‘A game-changer for city finances’: Zoning changes to encourage fulfillment centers move forward
Changes to city zoning rules that will make it easier for developers hoping to build massive fulfillment centers were moved forward by the City Council Thursday evening. The move could help roughly double the city’s annual sales tax revenues.
“This would be a game-changer for the city’s finances,” City Manager Justin Clifton told councilmembers. “It’s unlikely there has ever been a single development that could offer that kind of tax collection on its own.”
At issue was an ordinance approving zoning changes that would allow for the construction of buildings up to 95 feet high on land north of Interstate-10. Current city rules allow for buildings up to 40 feet tall, but developers have been asking for variances during pre-application meetings with the city. The additional height will allow for interior storage racks standard at warehouses used by companies such as Amazon.
The Palm Springs Planning Commission considered the changes recommended by city staff in November. Ultimately, the Commission elected only to form a subcommittee to study fulfillment center and distribution warehouse issues.
Fulfillment centers can generate tens of millions in sales tax revenue for cities that allow them because goods go directly to consumers instead of being shipped to stores. Clifton said Palm Springs might gain as much as $40 million in additional yearly tax revenues if a fulfillment center is built within the city limits. The city collected $22.3 million in sales and use taxes in the past fiscal year.
Following a public hearing that saw residents speak out in support of fulfillment centers, the Council voted 5-0 to skip further study and allow for the changes. A second reading and final approval of the ordinance allowing for the changes is expected to be on the Council’s consent agenda on Jan. 27.
The move was not without acknowledgment that companies that build fulfillment centers are often called out for poor working conditions and low wages and that allowing such buildings — some as large a 1 million square feet — could pose risks to the environment.
“I’m not a fan of these generally, but these are – whether we like them or not – popping up everywhere,” said Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner. “I find it difficult not to have some of this potential revenue and jobs in our city when we know they will just spring up right across the way.”
PARKLET BARRIER STRUCK: Palm Springs police had few details Thursday about what exactly happened to a barrier protecting a parklet at a restaurant in the 700 block of North Palm Canyon Drive. Evidence at the scene points to a vehicle striking the barrier strong enough to move it several feet. Damage was visible to both the barrier and a raised platform for seating. It includes scrapes from the impact on the barrier. Parklets — public seating platforms and other designs that convert sidewalk areas and curbside parking spaces into usable spaces — were first allowed in the city in the summer of 2020 as COVID-19 precautions forced restaurants to serve customers outside. Last year, the city imposed regulations on them, resulting in restaurant owners choosing to remove many of the dozen or so parklets erected along the Palm Canyon and Indian Canyon drives. This was not the first parklet barrier to be struck along the street. The outdoor seating area at Las Casuelas Terraza was struck by a vehicle going the wrong way in February 2021.
KORS NOT RUNNING: Palm Springs City Councilmember Geoff Kors announced at Thursday’s City Council meeting he will not be seeking a third term as the representative of District 3 when his current term expires. Kors was first elected in 2015 and served as mayor between December 2019 and December 2020. He is a graduate of Stanford Law School and worked as assistant regional counsel for the US Environmental Protection Agency, a civil rights attorney in private practice, and an executive director of Equality California. Aside from his service on the City Council, Kors has served on the city’s board of multiple community organizations. He and his husband, James Williamson, live in the Old Las Palmas neighborhood.
MAN SUSPECTED OF BOTH BURGLARY, SHOOTING: Police are investigating whether a man who allegedly swam naked in a community pool and fought residents early Thursday was the same man who later attempted to burglarize a condominium a mile away, reportedly shooting at a witness. The Palm Springs Police Department received an attempted homicide and burglary report at 12:55 a.m. Thursday in the 1600 block of Via Entrada. According to authorities, the reporting party witnessed a man breaking into a neighboring condominium and reported that the man shot at him. Police arrived on the scene, found evidence of the reported shots fired, and recovered some of the victim’s stolen property. They did not find the suspect. Less than one hour later, police received a report of a fight at an apartment complex in the 800 block of Riverside Place. According to the caller, a naked man was swimming in the pool and causing a disturbance. A second caller said a fight occurred between several residents and the man. Officers responding to that location found the naked man lying on a bed, bleeding, and identified him as a 22-year-old Palm Springs resident. Police believe he broke into an apartment during the melee and was thrown off a second-story balcony, but then ran back to the apartment and jumped through a window, lacerating himself. He was placed under arrest and transported to a local hospital to treat injuries.
MIZELL CENTER: The Mizell Center, 480 South Sunrise Way, offers 10 classes and programs today, starting at 8 a.m. You can find a complete list of all today’s classes online here.
SHREDDING: The city’sOffice of Sustainability is holding its next shredding & E-waste event Saturday from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. at Palm Springs City Hall, 3200 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way. It’s a free event for Palm Springs residents. Paper to be shredded is limited to three 9x13x17 boxes – the size of a case of paper from an office supply store. Electronic waste includes common items such as computers, monitors, TVs, phones, fax machines, and small appliances. E-waste and shredding collection will run throughout the morning or until trucks are full.
FOOD DISTRIBUTION: Well in the Desert distributes food every Saturday at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. at 181 N. Indian Canyon Dr. For the early distribution, guests typically begin lining up at 5 a.m. and must show proof of residency. Guests are asked to bring a box, bags, or other containers to transport food items for both distributions. More information is available by phoning the Well’s office at 760-656-8905.
CLEANUP CANCELED: The monthly cleanup of Tahquitz Creek organized by the Tahquitz Creek Yacht Club, initially scheduled for Saturday, has been canceled. The group announced the cancellation was in abundance of caution due to the current spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant. The group typically meets on the third Saturday of every month at 8 a.m. near the pedestrian footbridge at South Camino Real and South Riverside Drive. The February event is still a go, according to the group.
FARMERS’ MARKET: The Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market is held at 2300 E. Baristo Rd. (adjacent to The Camelot Theatres) from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. All Certified Farmers’ Markets offer a $15/$15 match to customers participating in CalFresh EBT and a $10/$10 match for WIC, SSDI, and federal unemployment. Find more details about all three Coachella Valley Certified Farmers’ Markets here.
FLEA MARKET: A flea market and food fest are held Saturdays at 675 Crossley Rd. from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Information can be found here.
TRAM HOLIDAY SCHEDULE: The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway will operate on a modified schedule during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, starting Saturday. The first tram up will be at 8 a.m., and the last tram down will be at 9:30 p.m. from Saturday through Monday, officials said. Tram cars depart at least every 30 minutes. More information is available at pstramway.com.
BLOOD DRIVE: Blood supplies are at an all-time low, and surgeries are being canceled due to the lack of blood, so now is your chance to step up and help out. The Palm Springs Public Library, Mizell Center, and Palm Springs Boys & Girls Club, in association with LifeStream Blood Bank, are hosting a blood drive Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at 480 Sunrise way. You can make an appointment online here, then look for the bloodmobile when you arrive.
SUNSHINE SISTERS: The Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters will meet for a hike at Garstin Trail Sunday at 8 a.m. You can sign up to be part of the group — formed to help women make new connections and friendships — on Meetup here.
TUSKEGEE ART: A show by aviation artist Stan Stokes honoring the Tuskegee Airmen opens Sunday at 10 a.m. at The Palm Springs Air Museum. Anyone visiting the museum through Feb. 28 is invited to look into the eyes and read the stories of the brave aviators who broke barriers and pushed aside stereotypes in their struggle to fight for their country against the forces of Nazism. More information is available here.
MLK CELEBRATION: The Palm Springs Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Committee and the city of Coachella are planning a celebration of the slain civil rights leader’s life during a ceremony scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m. in Coachella. The event is planned for the Coachella Library, located at 1500 6th St. This year’s theme is “Bridging the Communities of the Coachella Valley.” The program features a benediction from Deacon Martin Sullivan from Our Lady of Soledad Catholic Church in Coachella, followed by a keynote speech from local attorney Anyse Smith. In addition, entertainment will be provided by singer Keisha D, Sol de mi Tierra Ballet Folklorico, and Norman and Sharon McKee will perform African Drums.