The City of Palm Desert was notified in writing by the state of California in 2017 that they met the criteria that required five districts instead of at large, but chose to remain at large until a lawsuit was filed.
Palm Desert residents and educators Lorraine Salas and Karina Quintanilla brought forth the lawsuit against the City of Palm Desert in hopes the city would honor the spirit of the California Voter Rights Act and move to five districts.
The decision to settle was very difficult for both Plaintiffs; they decided that the idea to allow the entire city to learn about the districting process in creating District 1 would allow greater understanding of the process. It is their hope that more residents will be involved when it is time to create five districts.
The settlement also included ranked choice voting to increase each resident´s voting power. Due to the economic impact of the pandemic, the Plaintiffs agreed to allow the City of Palm Desert to delay this component until after 2020. Both Karina and Lorraine felt it was best to allow ample time to explain to voters how it benefits them.
Local Media Coverage:
Not a Done Deal: Despite Misleading Statements by the City, Palm Desert’s New Two-District Voting System Is Still Up for Discussion
Palm Desert plaintiff wants 5 voting districts, not 2. Here’s why she signed the agreement anyway
The fight for representation in Palm Desert began with Carlos Pineda. While he did not live to see the changes unfolding, his efforts were not in vain and are still moving forward.
The City of Palm Desert held community input meetings regarding the districting process and these meetings allowed many residents to express that they favor five districts.
Having a representative that lives in your part of the city means your representative will be more familiar with your concerns; from street lights to cross walks, to matters for your small business. Districts give you greater access to your representative, while all the councilpersons work together to serve Palm Desert residents.
Ranked choice voting is a way of giving each voter a greater vote by allowing them to support more than one candidate. Have you ever been torn between two candidates that made great points? Ranked choice lets you vote for your top choices, not just one vote.
UC Riverside began as a citrus experiment station that became a university with local support. The California State University San Bernardino, Palm Desert Campus (CSUSB-PDC) grew in Palm Desert as a joint effort from valley cities and generous philanthropists that saw the need to secure educational opportunities and maintain a well educated workforce. Without training our work force in the valley, employers must pay competitive wages to people that had higher earnings outside of the valley. This also means our brightest students find high paying wages outside of the Coachella Valley when they graduate and are less likely to return to the valley.
As we look to the future of the Coachella Valley, it is key to acknowledge that it is necessary to diversify revenue sources for the City of Palm Desert beyond tourism. If another pandemic or economic crisis should arise, especially one that impacts tourism, our economy will not be drastically impacted
Supporting our local campus becoming CSU Palm Desert would bring union jobs, with excellent benefits such as health insurance for the employee and dependents as well as retirement.
Local agriculture will benefit from having a university nearby to allow collaboration with the brilliant local minds to improve crops and maximize water efficiency. The cannabis industry continues to grow in the valley, and our local students should be ready to seize the specialized jobs they offer. Currently, our local universities do not offer Bachelor’s degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Horticulture, Agriculture, Biotechnology, Environmental Science or Public Health. The Coachella Valley would greatly benefit from having a Geology department given our proximity to the San Andreas and San Jacinto Faults.
The current job market in the Coachella Valley offers many part time jobs, so that employers are not required to offer benefits. Future development projects should prioritize projects that will bring more full time jobs, not just a handful.
July 2020 had record breaking heat. Global climate change indicates our valley will only get warmer and the city needs to be able to respond to the needs of our most vulnerable residents. Additional cooling centers will ensure seniors, children and those with medical conditions can stay cool. In 2020 thirteen cooling centers were opened in Riverside County, including two in Indio and one in Palm Springs. Palm Desert can do better.
The Center for Disease Control:
“Heat-related deaths are one of the deadliest weather-related health outcomes in the United States.”
California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment addresses heat stroke as a preventable problem in their publication Heat-related Mortality and Morbidity.
Housing insecurity impacts every resident in a challenging economy as our neighbors lose their jobs and homes. Securing housing for our residents of different income levels helps maintain a healthier population.
There are currently extensive wait lists for affordable housing in Palm Desert. The last recession saw many lose their homes and move in with family members. For families with limited income due to illness or disability, losing housing leads to short term stays with many friends or families, or living in their cars. This type of housing insecurity impacts children’s health and ability to learn. Residents must learn to see their neighbors with compassion and not see them as “homeless” but “housing insecure.”
Palm Desert must also ensure safe access to public transportation, to different communities, supporting residents, not just businesses. Bus stops should have adequate seating and shade to keep people safe during extreme weather.
Riverside County faces mounting mental health challenges and cities need to make a concerted effort to support residents. The pandemic makes this need more urgent as we have senior citizens; many who are lacking contact more than ever. If you are currently experiencing a mental health crisis, please reach out for help. You can also contact other resources like the Coachella Valley chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)