What to watch for at this week’s Palm Springs City Council meeting
Several issues that have been subject of heated discussions are on the agenda when the Palm Springs City Council meets this week, but one item likely to be met with no controversy may be the most interesting.
A public hearing is scheduled on the designation of a half dozen sites in the Araby Cove neighborhood as Class 1 historic properties. They include homes and structures that have been the subject of local lore for decades, as detailed in a 150-page staff report here that is well worth a read if you’re interested in Palm Springs history.
While the architects and builders of two of the homes — located at 2275 and 2350 South Araby Dr. and known as “El Dumpo Adobe” and “The Giannini Residence” — are unknown, the other structures have a known history, though it does contain gaps.
In the late 1920s, R. Lee Miller — builder of 22 hidden homes above Andreas Canyon — set out to construct “Hopi Village” on 20 hillside acres in Araby Cove, eventually completing the last of four squat, rock structures in 1933. The story of the project, and Miller, is chronicled here, and includes mention of the “various Lilliputian legends that are passed down in Palm Springs high schools.”
“Why did Lee Miller build a Hopi-hobbit colony of Araby rock?” asks author Ann Japenga. “Because he left so few clues, we simply don’t know.”
The city is seeking the the Class 1 historical designation for the properties. That process was kicked off in 2019 when the Historic Site Preservation Board (HSPB) identified the sites as part of its annual work plan for 2019-2020. Last November, the HSPB asked city staff to study and schedule site visits as well as a public hearing on the designation.
A report prepared for the city makes the case for protecting the properties under the historical designation, concluding that, “The adobe and the five rock houses are rare surviving examples of the type of early rustic development that occurred in Palm Springs between World War I and II, which often utilized native stone and other locally found materials.”
Also on the Council’s agenda:
- College of the Desert Superintendent/President Dr. Martha Garcia and COD staff are scheduled to address the Council and provide an update on plans to construct a satellite campus in the city. Garcia, who took over as president at COD last summer, has been accused of failing to be transparent after she would not engage with city leaders and offer a guarantee that the project would be completed on 29 acres COD purchased off Tahquitz Canyon Way. The issue has led to repeated calls from city leaders and citizens, including a recently formed watchdog group, to outline exactly how college officials plan to spend nearly $600 million in bond money approved by voters for the Palm Springs project and others in the western Coachella Valley.
- A public hearing will be held on the new lines being proposed for the five City Council districts. The redistricting process, covered here in an earlier story, is required every 10 years following completion of the U.S. Census.
- The Council will discuss COVID-19 restrictions currently in place in the city. Palm Springs officials have taken a stricter stance than other communities in the Coachella Valley, including requiring proof of vaccination for dining indoors at city restaurants. In a report prepared for the meeting, city staff outline three options for the Council to consider, including delaying any changes to the restrictions, aligning restrictions with state guidelines, or eliminating restrictions when certain conditions are met.
More information: The complete agenda and related staff reports, as well as instructions for how to participate or tune in to the City Council meeting on Feb. 10 at 5:30 p.m., can be viewed here.
INJURY FIRE: A man suffered serious burn injuries when his Palm Springs mobile home caught fire Sunday morning. The blaze was reported at 6:26 a.m. in the 1400 block of Ramon Road, according to the Palm Springs Fire Department. When firefighters arrived at the scene, they found heavy smoke and fire coming from the single-wide mobile home. During a search of the home’s interior, firefighters discovered a man in his 60s and a dog. Fire officials said the man was taken to a hospital with critical burn injuries. The dog was also rescued from the burning mobile home. The cause of the fire was under investigation.
TIMELY WARNING: Members of the community who have small pets are being reminded that the next few weeks is mating season for coyotes. While coyotes always pose a risk, the males become even more aggressive than usual during mating season, which peaks in late February and early March. Coyote attacks on small pets are not uncommon in Palm Springs. Each year there are a handful of reports of dogs and cats being killed in Palm Springs neighborhoods. The Humane Society offers this advice for protecting your pets, which is worth a read before venturing outside with them or allowing them outside unattended.
THE CENTER REOPENS:The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert plans to reopen to in-person programming today at 9 a.m. There will be limited in-person programing, staff announced on Facebook, as it tries to be mindful of our staff and visitors’ health. “We will continue to observe public health recommendations and require proof of vaccination and properly fitted face masks in all indoor spaces,” staff wrote.
MIZELL CENTER: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers nine programs and classes today, starting at 8 a.m. You can find a complete list of all today’s offerings online here.
ARCHITECURAL REVIEW: The city’s Architectural Review Committee meets at 5:30 p.m., virtually. You can find all the details about the meeting, including an agenda, by going here.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Black history celebrations and events abound in Palm Springs and the surrounding area this month. We’ve done our best to put them all into one place. For our complete list of events, including lectures, a parade, and more, CLICK HERE.
BIKE EVENT: 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 draws up to 10,000 cyclists annually, can be found here.
FIGURE DRAWING: Mizell Center has launched an in-person figure drawing salon on the first and third Tuesdays of every month. The salon is hosted by Mike Sheehan, an art professor at Fullerton College, and open to artists at all levels who want to experience the rewards of drawing a live model. While the salon is uninstructed, help is available and its is intended to be a supportive, no-pressure environment. The next salon is currently scheduled for Feb. 15 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. Registration is required, as is a fee between $10 and $15. You can register here. The Mizell Center is located at 480 South Sunrise Way.