According to reports the number of licensed vacation rental properties in Palm Springs continues to grow. These properties are almost all located in residential neighborhood communities. The manner in which vacationing tenants use the properties is one that continues to aggravate neighbors who may be exposed to loud noises, late night partying, parking and traffic congestion and other quality of life issues. Complaints from those exposed to these types of activities continue to abound and the lack of meaningful response by city officials has prompted formation of a community partnership to insist that city action occur.

 

           It’s clear the concerns about vacation rental problems exist in many neighborhoods. Those directly affected deserve the attention of city officials. Implementation of steps to ensure that vacation rental activity does not adversely impact neighborhood quality of life issues remains to be achieved. Until that degree of residential equality exists, city officials should not rest, and no measure – including elimination of vacation rentals – should be considered exempt from the list of solutions needed to adequately achieve meaningful results. If current city ordinances are inadequate to remedy neighborhood vacation rental quality of life issues, then a new or amended ordinance should be created to address all concerns.

 

          Two groups, Protect Our Neighborhoods and Small Hotels of Palm Springs (SHoPS), are jointly “advocating an approach to regulating vacation rentals that balances the needs of residents and small businesses with the city’s desire for revenue”. These organizations are asking that something be done – a process started – and a solution devised with the clear intent of addressing vacation rental quality of life issues. No residential community should be treated differently from others when it comes to basic quality of life issues. Protect Our Neighborhoods and Small Hotels of Palm Springs deserve our support for their calm, reasonable efforts. They deserve our applause for working together to achieve better living conditions for Palm Springs residential communities impacted by vacation rental activities. And vacation rental properties in neighborhood communities need to be closely regulated to prevent their use in a manner that adversely lowers residential quality of life.

 

          Read “Groups seek pause on Palm Springs vacation rentals” in The Desert Sun:   http://desert.sn/1OpYdAf

 

Posted by: Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
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5.00 avg. rating (96% score) - 1 vote

           Palm Springs city manager David Ready’s Valley Voice op-ed titled “Land sales a proven boon for Palm Springs” makes no claim that the city has received proven benefits from sales of Redevelopment Agency (RDA) properties. Instead he defends the lack of profits from sales by speculating that “hundreds of thousands of dollars in new tax revenues” will result from future development of the properties. Those hoped-for future revenues also included a “new public parking structure for the Convention Center” that were mentioned as examples of economic development incentive importance to those who purchased RDA properties. Some would argue that a better approach would have been to engage the services of a good realtor, have properties realistically appraised, and sell them for their genuine market value. Few would agree that selling properties below market value in order to provide developers with questionable economic incentives makes much sense.

         The first part of the op-ed discusses city services and tax revenues – both have seen significant increases in the 2008 to 2015 period. The revenues discussed are hotel tax revenues, city sales taxes and the Measure J additional sales tax. Credit is given to hotel, business and airline incentives that were implemented by the City Council. No mention is made of the other significant factors that contributed to the period’s revenue and city service increases.

          During 2008 through 2015 taxes and fees on residents were raised four times. These included the 4.5% Measure G Cell and Cable phone tax in 2009; the 1% Measure J sales tax in 2011; the 10% Medicinal Marijuana sales tax in 2015 ; and the incremental 100% Wastewater sewer service tax (increased yearly from 2013 to 2031). These all contributed significantly to city revenues, but were not mentioned in the city manager’s op-ed. Surely they deserve to be included in any summary of city revenue increases in the 2008-2015 period.

          Following the 2008 economic recession a number of city services were eliminated or cut back. Among those were reductions in fire and safety funding, city hall services, pay cuts for city council members and other cost savings. Full restoration of all that had been eliminated or cut back has yet to occur. An obvious example would be the operating hours of City Hall which remains on a Monday through Thursday four-day work week that leaves it closed on Fridays.

          It’s important that city officials provide information about activities and services along with responses to criticisms and questions voiced by residents or in the media. The city manager’s op-ed is certainly appropriate for it seeks to address acknowledged problems with respect to sale of RDA properties.

          The concern that should be noted with the op-ed is it states only part of the story, presents a one-sided point of view and conveniently overlooks information that would provide a full picture. Some could rightfully claim that a more candid assessment of the subject would have better served both the city, its officials and the public.

          The recent calls for complete transparency in all things related to city government apparently are falling on deaf ears. That appears to be the case with the op-ed for it is one clearly lacking in the candor and transparency that’s so desperately needed in our city’s current scandal-headlined environment. Will residents in Palm Springs ever see the day when ethics, candor, transparency, honesty and believability become an official city standard?
David-Ready-Palm-Springs-city-manager

City Manager David Ready

Read or Share the newspaper story: http://desert.sn/1S3mD0i

Bond Shands
October 25, 2015
Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
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Twitter – @BondShands
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Also posted to the Palm Springs Local Government page at www.facebook.com/groups/PalmSpringsLocalGovernment.

5.00 avg. rating (97% score) - 2 votes

Vote+Button 

Rob Moon   –   Geoff Kors  –   J.R. Roberts

.          I recently compiled a list of questions titled “Palm Springs Local Election Issues“. It was also sub-titled “Twenty-six reasons to NOT vote for an Incumbent“. That list included many of my personal concerns about local issues and those currently holding political office in the City of Palm Springs. I concluded that our city needs greater transparency with respect to all government issues, more attention paid to the spirit and letter of ethics legal requirements, more citizen involvement in city finances and the budget process, more community involvement in public works department activities and city council members who are open to input from all residents – including those with unwelcome opinions.

.          It’s my belief that fresh blood – new faces – are needed and for that reason will not be voting for anyone currently holding a city council position. Use the following link to view or download a copy of the “Palm Springs Local Election Issues” questions. http://bondshands.com/public/Palm_Springs_Local_Election_Issues.pdf

.          My choice for mayor is Rob Moon.

.          My choices for city council members are Geoff Kors and J.R. Roberts.

Rob Moon- Geoff Kors - JR Roberts

Rob Moon website: http://www.palmspringsmoon.com/

Geoff Kors website: http://www.geoffkors.com/

J.R. Roberts website: http://votejrroberts.com/

 .          I hope my fellow residents will be making the same choices. Also, if I had a third choice for city council it would be Jim King.

Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook blog – www.BondShands.com
Twitter – @BondShands

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Also posted to the Palm Springs Local Government page at www.facebook.com/groups/PalmSpringsLocalGovernment

3.67 avg. rating (78% score) - 3 votes

         Probably the two most important questions candidates for election to public office should answer are “Why should I vote?” and “Why should I vote for you?”. It’s the second question that is most often answered. The first and probably most important is seldom addressed.

          “Why should I vote for you?” is answered when candidates describe their background including education, experience, activities and relevant expertise that qualifies her/him for the position sought. That’s usually followed by a long list of campaign promises about changes and issues the candidate proposes to address if elected. In reality it’s all about the candidate and what he or she seeks is to convince voters his/her real interest is in serving the public. Too often the actual goal of the candidate is to simply get elected and once that’s accomplished, then to hold onto the job for a very long time.

          “Why should I vote?” meaning “What’s in it for me if I bother to vote?” are too often ignored by candidates seeking votes. It’s the one that really depicts voter interests. Voters  are most interested in their homes, jobs and neighborhoods. Crime and particularly petty theft issues are concerns. Street surfaces in need of paving are important. Increased local taxes that aren’t spent on neighborhoods are resented. Family, children and quality of life are all pressing matters. Better representation and equal opportunities to meet with local officials who are willing to listen and address concerns need attention. Small business owners are tired of fighting city hall red tape. And giving taxpayer money away to developers and businesses who seem to already possess wealth does not seem fair. It’s these and similar issues that concern the voter. 

           Palm Springs voters keep electing charismatic candidates who possess both experience and talent. These smart, friendly and interesting individuals take office and then seem to forget the voters who elected them. Their sold a message in reply to “Why should I vote for you?” that served them well. Whether we’re proud or unhappy with the performance of those in office, ours were the votes that put them there. If there’s a problem and/or need for change then perhaps the fault lies with voters. We fail to ask the question “Why should I vote?” and wait for a satisfactory answer before listening to the less important question of which candidate deserves the vote.

           If you’ve made up your mind which candidate will receive your vote did she or he answer the “Why should I vote?” question to your satisfaction? If you’ve not yet made up your mind which candidate deserves your vote, have you asked the “Why should I vote?” question of any or all the candidates? When it comes to voting in local elections, do you really care who gets elected?

           Why should I vote?

Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook blog – www.BondShands.com
Twitter – @BondShands
 

5.00 avg. rating (97% score) - 2 votes

Summary:
     The national Victory Fund organization exists to place LGBT individuals into elective office. In most instances those efforts are directed towards communities lacking an LGBT presence in governmental affairs. Palm Springs is a fully mature LGBT political community and one that does not need Victory Fund support. Victory Fund’s choice to select and endorse LGBT candidates for local elective office represents interference and the use of their “prestige” to achieve the political coronation equivalent for their chosen candidates.


Victory Fund Intervention in Palm Springs Elections

          The LGBT political community in Palm Springs is one that’s fully mature. It plays a significant role in the economic, social and political activities of the city. There are no LGBT underdog candidates seeking to break some barrier and achieve political office. In fact the opposite happens to be the case. That’s part of the reason why political endorsements from outside political groups, such as the Victory Fund, are seen by some as more a case of interference than welcome participation.

          The Palm Springs area has evolved into a very progressive community. It boasts a large and politically dominant LGBT populace who exercise significant control over the city’s social and governmental activities. Since 2003 the city’s mayor has been an LGBT individual. That’s also been the case with the LGBT city council majority. It’s arguably believed the LGBT community also dominates the 39 organized neighborhood communities. LGBT representatives populate most, if not all, city boards and commissions. The equality sought by LGBT residents appears to have been fully achieved in Palm Springs for it’s clearly a community in which they’ve become the principle political players.

          A majority of the city’s registered voters are members of the Democratic party but there is no regular Democratic political club. That role is played by the Desert Stonewall Democrats, an organization that seeks and primarily endorses LGBT candidates for political office. These factors contribute towards Palm Springs LGBT populace lack of need to seek greater rights for their community. The political dominance they exercise ensures little remains except to fight among themselves over the political spoils. That’s an activity they do well and the current race for mayor and city council members in Palm Springs will be no exception. The candidates seeking a replacement for the outgoing incumbents include many qualified LGBT candidates. All are experienced individuals who are expected to work hard at making the choice for voters one that is informed and in the best interests of the community.

          The Victory Fund is an IRS 501(c)(3) approved charitable organization that has managed to successfully navigate those rules while endorsing and providing campaign support for LGBT political candidates “of their choice”. In other areas they usually provide support for what some would consider the LGBT underdog candidate seeking election in an area without LGBT representation. Palm Springs is not a community well-suited to their mission for it’s a community in which LGBT election successes have been phenomenal. The value of a Victory Fund endorsement in Palm Springs is not in the leadership training, campaign advice and support for those seeking elective office. The “prestige” of the Victory Fund name is the one prized by local LGBT politicians. And that “prestigious” endorsement has already been conferred on local candidates of their choice. It was done before the local candidate filing date had closed and the Victory Fund did not consider nor interview other candidates. Their endorsement, in the eyes of some, seems to be a deliberate failure to foster equality and, if anything, represents both interference and an attempted political coronation.

          The Victory Fund‘s entry into the Palm Springs electoral race appears little different than if performed by the Democratic or Republican parties – or a well-heeled outside financial supporter. The endorsements of these groups matter greatly to their supporters and also to trusting and otherwise uninformed voters. The Victory Fund either ignores or does not understand that the Palm Springs community is probably least in need of their services. In the future it might serve them better if they first assessed the political realities that exist in the communities they view in need of their support. Their decision to support may not be in the best interests of the LGBT movement. That’s certainly the case with respect to the Palm Springs elections. They simply aren’t needed here and their endorsement presence amounts to little more than unwanted interference in what otherwise is a local election for mayor and city council members.

Bond Shands
August 20, 2015
Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
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3.00 avg. rating (71% score) - 2 votes

      The LGBT political community is not much different from other political communities and it too has its share of corruption and favoritism. The Palm Springs chapter of the Victory Fund is an example of one with its own brand of favoritism for it’s one driven by personal relationships.

       In July the local Victory Fund announced their endorsement of Palm Springs city councilmember Ginny Foat’s candidacy for Mayor. In August they added to the luster of their endorsement by naming her co-chair of their October garden party fundraising event. These actions all occurred before the filing date closed for those seeking to run for Mayor. There’s no indication the local Victory Fund considered any of the other qualified LGBT candidates running for Mayor. It appears none were named nor invited to make presentations seeking the group’s support.

       Former Palm Springs city mayor Ron Oden (2003-2007) was Palm Springs’ first LGBT mayor and also the first who is African-American. He’s currently a candidate for mayor and, based on experience from having held that position, is unquestionably qualified. Mr. Oden was not considered for endorsement by the Victory Fund group.

       Palm Springs Measure J Commissioner Robert “Rob” Moon is another LGBT candidate seeking election as mayor. His was the first candidacy that announced for the position. Mr. Moon is a decorated Military Officer who also has enjoyed considerable success in the business community. He belongs to a number of local civic and social organizations and has been active in LGBT community affairs. His resume includes service commendations for outstanding staff functions which, together with his outstanding business successes, clearly qualify him for the position of mayor. Mr. Moon was not considered for endorsement by the Victory Fund group.

       Palm Springs city councilmember Ginny Foat is also Executive Director of the Mizell Senior Center. Her background includes limited business experience but she’s been an active participant in local community events. Ms Foat identifies herself, not as LGBT, but instead as “genderqueer”. Her position on the city council speaks to her qualifications to serve as mayor but she lacks the depth and breadth of experience that are seen in the other LGBT candidates. She reports her past candidacies have been endorsed by the Victory Fund.

       The mission of the Victory Fund, since 1991, has been “to change the face and voice of America’s politics and achieve equality for LGBT Americans by increasing the number of Openly LGBT officials at all levels of government”. They further seek to “change America’s politics” based on the belief LGBT “office holders are our clearest and most convincing champions for true equality”.

       What’s missing from the Victory Fund’s mission statement is that the equality they seek is not one that’s fostered in their own organization. Their goals are too closely related to personal relationships and favoritism to allow room for equality. It’s this form of corruption that makes the organization just another crass political entity that exists to benefit the favored few while doing so behind the false façade of equality principles. The local LGBT Victory Fund is clearly a Disgrace!

Bond Shands
August 16, 2015
Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
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3.75 avg. rating (78% score) - 4 votes

     It’s been 12 years since Palm Springs was headed by a Republican serving as the city’s mayor. In 2003 city councilman Ron Oden, a Democrat, defeated incumbent mayor Will Kleindienst, a Republican, in an upset 51% to 43% sweep that also saw the first time election of both Steve Pougnet and Ginny Foat as new city council members.

     Will this be the year when Palm Springs elects another Republican as Mayor? Democrats hold a lopsided majority of 11,146 registered voters. Registered Republicans total 5,482 and there are 4,976 registered as Decline to State (Independents) or other small parties. It would appear from these numbers that this will be another good year for the Democrats.

     This year, 2015, will be the first since 2007 in which the mayor position will be without an incumbent on the ticket. That alone makes it both an attractive and a competitive option for anyone seeking the political spotlight. The problem for Democrats, if one turns out to exist, may be that they have too many candidates running for the seat. The field includes incumbent councilwoman Ginny Foat, former mayor Ron Oden, Palm Springs high school principal (retired) Rick Wright, Measure J Commissioner Rob Moon and Civil Rights attorney Bob Weinstein. That could spell trouble for Democrats. These five highly qualified candidates, all with good support, will definitely split the Democratic vote. In her 2013 city council reelection bid Ginny Foat received 5,268 votes. It’s not expected that she or any other candidate’s vote total will reach that figure in this year’s mayoral race.

     If a Republican or “Conservative” candidate enters the race that person will stand a very strong chance of winning the election. The 5,482 Registered Republicans would probably unite behind a single conservative candidate (if there’s one on the ballot). Should that turn out to be the case then the Republican could easily turn out to be the one with the highest vote.

     The following are recent Registered Voter statistics for Palm Springs.

11,146  –
05,482  –
04,976  –
21,604  –

Registered Democrats
Registered Republicans
Independents and Others
Total Voter Registrations

     For comparison purposes, the following is the 2013 City Council Vote Count for Palm Springs.

5,286  –
5,207 –
3,181  –
1,916  –
15,572

 Ginny Foat
 Christopher “Chris” Mills
 Judy Evans Deertrack
 Jeffrey Nichols
Total Votes

     The last day to file completed applications to run for mayor is August 12th. That’s when the list of qualified candidates will be known and that’s when the candidate(s) with “conservative” credentials, if any, will be known.

Bond Shands
August 2, 2015
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5.00 avg. rating (96% score) - 1 vote

     Recycled Water is treated wastewater delivered for irrigation and similar non-potable water uses. The largest Coachella Valley water companies, Desert Water Agency and Coachella Valley Water District, deliver a Recycled Water product that includes more than treated wastewater. They add potable water to the mix and the result is a hybrid combination of two. The term potable signifies the water is suitable for drinking.

     Recycled Water has been exempted from most local and State Water Resources Control Board mandatory water usage restrictions. Whether the state board’s definition of Recycled Water includes the hybrid product being delivered by the local agencies is unknown. It’s for that reason I’ve sent inquiries asking whether the local non-standard Recycled Water product qualifies for exemption from water usage restrictions.

     The following are copies of my recently sent inquiries.


Date: Wed, 22 July 2015
Subject: Recycled Water Policy

Dear State Water Resources Control Board:

I’m a Coachella Valley resident interested in learning more about your Recycled Water Policies. It’s my understanding you have exempted users of Recycled Water from your mandatory conservation restriction requirements.

I’ve been led to understand the Recycled Water term is intended to represent non-potable treated wastewater that is used for irrigation of parks, golf courses and similar purposes. It’s not supposed to include fresh potable water.

Coachella Valley has two major water districts that both treat wastewater for delivery to golf course and local parks. Their names are Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) and Desert Water Agency (DWA). Neither agency furnishes Recycled Water of the exact type I’ve described above.

CVWD imports Colorado River water via canal. They mix it with treated wastewater and deliver to customers (primarily golf courses) as Recycled Water.

DWA pumps fresh water from the aquifer that it mixes with treated wastewater. The mix is then delivered to customer accounts (golf courses and city parks) as Recycled Water.

Does the State Water Resources Control Board have a definition of what is intended by their use of the term Recycled Water?

Is the mixing of either freshly pumped water or Colorado River water with treated wastewater eligible for classification by you as Recycled Water?

Should the hybrid mix of treated wastewater and potable water be considered as Recycled Water and eligible for exclusion from your water conservation restrictions?

For documentation purposes the CVWD handling of Recycled Water is discussed in the local Desert Sun’s newspaper 2013 story titled “Coachella Valley Water District looks to speed efforts to take golf courses off groundwater” using the following link. http://desert.sn/1LChV9N

The DWA handling of Recycled Water is discussed in the local KESQ Channel 3 news report of March 25, 2015 titled “New wells help the Desert Water Agency recycle more water” in the following link. http://bit.ly/1emn1YY

Sincerely,

Bond Shands
Palm Springs


Date: Fri, 24 July 2015
Subject: Recycled Water Policy – Part Two

Dear State Water Resources Control Board:

In an earlier email I reported that Coachella Valley Water District and Desert Water Agency were each mixing potable water with treated wastewater and labeling the combination Recycled Water. It is then delivered for use to irrigate golf courses, parks and other grassy landscape needs. That report was to document my request for your definition of Recycled Water and whether the combination of potable and treated wastewater met that definition.

With respect to the same Recycled Water subject, it’s my understanding neither water agency includes potable water delivered as Recycled Water in their water usage reports.

I would appreciate learning your position with respect to whether potable water delivered as Recycled Water is a violation of, or is exempt from, your reporting requirements.

Sincerely,

Bond Shands
Palm Springs


     Recycled Water users are definitely a privileged class. They are not subject to the same usage restrictions imposed on potable water customers. Those restrictions are intended to discourage irrigating grass and similarly landscaped areas by limiting the days, times and amount of water that may be used. Recycled Water users are, if anything, encouraged to irrigate grass and similarly landscaped areas. One obvious conclusion is that if your property contains large amounts of grass, converting to Recycled Water would be a nice option to consider.
  
     Should Recycled Water users be a privileged class? The practice of mixing freshly pumped aquifer water or Colorado River water with treated wastewater in order to satisfy the needs of Recycled Water users begs the question of whose best interests are being served by local water agencies. As for the practice itself, it almost appears as if intended to artificially lower reported potable water usage statistics.

Bond Shands
July 24, 2015
Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
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5.00 avg. rating (96% score) - 1 vote

 

Current Political Statistics for Palm Springs

 VOTER REGISTRATION as of June 29, 2015

Democratic Party

11,146

Republican Party

5,482

American Independent

606

Green Party

104

Libertarian

124

Peace & Freedom

39

MIS

180

No Political Party

3,923

Total

21,604

 

POPULATION COUNTS:

Population, 2013 estimate

46,281

Population 2010 (April 1) estimates base

44,531

Population, 2010

44,552

   

Persons under 5 years, percent, 2010

3.9%

Persons under 18 years, percent, 2010

13.7%

Persons 65 years and over, percent, 2010

26.5%

Female persons, percent, 2010

43.6%

White alone, percent, 2010 (a)

75.7%

Black or African American, percent, 2010

4.4%

American Indian and Alaska Native, 2010

1.0%

Asian alone, percent, 2010

4.4%

Native Hawaiian-Other Pacific Islander, 2010

 0.2%

Two or More Races, percent, 2010

3.1%

Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2010

25.3%

White alone, not Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2010

63.6%

 

Bond Shands
July 7, 2015

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5.00 avg. rating (96% score) - 1 vote