Palm Springs 2021 Year in Review: Our top 5 stories

We’re kicking off a weeklong look back on 2021, and a look ahead to 2022, with the stories our readers engaged with the most since our very first newsletter went out in February.

We’re fortunate that our business model doesn’t depend on clicks. But our readers still clicked a LOT in 2021. Below is a countdown of the stories they clicked on the most, dating back to our start in February, and culminating with our most popular story of 2021. Interested in looking back? Make sure to click on each title to read the stories.

5. City closes Baristo Park

By far the biggest issue identified by our readers in the city this year was homelessness. The biggest area of concern centered around South Palm Springs, and in particular the Baristo Park neighborhood. On October 26, city leaders announced a temporary closure of Baristo Park — nicknamed “Heroin Park” — after deeming it “detrimental to the health and safety of the public.” That story was our fifth most clicked of the year.

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4. The ‘shitshow ‘ at College of the Desert

After years spent waiting for College of the Desert (COD) to break ground on a major Palm Springs campus, and a summer without communication from new college leadership, West Coachella Valley politicians and residents had had enough. Palm Springs Mayor Christy Holstege led the charge on November 11, speaking to the Desert Community College District Board of Trustees during its regular meeting, stating, “My residents are extremely concerned about how COD is operating and have questions about how decisions are being made.” A Zoom video obtained by The Post showed that behind the scenes, the college’s former president and others weren’t so polite. They accused East Valley politicians of installing the new COD president in order to shift bond money toward projects in their communities. The start of what is now an ongoing saga was our fourth most popular story of the year.

3. The ‘situation’ in South Palm Springs

Homelessness was again the topic when South Palm Springs business owners called for a meeting with city leaders in late November. We spent a day talking to them and members of the homeless community, city officials, and others and filed a story before the meeting. Our subhead on that story summed up the situation: “Business owners live in fear of retaliation, police are stretched thin, and a growing community of unhoused residents vows to stay where they call home.” It was our third most popular story of the year.

2. City demolishes one of four abandoned hotel projects

Being a local news outlet means fielding a lot of questions from readers. By far the most popular question sent our way this year was, “What’s the status of (insert any dead or stalled development project here)?” We tried our best to keep up with the latest, and have reported on the status of the four largest stalled projects, but when the city finally moved to begin razing the dead Tova Hotel and Beach Club project (being built at the site of the former Garden Vista Hotel along North Palm Canyon Drive), readers were somewhat overjoyed. They responded by making it our second most popular story of the year.

1. Popular waiter succumbs to COVID-19 at 41

Felipe Cuahuizo was a 17-year employee of Manhattan in the Desert on East Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs and an employee of The Roost Lounge in nearby Cathedral City. When he passed away in August after battling COVID-19, he left behind devastated family, friends, coworkers, and customers. Cuahuizo’s death was one of more than 800,000 in America since the start of the pandemic, and it hit close to home for many. More than 10,000 people clicked on the story online and on our social media channels, proving that despite the issues we grappled with in 2021, nothing was more important than the people we loved and lost.

BONUS: Our most shared social media post

A little movie magic created a lot of stir in the one city neighborhood in early October. We checked it out and reported that a commercial for the new Lincoln Navigator was being filmed at the intersection of Crescent and High roads at a home made to look like a winter wonderland. Snow in Palm Springs? It happens, but not in 2021. More than 100 people on Facebook and Instagram shared our images (including this one).


THIS WEEK: OUR YEAR IN REVIEW SERIES

TODAY: Our top 5 stories of 2021, according to the data

TUESDAY: Our readers weigh in on their top stories of 2021

WEDNESDAY: Palm Springs in 2021: A ‘Zoom Town’ emerges under the cloud of a pandemic

THURSDAY: Palm Springs in 2022: Time needed to build a better city comes face-to-face with reality

FRIDAY: Meet our 2021 Palm Springs Person of the Year

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