Daily Briefing: Familiar frustrations, cannabis conundrum, and more

BROUGHT TO YOU BY MIZELL CENTER

It’s Wednesday, 5/25.

?  Today’s weather: Sunny and 105 degrees.

? Setting the mood:  It’s My House” by Diana Ross

Situational awareness: The latest homeless point in time count resulted in no surprises. Data released Tuesday shows the unhoused population increased 15% in Riverside County during the last two years.

  • In Palm Springs, 222 people living on the streets were counted by volunteers Feb. 23. That’s an 18% increase over the last count.
     
  • Reminder: The number does not represent the total homeless population in the city. The actual number is likely much higher. 

This newsletter is a 5-minute read. Off you go …


Leading off: New dialogue, old stalemate

Are Palm Springs police asking too much of neighbors in Desert Highland Gateway Estates? That question appears to be at the center of tensions that have simmered for years.

Driving the news: Police, the area’s City Council representative, and roughly 70 residents of the neighborhood — including two dozen youth — met Tuesday evening at the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center gymnasium to once again discuss violence in the area, as well as possible solutions. The conversation was familiar, as were the frustrations.

At issue: Gunfire is reported several times a month in the neighborhood, but also roughly a mile away along East San Rafael Drive. It sometimes has deadly results. Police say much of the violence is due to an ongoing feud between Black and Hispanic rival gangs.

  • There are two specific “ambush zones” where the gunfire typically occurs: Along Granada Avenue in the Desert Highland Gateway Estates neighborhood and outside the Sunrise Village mobile home park along East San Rafael.
     
  • In the case of the mobile home park, police say the suspected gang members involved are not necessarily residents. They typically come from Desert Hot Springs and Cathedral City.

State of play: For years, police have asked Desert Highland residents to step up and identify people in their community taking part in the violence. The approach hasn’t worked.

  • Under the direction of new Police Chief Andy Mills, the department is trying a different approach. Tuesday night, law enforcement officials asked for specific suggestions about how they might bring peace of mind to the neighborhood, given the fact they can only enforce laws, not write them.
     
  • What they heard was a mix of practical and political: Community members suggested police increase their presence — perhaps through deploying a mobile command unit — use cameras in critical areas, and work to improve relationships with youth in order to increase trust.

Driving frustration: While the outreach Tuesday evening was appreciated, Desert Highland residents continue to ask why their community is being singled out and asked to solve an issue that is not unique to their neighborhood.

  • Police say community members there have more direct influence over youth and a place to meet – the Unity Center – creating a more accessible pipeline to get their messages across.

Bigger picture: Desert Highland residents frequently ask why the city won’t commit to more proactive solutions in both neighborhoods in question. They specifically ask for youth programs that provide alternatives to the streets.

  • “You’ve got 2,500 Hispanics over there that we’ve given up on,” said Deiter Crawford, an outspoken community leader, at a meeting earlier this month. “We have to invest in that community as well. Stop giving money to the no-kill animal shelter, to the pickleball community. (Hispanics) are 25% of the community and there is nothing being given to them. There are no facilities in that pocket of poverty.”

Bottom line: Police maintain it’s a chicken and egg situation: They are all for the city establishing youth programs, but without an end to the violence they fear it will be too dangerous for people of all ages to congregate in either neighborhood. Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner, who represents the District 1 neighborhood, said investments in the north end of the city would be hard to come by given the makeup of the City Council.

  • “This is not like back in the day where you could get two gang leaders together and peace it out,” Lt. Frank Browning, who led Tuesday’s discussion, said earlier this month. “The kids in (the mobile home park), they just don’t care.”
     
  • “We do not have enough people on our City Council right now who are willing to invest … in this community,” Garner said Tuesday, adding, “We need to put pressure on the entire City Council to make the investments in this community going forward.”

In brief: Dropped appeal explained

The Joy of Life Wellness Center off West Oasis Road.

Local business owner Joy Brown Meredith said Tuesday she and her lawyer decided to drop the appeal of the revocation of her cannabis license because the city’s marijuana market is too saturated to make it worth it.

Driving the news: Meredith’s cannabis license was revoked last year after the city alleges she was cultivating marijuana in Unit 7 of a building on West San Rafael Drive when her license only covered cultivation in Unit 6.

  • She was scheduled to appeal the decision on Thursday, but her attorney dropped the appeal last week.

What they’re saying: “The market here is so saturated. I originally fought for this to provide what I felt was a miracle medicine. But the industry has changed. I’m tired. It’s time to prioritize my family, my health and downtown Palm Springs.” — Joy Brown Meredith

Dive deeper into the full story.


A MESSAGE FROM MIZELL CENTER

June at Mizell

COME FOR THE MUSIC!  STAY FOR LUNCH!

Mizell will be jammin’ with live jazz on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to Noon. 

And, lunch service at Café 480 begins at 11:10 am!

These are just two of the reasons to visit Mizell in June. Did we mention the shopping opportunities at Aunt Betty’s Resale Shop?


? AM Roundup: Grab a cup & catch up

The city has selected a new director of the Parks and Recreation Department (The Palm Springs Post)

? A man accused of breaking into a Palm Springs home pleaded not guilty. (KESQ)

?️ Get ready for the annual tradition of the Memorial Day Flower Drop at the Palm Springs Air Museum (NBC Palm Springs)


? On tap

The Palm Springs Administrative Appeals Board meets tonight.

On the agenda: Several appeals from property owners who say they were incorrectly cited for running an unregistered short-term vacation rental.

Fines: Each of the citations resulted in a $5,000 fine that the property owners are attempting to appeal.Details: The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. on Zoom. Find more information here.

? Also today:

  • The Palm Springs Planning Commission meets tonight at 5:30 p.m. online.

  • PALS (Planning Ahead for LGBTQ Seniors) holds an informal drop-in discussion tonight on Zoom starting at 4 p.m.

  • The Sunshine Sisters are meeting for happy hour at Tropicale at 4:30 p.m.

? Looking ahead:

  • The Caravanserai Project holds its pitch competition and graduation ceremony Thursday evening at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

  • Spend Memorial Day at the Palm Springs American Legion Post 519 starting at 1 p.m. on Monday, May 30.

And finally …

Even when members of the Palm Springs Fire Department are on vacation, they don’t take a day off from saving lives.

Off-the-clock hero: Cody Ayotte is an engineer who was on vacation with his family when he spotted a dumpster fire and a hand sticking out from the flames. 

  • Still in flip flops and board shorts, Ayotte sprang into action and saved the man’s life.
     
  • The man had been sleeping in the dumpster when the fire broke out. He appears to be OK, but his shirt was on fire when he first got out of the dumpster.

Beyond the badge: The Palm Springs Fire Foundation posted the video online saying:

  • “Cody exemplifies what it means to be a firefighter. A person of action who cares for his neighbors both on and off duty.”

Watch the full video here.


Kendall is making homemade ice cream.

Mark’s day job involves covering national and international news. Yesterday was yet another brutal reminder that thoughts and prayers aren’t cutting it.

Miss a day? Read past newsletters here.

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