DEEPWELL ESTATES NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZATION
March 26, 2022
1323 S. Driftwood Drive
Palm Springs, CA
CALL TO ORDER AND WELCOME
Board Chair, Tamara Hedges, called the meeting to order at 11:34 a.m. She welcomed all in attendance and noted that last year's annual meeting was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic and that the last meeting was held in February 2020. She thanked Mark and Jane Garrison for the use of their backyard for today’s meeting and called for a moment of remembrance for all of those lost to COVID, in particular Diane Ross, for years a pillar of the neighborhood. Chair Hedges then introduced and thanked all board members and alternates in attendance, including Tom Gardiner, Michael Surina, Brian Eggert, Ramona Skola, Tim Hohmeier, Barry Smith, Davis Moriuchi, Verna Norris, Clare Trautvetter, and Nick Falconia. Chair Hedges also thanked Barry Smith and Silas Hathaway for managing the set-up of the meeting and providing refreshments.
Chair Hedges introduced Lisa Middleton, Mayor of the City of Palm Springs. The mayor first addressed the issue of homelessness indicating that there are currently approximately 200 homeless individuals in the city. She indicated that many have been homeless for an extended period of time and are reluctant to accept help. But for others willing to accept help there are effective programs available to assist them. The most difficult cases she said are those with mental health or addiction issues. The mayor noted that the homeless navigation center to be housed in the northern part of the city was selected not for its location but because of the suitability of the buildings on the site.
The mayor next addressed the issue of vacation rentals saying that the City had recently been collecting substantial data on vacation rentals throughout the city and in each neighborhood. She shared some of those data and said the City would likely be tightening some of the restrictions on vacation rentals last imposed in 2017. A proposal the mayor will likely put forth is a requirement that for future permits the owner must occupy the home at least three months of the year. This she said would discourage vacation rental owners who are purely investors and encourage owners with a personal stake in and commitment to the community.
Finally, the mayor pointed out that the economy in the city is now doing very well with hotels at near capacity and businesses getting back to pre-pandemic levels. She also said that when the budget for the next fiscal year is developed she is looking to increase the number of firefighter and police officer positions.
During Q&A’s, a concern was raised that the homeless navigation center serve primarily the local community and not allow it to become a regional or statewide facility. The mayor agreed saying that Governor Newsom appears to understand that the state needs to play a more active role in addressing homelessness statewide.
The mayor was asked to address the issue of the College of the Desert campus in Palm Springs which the COD board and President have recently raised doubts about. She said it continues to be a contentious issue, but that the City Council remains firm that the Palm Springs campus must be built largely as originally planned.
POLICE CHIEF’S REMARKS
Chair Hedges introduced Police Chief Andy Mills who has been on the job for five months. Chief Mills commented about recent listening sessions his department held in various parts of the city to hear citizen concerns and to prioritize issues to help the department focus its resources on high priority items. He said that while Deepwell Estates neighborhood is relatively safe, there are serious concerns around the city. In the northern part of the city, gun violence is the major concern. The central part of the city is most concerned about homelessness; and the southern part is concerned with theft.
Chief Mills addressed his current staffing numbers at the department, saying that a number of officers are seriously injured. As a result, the number of officers available for work in the field is slim and those available are working unsustainably long shifts. He said trying to fill positions today is a huge challenge—nationwide, more officers are leaving the force than joining. But he added that the department is working diligently to get over these barriers and that he is committed to making Palm Springs a safe city.
The chief noted that the department has begun a team building effort to address the stresses it has endured during the last couple of years; COVID, long hours, public response to police in general in light of the George Floyd killing.
During Q&A the chief was asked if someone sees someone who is lying on the ground and it is unclear whether the person is alive or not should they call the police. The chief responded that one should follow ones conscience, but yes it is appropriate to call 911 or the police.
Someone commented that the “We Call the Police” signs in the neighborhood could be considered racist. Jim King spoke up and said he had helped design the signs a number of years ago. But he said yes the wording could be reviewed and changed if necessary.
Another person raised the question of how many thefts were by homeless individuals. The chief responded that studies show that the homeless are responsible for a disproportionate number of certain types of crime. But he cautioned against assuming that just because there has been a theft that it was by a homeless person. He said not enough data is available to draw such conclusions.
Nick Falconio, Neighborhood Watch Chair, provided a review of the last year noting that most of the incidents in the neighborhood were crimes like stealing mail from mailboxes and breaking into cars and stealing items, breaking into homes undergoing renovation, and people entering yards through gates. He said we should all say something if we see something suspicious in the neighborhood. Call the police if appropriate or a block captain or Nick himself.
Nick asked for people to volunteer to serve as block captains and if they have security cameras to join the video team. He also provided some tips to harden your home against some crimes: lock your gates, get a locking mailbox, for outgoing mail take it to the post office. Keep exterior lighting on in the evenings, cut back vegetation around the house that people can hide in, don’t leave items in your car where they are visible.
Treasurer, Michael Surina presented the financial report (copy attached). Michael explained that typically we plan to take in $6,000 a year in contributions and spend all of it on social events and other activities like neighborhood watch, website development and maintenance and printing and postage. However, COVID, beginning in 2020 led to the cancellation of the social events leading to non-expenditure of budgeted amounts for those events. That led the board to decide to extend paid memberships a couple of times. The result was that the budget created for 2020 in effect has become the budget for 2020,2021 and 2022 combined. Michael noted that at our last annual meeting in February 2020, DENO had about $7,000 in actual carry forward cash. For March 26, 2022 that figure was about $15,000.
The reason for the increase in large part was due to a donation to DENO of about $9,000. This donation was from a group of current and former neighbors who about 15 years ago collected funds from neighbors who were interested in exploring the feasibility of placing overhead utility wires underground in the DENO area. The effort was eventually abandoned and funds were returned to those who could be contacted and wanted a return. But approximately $9,000 remained.
Secretary, Davis Moriuchi, presented proposed changes to DENO’s by-laws. (Copy attached) Davis began by pointing out that since the proposed changes were sent out to everyone, the board voted to delete the sentence “However, in cases where there is both a property owner and a resident who is a renter at a single address, both will be entitled to a vote.” from Article VI, Section 4. He explained that the other proposed changes were to bring us into compliance with City of Palm Springs ordinances governing neighborhood organizations. The proposed changes relate to two particular areas: definition of membership and dues. Regarding membership, any individual living within DENO boundaries would be considered an “eligible member”. To become a member an eligible member would simply need to submit a completed application form. Under the proposed changes, dues would become voluntary and not be required for membership.
A motion was made and seconded to approve the proposed by-laws changes. The motion was passed unanimously.
Board member Brian Eggert explained that since there was no annual meeting in 2021 and therefore no election, six of the nine board seats were up for election at today’s meeting. Board members Romana Skola, Tom Gardiner and Davis Moriuchi have declined to run again. Three incumbents, Tamara Hedges, Tim Hohmeier and Michael Surina have agreed to run again. Chuck Carpenter, Nick Falconio and Linda Futterer are running for the other seats. Brian asked for nominations from the floor, but none were received. Chair Hedges asked for a motion and second, which she received, to elect the full slate by acclamation. The motion passed unanimously.
Chair Hedges indicated that we will likely have the Summer Survival event and that upcoming on April 16 is the Garden Walk. She described the event and asked for anyone to offer up their yard to be part of the event.
A suggestion was made from the floor to explore the possibility of using Facebook and Instagram or other social media as a communication forum for DENO. It was agreed that it would be further explored
The meeting was adjourned at 1:12 p.m.
Drawings for door prizes were held after Chief Mills’ remarks and at the close of the meeting.
DENO would like to thank the following for their generous donations of door prizes.
Bread and Flours
Chef Tanya’s Kitchen
Palm Springs Animal Shelter
Photo of Vermillion Fly Catcher
by Steve Eckert
Palm Springs Confidential Book
Year of the Dragon Tote Bag
Ace Hardware Smoke Tree