DAILY BRIEFING: December 2, 2021

Good morning. It’s Thursday, December 2. Expect sunny skies today and a high near 85 degrees. First, some news you need to know …

City Council to hear appeal of business leader’s cannabis license suspension next week

A longtime Palm Springs business owner and civic leader who had her cannabis license revoked in October will have an appeal heard before the Palm Springs City Council at its regular meeting on December 9.

Joy Brown Meredith operates a retail marijuana store — Joy of Life Wellness on West Oasis Road — and a grow operation on nearby West San Rafael Drive. She is also the owner of Crystal Fantasy Downtown and has served as president of the city’s Main Street business association for nearly three decades. She was informed of the decision to revoke her cannabis license on October 13, a letter from the city attorney first obtained by The Post in early November shows.

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Attorneys for Meredith and the city met Tuesday evening to discuss the appeal process, agreeing that the Council will hear it at its upcoming meeting, scheduled for 5:30 PM next Thursday. A letter from City Attorney Jeffrey Ballinger states that the Council could make a decision on the appeal that evening but might take up to 90 days to issue a ruling.

In the October 13 letter to Meredith, an attorney representing the city alleges code enforcement officers, an investigator from the State Department of Cannabis Control, and patrol officers from the Palm Springs Police Department conducting an inspection at the West San Rafael Drive operation on August 12 discovered evidence of marijuana cultivation in Unit 7 of the building. Meredith’s license covers only the adjacent Unit 6.

Code enforcement officers allege that video footage of activity in Unit 7, supplied by Meredith, shows employees “entering the cultivation area filled with plants,” then “cuts out and jumps ahead approximately 39 minutes, at which point the room has been cleared of all plants.”

Meredith told code enforcement staff on September 2 that she never gave permission to begin cultivation at Unit 7 and immediately took action to ban those responsible for the cultivation from the site. However, the city claims text messages and statements reviewed by officers show Meredith “was aware of, and directing the cultivation activities.”

The city is alleging two dozen violations of city and state laws governing cannabis activity.

Meredith is one of the original cannabis license holders in the city, first obtaining a permit to offer medicinal marijuana in 2015. In her appeal, she not only denied the city’s allegations but said there was no requirement to suspend her cannabis license for a first alleged offense.

“[T]he disciplinary guidelines impose a range of potential penalties based on severity including monetary fines,” her attorney wrote. “There is no mandate for revocation or suspension when the purported violation was a first alleged offense without a prior warning or opportunity to cure.”

Her attorney also pointed to her standing in the community as a longtime business owner who has devoted her time to multiple organizations and causes, including 28 years as president of the city’s Main Street business association.

“Ms. Meredith is an upstanding member and pillar of the community and actively volunteers her time to various organizations,” he wrote.


BRIEFLY

SOUTH PALM SPRINGS MEETING: Business owners, law enforcement, and officials from City Hall met Wednesday evening to address multiple issues surrounding the homeless population in South Palm Springs, reported here in The Post on Wednesday. Among the concerns are increasing reports of violence and vandalism and ongoing issues with open drug use, litter, and loitering. “[It] felt really productive and [a] good first step for tackling some serious issues with vagrancy and crime in the South Palm Springs area,” said David Murphy, one of the leaders of the Palm Springs Community Partnership on Homelessness, who attended the meeting. During the meeting, Murphy and others heard messages that have been delivered multiple times before: A combination of private security and increased police presence, as well as support for long-term solutions from agencies that the city partners with, are essential to solving the problem for business owners, but immediate solutions have proven elusive. “The city could take action and have small steps in place before Christmas if they wanted (to),” wrote Matt Robinson, the moderator of a Facebook group dedicated to promoting Downtown Palm Springs. “They have bent over backwards for restaurants the last 18 months, how about the same (compassion) for the businesses of South Palm Canyon Drive?”

REVELATION DURING TRIAL: A 17-year-old girl who died along with three other people in what prosecutors call a mass shooting carried out by a Cathedral City man nearly three years ago in Palm Springs was pregnant when she was killed, a medical examiner testified Wednesday. Jose Larin-Garcia, 22, is charged with four counts of murder stemming from the February 2019 shootings in which the victims, ages 17 to 25, were found dead at two separate locations. He also faces a special-circumstance allegation of committing multiple murders, opening him to a possible death sentence if convicted. According to prosecutors, three of the victims were found inside a Toyota Corolla that crashed at Sunny Dunes and El Placer roads around 11:40 PM on February 3, 2019. The fourth was found 30 minutes later lying in the street about a half-mile away. Killed inside the car were Jacob Montgomery, 19, Juan Duarte Raya, 18, and Yuliana Garcia, 17, who was driving. During prosecution testimony at the Larson Justice Center on Wednesday, medical examiner Dr. Allison Hunt went through the autopsy process of the victims and said Garcia was found to be five to six weeks pregnant at the time of her death.

WALK OF THE INNS CANCELED: Organizers said that the annual holiday Walk of the Inns event, a popular self-guided walking tour of boutique hotels in Palm Springs, will not be held this year due to ongoing concerns about public gatherings during the pandemic. A toy drive usually held during the event will continue. However, Palm Springs Art Museum representatives said this week that toys for Well in the Desert are still being collected. You can drop off an unwrapped gift at the Marks Administration Building in the North Parking Lot of the Museum, located at 101 North Museum Dr., Monday through Friday from 9 AM until 5 PM. The Well will distribute the toys during its Mobile Christmas event on December 18.  


TODAY’S CALENDAR

MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers canasta, Tai Chi, journaling, and more, starting at 8 AM. A complete list of everything offered can be found online here.

WASTE REDUCTION: The city Sustainability Commission Standing Subcommittee on Waste Reduction meets at 10 AM via Zoom. Complete information on how to attend the meeting is available here.

WOMEN’S CHAT: The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert offers a chat group for all women — no matter how you identify — to discuss topics of interest and find connections every Thursday at 10:30 AM. You can find information about the event here.

STORY TIME: Librarian Nancy Valdivia reads stories, sings songs and shows early learning concepts (Wednesdays in Spanish and Thursdays in English) at 10:30 AM. You can watch the videos on YouTube here.

NOT TEEN TALK: The Palm Springs Public Library’s teen librarian hosts an Instagram Live session each Thursday at 3:30 PM. To follow along, follow @psplteenzone on Instagram here.

SMALL HOTELS: The Palm Springs Small Hotel Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) Advisory Board meets at 4 PM via Zoom. Complete information on how to attend the meeting is available here.

FOOD AVAILABLE: FIND Food Bank distributes food in the city today at a community food bank, 610 S. Belardo Rd., between 5 PM and 7 PM, and at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 North Avenida Caballeros, from 4:30 PM until 6 PM. A complete calendar of food distribution in the community this month is available here.

FREE MUSEUM ADMISSION: The Palm Springs Art Museum offers free admission from 5 PM to 7 PM. Tickets are required and can be obtained here.

GALLERY EVENT: Rubine Red Gallery is working with Michael Nickerson-Rossi, artistic director of Palm Springs Dance Academy, to offer a program of art, live music, and dance staring at 5:30 PM at the gallery, located at 668 North Palm Canyon Drive. Selected students of the Academy have chosen artworks from a private viewing of the collection and will be creating original works in collaboration with live music from Moira in the Desert.

VILLAGEFEST: The city’s weekly outdoor street fair takes place at 6 PM on Palm Canyon Drive downtown. The event includes vendor booths on both sides of the street, which is closed to vehicular traffic.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

USO GALA: The Bob Hope USO-Palm Springs, in partnership with The Management Trust, will present the 8th Annual Spirit of Hope Gala on Friday. The gala supports military service members and serves as a benefit for Palm Springs area programs and services. To purchase tickets to The Spirit of Hope Gala, visit this link.

TREE LIGHTING, PARADE: The 29th Annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade will return to Palm Canyon Drive at 5:45 PM on Saturday. On Friday evening, residents are invited to the Official City of Palm Springs Holiday Tree Lighting at 5:15 PM at Frances Stevens Park, 500 North Palm Canyon Drive.

ART CENTER EVENT: The Desert Art Center, located at 550 North Palm Canyon Drive in uptown Palm Springs, hosts “Deck the Walls,” a new Winter show in the main gallery, on Friday. That event is from 5 PM until 7 PM.

COMMUNITY CLEAN-UP: The next in a series of community clean-up events takes place Saturday, December 4, starting at 8 AM. Anyone interested in helping pick up litter in the city is invited to gather at the Union Bank parking lot, 500 South Indian Canyon Dr. Supplies will be provided.

DESERT JAM: The annual benefit for Palm Springs-based Well in the Desert — Desert Jam 2021: Jammin’ for the Well — is slated for Monday, December 6 at the Agua Caliente Resort Casino ballroom in Rancho Mirage at 6 PM. All proceeds benefit The Well’s work to feed and provide for those experiencing homelessness in our community. More information, including how to purchase tickets for the event, can be found here or by calling 760-285-7297.

POLICE AND FIRE EVENT: The Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce is taking reservations for its annual Police & Fire Appreciation Luncheon, held Tuesday, December 7, from 11:30 AM until 1 PM at the Palm Springs Convention Center. More information about tickets and sponsorship opportunities is available here.

WARWICK STAR: Singer Dionne Warwick will be honored with the 447th star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars next week. Warwick, 80, started her career in 1961 after being discovered by the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and went on to make records such as “Don’t Make Me Over,” “`Walk on By,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “Message to Michael'” and many more. The 11 AM ceremony will be held on December 8 at the intersection of Tahquitz Canyon and South Palm Canyon Drive in front of the Wellwood Memorial Library.

STRUT AWARDS VOTING: Voting has started for the STRUT Awards, slated to be handed out next month in Palm Springs. The STRUT Awards are a people’s choice voting event designed to honor members of the local LGBTQ+ industry. Nominations were accepted in more than two dozen categories, and now it’s time to vote. You can do that by going here. Winners will be announced and celebrated on December 12 during an event at Margaritaville Palm Springs beginning at 6 PM. Tickets for the event can be purchased here.

MOBILE CHRISTMAS: Well in the Desert is again planning its annual Christmas event as a mobile event due to COVID-19 restrictions. The drive-up event will be held Saturday, December 18, from 11:30 AM until 3 PM at The United Methodist Church, 1555 East Alejo Rd. Volunteers will distribute a frozen turkey and pie, as well as gifts for children to open on Christmas Day, to any family in need. Donations can be dropped off at churches where The Well serves hot meals, between 11 AM and 1 PM: Mondays and Tuesdays: United Methodist, 1555 East Alejo Rd.; Wednesdays: Church of St. Paul’s, 125 West El Alameda; Thursdays: Our Lady of Solitude, 151 West Alejo Rd.; and Fridays: Our Lady of Guadalupe, 204 South Calle El Segundo.

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