City leaders unaware county placing released prisoners here to quarantine in hotel

City leaders unaware county placing released prisoners here to quarantine in hotel

Palm Springs police alarmed by a rise in the city’s homeless population discovered a possible explanation in recent weeks. The explanation has city officials unnerved.

At a Feb. 25 Palm Springs City Council meeting, Police Chief Bryan Reyes explained that Riverside County has been releasing prisoners at a Palm Springs hotel to quarantine from COVID after serving their sentences in Banning. Following their quarantine, Reyes said, many end up living on city streets. At least one has been re-arrested.

A stretch of Palm Canyon Drive where many homeless individuals congregate.

“We’ve learned that there is a program by the Department of Infectious Diseases that is running in our city in which 25-30 subjects from throughout the county are housed in a hotel 6-10 days,” the chief explained. “All of them are in our city for the purposes of being quarantined for COVID.”

If not for officers interacting with the individuals and speaking with staff at the hotel, no city officials would be aware of the county program. Reyes said he does not know how long the program has been in operation in the city, nor could he say how many total former prisoners have been housed at the hotel and released after quarantining.

“It’s unfortunate that we find ourselves working backwards” by contacting hotel staff, Reyes said. “I think the time is now more than ever for an important meeting with the board of supervisors responsible for our area.”

Council members were unanimous in agreement, calling on staff to reach out immediately to Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor Manuel Perez and others in county government for information. An update is expected at their next meeting March 11.

“Obviously this is incredibly disturbing,” said Councilmember Geoff Kors. “Given how much we’ve done … for this to happen with no notification is really outrageous. That you’re learning this from the individuals and not the county or the public health department is really troubling.”


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BRIEFLY

  • ROAD WORK: Construction work causing the closure of one lane at a time on Sunrise Way near Tahquitz Canyon Way continues through March 12. Today, crews will begin making a gas connection to the associated project, Palm Springs Care Clinic.  The work will close one lane at a time until the middle section of Sunrise is trenched, at which time one northbound and one southbound lane will be closed. The city advises drivers to choose an alternate route. There is no impact on bus service in the area.
  • NEW SHOP OPEN: Queertique, described as, “a queer lifestyle boutique featuring art, apparel, furniture, goods, self-care & many unique and exclusive items from independent queer artists,” threw open its doors Saturday at 120 La Plaza. Initial plans call for the new shop to be open 11 AM-6 PM Thursday-Monday.
  • FUNDRAISER ENDING: Palm Springs High School’s junior class Krispy Kreme fundraiser ends Friday. Purchase a dozen glazed doughnuts for $10 by going here or by sending the funds via Venmo (@pshs2022). After your purchase,  a redeemable coupon will be sent to you on March 8.
  • VIRTUAL COOKING: A ‘Meatless Mondays’ online cooking class starts March 8 and benefits the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. The first class features Chef Albert Gonzalez of Eight4Nine making “crab” cakes and panna cotta with roasted berries. Participants will be sent a grocery list in advance. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased here.
  • CITY MEETINGS: The ONE-PS Neighborhood Support Committee meeting is today from 1-2 PM, followed by the Board of Directors meeting from 2:30-4 PMfound here. Items up for discussion include signage requests from a pair of cannabis dispensaries, Calibliss (562 South Indian Canyon Drive) and Four Twenty Bank (in the former United California Bank building on South Palm Canyon Drive).
  • COVID VACCINES: If you qualify for a vaccine you can get one at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros, from 8 AM-5 PM today, and all week through Friday. Appointments can be reserved online at www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine. Find community providers such as pharmacies here.

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