Daily Briefing: Nuisance properties, new Council candidate, business owner mourned, and more

It’s Friday, 5/27.

☀️ Today’s weather: Mostly sunny and 100 degrees.

? Setting the mood: The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac

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? Situational awareness: We’re attempting to take a few days off this weekend, so there won’t be a newsletter on Monday (It’s written on Sundays). We hope that’s cool by you.

Today’s newsletter is a 3.5-minute read. Let’s go …

Leading off: Help, not hurt, for some with nuisance properties

Residents fearful the city will move more aggressively to cite and possibly seize the homes of low-income residents got reassurances from officials Thursday evening that the city is interested only in getting nuisance properties cleaned quicker.

Driving the news: The Palm Springs City Council discussed two dozen ordinance revisions Thursday evening designed to allow more flexibility to bring offenders into compliance. Some citizens who spoke before the item was discussed said they fear the changes are designed to easier impose burdensome fines, which could lead to loss of homes for residents who want to clean their property but can’t afford to.

What they’re saying: “For me, as a resident and a community member, I think that this is something that is very dangerous,” said Charlie Ervin, a leader in the Desert Highland Gateway Estates neighborhood and member of the city’s Planning Commission. “We’ve already had our community deal with COVID-19. Now we have other issues being added and the fear of losing our homes.”

Behind the scenes: Ervin and others have recently pointed to an uptick in citations and warnings being left on vehicles and at property in their neighborhood. The issue was raised at a neighborhood meeting May 10.

  • Many in attendance at that meeting said they were willing to rally together to help clean nuisance properties. “It can be a negative, but it can also be a positive to help bring the community together,” said one resident.

What’s next: The Council voted to continue its discussion on the proposed changes until after the city attorney and code enforcement staff could rework some of the proposed changes to clarify the intent.

  • Councilmembers also expressed interest in creating a fund to assist low-income residents who want to bring their property into compliance.

Bottom line:  While concerns over helping those willing but unable to clean their property dominated the conversation, it was noted that there are some violators simply not interested in compliance.

  • “We have slumlords here in Palm Springs who really take advantage of tenants.” – Councilmember Christy Holstege

Dive deeper with the staff report.

In brief: A new District 2 candidate

Lifelong Palm Springs resident Renee Brown said Thursday she intends to run for the District 2 City Council seat currently occupied by Councilmember Dennis Woods. She’s the second candidate to announce her candidacy in the district formally.

Driving the news: The 68-year-old resident of Desert Park Estates told The Post by phone she filed her intention to run with the city this week. She has until Aug. 12 to collect the requisite number of signatures in the district to appear on the November ballot.

Behind the decision: Brown, well known for her work with the Palm Springs Historical Society, acknowledges she’s not a politician, but thinks that may play to her advantage. Her family has roots in the community dating back to the 1950s, she said, and like many longtime residents she has watched the dream of homeownership in the city quickly fade for many who live and work here.

  • “I’m a very different candidate,” said Brown. “I was born and raised here. I just feel that even if I don’t win, I want to be heard. I’m speaking for a lot of people who feel that way. This is becoming such an elitist town. We have police officers and firefighters who can’t afford to live in this community.”

State of play: Woods, whose term expires later this year, has not announced whether he intends to run for reelection. In January, local business owner Jeffrey Bernstein formally announced his candidacy for the seat. Another potential candidate, Thomas Reinhard, owner of Classic Custom Woodworks, filed paperwork earlier this month also stating he intends to run but has not made a formal announcement.

Possible ballot: Three of the five City Council seats are up for contention this year. Aside from the District 2 seat Brown and Bernstein are aiming for, voters in districts 1 and 3 also have choices to make.

  • In District 1, Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner is seeking reelection. Daniel Algazi, the owner of DA Computers, filed paperwork stating his intention to run against her but has not made a formal announcement.
  • In District 3, where Councilmember Geoff Kors will not be seeking another term, Palm Springs Pride President Ron deHarte formally announced his candidacy in January. He could be challenged by Julia Kabik, who also filed her intention to run paperwork earlier this month.

? AM Roundup: Grab a cup & catch up

Palm Springs police added extra school patrols following the Texas shooting, Jake Ingrassia reports. (KESQ)

A 250-acre fire in Yucca Valley is 25% contained. (Hi-Desert Star)

?️ Get ready for Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week, coming June 3 through 12. (CV Independent)

⛽ Rising COVID cases, gas prices not enough to stall Memorial Day travel. (The Press-Enterprise)

? Your (long) weekend

Memorial Day is Monday and there are a few events planned in the city we’d like to draw your attention to:

  • At Palm Springs American Legion Post 519, you’re welcome to drop by, starting at 1 p.m.  There will be live music and food until 8 p.m.
    • While you’re there, make sure to check if you’re eligible to join. You might be surprised to know how many people qualify for membership.
  • The Palm Springs Air Museum’s annual Flower Drop and Air Fair gets underway at 10 a.m. and lasts until 5 p.m. Thousands of red and white carnations will drop from a CH-47 Chinook Helicopter around 1 p.m. to memorialize fallen veterans.

?️ Also this weekend:

  • The Certified Farmers’ Market of Palm Springs is held Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at 2300 East Baristo Rd. It’s the last outdoor market of the season. The market heads indoors to the Palm Springs Pavilion, 401 South Pavilion Way, starting June 11. During the transition, there will be no market on Saturday June 4. 
  • The CalComMen’s first pool party and potluck of the year is Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

  • Join the Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters for dinner at Trilussa on Sunday at 6 p.m.

And finally …

Revered Palm Springs business owner Larry Bitonti is being mourned today by family, friends, and his fellow retailers and restauranteurs following his passing, first reported Thursday afternoon. He was 78.

Long history: Bitonti opened Hair of the Dog English Pub more than four decades ago. It was a fixture along North Palm Canyon Drive before relocating to the 500 block of South Palm Canyon Drive in 2019. 

  • The popular pub offers an atmosphere and amenities harder to find as Palm Springs evolves: Cheap, cold beers served by people who treat you like family, with TVs tuned to sports glowing overhead and the sound of pool being played in the background

What they’re saying: On social media and elsewhere, Bitonti is being remembered for his kind heart and love of community, as well as his sense of service to fellow business owners.

  • “Sure will miss seeing you at the Hair of the Dog and when you helped for the parades,” wrote Brian Franklin. “God definitely got a good guy joining his ranks.”
  • “Larry and I have been friends for over 35 years,” said Joy Brown Meredith, president of the Main Street Palm Springs business owners association. “He was a good man who was involved in the downtown community and beyond. I’m very sorry to hear of his passing.”

✈️ Kendall is making the most of her three-day weekend by turning it into a four-day weekend.

Mark is excited to see The Eagles perform this weekend.

Miss a day?Read past newsletters here.

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