The Palm Springs City Council will meet in closed session starting at 3:30 p.m. and regular session starting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 27. It’s the second and final meeting this month and takes place virtually. Following are some highlights and brief explanations of what’s on the agenda, broken down by topic. The agenda, participation instructions, and how to view the meeting can be viewed here.

HOMELESSNESS

The biggest item on the Council’s agenda in weeks will likely take center stage as details of the future navigation center — a campus for homeless services in the north part of the city detailed here in November — are discussed under new business.

As approved by the Council last year in a 4-1 vote, the city will purchase an existing 47,000-square-foot facility along McCarthy Road for $5.9 million and then build temporary housing and services for those experiencing homelessness. Homeless advocates have been pleading with the city to create such a facility for years.

Councilmembers will be asked to approve a handful of requests surrounding the navigation center, including:

  • A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the city and Riverside County for some of the funding needed for the facility. The MOU serves as a basic framework for how both entities will bring the navigation center to life.
  • An agreement with Martha’s Village and Kitchen to operate the services inside the navigation center. Martha’s has been at work in the city for years. Last year, the organization and the city established a smaller homeless services facility — called an access center — at the former Boxing Club.
  • Authorization for City Manager Justin Clifton to execute any and all work needed to get the navigation center running and operational going forward.

City staff prepared a 37-page document with all the details of what the Council is discussing. You can view that document here.

HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT

The second reading of changes to the city’s zoning rules that will aid developers of fulfillment centers is on the Council’s consent agenda — where several items are approved with one motion — and expected to be approved. The Council voted earlier this month to allow changes to the building requirements on land north of Interstate 10 that developers requested. The changes are primarily designed to allow taller buildings used for fulfilling retail orders or storing goods that will be distributed to area stores. Fulfillment centers have proven to be massive revenue generators for communities. If one opens in Palm Springs, it could double the city’s annual tax revenue.

A public hearing about an ordinance allowing for lot splits is scheduled. An urgent version of the ordinance was approved earlier this month to bring the city into compliance with a new state law — SB9. A regular ordinance is now on the table. If you’re interested in the details, The Post reported on the issue here.

Also on the consent agenda are two items allowing for the return of “subdivision improvement securities” to developers of two housing projects in the city. Municipalities usually keep the funds to assure developers complete needed improvements in or near their developments, such as streets and sewers. Developers of both the Vibe and Icon projects had earlier had most of those funds returned. Having satisfied all the requirements, they get the rest of their money back.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Authorization for work, studies, and equipment at Palm Springs International Airport — a majority paid for by the Federal Aviation Administration — is up for the Council’s approval. Among the items the Council is expected to authorize funds for are:

  • A required “hot spot study” will identify runway locations with a history or risk of potential collision or incursion.
  • The purchase of a new runway sweeper since the current sweeper, a 2004 Elgin Sterling SC8000, has reached the end of its useful life and must be replaced.
  • Completion of a required “wildlife hazard assessment” — where a qualified biologist assesses how much risk there is that birds will strike airplanes at the airport.

The city is also looking to improve Rim Road in the Araby Cove neighborhood (you can read the staff report here), hoping to appease neighbors who voiced concerns about a proposed Araby Drive Bridge project a decade ago. The Council is expected to approve around $300,000 to explore widening the road instead of building a bridge, even though widening the road would be problematic.

There are still 22 homes of an 87-home tract — known as the Arnico Tract — located south of East Via Escuela, between North Whitewater Club Drive and Gene Autry Trail, that need to be disconnected from their septic systems and added to the city sewer system. Doing that starts with a city consultant’s design, bid phase services, and construction phase services. Authorization for funding that initial work is on the Council agenda.

THE ARTS

How to handle naming rights for parts of the city’s historic Plaza Theatre is mentioned in a staff report for an MOU between the city and the organization raising funds for the project expected to be approved on the consent agenda. The Palm Springs Plaza Theatre Foundation is spearheading the fundraising. The agreement under consideration on the agenda would see the city release some funds to help the organization in its efforts and contribute additional funds in the years to come. It would also grant some naming rights to help raise funds — such as allowing donors to have their names on seats or have the stage named after somebody — but not without the approval of either the city manager or City Council.

ALSO OF NOTE

A public hearing is scheduled to allow comments on proposed redistricting for City Council seats. The process was kicked off following the completion of the 2020 Census, as required by law. You can find more details in this earlier report.

Guide Dogs of the Desert (GDOD) routinely trains dogs in the city and transports them in vans equipped with specialized remote temperature monitoring systems. Those vans have been inspected by the Palm Springs Police Department, which found the monitoring system “meets or exceeds the rigorous standards required for K-9 police vehicles.” The organization has asked the city to amend its rules around keeping pets in parked vehicles to allow their dogs to be kept in the vans when parked in the city. The Council is expected to approve amendments to city regulations that allow for unattended animals in GDOD vans.

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