Council narrows locations considered for homeless services center to two sites
City leaders elected Thursday to focus on two possible locations for a campus for transitional housing and services for those experiencing homelessness in Palm Springs, including one preferred by staff that just recently became available.
In a report discussed by the Council Thursday evening, 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 with 47,000-square-feet of usable space. It is currently in escrow for $5.9 million, but the owner has offered to allow the city to assume the purchase.
The other property, located at 4775 E. Ramon Road, is on two acres and has 40,000 square feet of usable space. It was believed to have been in the process of being sold, but staff informed the Council during the Thursday meeting that it had recently fallen out of escrow.
City staff was directed to focus on comparing the purchase and remodeling costs of both properties, as well as the overall ability to offer the most services for the city’s growing homeless population. A decision on either property could come at a Council meeting next week.
Staff members have been reviewing potential navigation center locations for months. Some of the properties they examined were vacant land and would have required two years to build out, compared to an estimated one year for renovating the McCarthy Road and Ramon Road properties. Others did not offer as much existing usable space as the McCarthy Road location.
Other properties outlined in the report, including vacant land, were considered but ultimately rejected by Council members in an effort to speed up the process of building the much-needed facility.
“Finding a site that can be up and running faster is important,” said Councilmember Geoff Kors during discussion of the staff report. “We are in a true crisis moment. Our community feels the crisis, we feel the crisis, and people who have no place to go feel the crisis.”
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.
A preliminary sketch of the McCarthy Road facility, viewed Thursday evening, shows space for clusters of tiny modular homes, as well as space for shelter beds, a kitchen, laundry and shower facilities, medical facilities, an employment center, child development areas, and more.
Staff estimated the total cost of building a navigation center at the site would be $12.1 million after renovations, $10 less per square foot than the average cost for all properties considered. Total cost for the Ramon Road property would be $12.7 million. Funding for either project would come from a variety of sources, including 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.
Residents who addressed the Council prior to the discussion favored moving forward with a facility to aid the homeless. But some who live near the proposed McCarthy Road location asked the city to look elsewhere. Many had expressed similar sentiment during a District 1 listening session with Councilmember Grace Garner Monday evening.
“We understand there’s a big need for homeless services all over the country, and our city is not exempt,” said Deiter Crawford, vice president of the Desert Highland Gateway Estates Community Action Association. “The city claims to be inclusive, diverse, and equitable, but none of this is evident in the north end of town.”
In other action Thursday evening, the Council:
- Elected to keep most, but not all, COVID-19 emergency orders in place, for now, after hearing an update from city staff that included results of a recent survey of residents and business owners. The survey found a 50/50 split for most of the current regulations, with the exception of requiring masks at large, non-ticketed outdoor events. About 58 percent of respondents said that rule should no longer be in place. Council members voted 5-0 to remove mask requirements at events such as VillageFest and the upcoming Pride Parade. The Council will consider removing other rules after reviewing data around COVID-19 in early December.
- Unanimously approved a request from developers of the Thompson Hotel (formerly called The Andaz Hotel) at 414 North Palm Canyon Drive to reconfigure the property to allow for four additional guest rooms. The Palm Springs Planning Commission had approved the request Tuesday evening. The project, which had drawn the ire of residents and city officials alike as development stalled, is currently under construction again and continues on a path toward a December 2022 opening, according to the developer.
- Heard from a member of Vacation Rental Owners and Neighbors of Palm Springs (VRON), who urged the city to return vacation rental compliance officers to the Office of Special Programs where they originated. Compliance officers were moved to the Police Department in 2019 due to the belief that they would need the abilities that come with being a police officer in order to handle issues at vacation rentals. “The numbers of times this has been needed are extremely rare and extraordinary,” said Bruce Hoban, a co-founder and board member with the organization, who asked that the Council consider the request.
- Voted 5-0 to authorize sending a letter to the California attorney general’s office in support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other organizations’ request for an investigation into the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff Chad Bianco. The sheriff was recently revealed to have once paid for a membership in Oath Keepers, a far-right anti-government militia organization composed of current and former military and police.
- Denied an appeal brought by the neighbor of a proposed 5,846-square-foot home and detached casita on one of the last undeveloped lots in the Historic Tennis Club neighborhood. The neighbor had appealed approval of the project by the city’s Planning Commission, claiming a planned subterranean parking structure and a rooftop deck are not a fit for the neighborhood and would set a bad precedent.
GROUND BROKEN: City, county and state leaders, along with leadership from the Community Housing Opportunities Corporation (CHOC), broke ground Thursday at the site of the city’s first new affordable housing project in more than a decade. When complete, the 3.6 city-owned acres at the corner of North Indian Canyon and San Rafael Drive will contain 60 rental apartments consisting of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. CHOC, a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding affordable housing, is developing the project. the city contributed a combined $3 million to the project by, among other actions, donating the land. The $31 million complex will feature sloping rooftops that mimic the monarch butterfly, and natural desert plants to blend in with the surrounding communities. It was designed under the direction of Maria Song, principal with the Palm Springs-based architectural firm Interactive Design Corporation.
AIDS WALK: More than 2,000 participants will come together Saturday to end the HIV epidemic, expand health care access, and remember those friends and family members lost because of AIDS. The 2021 Desert AIDS Walk, presented by Desert Care Network, will be an in-person event that kicks off at Ruth Hardy Park at 9 AM and follows a route through downtown Palm Springs. The family and pet-friendly event includes a Health and Wellness Village presented by Walgreens. Find the complete story here.
HIKER RESCUED: A hiker in Mt. San Jacinto State Park at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway was rescued and transported to a local hospital Thursday. The Riverside County Fire Department received a report at 11:30 AM Thursday of a hiker down in the park. Emergency responders arrived on scene to find a solo hiker who had sustained non-life-threatening injuries. The victim was transported via helicopter to the bottom of the tramway, where a ground ambulance was waiting. It was unclear how the hiker was injured.
TRUNK OR TREAT: A Halloween Trunk or Treat is tonight from 4 PM until 6:30 PM at the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 Tramview Road. Children are invited to wear costumes and collect candy during the event which also features games and music. The event is sponsored by the Palm Springs Parks & Recreation Department
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.
SHREK PERFORMANCES: Palm Canyon Theatre’s production of Shrek The Musical continues through November 7. Showtimes are 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.
LEATHER PRIDE: Palm Springs Leather Pride runs 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.
MUSICAL: Girlfriend, a production of Palm Springs-based Dezart Performs, runs 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.
FARMERS’ MARKET: The Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market is held at 2300 E. Baristo Rd. (adjacent to The Camelot Theatres) from 8:30 AM until 1:30 PM. All Certified Farmers’ Markets offer a $15/$15 match to customers participating in CalFresh EBT and a $10/$10 match for WIC, SSDI, and federal unemployment. Find more details about all three Coachella Valley certified farmers’ markets here.
FOOD DISTRIBUTION: Well in the Desert distributes food every Saturday at 6 AM and 10 AM at 181 N. Indian Canyon Dr. For the early distribution, guests typically begin lining up at 5 AM and must show proof of residency (a rent receipt, utility bill, etc.). For both distributions, guests are asked to bring a box, bags or other containers to transport food items. More information is available by phoning the Well’s office at 760-656-8905. The Well also offers hot lunches Monday through Friday at 11 AM and 1 PM at various locations throughout the city.
FLEA MARKET: A flea market and food fest is held Saturdays at 675 Crossley Rd. from 8 AM until 2 PM. Information can be found here.
CHILI AND CARS: Palm Springs Air Museum’s 13th Annual Chili Cook-Off and Car Show is planned for Saturday beginning at 10 AM. 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 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 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.
HALLOWEEN HULLABALOO: The Palm Springs Cultural Center is planning a full day of Halloween films and festivities on Sunday starting at 1 PM and going until 11 PM. Information on all events, as well as ticket information for individual events or all-day passes, can be found 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 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 as Arenas Road turns up the volume during its annual Palm Springs Halloween event starting at 4 PM. Information about VIP tickets is available here.
MOVIE TIMES: The Regal Theater, 789 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, and Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Rd., offer first-run, fine art, independent, and foreign films in Palm Springs. Showtimes for the Regal are listed here. Showtimes at Camelot are here.
Want to know what’s happening in your city and at agencies that make decisions affecting your neighborhood? See below for calendars, meeting agendas, and links to all city services, police reports, code enforcement reports, and more:
City of Palm Springs calendar of events | Eventos en Espanol
Official city contacts | Conectar en Espanol
Police Blotter | Submit a police report
Short-term rental map | Code compliance reports | Report a code violation
Palm Springs Public Library calendar of events
Palm Springs Unified School District calendar | Board meetings
Palm Springs High School athletics and other events
Desert Healthcare District Board of Directors meeting agendas
Transgender Health and Wellness Center calendar
LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert programs
Mizell Center calendar of events
Current road projects and closures
Palm Springs Disposal pickup schedule | Holiday schedules
Currently active development projects
FIND Food Bank mobile market schedule