Driveway decision delayed as Planning Commission removes item from agenda

The move delays a showdown with advocates for sheep, who had put out a call to flood the commission with comments.
Plans to extend and repair a driveway that leads to lots near an abandoned water tank in South Palm Springs have proven controversial.

The continued battle over a hillside driveway was continued again Wednesday evening.

Driving the news: The Palm Springs Planning Commission was expected to consider a proposal by a well-known developer to repair and extend a driveway on a South Palm Springs hillside that is a habitat for Bighorn Sheep. But instead, it continued the deliberation to “a date uncertain.”

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  • The move delays a showdown with advocates for the sheep, who had put out a call to flood the commission with comments.

Looking back: The issue was brought to the commission a year ago by the owner of the land, John Wessman, represented by Grit Development. He is seeking to grade and construct a 730-foot driveway which would extend South Camino Monte Road to make access to future hillside homes easier.

  • The roughly 18 acres that contain the roadway were plotted for three homes in 1969 but never developed.

Context: Wessman is one of two developers accused in a bribery case involving former Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet. He was indicted in 2019 but had charges dropped in 2020. They were reinstated last year.

At stake: The property is adjacent to a conservation area. A consultant hired by the developer recommended several mitigation efforts to protect Bighorn Sheep, including a temporary fence during construction and a worker environmental awareness program, among other recommendations. 

  • A city-hired consultant recommended the proposal be approved by the commission. 

What they’re saying: Even though the item was pulled from the agenda, the commission still allowed public comment on the topic. Two residents spoke in opposition.

  • Candace Khan expressed worries that the road and future developments would “Push wild animals away from that area. I don’t think we want to lose our Bighorn Sheep.”


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