Offer from property owner could lead to faster opening of homeless services center
An opportunity to purchase a property that already has nearly 47,000-square-feet of usable space may be the fastest route to establishing a campus for transitional housing and services for those experiencing homelessness in Palm Springs.
In a report set to be discussed by the Palm Springs City Council next Thursday, city staff recommend 3589 McCarthy Rd. as their first choice for a “navigation center.” The property sits on 3.6 acres of industrial land and contains three buildings. It is currently in escrow for $5.9 million, but the owner, Fred Noble, president and CEO of Wintec Energy, has offered to allow the city to assume the purchase.
Navigation centers have proven effective in other communities struggling to solve the problem of homelessness. Typically they have limited barriers to entry and offer temporary room and board with direct access to case managers who work to connect homeless individuals and families to income, public benefits, health services, permanent housing, and other shelters.
City staff members had reviewed potential navigation center locations for months and identified other possible sites before Noble’s offer. Some of the properties they examined were only vacant land and would have required years to build out. Others did not offer as much existing usable space as the McCarthy Road location.
“There are structures on the property that could be retrofitted much more quickly and more cost effectively than other properties identified by staff for this use,” the report states. “Noble is willing to assign the purchase agreement to the city at no additional cost except the current purchase price.”
If selected, city staff estimate the total cost of building the navigation center at the site would be $12.1 million after renovations. Funding for the project would come from both the city and Riverside County. The report states the county could commit to using as much as $7 million of the nearly $480 million it receives from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for the project.
News of the opportunity along McCarthy Road was welcomed Thursday afternoon by members of a community group formed this year to address the homeless crisis in Palm Springs proactively. While months of work remain before a navigation center can open anywhere in the city, they said the possibility of committing to a site with so much existing useable square footage was “really good news.”
“We’re excited to see the progress that’s been made around the location,” said David Toner, a member of Community Partnership on Homelessness (CPOH). “We really want to make sure the Council is thinking about all of these services.”
Added David Murphy, another member of CPOH: “It’s going to be about money and timing, to make sure this navigation campus is as comprehensive as it can be. It needs to have a breadth of services – flexible housing, and access to treatment either on the campus or the ability to be triaged into another facility.”
Those details are sure to be a topic of future consideration once any facility is underway. For now, the city is focused on securing a site.
“One of the more persistent challenges in addressing homelessness in Palm Springs has been the lack of a comprehensive facility such as a navigation center where shelter, food, and the full suite of support services can be co-located,” staff wrote in the report. “Building a navigation center provides a unique opportunity to greatly expand on recent progress.”
Even if a navigation center goes into service, it will not likely bring an immediate end to homelessness issues in the city. Instead, it would complement other services here, such those offered by nonprofit organizations Well in the Desert and Martha’s Village and Kitchen.
“A well-managed navigation center would greatly expand our ability to serve our unhoused population and reduce secondary impacts the can negatively impact the quality of life,” the report concludes.
RELATED: PETITION STARTED TO TAKE BACK PARK
CPOH started a petition this weekend aimed at catching the attention of city officials to “reclaim Baristo Park and return it to being a safe, enjoyable place for children and the community.”
The park, nicknamed “Heroin Park,” has been mostly off-limits to children and families in the neighborhood during the ongoing battle with homelessness in the city.
“This intervention is long overdue,” organizers wrote in an email announcing the petition sent this weekend. “We believe this action will ultimately benefit both the current park occupants and the community at large. It is neither humane nor in the public interest to enable this behavior in a public space. This petition asks the city to secure the park and then reopen it as a youth-focused park that is accessible to local residents and their children.”
Anyone interested in signing the petition can view it here.
Connecting Our Community
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CENTER CELEBRATION: The community came out in force Sunday to celebrate a moment 20 years in the making. The Center (formally known as the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert) hosted its grand re-opening with a ribbon-cutting at its 10,000-square-foot facility in The McDonald/Wright building along North Palm Canyon Drive. Live music, beverages, a selfie stage, and more greeted more than 100 people during the event. After opening remarks by city leaders and staff and leadership at The Center, it was time for Executive Director and CEO Rob Wheeler to cut the ceremonial ribbon (pictured above). Afterward, audience members toured the newly remodeled building, which now consists entirely of workspace for The Center. Remodeling began in April 2020 after closing in-person services due to COVID-19. The Center will welcome its clients back next month.
HOTEL RISING: Crews have started putting the steel frame into place for a Bode Hotel on South Palm Canyon Drive downtown, which was supposed to be completed this past summer. The 30-suite boutique hotel with a café/bar, event space, and pool area is being developed on a 1.8-acre property. When complete, each suite will contain a kitchen and two- to four bedrooms. The development is three stories and totals 42,729-square-feet. It is one of several projects in the city that had been stalled or delayed in recent years but are now seeing activity again. Bode currently operates properties in Nashville and Chattanooga.
WATER MAIN FLUSHING: Desert Water Agency (DWA) will be flushing recently installed water mains in South Palm Springs this week, affecting some streets. The flushing is necessary to remove any possible debris captured during the installation of the new pipes. Multiple roads near Araby Trail and the South Palm Canyon Drive/East Palm Canyon Drive curve will have water running in them for a time while DWA flushes the new lines. The work will take place between 7 AM and 3 PM, today through Wednesday.
CELEBRATING AT MIZELL: The Mizell Center is celebrating active older adults as it takes part in the 28th Annual National Senior Health & Fitness Day all week long. Mizell kicks off the week with an informative talk from race walker Darlene Backlund. She will speak at 10:30 AM today and discuss her life and her unique sport. The Mizell Center is located at 480 S. Sunrise Way. To attend the free talk, sign up at the ticket window.
DISTRICT 1 MEETING: Palm Springs City Councilmember Grace Garner plans to host a virtual meeting of her District 1 constituents at 6 PM. The meeting will be an opportunity for Garner to listen to the thoughts of residents and answer questions and for the public to hear from the councilmember about issues of importance in the district and the city. Garner welcomes questions in advance and can be reached via email at [email protected]. A link to the Zoom meeting is available here (Meeting ID: 822 0345 0675; Passcode: 704417).
SUNSHINE SISTERS: Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters is going to boogie at Woody’s Palm House, 450 S. Palm Canyon Dr., starting at 6 PM. You can sign up to be part of the group formed to help women make new connections and friendships on Meetup here.
PARKS AND RECREATION: The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission meets at 5:30 PM via Zoom. More information about the meeting, including how to participate, can be found here. Among items on the Commission agenda is a review of new art, The Tot, to be installed at Francis Stevens Park.
MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center continues its celebration of active older adults with free Zumba, Yoga Flow, and Tribal Belly Dancing classes. The first class kicks off at 9 AM. The Mizell Center is located at 480 S. Sunrise Way. To attend the free classes, sign up at the ticket window. Darlene Backlund, the race walker speaking Monday, will also be on hand for a “Walk in the Park with Mizell” at 7 AM for anyone who would like to walk with her around Sunrise Park.
BOARD OF EDUCATION: The Palm Springs Unified School District Board of Education holds its regular meeting at 6 PM, following a closed session that begins at 2:45 PM. More information about both meetings, including an agenda, is available here. Meetings are held in the District Administration Center Board Room, 150 District Center Dr.
MIZELL EVENTS: Today, October 27, is the day that marks the official Fall celebration for the 2021 National Senior Health & Fitness Day at The Mizell Center. The celebration of active older adults will be marked with a dance at 12 PM. The Mizell Center is located at 480 S. Sunrise Way. To attend the free classes, simply sign up at the ticket window.
MOBILE HEALTH: A mobile health clinic will be parked at the James O. Jesse Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 W. Tramview Rd., from 9 AM until 4 PM. Operated and staffed by Borrego Health, the mobile unit will provide a variety of medical services for residents.
HORA DE CUENTOS: La bibliotecaria Nancy Valdivia lee cuentos, canta canciones y enseña conceptos de aprendizaje temprano (miércoles en español y jueves en inglés) para estudiantes de preescolar de 10:30 a.m. a 11:30 a.m. Puedes ver los videos en YouTube aquí.
HALLOWEEN EVENT: The Palm Springs Public Library is hosting a fun, free community event called Spooktacular Drive-Thru from 4 PM until 6 PM. Several community organizations will have a station located in the parking lot in front of the library, 300 S. Sunrise Way, and will hand out candy and treats as participants drive through.
APPEALS BOARD: The city’s Administrative Appeals Board, which, among other business, weighs appeals to vacation rental fines and license bans, meets at 5:30 PM via Zoom. Information about the meeting, including how to participate, can be found here.
PLANNING COMMISSION: The city’s Planning Commission meets virtually at 5:30 PM. More information about that meeting can be found here.
DESERT WATER MEETING: The Executive Committee of Desert Water Agency meets virtually at 8 AM. A packet with the agenda and participation and viewing instructions will be available here when it is ready.
MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers walking aerobics, a movie — Bennett’s War — and Tai Chi today as it continues to celebrate National Senior Health & Fitness Day all week long. The Mizell Center is located at 480 S. Sunrise Way. To attend the free classes and events, simply sign up at the ticket window.
STORYTIME: The Palm Springs Public Library offers story time for preschoolers starting at 10:30 AM via YouTube. Librarian Nancy Valdivia reads stories, sings songs, and shows early learning concepts (Wednesdays in Spanish and Thursdays in English). You can find more information here and watch the YouTube videos here.
WOMEN’S CHAT: The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert offers a chat group for all women — no matter how you identify — to discuss topics of interest and find connections every Thursday at 10:30 AM. You can find information about the event here.
NOT TEEN TALK: The Palm Springs Public Library’s teen librarian hosts an Instagram Live session each Thursday at 3:30 PM. To follow along, follow @psplteenzone on Instagram here.
TOURISM: The city’s Small Hotel Tourism Business Improvement District Advisory Board meets virtually at 4 PM. Instructions for participating or viewing the meeting, as well as an agenda, can be found here.
SUNSHINE SISTERS: Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters is going to sing, dance, and socialize at O’Caine’s Irish pub in Rancho Mirage, starting at 5 PM. You can sign up to be part of the group formed to help women make new connections and friendships on Meetup here.
FOOD AVAILABLE: FIND Food Bank distributes food in the city today at a community food bank, 610 S. Belardo Rd., between 5 PM and 7 PM, and at the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 W. Tram View Rd., from 5 PM until 6:30 PM. A complete calendar of food distribution in the community this month is available here.
FREE MUSEUM ADMISSION: The Palm Springs Art Museum offers free admission from 5 PM to 7 PM this evening. Tickets are required and can be obtained here.
CITY COUNCIL: The Palm Springs City Council meets in closed session at 3:30 PM, and then in regular session at 5:30 PM. Instructions for participating or viewing the regular meeting, as well as an agenda for both meetings, can be found here.
VILLAGEFEST: The city’s weekly outdoor street fair takes place at 6 PM on Palm Canyon Drive downtown. The event includes vendor booths on both sides of the street, which is closed to vehicular traffic.
MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers a Fit After Fifty class, a HiCap Medicare Counseling Clinic, and more today as it continues to celebrate National Senior Health & Fitness Day all week long. The Mizell Center is located at 480 S. Sunrise Way. To attend the free classes and events, sign up at the ticket window.
MEN’S CHAT: The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert offers a chat group for all men to discuss topics of interest and find connections every Friday at 10:30 AM. Information on registering for the event can be found here.
ONGOING & UPCOMING
UPCOMING MUSICAL: Girlfriend, a production of Palm Springs-based Dezart Performs, will be staged at 7:30 PM from Wednesday through Saturday, at the Rancho Mirage Amphitheater, 71560 San Jacinto Dr., in Rancho Mirage. General admission is $45 in advance; tables for 6 PM. dinner seating is also available. For tickets or more information, call 760-322-0179, or visit dezartperforms.org. Find the complete story here.
LEATHER PRIDE: Palm Springs Leather Pride runs Thursday through Sunday at multiple locations in the city and surrounding area. Events include the Mr. Palm Springs Leather 2021 Contest, the Formal Leather Dinner, clothing-optional pool parties at Canyon Club, a hosted Cigar Social at Barracks, as well as an evening Cruise Party and Vendor Mart at Tool Shed. Tickets for all of the events are available here.
SHREK PERFORMANCES: Palm Canyon Theatre’s production of Shrek The Musical continues this week and next, running through November 7. Showtimes are 7 PM on Thursdays, 8 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 PM on Sundays. Children under 12 get in free with proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the performance. For tickets or other information, call the box office at 760-323-5123 or order online by visiting PalmCanyonTheatre.org. The theater is located at 538 N. Palm Canyon Dr., at the corner of Alejo Road. Box office hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 AM until 4 PM.
AIDS WALK: The community’s largest gathering of HIV advocates comes together on Saturday, October 30, to walk toward ending the HIV and AIDS epidemics in the Coachella Valley. The 2021 Desert AIDS Walk, presented by Desert Care Network, will be an in-person event beginning at Ruth Hardy Park and following a route through downtown Palm Springs. This family and pet-friendly event includes a Health and Wellness Festival presented by Walgreens. Complete details, including registration information, is available here.
CHILI AND CARS: Palm Springs Air Museum’s 13th Annual Chili Cook-Off and Car Show are planned for Saturday, October 30, beginning at 10 AM. During the event, Sponsored by the Desert Classic Car Association, you can view more than 200 exotic cars and hot rods while tasting chili made by volunteers. Tastings are $1, or you can buy six for $5. For more information or to enter a vehicle, call 760-774-9936 or email [email protected]. The museum is located at 745 N. Gene Autry Trail.
HALLOWEEN FESTIVAL: The Family Health & Support Network hosts a Halloween event from 4 PM until 7 PM Saturday, October 30, titled The Branch Halloween Festival. The event is open to children and families and will feature carnival games, raffles, prizes, scary escape rooms, candy, and more. The Branch Institute is located to the rear of First Baptist Church, 588 Rosa Parks Rd.
BOO BALL: The desert’s version of Met Gala returns in person this year when the third annual BOO BALL takes place on Saturday, October 30, in the Korean-Vietnam hangar at the Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail. The event begins at 6 PM and benefits Boo2Bullying, a locally-based nonprofit organization founded by Dimitri Halkidis. For tickets and sponsorship opportunities, you can email [email protected] or call 310-435-8528. You may also purchase tickets at this link. For the complete story, turn here.
BE A HERO BASH: The Be a Hero for Kids Halloween Bash, which benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Palm Springs, is slated for Sunday, October 31, from 4:30 PM until 7 PM. The event features costumes, cocktails, and culinary delights at the Palm Springs Hilton, 400 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way. Tickets for the event are available here.
HALLOWEEN ON ARENAS: Halloween weekend comes to an action-packed conclusion Sunday evening, October 31, as Arenas Road turns up the volume during its annual Palm Springs Halloween event starting at 4 PM. The event features bands, DJs, guest appearances, and lots of celebrating. Information about VIP tickets is available here.
PALM SPRINGS PRIDE: The city’s largest celebration kicks off on November 1 and culminates with a parade on November 7. All week long, expect music, parties, and more throughout Palm Springs as the community gathers to celebrate and honor the strength, equality, and self-determination of the LGBTQ community. The parade will be held on Sunday, November 7, starting at 10 AM on North Palm Canyon Drive at the intersection of East Tachevah Drive, and will travel south, ending at the entrance to the Pride Festival at Amado Road, according to event organizers. It usually lasts two hours and is a free event. For a complete list of all Pride events, including the musical lineup — headlined by Third Eye Blind — turn here.
PRIDE RUN: The Palm Springs Pride 5K Run & Walk takes place Saturday, November 6 at 8 AM. The event is both in-person and virtual for 2021. Registration is available here.
SKATER GIRLZ JAM: Lesbo Expo Presents hosts a woman-identified LGBTQIA+ skateboarding event on Saturday, November 6 at Palm Springs Skate Park, 405 S. Pavilion Way. The event includes a skateboarding clinic at 2:30 PM for anyone who wishes to participate. Gates will open for ticket holders and day-of ticket sales at 4:30 PM. The main event gets underway at 5 PM. prizes will be awarded for highest Ollie, longest boardslide in transition, longest manual, dizzy lick flips, youngest ollie, and more. Tickets are available here.
WELLNESS SUMMIT: Brothers of the Desert is conducting its third annual wellness summit focusing on Black gay men and their allies in the Coachella Valley and beyond in-person (and virtually) on Saturday, November 13, at Margaritaville Resort in Palm Springs, 1600 North Indian Canyon Drive. The one-day event runs from 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM. It features innovative workshops, interactive discussions, and inspiring keynote presentations on a diverse range of topics, such as spirituality, sexuality and identity, emotional health, aging considerations, examining race, physical health, social advocacy and entrepreneurship. Registration for the event is available here.
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