Areas of Focus
I have four main areas of focus for another term as Mayor of Desert Hot Springs. Please return here throughout the campaign, we will be breaking this plan down further with video addresses, and please follow me on my social media channels.
New Parks for Youth Sports.
Grow the Senior Center Programs.
Focus on At-Risk Youth.
Food & Homeless Programs.
Career Training Opportunities.
Clean-Up of Neighborhoods.
Attracting Retail Business.
Supporting New Jobs.
Revamping Visitor Serving Businesses.
Constructing & Staffing Two More Fire Stations.
Continued Progress on Pedestrian & Traffic Safety.
Focus on Social Programs.
I am proud to say that because of our City’s exceptional skill in budgeting and managing resources, Desert Hot Springs, although fiscally challenged, is currently in a much better financial position than most other cities in the Coachella Valley. We are being fiscally conservative, and we are thinking outside-of-the-box, making sure that our decreasing tax dollars are spent responsibly. The City of Desert Hot Springs Municipal Code Section requires the City Manager to submit to the City Council an annual budget and administer the budget after its adoption. This year, due to uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, the City has prepared a one-year budget covering FY 2020-2021 only, allowing for flexibility and the ability to make adjustments that a normal two-year budget would not easily allow.
In the wake of the shutdown measures for COVID-19, the City has worked over the last several months to fine-tune a budget that will allow the City to continue providing a full range of services to its residents and businesses. It is estimated that the Consolidated General Fund will lose over $1,050,000 in revenues due to measures implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In order to adjust to such a change, the City recognized and incorporated specific revenue increases, but mostly strategically reduced expenditures by almost $900,000. The cost reductions include continuing to freeze vacant positions, reductions in travel and training, deferring some contract services, reductions in supplies, and decreases in consulting services. For FY 2020-2021, the City is requesting the use of reserves in the amount of $345,275. Thankfully, because of our foresight, the Consolidated General Fund has a $3.7 million reserve balance for natural or fiscal emergencies. This reserve is in addition to the Emergency Reserve that is funded by cannabis revenues. These reserves were created for just such a situation as we are in now. If, during FY 2020-2021, the situation becomes worse, the City will make additional cuts if needed. However, these additional cuts are to be used only in a worst-case scenario, as they will severely degrade the City’s ability to provide services. Such drastic steps would only be implemented in an effort to not completely deplete the City’s reserves. As your Mayor, I will continue to work closely with the City to maintain tax revenues and make sure that City expenditures are reasonable and appropriate. Our City will not fail financially under my watch.
Support and Strengthen Reserves
In 2019, the City of Desert Hot Springs was ranked as one of the most fiscally healthy cities in the state of California, according to the California State Auditor. Our ranking was based on several key factors: whether our City can pay its bills, our City's debt, the City's reserves, if the City can pay retirement benefits, and more. Desert Hot Springs was ranked the 163rd healthiest City in the entire state. While neighboring Palm Springs was ranked as one of the 50 most at-risk cities in the state, Desert Hot Springs was labeled "low risk.” This news marked a period of tremendous growth in Desert Hot Springs's fiscal leadership.
As of June 30, 2019, the City of Desert Hot Springs has an unaudited Consolidated General Fund balance of $11,101,160.00. That was an increase of over $2.1 million from the previous fiscal year. That meant that for the first time in the City's history, the City's Consolidated General Fund had a balance of $11,101,160.00 at the end of fiscal year 2018/2019. This can be attributed to the strong fiscal leadership of our City Council.
Reserves, sometimes known as “Rainy Day Funds”, are meant for accumulating money during good economic times for use in bad times, such as during the Covid 19 crisis or because of natural disasters or severe downturns in the national or state economy. But healthy reserves also can affect a government’s credit rating, which can impact on how much we pay in interest when we borrow funds, and it impacts on the City’s operating expenses. The City of Desert Hot Springs has an established reserves policy with clear objectives for exactly how much reserve it needs, as well as clearly established criteria for how reserves are spent.
Our City government has prepared the one-year operating budget for FY 2020-2021 and has worked over the last several months to develop a budget that will allow the City to continue providing services to its residents and businesses. It is estimated that the Consolidated General Fund will lose over $1,050,000 in revenues due to measures implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In order to adjust to such a change, the City recognized and incorporated specific revenue increases, but mostly strategically reduced expenditures by almost $900,000. The cost reductions include continuing to freeze vacant positions, reductions in travel and training, deferring some contract services, reductions in supplies, and decreases in consulting services.
The City’s Consolidated General Fund has over $3.7 million reserve balance for natural or fiscal emergencies. This reserve is in addition to the Emergency Reserve that is funded by cannabis revenues. These reserves were created for just such a situation as we are in now, and if our situation becomes worse, the City will make cuts if needed. However, these additional cuts are to be used only in a worst-case scenario, as they would severely degrade the City’s ability to provide services. Such drastic steps would only be implemented in an effort to not completely deplete the City’s reserves. As your Mayor, I will not downplay the significance of our current financial situation due to Covid 19. I will continue to stress the importance of strong financial reserves, and I will make sure that they are maintained. I will also make sure that financial policies and decisions made by the City continue to be in the best interest of all residents, and will maintain the financial strength of our City.
Balance The City Budget
There are few things more important to a city like Desert Hot Springs than that of having a balanced city budget and maintaining strict control over expenditures and revenues. Unfortunately, Covid 19 has caused problems for cities and municipalities, nation-wide, and is likely to for the foreseeable future. Tax revenues are down dramatically and social expenditures are rising. Desert Hot Springs relies heavily on taxes from tourism, in addition to property taxes and cannabis business taxes. Tourism has decreased very dramatically in recent months, and some businesses, including restaurants for instance, are barely surviving because of Covid 19.
Balancing the City’s budget and constantly reviewing revenues and expenditures in order to be able to continue to provide needed City services over the long term are key priorities. A balanced budget helps our city government avoid excessive spending and allows the city to focus financial resources on services and infrastructure needs that require the most financial attention. Balanced budgets allow the city to save on interest rates, and most importantly, they allow DHS to address crime and ensure a safe environment, they maintain solvency so that infrastructure can continue to be maintained, and a balanced budget makes a city a successful, it allows the city to provide an enjoyable environment for residents.
I am happy to say that the City of Desert Hot Springs is not only able to balance its budget, but it is balancing it even though we are going through the worst financial crisis that our nation has experienced in decades. Because of the current volatility in most areas of our economy and an uncertain revenue stream, we are doubling-down on fiscal conservatism, very closely monitoring expenditures and maximizing revenues, always looking for ways to save and new ways to operate more efficiently through the use of technology. We do not anticipate cuts in city services. We are not thinking in terms of “cut, cut cut”, but rather, we are always thinking about how we can give our residents the best quality of life with the resources at hand. I will continue to hold our city accountable for fiscal responsibility.
A+ Standard and Poor’s Rating
In 2019, the City of Desert Hot Springs was given an A+ Bond Rating by Standard and Poors. An A+ bond rating signifies a strong capacity to meet financial commitments..
Bonds are similar to loans. An entity such as the City of Desert Hot Springs issues a bond so that it can pay for something, such as a new City Hall, which an investor buys with the expectation of being paid back in the future, with interest. A+ bond ratings indicate that rating agencies have faith that the entities that issue them will honor the terms of the bond. In other words, they believe there is a low chance a lender won't get its money back. An A+ bond rating is important because it can result in much lower interest rates that the bondholder, in this case, the City of Desert Hot Springs, pays to borrow money. It is quite an accomplishment for any City to qualify for an A+ rating.
New City Parks For Youth Sports
The residents of the City of Desert Hot Springs enjoy the use of five City parks; Constitution Park, Guy J. Tedesco Park, Hot Springs Park, Mission Springs Park, and the Rotary Dog Park. I’m happy to announce that three more parks are planned for our City.
You may not realize this, but there are State of California standards for how many parks must be provided to residents, and it is based to a large degree on the actual number of residents living in a jurisdiction. What’s known as “Park Level of Service” is a ratio of existing park acreage to a City’s population. The City of Desert Hot Springs maintains and updates it’s “General Plan” regularly, and our current General Plan establishes a minimum standard of three acres of parkland for every 1,000 residents. In other words, for every 1,000 residents, there should be a minimum of three acres of parkland of different types, for their use. As Desert Hot Springs is projecting a sizable growth in its population, it will be very likely that we will need park acreage that is sufficient for upwards of 48,550 residents in future years. And since we have a proportionally high number of youth, which creates a high demand for parkland, we will need to provide parks with certain features, such as baseball fields and soccer fields, tennis courts and exercise equipment. With these factors in mind, the City estimates that it will need to provide an additional 107 acres of parkland beyond our current inventory.
There are three new parks in the planning stages now:
- Hacienda Avenue and Cholla Drive, at the City Yard Location - This area will be transformed into a modern and well-lit Baseball Field and will include a Football field for youth sports.
- Rancho Del Oro Development - This is a park that was planned some 25 years ago, but never brought to fruition. As your Mayor, I plan to make this park a reality.
- Skyborne Development - We are pleased that we again have home builders working actively in Skyborn, and in order to serve the growing number of residents in that area, the developer has agreed to work with the City to facilitate a new park for residents.
To meet the future demand for parkland as the City continues to grow, the City will continue to identify areas for construction of new parks and will make the rehabilitation of existing parks a high priority. Critically, new housing developments will be required to provide park and recreational facilities for new residents, thus relieving burden on established park facilities. Studies show that there is a link between green space and happiness. Other studies point to the importance of urban nature for general and psychological health. All I know is, I love sports and I love recreation, and many of you know how much I support Little League and City sports in general. I promise you that I will make sure that our youth and adults have safe and enjoyable parks that allow our athletes to thrive and all residents to stretch their legs, throw a ball and stay in shape. Oh, and don’t forget about our state-of-the-art Recreation Center and Gym, or our John H Furbee Aquatics Center, both on Cholla Drive. Great family fun!
Grow the Senior Center Programs
I believe that no senior should be hungry, homeless or lonely, or go without health care. Desert Hot Springs is lucky to be able to provide extensive assistance to the senior members of our community. Our Senior Center, located at the Carl May facility on West Drive, gives DHS seniors a cool and friendly facility to attend for a variety of services and benefits, including food, recreation, and physical activity, friendship, field trips, and social events. Our Senior Center also partners with local organizations to provide health screenings such as blood pressure and glucose levels and educates seniors on health care resources. The Center assists seniors with issues regarding Social Security Retirement Benefits, Disability benefits, Medicare, In-Home support services, and Veterans Benefits.
Our Senior Center is highly regarded by our residents, and I will make sure that it continues to receive adequate resources from the City of Desert Hot Springs. As the City Council transitions into its new council chambers and the new library is built this will allow the Senior Center to expand services so that all senior residents of Desert Hot Springs have a worthwhile home-away-from-home that they can continue to look forward to visiting.
Food and Homeless Programs
I believe that not a single person in our City should go hungry or be homeless. Food and shelter are basic rights and needs. Food insecurity and homelessness have increased dramatically in DHS because of COVID-19. More and more residents rely weekly on food charities, and many more will be searching for new places to live when eviction moratoriums end. Although our economy will improve over time, food and housing are immediate needs. We are extremely fortunate to have many excellent food assistance organizations operating in DHS, both faith-based and non-sectarian, feeding needy residents of DHS regardless of their age or sex or family status or income. We are also fortunate to have numerous organizations here in the Coachella Valley who are available to help provide residents of Desert Hot Springs with temporary shelter and resources for finding long-term housing.
I will make sure that no individual who expresses a need for food or shelter goes ignored. I will make sure that citizens have access to resources that can help them find food and housing. I will continue to support our wonderful and generous organizations that reach out and assist our homeless and hungry. I will maintain support for, and help coordinate the food distribution activities that so effectively serve upwards of 350 DHS families each week, including delivery to 95 homes. I will partner with food assistance organizations that also provide job skills training and other services beyond food assistance. And, of course, I will make sure that our city government prioritizes the needs of its residents when budgeting and seeking county, state or federal resources, fighting to make sure that those entities give DHS its fair share of financial support.
Career Training Opportunities
Education is key to a successful life, but not everyone can afford a college education, and for some people, a four-year degree is just not right for them. Career training enables people of all ages to be ready for a new career much faster, and it avoids courses that can simply fill up the four years that it takes to get a degree. Many career training schools give you hands-on experience. Even in the best of times, career training can prepare individuals for a life of employment. Because of Covid 19, however, and its impact on the workplace and job availability, more residents may seek entirely new areas of employment, requiring new skills and experiences. Career training can provide the essential new skills and abilities and experiences that will enable individuals of all ages to participate in the “new post-COVID-19 economy”. I intend to organize and oversee job fairs and skills training seminars for DHS residents, bringing together not only employers, but employers who themselves provide job training. I also will bring together non-profit and for-profit training and skills development organizations who are active in the Coachella Valley, so that residents can more easily find career training that is best for them.
Attracting Retail Business
Although the COVID-19 virus has impacted the economy of DHS and greatly affected many of our local businesses, I remain positive regarding the future of our city and its efforts to strengthen our economy and attract new businesses of all kinds, including retail.
Our city’s finances are strong. We can weather the COVID-19 storm. That said, we still must focus on new retail businesses so that our residents stop spending sixty cents of every dollar outside of DHS. We must stop the sales tax revenue from bleeding outside of the city, we must stop it from going somewhere else. In 2019 the City of Desert Hot Springs hired a full-time Economic Development Manager, an actual City employee who concentrates entirely on making our City more attractive to new businesses and then literally finding them. And it has worked! We now have a brand new Grocery Outlet store serving our community with food prices that our residents can appreciate. And for the first time, we have our own Pharmaceutical company, Royal Emerald Pharmaceuticals. Our cannabis industry, a major part of our community, is growing every day through new grow facilities, storefronts and dispensaries, and support services. The COVID-19 virus has unfortunately caused several local businesses to close, some temporarily, some permanently. We are already re-doubling our efforts to attract new retail businesses to come to DHS and fill our empty storefronts while focusing on the core economic improvements that attract businesses and make them want to invest in our city.
Supporting New Jobs
Although the COVID-19 virus has impacted the economy of DHS and greatly affected many of our local businesses, I remain positive regarding the future of our city and our efforts to strengthen our economy and attract employers who will provide quality jobs with a living wage.
According to the World Bank, industries involved with light manufacturing, food processing, or tourism often cause growth in incomes more than goods or services that are more “local”, like restaurants or household services. The right combination of policies and investments can set the stage for thriving industries, governments provide a conducive regulatory environment and provide targeted support to particular industries. City governments cannot do it alone. Only close partnership with private sector firms and industries will generate more jobs.
DHS has been fortunate to have a robust tourist industry with established tourist-serving infrastructure. COVID-19 has decreased the number of tourists visiting our city, but in the long run our tourist numbers will return and that will bring a return of jobs supporting that industry. Our Cannabis industry has done a great job at hiring local residents, and more Cannabis businesses are coming to DHS along with new jobs.
I will work to make sure that the Cannabis industry, along with all other new businesses in DHS, always hire DHS residents first and provide a living wage that helps bring residents out of poverty. In 2019 the City of Desert Hot Springs hired a full-time Economic Development Manager, an actual City employee who concentrates entirely on making our City more attractive to new businesses and then literally finding them. I will continue to work with our Economic Development Manager to identify and welcome new businesses. I will ask the city to hold job fairs, and I will help facilitate skills training for residents who will then be better able to compete for new jobs in the new post-COVID-19 economy. And, I will continue to focus on the core economic improvements that attract businesses and make them want to invest in our city.
Economic growth is key to our city’s ability to provide services and world-class amenities to visitors and residents, as well as our own ability to live comfortably in Desert Hot Springs. Although the COVID-19 virus has impacted the economy of DHS and greatly affected many of our local businesses, I remain positive regarding the future of our city and its efforts to strengthen our economy.
Our city’s finances are strong. We can weather the COVID-19 storm. That said, we still must focus on new retail businesses so that our residents stop spending sixty cents of every dollar outside of DHS. We must stop the sales tax revenue from bleeding outside of the city, we must stop it from going somewhere else. In 2019 the City of Desert Hot Springs hired a full-time Economic Development Manager, an actual City employee who concentrates entirely on making our City more attractive to new businesses and then literally finding them. And it has worked! We now have a brand new Grocery Outlet store serving our community with food prices that our residents can appreciate. And for the first time, we have our own Pharmaceutical company, Royal Emerald Pharmaceuticals. Our cannabis industry, a major part of our community, is growing every day through new grow facilities, storefronts and dispensaries, and support services.
Economic development cannot be discussed without including our city’s other core industry, spas, and hotels, in the discussion. Tourism is a major part of our economy. We are lucky to enjoy natural resources that draw tourists. Our mountains and their hiking trails, our hot water, our resorts, our visitor-serving businesses, and cannabis tourism are critical to our community and our economy. I will continue to work with the City Council and our City Government to make DHS business-friendly and welcoming. I will continue to work with the city to support and strengthen the tourist-serving businesses that are struggling because of the COVID-19 virus. And, I will work tirelessly, along with our Economic Development Manager, to bring more businesses to DHS. Through our continued efforts, DHS will become an even stronger and more modern health and wellness destination than it is now.
And finally, I will focus on jobs, jobs, and more jobs, for all residents in need. I will make sure that new businesses hire locally and provide a living wage. I will ask the city to hold job fairs, and I will help facilitate skills training for residents who will then be better able to compete for new jobs in the new post-COVID-19 economy.
Focus on At-Risk Youth
I am a strong believer that our City’s youth are our future, and as adults, we are responsible for preparing our youth for the best future possible. Focusing on at-risk youth depends on community-based initiatives, including services integration, effective case management, parental involvement, mentoring, tutoring, fundraising, and closely monitoring outcomes and successes. One organization that is helping make this happen is the non-profit, Workers Assistance Program, through their “Peer Assistance and Leadership” (PAL) program. The mission of the PAL program is to enable young people to use their potential to make a difference in their lives, schools and communities. PAL recognizes an innate capacity for social understanding, personal well-being, and community participation within every student. And, PAL nurtures and builds capacities to help youth increase resiliency and build protective factors to help them achieve school and social successes which lead to a productive life. I support this program in DHS, and it is just a part of my overall focus on at-risk youth in our City.
Revamping Visitor Serving Businesses
Desert Hot Springs has been a tourist destination for decades. Our hot water spas and outdoor recreational opportunities draw all ages, from close-by and far-away. Attracting tourists depends very much on the strength of the local economy, and the Corona Virus has impacted local economies nationwide. When people feel threatened economically, they are less likely to spend, and the tourist industry, among others, can suffer. For this reason alone, our once-robust tourist industry, and specifically the spa hotel industry, are suffering. Since spas in DHS often provide services, including health-related services that go well beyond just a bed and hot water relaxation, there is a trickle-down effect that impacts on the employment of the many individuals and businesses that support the tourist industry in general, and the spa industry specifically. Because of Covid 19, many of our spa hotels closed, and suddenly employees who practice traditional and non-traditional healing became unemployed. Businesses that supported our spa industry, especially those providing food, lost revenue.
The economy will eventually improve. More and more Americans will again feel safe being around people and comfortable spending their income on recreation. Tourists will start traveling again. But we are entering a “new economy”, a post-Covid economy, that will be very different from what we are used to. This new economy will cause changes in how we earn our incomes, and it will cause changes in how governments, national and local, support industries, and prioritize tax revenue. In a certain sense, right now is a good time to re-evaluate how DHS attracts tourists and supports them once they arrive. Therefore, I will work with the City Council and the City Government to evaluate the current state of our tourist industry. We will work to get an accurate inventory and overall scope of our tourist industry, the number of businesses that serve tourists, their strength, and their ability to continue to serve tourists because of the current economy. I will convene workshops for businesses involved with tourism to discuss their current challenges and hopefully develop solutions and ways that the City can help them. In addition to the spa industry, I will engage the Cannabis industry, encouraging our cannabis businesses to partner with the City and our other tourism-related businesses to form a multi-industry group that focuses on a comprehensive DHS-specific health and wellness approach that benefits all residents economically, and provides a recreation health care offering that attracts tourists of all kinds. I will help facilitate skills training that will give our residents the skills that they need to support our tourist industry. And I will work with the City to create a new marketing plan that will draw people from all over the country to our natural beauty and state-of-the-art health and wellness services.
Constructing and Staffing Two More Fire Stations
The Riverside County Fire Department, in cooperation with CAL FIRE, serves the citizens and businesses of Desert Hot Springs with two Fire Stations, one located on Pierson Boulevard, the other located on Karen Avenue, near Skyborne. As the City population grows and new homes and buildings are constructed, the need for additional Fire Stations with paramedics becomes greater and more urgent. When a person stops breathing, brain damage can result in less than five minutes. Ambulance response times for calls to the east side of the City can take as long as eight minutes. Although our fire and rescue services perform superbly and heroically for us, we can no longer ignore their travel time to the east end of the City, given our rising population numbers and often-heavy traffic.
Fire trucks are the largest pieces of equipment and they include ladders that extend long distances from the truck but do not come off. Fire engines, or pumpers, are smaller and they carry hoses and tools, and they pump water. A fire engine can also carry ladders, but they are set up by the firefighters and can be carried by firefighters. In its simplest terms, the larger the truck, the larger the fire station that is needed. As you would expect, fire stations are expensive, but there are ways that we can fund the vital services that we need without paying for full-service fire stations. For example, we can fund a paramedic staff that would serve the east end of the City, saving $250,000 that would otherwise be needed to staff a full-service engine company that we cannot afford at this time, but will be able to afford in the future years. And, although a new fire station in the south side of the City needs a truck company, it could be started with an engine company or a light truck until additional funding is secured. Our residents are fortunate to have dedicated and heroic first responders keeping us safe and protected. Supporting our first responders and securing adequate funding for increased fire services is a top priority of mine. I will do my best to make sure that we have two new fire stations that will result in even better response times, and increase the broad blanket of protection that we expect and deserve.
Preparing for Earthquakes and Other Disasters
The City of Desert Hot Springs is prepared for dealing with major disasters affecting our residents. The City’s plan provides a framework for emergency management and includes close coordination with state, county and other city governments, the City’s senior management, tribal governments, partner agencies such as CAL Fire, our police department, local school districts, and private and volunteer organizations involved in emergencies.
Our plan is very comprehensive. The plan establishes the chain of responsibility, it assigns tasks, and it reflects specific policies and procedures that guide our advance planning, and most importantly, our response. When we think of disasters we often think of earthquakes and fires, but there are other threats to our City and to our own personal safety, such as extreme weather, hazardous chemical releases and explosions, terrorism, flooding and much more. Our disaster preparedness plan anticipates a wide range of possible disasters, not just earthquakes and fires.
The City’s Emergency Operations Plan reflects four distinct emergency management phases:
- The Mitigation Phase, which takes place before an emergency occurs, and is aimed to reduce the impact of hazards within the City that are a threat to life and property;
The Preparedness Phase, which involves activities that are undertaken in advance of an emergency to develop operational capabilities and effective responses to a disaster, including emergency and disaster planning, training and exercises, and public education on preparedness;
- The Response Phase, which places emphasis on saving lives and property, controlling the situation, and minimizing the effects of the disaster. During this phase, the City will focus on a wide area of interventions, including medical care, feeding and sheltering operations, evacuation and rescue operations, public health, and restoration of vital services and utilities, including phone service, to name just a few;
- And finally, the Recovery Phase, which addresses procedures for accessing state programs available for individuals, businesses, and public assistance. The recovery phase focuses on getting our community back to normal, and it focuses on the recovery of disaster response funding. Short-term recover steps include the repair of damaged homes and property, expanded social, medical and mental health services, debris removal, and transportation route restoration, to name just a few. Long term recovery will focus on the coordinated delivery of long-term social and health services, and re-establishment of the local economy to pre-disaster levels.
Our City government is fortunate to have a highly qualified cadre of professionals who are trained and will be ready to immediately step in during a natural or man-made disaster. As your Mayor, I will use my experience as a volunteer Fire Fighter to oversee our City’s response to an emergency. You have one less thing to worry about. We are ready.
Continued Progress on Traffic and Pedestrian Safety
The City of Desert Hot Springs is fortunate to have an outstanding Public Works Department that is committed to improving the safety of all motorists and residents. The Public Works Department is responsible for the construction, operation, and maintenance of all City Parks, City Streets, Traffic Signals, City Buildings, and all Landscape and Drainage Assessment Districts.
For more than a year now, through its Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Improvement Project on Palm Drive, the City has undertaken a phased approach to upgrading our streets, bike paths, and pedestrian walkways, using more than $6 million in grant and other funding to continue making these improvements.
Phase One included a new traffic light at Camino Aventura and Palm Drive, new sidewalks, signage for a special speed enforcement zone where fines are doubled, and the foundations for 23 new street lights.
Phase Two, included similar improvements further north on Palm Drive between Two Bunch Palms and Pierson Boulevard. When this phase is completed, the City will have installed 30 more street lights and two more traffic signals: One on Palm at Desert View and one at Cholla and Pierson.
We are happy to report the project is close to completion. All of the sidewalks and underground conduits for street lights have been completed, which means Southern California Edison can complete the installation of new street lights. Additionally, new ramps that met Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements have been constructed and asphalt rehabilitation and new striping have been completed. Additional resurfacing will take place between Pierson Boulevard and Mission Lakes Boulevard in the coming months. I think that you would agree that Palm Drive, with its new paving and markings, looks great. It makes Palm Drive look fresh and new.
The City of Desert Hot Springs is also proud of its new Wayfinding signs throughout the City. These are the signs that you see on major arteries and they direct visitors and residents to the location of City Hall, Animal Control, and the Police Department, for instance. The new signs feature a new color scheme that makes the directions easier to read for motorists.
It goes without saying that pedestrian and bicycle safety are top priorities for the City. Our Active Transportation Cycle 3 Palm Drive Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvement Project focused on the design and construction of safety improvements along Palm Drive from Camino Aventura to Two Bunch Palms Trail, providing:
- 3,450 lineal feet of new sidewalks.
- 14 ADA ramps and driveways.
- 22 driveway crosswalks and their striping.
- 10,600 lineal feet of new buffered bike land striping.
- 35 new street lights.
- 1 new raised median.
- 14 bus stop warning signs and lights.
- Additional pedestrian and bicycle safety signage.
The cost for this project alone is $2,034,621.00, with funding coming from Active Transportation Project Cycle 3 grant funds in the amount of $772,000.00; Development Impact Fees Street fund in the amount of $1,222,621.00, and our Sidewalk fund in the amount of $40,000.00.
When all is done, we will have installed new traffic signals at the following locations:
- Palm Drive at Camino Aventura
- Palm Drive at Desert View Ave
- Pierson Blvd at Cholla Drive
- N Indian Canyon Drive at Coachillin (under construction and paid for by the Coachillin)
- N Indian Canyon Drive at Dillon Road (in design, construction start date May 2021)
Improving the appearance of Palm Drive was just one motivator for all of the work that we have done. The main motivator and highest priority has been improving the safety of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. And I am happy to say that our efforts have paid-off more than we ever expected.
- Traffic collisions involving injuries have dropped 26% since 2018;
- Traffic collisions with no injuries have dropped 38.98% since 2018;
- Traffic collisions with unknown injuries have dropped 100% since 2018, and;
- Fatal Traffic Collisions have dropped 100% since 2018.
All-in-all, traffic accidents have decreased in our City by 42.07% since 2018. This is proof that the City’s efforts to better protect its residents through improved traffic safety have paid-off, and I am proud of what we have accomplished.