Council scheduled to take up COVID-19 emergency orders, appoint new city leaders at next meeting
A new mayor and mayor pro tem, possible changes to COVID-19 emergency orders, and a public hearing on proposed hikes in garbage and recycling fees are all on the agenda of the Palm Springs City Council when it meets on Thursday.
The city no longer elects a mayor directly. Instead, members of the Council are appointed to the role on a rotating annual basis based on their district. Current Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton, who represents District 5, will become mayor on December 9, replacing Mayor Christy Holstege, the District 4 representative. Councilmember Grace Garner, who represents District 1, will become mayor pro tem and be next up for the mayor role in December 2022.
Middleton announced her run for the state Senate in October, looking to fill a spot in the 28th District. If she wins, she will be seated in Sacramento a year from now, allowing her to complete either a full term or a nearly full term as mayor. The timing of her exit from the mayor’s role, should she win higher office, depends on when and how the Council decides to fill her position. The same scenario exists for Holstege, who is also seeking a position in the state capitol.
It’s anybody’s guess what the Council will do regarding emergency COVID-19 orders put into place in August. Those orders are the most restrictive in the Coachella Valley, requiring, among other things, that diners who choose to eat inside city restaurants must show proof of vaccination.
In October, the Council loosened some restrictions, voting to no longer require masks at large outdoor events such as VillageFest and parades. Councilmembers stopped short of voting to allow masks to come off inside businesses for vaccinated individuals and removing the indoor dining vaccination requirements. At the time, most said they preferred to take a wait-and-see approach due to the spread of new disease variants.
A staff report prepared for the December 9 meeting makes no formal recommendation. Still, it does mention an option that would see the postponement of any decision on easing restrictions until a January 27, 2022 meeting.
“This delay targets the next six to eight weeks, where we are most likely to see increased rates of infection and hospitalization based on historical trends,” city staff wrote. “This possible increase in transmission and hospitalization is anticipated due to natural increases in the Winter months and potential increases caused by the Omicron variant.”
In the report, staff credited the Council for helping to keep rates of transmission lower in Palm Springs than many other cities in Riverside County. Despite being a tourist hot spot, it has been two months since the last COVID-19 related death in the city, and it continues to be a leader in vaccination rates.
Multiple public hearings are on The December 9 agenda, including those regarding:
- A proposal to hike garbage and recycling fees in the city.
- The ongoing redistricting process required after the 2020 census.
- Development projects including an 18,500-square-foot medical office proposed by DAP Health and a 24-unit condominium project on West San Rafael Road
A public hearing for the appeal of the revocation of a prominent business owner’s cannabis license remains on the agenda but will not be necessary at this time due to the fact the city pulled back on its revocation of the license in order to strengthen its case.
STUDENTS HONORED: More than a dozen students from area schools were named as award winners during the city’s annual Holiday Banner Artists Awards Ceremony. The event, now in its 29th year, occurred just prior to the lighting ceremony for the city’s official holiday tree at Francis Stevens Park on December 3. It was presided over by Main Street Palm Springs President Joy Brown Meredith. Students from more than a dozen schools from throughout the area participated. In total, 50 designs were chosen from the submissions. They will hang on banners Downtown this holiday season. For a complete list of students whose banner were chosen, and those who were honored at the ceremony, SEE THE COMPLETE STORY HERE.
ARCHITECTURE TOURS: Modernism Week has partnered with PS Architecture Tours to launch guided tours in the Palm Springs area, it was announced last week. The new Architecture Tours by Modernism Week are a seasonal set of tours that give an informative history of architecture in the Palm Springs area, according to officials. The two-and-a-half hour tours launch Dec. 22 and will be available until May. The tours will re-launch in the fall. SEE THE COMPLETE STORY HERE.
INTERSTATE ROAD WORK: Nighttime road work and associated lane and ramp closures will continue this week along Interstate 10 between Beaumont and Palm Springs. Crews have been gradually making improvements to nearly 20 miles of freeway as part of the I-10 Pavement Rehabilitation Project, also called the I-10 Tune-Up, for more than a year and a half. Alternating lane and ramp closures will continue through Thursday from 7 PM to 6 AM each day westbound along the entire length of the project and eastbound between Beaumont and Banning. The $210 million project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022.
MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers chair yoga and other fitness programs, as well as bridge and an Alzheimer’s Association caregiver support group, starting at 8 AM. A complete list of everything offered can be found online here.
BEAD CRAFT: The Palm Springs Public Library’s teen craft project this week is a melted bead ornament. Materials for the project may be picked up starting at 10 AM at the library, 300 South Sunrise Way, and instructions for the project can be viewed on the library’s YouTube channel here.
ONE-PS MEETING: The Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS) Neighborhood Support Committee meeting takes place at 1 PM. More information about ONE-PS is available here.BOARD OF DIRECTORS: The Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS) Board of Directors meets at 2:30 PM. More information about ONE-PS is available here.
DESERT JAM: The annual benefit for Palm Springs-based Well in the Desert — Desert Jam 2021: Jammin’ for the Well — is slated for this evening at the Agua Caliente Resort Casino ballroom in Rancho Mirage at 6 PM. All proceeds benefit The Well’s work to feed and provide for those experiencing homelessness in our community. More information, including how to purchase tickets for the event, can be found here or by calling 760-285-7297.
Palm Springs comes alive in December with events for all ages and all tastes. The Post has put together a list of those events, organized by category, from reader submissions. Click here for the complete list. Want your event included? If it’s happening in Palm Springs, or involves a Palm Springs-based organization or business, Email [email protected]
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
POLICE AND FIRE EVENT: The Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce is taking reservations for its annual Police & Fire Appreciation Luncheon, held Tuesday from 11:30 AM until 1 PM at the Palm Springs Convention Center. More information about tickets and sponsorship opportunities is available here.
WARWICK STAR: Singer Dionne Warwick will be honored with the 447th star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars on Wednesday. Warwick, 80, started her career in 1961 after being discovered by the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The 11 AM ceremony will be held at the intersection of Tahquitz Canyon and South Palm Canyon Drive in front of the Wellwood Memorial Library. Nona Watson, CEO of the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, will emcee the event and introduce the guest speakers.
STRUT AWARDS VOTING: Voting has started for the STRUT Awards, slated to be handed out next week in Palm Springs. The STRUT Awards are a people’s choice voting event designed to honor members of the local LGBTQ+ industry. Nominations were accepted in more than two dozen categories, and now it’s time to vote. You can do that by going here. Winners will be announced and celebrated on December 12 during an event at Margaritaville Palm Springs beginning at 6 PM. Tickets for the event can be purchased here.