and community facilities
  • Expanding walking and biking routes
  • Updating zoning codes

Good governance

Work under this theme is needed, city staff said, in order to remove barriers to participation in government, improve communication with city residents, enhance levels of service, and improve financial management. Among the work items, the city seeks to focus on:

  • Improving Spanish language communications
  • Adjusting City Council salaries, adding a vehicle allowance, and addressing childcare needs
  • Adjust staffing levels in the city

While some of the work listed in the document is currently underway, the timeline for completing all of it remains flexible. City Council members are expected to help narrow the focus of the work, but ultimately citizen input will guide what is undertaken and when.

“As it reads in front of the City Hall Chamber, ‘The People Are the City,'” staff wrote. “Since all the work of the organization is done by and for residents, residents must be a prominent part of the process.”

More information: Details of the study session, including an agenda, are available at the city website here.

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