DAILY BRIEFING: December 22, 2021

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, December 22. Expect more clouds than sun today, with a high temperature of 72 degrees. First, some news you need to know …

Report identifies city’s worst places for pedestrians, offers suggestions on how to fix them

Whether it’s faded paint, lack of time to cross successfully, or speeding cars that come too close, Palm Springs has plenty of issues with pedestrian crossings. But a 182-page report, compiled with input from dozens of residents during the past year, may have the answers for problems at some of the city’s most problematic intersections.

The report was presented to members of the city’s Sustainability Commission for initial review Tuesday evening. It outlines dozens of crossings and road sections that need improvement in the city. None of them should come as a surprise to residents who regularly walk or ride bicycles here.

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The intersection of Ramon Road and Sunrise Way is one example. It’s a major junction in the city’s center used by residents of all ages to get to schools, parks, grocery stores, the library, the senior center, and the Boys & Girls Club. Between 2016 and 2020, data shows pedestrian collisions resulted in one fatality and one severe injury at the intersection. Anecdotally, those who cross there will tell you close calls between vehicles and pedestrians are far too familiar.

“Ever since the very beginning, that’s one of the most passionate projects we’ve heard about,” said Jenny Yu, a senior associate planner with KOA Corporation, which worked with the city and public in preparing the report and stack-ranking the most problematic intersections.

Ramon Road was listed as the one corridor with the most pedestrian-involved collisions, with 15 in the four years studied in the report, including two fatalities. A combined 139 pedestrian-involved collisions were reported on city streets during the period, resulting in 10 deaths. Vehicles striking pedestrians — who were both in and out of crosswalks as they tried to cross roads — comprised 66% of the incidents.

Of the 139 pedestrian-involved collisions, 38% involved a pedestrian violation, including walking outside crosswalks, crossing mid-block, and not following the pedestrian signal.

Regardless of fault, KOA recommended the city undertake 37 projects to combat the issues, the majority of them in District 3. They include:

  • Additional sidewalks;
  • Roadway reconfigurations (also known as road diets) that would reduce the number of lanes to accommodate other roadway users better;
  • High-visibility crosswalks that are easier seen by motorists and mid-block crosswalks where pedestrians typically cross illegally;
  • User-activated flashing beacons;
  • Curb extensions (also known as bulb-outs) designed to decrease the crossing distance at intersections; and
  • Signal strategies such as allowing pedestrians time in the intersection before lights turn green for vehicles.

The two-mile stretch of Tahquitz Canyon Way between Museum and Farrell drives was listed as the worst section of road in the city for pedestrians. To fix its issues, KOA recommended allowing pedestrians to enter the roadway well before vehicles are allowed to make turns, and providing green arrows for left-turning vehicles while stopping both oncoming traffic and pedestrian crossings.

The best news for residents is that funding should be available for many suggested improvements, thanks to state grants.

“There’s going to be large amounts of grant money made available by California,” KOA Senior Transportation Planner Clyde Prem said. “We’ve identified projects that you can use to get that grant funding.”


BRIEFLY

“TOT” was unveiled Tuesday morning. From left, artist Richard Becker and Public Arts Commissioner Russell Pritchard lift off a veil. (Photo by Nimh Mesmer)

‘TOT’ IN PLACE: The newest addition to the city’s art collection was unveiled Tuesday morning outside the Palm Springs Swim Center. “TOT,” a 42-inch sculpture (including the base) by artist Richard Becker, now stands tall outside the Swim Center, ready to welcome visitors. Members of the city’s Public Arts Commission were on hand to speak about the piece, with the artist and Commissioner Russell Pritchard lifting the covering shortly after 10 AM. The stainless steel sculpture is Becker’s fifth tot in a series. He said it took about six months to complete.

ANOTHER RECORD: The Palm Springs International Airport surpassed its all-time passenger record for the month of November this year, the sixth straight monthly record broken, officials announced Tuesday. The total passenger count for November was 271,944, with the previous record set in 2018 at 245,841, according to officials. On top of that, the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend was the single busiest day the airport saw since the start of the pandemic. Airport officials did not expect passenger numbers to rebound to pre- pandemic levels until 2023, but since June, the airport has set passenger records each month. PSP officials attributed the streak of records to more year-round flights, more airlines at the airport and decreasing fares. December 2019 offered 164,990 departing seats, while this December will offer 192,550.


TODAY’S CALENDAR

MIZELL CENTER: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers a bereavement support group, chair yoga, Spanish, and more, starting at 8:30 AM. A complete list of everything offered can be found online here.

FIREFIGHTER COFFEE: Palm Springs firefighters are inviting the public to join them for a cup of coffee and a chat today, starting at 9 AM. The get-together will take place at Koffi, 1700 S. Camino Real, and last until approximately 10 AM.  

MOBILE HEALTH: A mobile health clinic will be parked at the James O. Jesse Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 W. Tramview Rd., from 9 AM until 4 PM. Operated and staffed by Borrego Health, the mobile unit will provide various medical services for residents.

HORA DE CUENTOS: La bibliotecaria Nancy Valdivia lee cuentos, canta canciones y enseña conceptos de aprendizaje temprano (miércoles en español y jueves en inglés) para estudiantes de preescolar de 10:30 AM a 11:30 AM Puedes ver los videos en YouTube aquí.

PALS CAFE: PALS (Planning Ahead for LGBTQ Seniors) holds an informal drop-in discussion via Zoom about any topic on the minds of participants from 4 PM until 5 PM. The organization is a volunteer-led community initiative based in Palm Springs that helps LGBTQ+ adults and friends plan ahead before a health or other life-altering situation arises. More information about the organization can be found here. To participate in the discussion, check out the Zoom link here.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR

CHRISTMAS WITH THE CRAWFORDS: Desert Rose Playhouse in Palm Springs presents “Christmas With the Crawfords” at 7 PM Thursdays, 8 PM Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 PM Sundays through Sunday, December 26 (no shows on Dec. 25), The playhouse is located at 611 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite 16. Tickets are $34-$37; high-top tables (for four) or VIP couches (for two or three) are $175. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for entry. For tickets or more information, visit desertroseplayhouse.org.

FREE CHRISTMAS BREAKFAST: On Christmas morning, from 8 AM until 11 AM, Oscar’s is serving a complimentary breakfast to anyone in need. It’s the venue’s sixth straight year offering breakfast to anyone in need of good food, good cheer, or just good company. Oscar’s owner Dan Gore asks that the public help spread the word to members of the unhoused community. “Please let anyone in need know we are open and ready to serve them a warm breakfast,” Gore wrote in a Facebook post. “I appreciate you telling people who are panhandling, we are here for them on Christmas Day.”

WHITE CHRISTMAS: The all-time holiday classic, “White Christmas,” is playing at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 East Baristo Road, for a special one-time screening on December 25 at 7 PM. Experience this beloved holiday musical extravaganza on the biggest screen in the Coachella Valley! Proof of vaccination is required.

AUNTIE MAME: Join Among Friends at the Palm Springs Cultural Center for the grand return of an annual Palm Springs holiday tradition — “Auntie Mame!” Dress up like characters from the film or don your most fabulous holiday attire for a roaring 1920’s cocktail party starting at 6 PM and hosted in front of the theater by our very own Mame, Miss Bea Haven. Then see the classic movie you love come alive as a special interactive version featuring audience participation, live action, and surprises. Proof of vaccination is required.

10K YOUR WAY: Angel View’s biggest fundraiser of the year — the 10K Your Way event — begins December 31. The public is encouraged to register to swim, run, walk, bike, or roll 10 kilometers and collect donations to support their efforts. Funds raised will support the organization, a nonprofit founded in 1954 that is dedicated to helping children and adults with disabilities. Last year, despite the pandemic, more participants joined in than ever and fundraising surpassed $80,000. Anyone interested in raising money through swimming is invited to the Palm Springs Swim Center, 405 South Pavilion Way, during its open hours on December 31. To register, send email to [email protected] or call 760-835-0464.

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