North end neighbors start petition, vow to continue protesting homeless services center location
Residents who live near a planned homeless services center in the north end of Palm Springs are vowing to continue putting pressure on elected officials who approved moving forward with the facility last week.
Over the weekend they gathered near the intersection of East San Rafael and North Indian Canyon drives, hoping to raise awareness about their concerns. They also started an online petition directed at decision makers.
At issue is not the homeless services center — approved Jan. 27 as a joint project between the city, Riverside County, and Martha’s Village & Kitchen — but its location in an area of the city already dealing with issues of crime, substance abuse, and violence.
“Palm Springs has needed (a) Homeless Center for years,” wrote Carlos Amaro, a resident who lives near the project site and started the online petition. “The homeless situation has only become much worse.”
“North Palm Springs has our own problems with substance abuse, mental health and violence,” Amaro continued. “Locating a Homeless Navigation Center within our neighborhood would negatively impact our safety and economic development in the area. The site is immediately adjacent to both single-family and multifamily residential uses and has potential impacts on residents and businesses nearby.”
Despite objections from neighbors, the Palm Springs City Council has twice signaled its approval for the project — voting to pursue purchase of the property in November, and approving multiple agreements that moved the project forward last week.
Those votes have not been unanimous, however. Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner, who represents neighbors of the project in District 1, was the lone no vote in November, and a no vote on the location portion of the project last week.
In voicing their support, the remaining City Council members, as well as some city department heads, maintain there is no evidence from similar facilities in other communities that the neighbors’ concerns will play out. During a Jan. 27 City Council meeting, some of those department heads pointed to the fact the facility will be designed more like a campus than a shelter, and that Martha’s Village has no history of allowing negative impacts to areas surrounding their facilities.
On Tuesday, Councilmember Geoff Kors reiterated that point during the Main Street Palm Springs meeting.
“We haven’t had the kind of impacts we had over on Encilia,” Kors said, referring to a daytime cooling center formerly located off Calle Encilia and run by Well in the Desert. “Martha’s runs the overnight shelter at Alejo and we haven’t seen negative impacts there.”
Negative secondary impacts or not, Amaro and others maintain placing a facility in the isolated northern part of the city, no matter how well-intentioned, will hinder members of the homeless community.
“Most homeless do not have a car,” said Amaro. “We must place these centers in close proximity to jobs, hotels, restaurants, businesses — preferably [within] walking distance. The least amount of hurdles we can provide will keep their positive momentum to cement their success back into society.”
The McCarthy Road property is 3.6 acres of industrial land and contains three buildings with 47,000-square-feet of usable space. It is being sold to the city for $5.9 million.
When opened, the facility will have 80 units of transitional housing, as well as job training, medical care, and other services. Clients would be committed to remaining at the facility as they move to permanent housing and employment. Construction should begin in January 2023. It would welcome its first clients in early 2024.
ARMY BAND COMING: The United States Army Field Band will perform in Palm Springs, it was announced Wednesday. The free concert is scheduled for Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 North Avenida Caballeros. Since its formation in 1946, the U.S. Army Field Band has appeared in all 50 states and in more than 30 countries on four continents. The organization’s four performing components include the Concert Band, the Soldiers’ Chorus, the Jazz Ambassadors, and Six-String Soldiers. “The city of Palm Springs is delighted to welcome the United States Army Field Band to perform their acclaimed musical concert in our community,” Mayor Lisa Middleton said. “Palm Springs has a long tradition of honoring and celebrating our Armed Forces and we encourage everyone in the Coachella Valley to join us for what is sure to be an inspiring performance.” Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours is required for entry. To learn more, visit armyfieldband.com.
OPENING RECEPTION: You can kick off Black History Month with the Palm Springs Black History Committee during an event tonight at the Palm Springs Art Museum that starts at 5:30 p.m. The event will feature a performance from the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center Drill Team and Drum Squad. Following the kick-off, you can enjoy a self-guided tour (available at the admissions desk) celebrating Black artists on view at the museum. In-person Docent tours are also available celebrating Black artists on view and highlights from the Museum Collection. Space is limited. Reservations can be made here. The museum is located at 101 Museum Dr.
NEXT STAR: David Lee, a writer and producer on shows including “The Jeffersons” and “Cheers,” will be recognized with the 449th star on the Palm Springs Walk of the Stars in March, it was announced Wednesday. The ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. March 18 at the Palm Springs Downtown Park and will be open to the public. Lee last made news in the city after he pledged $5 million to help with the restoration efforts of the Plaza Theatre.
MIZELL CENTER: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers 12 classes and programs today, starting at 8 a.m.. You can find a complete list of all today’s activities online here.
COOKIE KIT: You can pick up a cookie decorating kit from the Palm Springs Public Library starting today at 10 a.m. Kits include two cookies, frosting, and sprinkles, and are designed as a project for students in grades 6 through 12. To schedule an appointment to pick up your kit, go to this link. The library is located at 300 South Sunrise Way.
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 a.m. 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), starting at 10:30 a.m. You can watch the videos on YouTube here.
WASTE REDUCTION: The city’s Sustainability Commission Standing Subcommittee on Waste Reduction Meeting meets at 1 p.m., virtually. Instructions for viewing or participating in the meeting, as well as an agenda, can be found here.
DEATH CAFE: PALS (Planning Ahead for LGBTQ Seniors) holds an online event titled “Death Cafe” today at 2 p.m. The event is designed to allow open discussion about death and dying, and it often leads to insightful, thought-provoking, and even fun conversations. You can register for the Zoom meeting here. PALS is a community initiative that encourages LGBTQ people and their friends to plan ahead before health or other potentially life-altering situations arise.
FREE MUSEUM ADMISSION: The Palm Springs Art Museum offers free admission from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are required and can be obtained here.
VILLAGEFEST: The city’s weekly outdoor street fair takes place at 6 p.m. on Palm Canyon Drive downtown. The event includes vendor booths on both sides of the street, which is closed to vehicular traffic.
Black history celebrations and events abound in Palm Springs and the surrounding area all month long. We’ve put together a list of some of those events, organized by date. Want your event included or need to point out an error or omission? Email us here. In the meantime, you can FIND THE COMPLETE LIST HERE.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
EQUITY CONFERENCE: Palm Springs Unified School District (PSUSD) is hosting its second Equity Community Conference on Saturday, Feb. 5, starting at 9 a.m. The event is virtual. Multiple speakers will appear during the event, addressing the audience on topics ranging from Native American visibility in schools to the myths surrounding Black masculinity. The keynote speaker is Dr. Abdul-Malik Muhammad, president and founding team leader of Akoben LLC. Those interested in attending the conference can register here.
DANCE STUDIO BENEFIT: Dance With Miss Lindsay Dance Studio in Palm Springs has pledged to support the Andréa Rizzo Foundation’s nationwide fundraising effort “Dance Across America” for the seventh year. Dancers at the studio will be holding a dance party on Friday, Feb. 4, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the studio. Anyone wishing to make a pledge to the event is invited to call Lindsay Kaufmann at 760-413-6931 or email her at [email protected].
NEXT ART EXHIBIT: The Desert Art Center in Palm Springs opens one of the largest shows of the season on Friday, Feb. 4, with all new works from gallery artists plus an art pop-up in the Studio Gallery featuring the work of Janis Buller and Cathy Parker. Every art lover is welcome to join on the 4th from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. for refreshments and the largest selection of local fine art in the Coachella Valley. DAC is located at 550 North Palm Canyon Dr. in Uptown Palm Springs. Community support feeds the organization’s outreach to schools with art classes and scholarships.
TOUR DE PALM SPRINGS: Registration for the annual Tour de Palm Springs, planned for Feb. 12, remains open. The event features walking and cycling routes, some as long as 100 miles, kicking off between 6:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. All of the routes start and finish on South Palm Canyon Drive near Tahquitz Canyon Way. More information about the event, which is expected to draw around 4,000 cyclists this year, can be found here.
MODERNISM WEEK: The city’s annual celebration of midcentury modern design, architecture, art, fashion, and culture takes place Feb. 17 through 27 at multiple locations. Modernism Week features more than 350 events, including the Modernism Show & Sale, home tours, films, lectures, double-decker architectural bus tours, and more. Tickets and additional information are available here.