DAILY BRIEFING: Funds for pursuing pilot program, vacation rental data dump, and more

Good morning. It’s Friday, March 25. Expect partly cloudy skies and highs in the 90s today and all weekend. First, some news you need to know …

Council gives initial backing to organizations working to bring guaranteed income pilot project to city

The Palm Springs City Council voted unanimously Thursday to provide $200,000 to a pair of organizations working in tandem on a project aimed at helping transgender and non-binary community members. It stopped short of committing any additional funding.

The money is needed to help Queer Works and DAP Health pursue state funds for a pilot program that would guarantee income of up to $900 a month for 20 people who identify as transgender or non-binary. The initiative is part of a broader effort by Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. It comes at a time the state is providing $35 million in funding for guaranteed income pilot programs over the next five years.

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While backing $200,000 to help during the application process and commending both organizations for their work, Council members did not commit to what could be an additional $1.2 million should the state select the Palm Springs project to receive the funds needed to move forward.

“The case for how compelling the need is is absolutely real,” said Mayor Lisa Middleton as she addressed the larger issue of guaranteed income and the city’s involvement in any such program. “…What lifts people out of poverty is a job that pays a living wage, that is secure. We’re not producing those jobs, and we need to. For every individual we address through these programs, dozens more are not getting aid through these programs.”

Councilmember Christy Holstege, who brought the proposal to the Council with backing from Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner and Councilmember Geoff Kors, said the city is merely committing funds to the organizations, not for a municipally-run guaranteed income program.

“The city is not being asked to design this program,” said Holstege. “We are just being asked to be the funder. That has always been our municipal role — to get services to our community.”

Jacob Rostovsky, founder and CEO of Queer Works and a member of the transgender community, said the people who would benefit from the program are among the most vulnerable in the city. He said he knows transgender and non-binary people in Palm Springs who have been forced to choose between gender-affirming medical care and mental health services or eating.

“We’re a major focus in this country right now,” he said. “Just look at all the states trying to pass laws that harm individuals like myself.”

If and when the state awards program participation to the Palm Springs organizations, Rostovsky said participants would be chosen randomly by a third party. Twenty would receive monthly income and supportive services for an unknown period, possibly up to a year, and 20 would be in a control group with just the supportive services. Mayors for a Guaranteed Income hopes to use data from pilot programs to determine what future, permanent programs might look like.

The issue of rights for transgender individuals was also raised earlier in the evening when the Council discussed contracting with a Texas company to purchase shade structures for Desert Highland Park and the city swim center. At issue was the fact Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has encouraged the public to report the parents of transgender minors to state authorities if it appears the minors are receiving gender-affirming medical care. Council members approved the shade structure funding pending city staff review that the company, Shade Structures Inc., was continuing to provide healthcare to any transgender employees or employees with transgender children.

OTHER ACTION: The Council voted 4-0 to approve a change in zoning that will allow eight homes to be built on 2.5 acres previously zoned as industrial land along East Alejo Road. The developer of the project, AG Land Investments, includes Adam Gilbert, the husband of City Councilmember Christy Holstege, who recused herself from the vote. Gilbert said the project is designed to help provide a buffer between homes in the neighborhood and nearby industrial operations. It was approved by the city’s Planning Commission, whose chair noted strong support for it in the neighborhood during the public hearing portion of the deliberations.

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A map shows where concentrations of short-term vacation rentals are in the city.

VACATION RENTAL REVIEW: comprehensive review of data surrounding short-term vacation rentals in the city dating back to 2017 will be the centerpiece of a City Council study session planned for Tuesday, March 29. The Council had asked city staff to supply the data earlier this month. Coming out of the study session, staff may be directed to make changes to the current rules and restrictions that govern vacation rentals in the city that the Council will review. Included in the report made available to city leaders this week are maps showing the location of each of more than 2,200 licensed short-term vacation rentals in the city — similar to this one prepared by The Post last year. In addition, the report lists the types of housing units being used as vacation rentals, the growth in permits, and the growth in tax revenue the city receives from the rentals. A look at complaints filed with the city’s vacation rental hotline is also included. The report states roughly 6.6% of the households in the city are registered as vacation rentals, and adds that licensed vacation rentals have contributed more than $57 million in tax revenue to the city since fiscal year 2016-2017

CALL FOR ENTREPRENEURS: The Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP) and Riverside County Office of Economic Development are joining forces in April to celebrate Riverside County Innovation Month. As part of the event, local entrepreneurs are invited to participate in the region’s signature Innovation Month event, Coachella Valley Fast Pitch, on April 7 in Indio. Entrepreneurs and innovators from all across the Coachella Valley are invited to apply to pitch their ideas to a panel of four expert judges, plus a fifth judge: the audience. Would-be competitors can submit innovative ideas for any business type, as long as they have a verifiable business presence in Riverside County and a minimum viable product with some sales or early investment. Those selected to compete will have access to coaching and guidance prior to the competition. Prizes with a combined value of more than $1,000 will be awarded to top contestants. For more information on registration and competition guidelines, go here.

☀️ Weekend events

  • Free Covid-19 testing is offered outside the Palm Springs Convention Center today starting at 8:30 a.m.
  • Sharing Our Desert’s LGBTQ+ History, a display put on by the LGBTQ+ History and Archives of the Desert, will be presented during Cathedral City LGBT Days starting today and running all weekend at Mary Pickford Theatre. More information about the Cathedral City event is available here.
  • The Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters are going to Wally’s today and Burgers and Beer on Saturday
  • The Palm Springs Air Museum annual gala is tonight at 5:30 p.m.
  • Desert Ensemble Theatre begins a two-weekend run of All This Intimacy tonight at 7 p.m. It runs all weekend at various times.
  • Palm Springs The Musical: Born to Sparkle continues its run tonight at 8 p.m. and at various times this weekend.
  • Well in the Desert distributes food every Saturday at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. at 181 N. Indian Canyon Dr.
  • The Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market takes place at 2300 E. Baristo Rd. from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
  • A benefit for REAF-Palm Springs and the city’s AIDS Memorial Sculpture is planned Saturday from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at a private home in the city.
  • The Negro Academic Scholarship Fund Banquet is Saturday at 7 p.m. Information on how to RSVP, purchase tickets, and donate can be found here.
  • Nickerson-Rossi Dance Theater presents its inaugural Indigenous Dance Residency Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
  • Desert Winds Freedom Band presents a pair of 20th anniversary concerts on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Trans Pride 2022 takes place Sunday at Francis Stevens Park from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
  • High Heels In The Jungle, starring Palm Springs’ own Sydney Weisman, is on stage at The Arthur Newman Theater on Sunday at 3 p.m.
  • The Palm Springs Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence holds its next bingo event Sunday at 7 p.m. at One Eleven Bar.

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