Council in agreement with priorities as it digs in on ‘ambitious’ upcoming workload
Members of the Palm Springs City Council agreed on their priorities for the coming months Tuesday evening.

Council in agreement with priorities as it digs in on ‘ambitious’ upcoming workload

Faced with “an astronomical amount of work” for a city its size, Palm Springs elected officials dived in Tuesday evening, attempting to balance multiple competing public priorities, staffing issues, and the need to see immediate results.

During a study session designed to help set priorities for the next four months, Council members voiced broad support for tackling the same issues identified by many residents as the city’s most urgent. They directed City Manager Justin Clifton to continue making homelessness and affordable housing for residents of all income levels their priorities.

Those issues appeared near the top of a 21-page strategic plan reviewed by the Council. More than 50 priorities are combined under four broad topics in the plan prepared by city staff following “visioning sessions” held last fall.

Clifton said Tuesday evening that work is already underway to tackle many of the issues, but much more is needed. He explained that what that looks like is between 10 and 20 additional items on the Council’s meeting agenda during the next eight meetings.

Clifton’s assurances that the issues would be addressed didn’t come without a few words of warning. While the community and the Council agree on what is needed to improve life in the city for many residents, he said, visible improvements in the quality of life will take longer than many might hope.

“We will never, ever, work ourselves out of the expectations of the community,” Clifton said. “That’s not how a democracy works.”

Potentially hampering progress, both Council members and Clifton agreed, is the need to hire additional staff to tackle the workload. For example, while addressing homelessness and housing issues are among the priorities, only one city staff member is currently assigned to work on those issues.

The city clerk position will also be open shortly, Clifton said. That role is vital in keeping elected and appointed officials on track and acting as a conduit between members of the public who wish to address the Council and its members.

“This is an astronomical amount of work in that amount of time in a city this size,” Clifton cautioned, adding later that “The plans we have are already very ambitious.”

For now, the Council and the community will keep marching forward, hoping a new approach will bring faster results.

“We have a history of somewhat struggling to be very strategic,” Clifton told Council members. “Historically, we begin work, something new comes up, then a team member drops something to take on the new thing. We tend to lose sight of a lot of things, and things fall through the cracks.”

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