Daily Briefing: Running in circles with homeless population, a special journey rolls through town, and more

It’s Monday, 5/9.

?️ Today’s weather: Mostly sunny and 82 degrees

Setting the mood: “It Might As Well Be Spring” by Old Blue Eyes himself.

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?️ Situational awareness: The annual battle between seasons begins in earnest this week with highs in the low 80s today and near 110 as Sunday arrives. Welcome to “Sprummer” (rhymes with bummer).

This is a 4.5-minute read. Let’s go …

In brief: ‘Running around in circles’ trying to aid homeless

Try as he might, Palm Springs Police Department Sgt. Frank Guarino couldn’t get through to the man with the three-wheeled cycle and accompanying trailer piled with belongings. He wanted him to know that he couldn’t park it on city property or store his belongings under a bridge. For Guarino, it was yet another encounter in what seems like a never-ending battle to convince unhoused city residents to “downsize their property” before authorities step in to do it for them.

“A lot of it is trash, but to them it’s not trash,” Guarino explained Friday as he talked about the encounter during an online forum hosted by Community Partnership on Homelessness (CPOH). “Legally, we can take the shopping carts. Legally, we can issue a citation. But that doesn’t always work well. We don’t want to force legal action on anyone.”

While the city has rules and tools in place to sweep through homeless encampments and city streets where the belongings have become a nuisance, Guarino said patience and compassion are the preferred approaches for now. That gentle approach is required, he said, because the few officers the city can spare to work with the homeless population know they are dealing with a populace that is aware of their rights and purposely chooses not to participate in programs that could help them improve their situation.

“We want to work with people to downsize property, not to punish them,” Guarino said before acknowledging, “We’re running around in circles.”

“They’re not legally at a point where I can do (an involuntary detainment),” he said of unhoused community members he deals with at encampments. “Besides constant outreach with those individuals, it’s frustrating moving them from one location to another. They don’t want housing and they don’t want help. I take a shopping cart from them and they walk across the street and take another one.”

“The ones who don’t want anything, they know that they can do whatever they want.”

More help is on the way, CPOH members were told, but it’s still at least a year off. Once the city can open a planned “homeless navigation center” off McCarthy Road in northern Palm Springs — itself the subject of controversy — police will have an option available to transport those living on city streets to the facility for assistance instead of merely telling them their activities are illegal or issuing citations they often ignore.

Greg Rodriguez, the government relations and public policy advisor for Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, told the group progress continues on securing funding to build out the facility on property acquired by the city earlier this year and keep it operating for years to come. The city and county are teaming on the project with Indio-based Martha’s Village & Kitchen, which he said will work to seek grant money for the facility. Contributions from the community will also be welcomed.

“No one government agency can solve homelessness,” Rodriguez said. “We have a very philanthropic community here in the desert, and this is an opportunity for them to step up and help the most vulnerable.”

In brief: A promise kept

Jesse Morton with mules Tom and Jerry. Photo courtesy Veterans Promise Kept 

A mule-drawn wagon rolling through Palm Springs today is the end result of a promise first made in a foxhole during the Vietnam War.

Driving the news: US soldiers Jesse Morton and Ray Cropper promised to go coast to coast in a covered wagon when the war was over. If one did not come home, the other would make the trip to honor the fallen hero.

  • Cropper was killed in Vietnam on Feb. 20, 1968.
  • Morton completed half of the trip 25 years ago, traveling from St. Louis to Washington, DC, via a horse-drawn covered wagon. In 2018, he embarked on the rest of the journey with a mule-drawn covered wagon, traveling from St. Louis to Colorado.
  • Flash forward to 2021, and other veterans picked up where Morton left off. They’ve been making their way West one leg at a time. 

Local help: The team found its way to Palm Springs over the weekend, staying at Los Compadres Club. It plans to stop at American Legion Post 519, 400 North Belardo Rd., today at around 5 p.m.

Mission driven: Veterans helping to see the mission through are not only helping fulfill the promise made by two friends, they are also raising awareness about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

You can help: Donations are gladly accepted to help complete the journey and support efforts at combating PTSD. Find more information through the Veterans Promise Kept website.

? AM Roundup: Grab a cup & catch up

? A Palm Springs woman became a mom on Mother’s Day at Desert Regional (Congrats to both mom and dad). (KESQ)

? Descanso is the first new resort exclusively for gay men to open here in more than 10 years. (Dallas Voice)

? A convicted felon has been accused of threatening a couple in the city. (NBC Palm Springs)

? The Plaza Theatre has been in the news a lot lately. Tracy Conrad tells its story. (The Desert Sun)

? On tap

?️ The city has more than a dozen boards and commissions, filled with appointed volunteer citizens like you. One of them, the Human Rights Commission, meets tonight. 

Why it matters: By the time an issue reaches the City Council (and makes headlines) it has likely been through a board or commission. Your chance to help shape legislation usually starts weeks before you hear about it. 

Details, details: Tonight’s Human Rights Commission meeting is virtual and begins at 5:30 p.m. You can find all the details, including how to watch and participate, by going here.

?️ Also today:

  • The Mizell Center is in full swing with classes, activities, and more.

Looking ahead:

  • ONE-PS holds its monthly meeting Tuesday at 4 p.m.
  • The Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast is Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.
  • The Palm Springs International Jazz Festival is this weekend at the Plaza Theatre. It’s part of the Oasis Music Festival, which starts Wednesday.

See our complete community calendar or list your event.

And finally …

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway dutifully transports passengers from Valley Station to Mountain Station 365 days a year, but sometimes experiences an unplanned stop in service.

That happened Friday, when crews were alerted to check the tramway switches at about 1:15 p.m. While that work was done, it was decided to stop selling new tickets for the day and pause tram car trips. 

  • About 585 people at the top of the Tram were stuck while all systems were checked and cleared. When trips started again, it took a few hours to get everyone down.

Yes, but: The stoppage made headlines across the Coachella Valley on Friday, but it’s not unusual.

  • “We had a brief stoppage yesterday,” Tramway spokesman Greg Purdy told us on Friday. “Stoppages can happen once every couple of weeks.” 

Kendall is happy for (momentary) temps in the 80s.

?️ Mark probably has your patio chair cushions in his backyard.

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