With a committee of Palm Springs residents remounting an attempt to place an initiative on the ballot to limit the height of downtown buildings, the city council and business groups are organizing to head off what they see as a threat to the city's effort to revitalize its downtown.
Last week, the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce hosted a luncheon on the Downtown Urban Design Guidelines at which councilmen Steve Pougnet and Mike McCulloch made a case in favor of the city-approved guidelines. "We hoped to clear the air of the prevalent halftruths concerning the issues so that Palm Springs citizens base their opinions on sound factual information, said chamber CEO John Pivinski.
This week, the Palm Springs Hospitality Association will host a luncheon and open forum on the issue featuring councilman Pougnet and Downtown Height Limits Initiative co-sponsor Frank Tysen.
The guidelines, which were developed by a special committee of the city and unanimously adopted by the city council in July 2005, are endorsed by the chamber, the Palm Springs Economic Development Corporation, and Main Street Palm Springs, among other groups. Initiative supporters hope to render the guidelines irrelevant by changing the city's charter.
The 64-page Guidelines document states that its vision is to create "a dynamic, vital, and economically successful downtown that retains the historic and cultural character of Palm Springs and yet meets the changing needs of residents and visitors alike." The purpose of the Initiative, according to its public notice, is "to give the voters of the city of Palm Springs the power to prevent the Downtown Village from becoming dominated by "development on a scale inconsistent with the preservation of the visual qualities and historic character of the Downtown Village."
Height Limits Initiative sponsor Roxann Ploss said she is not against growth. "I am not saying our downtown shouldn't grow," she said, "I would just rather our city council was more resident-oriented and visitor-oriented and not so developeroriented."
But councilman Pougnet said the existing Guidelines give the city the flexibility it needs to work with developers so that both sides can get what they want. "The Initiative freezes Palm Springs in time," he said. "If it passes, we aren't going to get any development." He pointed out that the 1993 General Plan guidelines, which the new guidelines replace, were in effect for many years during which time other parts of the valley saw an explosion in both population and retail development. "If we can get something vital downtown, which the guidelines ought to make possible, we won't have to go to our residents for new taxes and we can do the kinds of things for our city that our residents want," he said.
Initiative supporters, who previously gathered signatures to place their initiative on the ballot but in July saw their petition rejected by City Clerk James Thompson as "materially and substantially defective", began the petition process again this month. They have 180 days to collect the approximately 3,600 signatures - 15 percent of the city's registered voters - needed to qualify for the November 2007 ballot.
The Palm Springs Hospitality Association luncheon and open forum on the issue will be held on Thursday, September 21, at 11:30 a.m. at the Spa Resort Casino. To attend, RSVP to 760-861-6031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2006 Desert Publication, Inc. and Sharon Apfelbaum Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Source: Public Record, The