What to watch for at the Jan. 13 Palm Springs City Council meeting

The Palm Springs City Council is back in action on Thursday, Jan. 13 after a holiday break. Up for discussion are issues related to homelessness, housing and development, art, and infrastructure. We hit the highlights.

Briefly: The 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. 13. It’s the first full meeting of elected leaders since Dec. 9 and will take place virtually. Following are some highlights and brief explanations of what’s on the agenda, broken down by topic. The agenda can be viewed here.

HOMELESSNESS

  • A potential site for a homeless services center will be discussed between the city, which hopes to complete purchase of the property, and the seller, McCarthy Road Productions, LLC., in closed session (where negotiations are typically discussed). You may recall that late last year a potential buyer of the property agreed to let the city step in as the buyer. The city is currently in escrow on the property at an agreed sale price of $5.9 million.
  • Where will money needed to purchase the property and run the services center come from? Aside from some funds already in place, and others promised by Riverside County, both the city and county hope to secure money available through the Homekey2 program administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. A resolution authorizing the city manager to move forward and work with the county on getting those funds is on the agenda under new business.

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HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT

  • Municipalities throughout the country are struggling with the issue of fulfillment centers — large buildings that hold inventory for businesses that sell goods, such as Amazon — and Palm Springs is no different. Despite many pre-application meetings with potential developers, none have moved forward with an application. Issues around a lack of guarantee for variances from existing standards for height limits and parking requirements are reported to have been a hindrance. To overcome the issues, city staff recommended amending zoning rules for manufacturing and industrial land that were first adopted in the 1990s. The Planning Commission had the amendments on its plate last November, but members had a handful of concerns about building height, traffic, and environmental impacts surrounding fulfillment centers. The Commission ultimately decided to form a subcommittee to discuss those concerns further. The City Council will discuss the zoning rule changes during the meeting. There’s a 232-page document you can peruse if you’re interested in the background.
  • A new state law aimed at increasing available housing in cities (SB 9) went into place Jan. 1. The City Council has an “urgency ordinance” on its agenda to make sure the law applies in Palm Springs. If approved, it would allow residents in single-family neighborhoods to subdivide lots into two —provided the lot is no smaller than 1,200 square feet — to create up to four units total per parcel.

INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Approval to go out for bid on the construction of two new traffic signals is on the Council’s consent agenda — where several items are approved in one fell swoop. The new signals will be located at Rosa Parks Road and Indian Canyon and at San Rafael Drive and Avenida Caballeros. Both signals are in direct response to concerns about speeding brought up by members of the community.
  • Every year the city puts new slurry seal on streets. Approval to ask for bids for that work is included on the agenda. Want to know where the work will be happening this year? Check out the list in this document.
  • The city is going to replace the chain link fence shared between the wastewater treatment plant and Demuth Park with a block wall. Approval to spend more than $230,000 to do that will also be on the consent agenda. the Council is also expected to approve going out to bid to replace some aging equipment at the facility.

SAFETY

  • The Council is expected to approve speed limits in the city — including some lower limits — on more than 200 street segments. The complete list is available here. The Post reported on three dozen streets where the speeds will be lowered here.
  • Also on the agenda is approval of more than $500,000 for replacement of equipment needed by the Palm Springs Fire Department, as well as permission to enter into an agreement with the firefighters’ union for salaries and other conditions of employment.

THE ARTS

  • The “Popsicles” artwork by John Cerny, located on a vacant lot at 605 Sunny Dunes Rd., is on loan to the city. There’s a request for $1,950 to extend that loan to June 30 on the Council agenda.
  • Final approval is being sought for Tysen Knight to repair damage and graffiti on the 50 painted benches that are seen Downtown, as well as a traffic box that was also painted as part of a Public Arts Commission community grant program.

AND FINALLY

  • The Coachella Valley Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has approached the city about participating in a four-week program titled “Palm Springs MADE,” designed to aid city-based small businesses get up and running. Over the four-week period, participants will create their business, build their Palm Springs MADE marketplace vending booth, and create a successful e-commerce website. On the consent agenda, the city is being asked to wave business license and VillageFest fees, as well as match $7,500 in grant monies for the small businesses provided by Sun Community Federal Credit Union.

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