Baristo Park reopens after 10-week cleaning; city hopes it’s safer
Anaima Beltre has been using Baristo Park for the better part of the past 30 years but may never have enjoyed it as much as she did Monday morning.
“It’s beautiful,” she remarked as she returned from walking her dog, Power, to the far end of the two-acre facility along South Calle Encilia. “It’s 100 percent better. My dog is very happy.”
The park, which earned the nickname “Heroin Park” from locals due to frequent drug use seen among some of the city’s homeless population who camped there, reopened to the public last week following a 10-week closure. During that time, city crews reseeded the grass, cleaned the park of all debris — including needles and cigarette butts — repaired playground equipment, repainted benches and picnic tables, and sanitized everything.
More importantly, the city enhanced safety at the park. Not only are surveillance cameras now installed, but shrubbery has been cut back, making it easier for law enforcement to monitor activity at the park. Prior to closing in October closure, emergency calls for service at Baristo Park had increased from 558 between 2017 and 2019 to more than 1,245 from 2019 to the end of 2021.
“Labor shortages continue to be an issue,” City Manager Justin Clifton said by email Monday, “but security details have been adjusted to ensure some presence in the early days/weeks of the park reopening.”
Will it last? Beltre, for one, said she’s hopeful it’s now safer but added, “I don’t know for how long.” Although some evidence of members of the homeless population returning to the park were seen just after it reopened, on Monday morning, only a lone person asleep on the lawn was any indication of how the park used to appear.
“I never had a problem with anyone who was here,” said Beltre, who has lived in an adjacent apartment complex since 1994. “Everybody has a reason for how they got here. You just never know. But it’s not healthy for the children. There are too many children who live near here.”
APPEAL DENIED: A Palm Springs group has lost an appeal of a ruling two years ago against its claim that the city violated zoning rules by allowing homes in neighborhoods to be used for short-term vacation rentals. Protect Our Neighborhoods (PON) had sued the city in 2017, alleging that allowing vacation rentals here violated city zoning laws because they were operating as commercial enterprises. A Riverside County judge ruled against the group in 2019. On Jan. 7, a three-judge panel in the Fourth District Court of Appeals upheld the original ruling, issuing an opinion that stated, among other things, that the city had a right to allow short-term rentals and regulate them under ordinances currently in place. “Even if short-term rentals do adversely affect owners of nearby single-family residences and their use of their own property,” the appeals court opinion states, “allowing them was a legislative judgment that was up to the City.” The court further ruled that the city can seek to recover costs associated with defending the lawsuit, estimated to be hundreds of thousands of dollars. PON continues to maintain a Facebook page, but its website is no longer functioning.
DEATH INVESTIGATION: Palm Springs police are investigating what may be the city’s first murder of 2022, according to a report overnight from KESQ-TV which was confirmed by police via Twitter. The TV station reported that police were called to the 5600 block of East Ramon Road at around 1:20 a.m. this morning, where they discovered one person dead. According to police, the male victim has not been identified, and there was no word on a suspect.
MAYES WON’T RUN: Assemblyman Chad Mayes announced on Twitter Monday he would not seek reelection to the California Assembly seat representing parts of the Coachella Valley, including Palm Springs. Palm Springs City Councilmember Christy Holstege, who served as the city’s mayor last year, announced in July she intended to run for the Assembly seat. Mayes, who has held office since 2014, was initially elected as a Republican but ran as an independent candidate in 2020. “I love our state and I love this country,” he wrote. “Public policy is in my blood and I’m certainly not done serving. But the time has come for me to move on to the next chapter beyond the state Legislature.” Mayes did not cite any reason for leaving but denounced partisan politics and “blind faith to political teams.”
SWIM CENTER CLOSED: The Palm Springs Swim Center, located at 405 South Pavilion Way, is closed for at least the next 10 days due to an increase in COVID-19 exposures among staff that has left the facility unable to operate efficiently, the city announced Monday. Officials said they would notify the community when the Swim Center can re-open. The complete closure follows an announcement last week that all city facilities, including City Hall, the police department, and the library, are temporarily closed to walk-in traffic. City staff remains available by phone or email.
ONE-PS: The Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS) will host its monthly membership meeting virtually starting at 5:30 p.m. To view the meeting, go to this Zoom link (Meeting ID: 825 6935 2777; Passcode: 392662). Anyone wishing to participate is invited to reach out to this email address prior to the meeting.
MIZELL CENTER: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers 19 programs and classes today, starting at 8:30 a.m. You can find a complete list of all today’s offerings online here.
SUNSHINE SISTERS: Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters will meet for an introduction to joyful living workshop at Ruth Hardy Park at 2 p.m. You can sign up to be part of the group — formed to help women make new connections and friendships — on Meetup here.
VILLAGEFEST BOARD: The city’s VillageFest Board meets at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. More information on participating or viewing the meeting can be found here.
BOARD OF EDUCATION: The Palm Springs Unified School District Board of Education meets in closed session at 4 p.m. and regular session at 6 p.m. The meetings are held at the PSUSD District Administration Center, 150 District Center Dr. More information about the meetings, including agendas, can be found here. You can watch the regular session live in English here and in Spanish here.
TOASTMASTERS: Toastmasters, a nonprofit educational organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of promoting communication, public speaking, and leadership, meets virtually every Tuesday in Palm Springs starting at 6 p.m. Interested in participating? Send an email to [email protected] for more information and the Zoom link.
COMMUNITY ACTION ASSOCIATION: The Desert Highlands Gateway Estates Community Action Association meets at 7 p.m. on Zoom and will also broadcast live on Facebook Live. For information on the Zoom meeting, visit the group’s Facebook page here.
Need to get tested for COVID-19 but can’t find an at-home test and don’t know where to turn? Aside from asking your regular healthcare provider (if you have one), The Post maintains a list of places in and around the city that you can check. Please note the information is accurate at the time this email was sent, but may change.
Curious about when various governmental agencies meet or if trash collection will be delayed? We’ve compiled the list below in an effort to help with the most common questions our neighbor have. Is something missing? Let us know at [email protected]
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