Vote looms on project that could see destruction of habitat for beetle on endangered species list

Vote looms on project that could see destruction of habitat for beetle on endangered species list

Activists and the city are at odds over mitigation measures for an 80-home development in South Palm Springs.

Environmental activists are rallying for what could be their final chance to voice concerns over mitigations planned for a proposed 80-home development they say could destroy instead of protect habitat for a rare beetle found only in Palm Springs.

At issue is not the construction of the Canyon View Courts project on 13.5 acres on the southwest corner of East Palm Canyon Drive and Matthew Drive, but plans to grade and landscape a wash that currently exists in a required setback for the project. That wash is vital to the Casey’s June beetle and other wildlife, according to members of the Oswit Land Trust, who have been trying to work with the developer to offer alternatives to the grading.

The beetle, which is listed as an endangered species, resides in only two areas in the southern part of Palm Springs, including the property in question. The group raised concerns for the insect at a May public hearing regarding the project, but their pleas resulted in no changes in plans to lessen the impact to its habitat first proposed in 2018 and supported in a memo to the city from an environmental consultant earlier this month.

The Palm Springs Planning Commission is expected to consider moving the project forward at a meeting this week. Included in a packet for the meeting is a report prepared by city staff states that the developer — Canyon View, LLC  — will be allowed to landscape the wash and provide mitigation, “through the acquisition of off-site habitat within the limits of Casey’s June beetle critical habitat or as otherwise approved by US Fish and Wildlife Service.”

As currently proposed, that off-site habitat will be nearly 16 acres located 1.1 miles to the north, across East Palm Canyon Drive, just off Gene Autry Trail.

That doesn’t sit well with members of the land trust who, despite meeting with the developer earlier this month at the city’s request, plan to continue pushing for solutions they’ve proposed. An email campaign is underway and members plan to take part in the Planning Commission meeting via Zoom at 5:30 PM Wednesday.

“Why destroy an endangered species and mature native habitat if you don’t have to?” asked Jane Garrison, president of the group, in a Facebook post Sunday evening. “We offered to help enhance it with even more native plants and trees. We have master gardeners, ecologists, arborists, biologists and landscape architects who are all willing to help.”

To date, Garrison said those offers have been rejected.

“He has refused to work with us and wants to just bulldoze the entire wash and replant,” she said of the developer. “What we are asking for does not change the proposed development one bit. It just keeps native habitat and a thriving endangered species instead of ripping it out, bulldozing over the animals and planting Orange County type landscaping.”

The project — which will feature two-story homes up to 2,761-square-feet with attached two-car garages — has been denied twice before. In 2016 and 2017 the Planning Commission voted against it before the City Council finally approved it on appeal, as long as mitigations were made.


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BRIEFLY

A scene from one of many productions by Palm Springs’ Coyote StageWorks.

FINAL BOW: The pandemic has claimed yet another theater company — this time in Palm Springs. Coyote StageWorks announced Monday it would close after 13 years due to uncertainty in 2021 that followed cancellation of its 2019-2020 season.

“Our rich legacy will live on through the Palm Springs Young Playwright’s Festival, which will continue and thrive,” Founding Artistic Director Chuck Yates said in a news release. “The Festival was designed to help discover and nurture the next generation of writers from local middle and high school students, and that is exactly what it will continue to do as an independent entity.”

Over the years, the company produced many acclaimed productions. Highlights include “Boeing, Boeing,” “The Andrews Brothers,” “Suds,” “Dirty Blonde,” “The Women” (the theatre company’s annual benefit gala), “Tru,” “Art,” “Buyer & Cellar,” “Agnes of God,” ”Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” “The Lady with All the Answers,” “The Understudy,” “Greater Tuna,” and “A Doll’s House Part II,” among others.

Many of those productions received local and regional awards, and all received critical acclaim. Three of the productions transferred to theaters outside of the Coachella Valley for longer runs.

JULY 4 EVENTS: The city has begun promoting multiple free events planned for area residents to help celebrate Independence Day on July 4. The events will be held at three city parks and the Palm Springs Swim Center, and include:

  • The “4th of July Water Palooza,” starting at 11 AM at Victoria Park, 2744 N. Via Miraleste. The event features free hot dogs and snow cones, as well as water games and music. It is limited to 150 people. More information is available by calling 760-323-8272 or by emailing [email protected]
  • The “4th of July Spectacular,” starting at 4 PM at Ruth Hardy Park, 700 Tamarisk Road. This event includes food, games, live music, and a laser light show at 9:15 PM. This year the laser lights are replacing the annual fireworks show, but not without controversy, as reported in The Post here
  • The “4th of July Independence-Fest,” starting at 4 PM at Sunrise Park, 401 S. Pavilion Way. Children may enjoy this event the most, as it includes not only music and games, but also “Touch a Truck” and a movie that starts at dusk.
  • A “Family Pool Party” at the Swim Center, 405 S. Pavilion Way, starting at 3 PM. This event includes food, water games, and music, and requires registration, which is available by calling 760-323-8272 or by emailing [email protected]

DAP HAS VACCINE: DAP Health is now offering Saturday appointments for the COVID-19 vaccines Moderna and Janssen to the public. If you know anyone in need of a vaccine that is not a patient, please have them contact DAP at 760-323-2118, ext. 637, or click this link to schedule an appointment.


EVENTS

TODAY

  • TAI CHI: The Mizell Center offers Chair Tai Chi at 9 AM. Registration is available here.
  • HEALTHY FEET: A program titled, “Healthy & Happy Feet” is offered by The Mizell Center at 4 PM. Registration information is available here.
  • ONE-PS: The monthly membership meeting of Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS) starts at 5:30 PM on Zoom. No information on participating in the meeting was available by the time this edition of The Post was sent. Information on the organization, however, can be found here.
  • BUSINESS RETENTION: The City’s Business Retention/Economic Development Standing Committee meets at 5:30 PM via Zoom. Information on joining that meeting, as well as an agenda, can be found here.
  • VILLAGEFEST BOARD: The VillageFest Board meets at 5:30 PM. Information on how to view or participate in the meeting, including an agenda, can be found here.

ONGOING

  • VACCINES: Anyone 12 and older now qualifies for a COVID-19 vaccine in Riverside County. If you qualify, you can get one at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 North Avenida Caballeros, from 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and from 8:30 AM until 7 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Appointments are not required, and those age 12-17 need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. You can also find a list of community providers such as pharmacies here.

UPCOMING

  • LISTENING SESSIONS: Residents are invited to participate in a series of four neighborhood community listening sessions June 15-28. Conducted in English and Spanish, the goal of the sessions is obtaining input related to the future of Palm Springs. To find out where and how to participate, turn here.

COMMUNITY CONNECTION

Want to know what’s happening in your city and at agencies that make decisions affecting your neighborhood? The following links should help:

City of Palm Springs calendar of events

Police reports | Submit a police report

Code compliance reports | Report a code violation

Current road projects and closures

Currently active development projects

ONE-PS calendar of meetings

Desert Water Agency calendar

Mizell Center calendar of events

FIND Food Bank mobile market schedule

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