Neighborhood activities

Reviewing our 2023-24 accomplishments

Our neighborhood organization chair David Vignolo recounted these accomplishments:

  • Emergency Preparedness Event January 24 (16 participants)
    • Thanks to Kristin Maschka for planning, Mizell Center for hosting and Danny DeSelms, the City’s emergency department manager for speaking
  • Breakfast socials Sept. 2023 (25 participants) and March 3 (19 participants). Thanks to Kristin Maschka for hosting
  • Evening wine-and-cheese party (18 participants). Thanks to David Vignolo and Bill Mitchell for hosting
  • Community Yard Sale on March 23. Thanks to Sanford Cohen for planning. Raised Funds for the Neighborhood Organization
  • We LOVE our Blade Signs! Design thanks to Ken Patrick. Funding thanks to many of you!
  • CPNO Website: Hosting, design, & editing thanks to Howard Goldberg
  • Membership and mailings. 91 addresses on email list. Doing at least one postal mailing a year to recruit members.

Don’t be a victim of fraud!

Police Sgt. Jason Lamb gave an excellent presentation at our April 2024 annual meeting on crime prevention, focusing in particular on fraud that targets communities like ours. Some notes:

  • Property theft
    • Burglaries, cat burgalries (when you are in the house), car theft. Gated communities don’t protect you!
    • People look for crimes of opportunities.
    • Keep doors and windows locked. Their goal is just to walk in and grab something not harm you.
    • Always lock doors
    • Motion lights – big fan of these.
    • Cameras – they deter crime too, criminals tend to avoid. But if they do, then film goes to detectives
    • Dogs – another tool
    • Social media – don’t post your vacations! 
    • Valet keys – most cars have an extra valet key, people keep the “valet key” in the glove box. Don’t do that! 
    • Be mindful of what you keep that’s visible in your car. Especially at trailheads.
    • Window treatments – close drapes, blinds so people can’t case your home easily from outside
    • Identity Theft
      • Fake credit cards
      • Purchasing (high end) vehicles that get dropped off
      • Wire transfers
      • Steal your money – credit card, bank withdrawal
      • Steal money of others
      • Use your name to scam others
      • Taxes – tax fraud is huge. Billions.
    • How is info obtained
      • Skimming, credit card scanner they put a camera over a credit card machine, then they pick it up later.
      • Gas pumps and banks – they install cameras, to get PIN
      • Phishing – email that looks just like your bank, your utility company etc with a link, you click, you login and then they have your login. And they will keep calling you.
      • Data breaches – all kinds of places have them
      • Never use the blue mailbox at the post office, or anywhere! They use sticky paper and fish mail out of the blue box
      • Someone at Starbucks creates a wifi network names “Starbucks” and then get your info
      • Checks – avoid using checks whenever you can.
    • What to do if your identity is stolen?
      • Stop the bleeding.
      • Freeze credit
      • Credit report –
      • Police report
      • Notifications
      • Notify banks
      • Notify credit bureaus
      • Password change
    • How to Prevent!
      • Passwords – do NOT use the same password across logins anywhere ever!
      • Use well-lit gas stations, ATM’s
      • Mail – have a locking mailbox at home, take mail into Post Office do NOT use blue box
      • Emails and phone calls – don’t respond to them, go to the bank itself and log in or call
      • Police will never call you – even if it looks like its coming from PS Police, or IRS etc. If you have a question, call us.
      • Credit vs Debit – always use your credit option, bypass using your PIN. Bank will give you money back if you used credit option. At ATM, make sure it’s well lit. One you have to swipe to get in. Cover your pin entry always! Because they may have placed a camera. 
      • Be wary of public wifi
      • Lock doors
      • Don’t keep info in vehicles
      • Shred documents
      • Educate yourself
      • Don’t use checks – pay online. If you do use checks, drop them off in the post office.
      • Data scrubber services are available if you want to check them.
    • Scams
      • Craigslist – never use to buy cars, rentals etc
      • Rental scams
      • Romance scams
      • Actors – cops, IRS
      • Prizes, contests
      • Payments in gift cards
      • Extortion
      • Charities – after disaster charities reach out to you, 90% of the time it’s a scam
Civic affairs Safety

Public safety update at our annual meeting

Police Lt. Mike Villegas answered questions on several topics from those who attended our April 2024 annual meeting. Lt. Frank Browning is our area commander, but Villegas was on duty that morning and we appreciate his taking time for us.

  • Homelessness
    • Question: How to respond to people who think the Navigation Center and other services attract more people experiencing homelessness to our city? Villegas: Data does not show that. It has not happened.
    Continuing Relentless Sun initiative. At start we counted 500 homeless. Many were transient through PS. How many were residents of PS? 250. We monitor all of these individuals. Any crime was not tolerated, from taking carts, etc. We cannot enforce not camping if we cannot provide a bed. So Navigation Center is big plus for us. We narrowed 250 to about 150 now. Knowing Navigation Center was opening, as we make sure the city has the resources to get them help or housing, or get them a bed overnight then we can do more enforcement. Right now, we have about 150-155. Fifty have been going back and forth from drop-in Access Center (near the airport) to Navigation Center overnight, so in August when modular studios open they will be eligible, we will have 80+ housing units for longer term and social services.
    • You can help us be extra eyes and ears and report issues to either enforce or help people with resources. Call us!
  • Question: Panhandling
    • At the Sunrise/111 intersection, traffic safety issue. It’s not allowed, but we go and move them and then they go back.
    • Nuisance issue that police do address and try to assess what’s going on with that individual.
  • Question: Resources for mental health for residents – homeless or other.
    • Critical incident team. Telecare facility. Resources for homeless with mental health issues. If crisis, we detain and take them to Desert Regional.
    • Phase 2 of Nav Center, that will add more mental health services.
  • Question: What can we do if we see people who don’t belong in our condo community, in the pool whatever? Call the police. You are our eyes and ears. Call us.
Civic affairs

Mayor’s briefing at our annual meeting

Mayor Jeffrey Bernstein was the featured speaker at our April 13, 2024 Annual Meeting. For those who missed it, here are notes on what he had to say on homelessness, economic development and much more:

  • Housing and homelessness. Opened phase 1 of the Navigation Center. Part of our Four step continuum of care. Daytime Drop in Access Center, Overnight Beds, August Phase 2 of Navigation Center will add 80 modular units (bed bathroom kitchenette) for temp housing, Affordable Permanent Housing (first one opened earlier this year 60 units, later this year near DAP another 70, next year another 60 for senior housing). Navigation center welcomes children and pets. Passed tenant-based relief, identify people a few months behind in danger of being evicted, and we were able to help 200 families ($5 to 15K) to keep them in their homes. Allocated another $1M to this. Easier to keep people in homes than house them when they become unhoused. We also participated in the opioid settlement and get $3M to PS for that. From the homeless count, have gone from 330 to 150 on the streets.
  • Economic Development. For first time hired a Chief Economic Development Officer, who also serves as a business liaison. We have vibrant business districts throughout the city not just downtown. Tasked with developing these as their own commercial districts.
  • Cannabis. 
    • Highest density of dispensaries etc. in the whole country.
    • We reduced their taxes to compete with other cities.
    • We put a moratorium on all new permits for 4 years. And Inactive permits cannot renew. We will see if attrition brings us to a reasonable level in 4 years.
  • Airport Modernization
    • Airport is 70 years old. Can’t meet current demand.
    • Expansion is to handle the current and expected demand.
    • People are traveling more even as they age. 1/3 of passengers are locals.
    • Expansion is a 20-year project mostly federally funded.
    • If we do not expand gates, then may have to expand to earlier morning or later at night which adds noise. If we expand, we can handle bigger, newer quieter planes.
  • Convention Center
    • Needs an upgrade. Big economic driver.
    • We can’t do nothing because other cities are upgrading.
    • Convention planners want to have a sense of place and to experience the place. Which is an advantage for us. Just need facility updated and easy transportation to downtown.
  • Library master plan
    • Library is 50 yrs old. Updating is a $40M project.
    • Thinking about what the library of the future will look like.
  • Restoration of Plaza Theatre
    • City owned building from 1936. Class 1 Historic. Can’t get rid of it or change it and has to be used as a theater.Private individuals raised $15M to renovate.But it is going to cost more than we all thought. $27M. If we wait it will go higher so we have allocated more and they are continuing to raise money privately.Partnered with Oakview who manages Acrisure Arena.
    • Will have to be year-round theater.
  • Parks master plan
    • Great parks that need upgrades.
  • Road Paving
    • We have increased road paving. Tripled funds this year.
  • Most of this type of work (roads, parks, etc) funded by Measure J. In 2011 voters approved 1% sales tax for downtown revitalization and community development.
    • 70% of Measure J funds are generated by tourists. 22M/year from Measure J. Downtown park, kitchen at Mizell, and projects like that.
    • Set to expire in 10 years. So there will be a new ballot measure in the future.
    • Need to build a new fire station downtown, Library upgrades would be financed by Measure J.
  • College of the Desert
    • Break ground in the fall for Palm Springs campus. Spring of 2027 first students.
    • Hospitality, Creative arts, Nursing, also 5-year architecture degree with Cal Poly. BA that UC doesn’t offer, like Casino Mgmt, restaurant management.
    • Across from the high school. Free tuition.
    • 97% of our school kids are at poverty level. 10% are homeless.
  • Broadband master plan
  • Arts and Culture roundtable, develop Palm Springs as a arts and culture destination
  • Local vendor fair. We want to encourage local business to go for contracts with the City of Palm Springs. April 17 at Convention Center
  • New website. Easier to navigate than the City website. Find out what’s going on and how to get involved.
  • We were better prepared for Hilary than any other city. We closed roads early. Our emergency staff and approach were great. Even when 911 went down our staff figured out how to reroute.
    • Also a catalyst for getting funding. We got $50M to add to the building of an Indian Canyon bridge, which is #1 priority for all 9 cities. It’s the access to only Level 1 Trauma Center at Desert Regional Hospital.
  • Question: How is the budget? Budget is strong.
    • Measure J is 10% of our budget.
    • Any resistance to Measure J is because people don’t like taxes. People question how cities spend money. But without it we cannot invest in the city the way we have been. When we tell people what it pays for they support it.
  • Question: Roundabouts and our own ambulance service?
    • Our own ambulance not scrapped but complicated.
    • Roundabout. Intersection near Revivals. Council Member Lisa Middleton’s district and she recently said, “I want to bring this back with an intent to kill it.”
  • South Palm Canyon
    • 3 closed banks. Some blight there.
    • Vacancy of buildings is a problem. Nothing in our ordinances that requires vacant buildings to get used. They are required to do basic maintenance. Working on a plan for this right now. Also will help to get Smoketree Business District active they will be biggest advocate.

Deputy City Manager Jeremy Hammond also spoke, telling us what he has been working on in his three years on the job overseeing human resources, the city clerk, IT, purchasing, risk management, insurance, procurement, and the Human Rights Commission. He highlighted a project to have Palm Springs certified as an “autism aware” city for residents and employers. Hammond encouraged residents to apply to serve on boards and commissions during the annual recruitment (last deadline was April 30) even when they think there is no vacancy, because vacancies occur during the year.