Produced by Kendall & Mark • 11/16/22

🍗 Happy Wednesday, where we'd like to remind you that if you have a 32-pound turkey that's currently frozen you need to start to thaw it today in order to make it for Thanksgiving dinner next Thursday. We regret that we don't know how long it takes to thaw tofurkey.

☀️ Outlook: Sunny and in the 70s during the day, dropping down into the 50s overnight. Perfect fall weather. 

🎶 Setting the Mood: "About Damn Time" by Lizzo (in honor of the Grammy nominations).

They're still counting votes. Sigh ...

First things first: Despite obstacles, lots of affordable housing on the way

Crews work on The Monarch Apartments in Palm Springs. It's one of dozens of affordable housing projects underway or planned in the Coachella Valley.

Permit by permit, board by board — from Palm Springs to Thermal — thousands of apartments and other housing units are currently coming to life that all have one crucial design element in common: Affordability.

What we know: Dozens of projects are either under construction or in the works throughout the Coachella Valley, with city officials and staff, nonprofits, and critical stakeholders pitching in to push thousands of units forward – a massive increase from just four years ago.

  • We counted them up and tallied nearly 4,500 units in some stage of development — from senior housing projects in Palm Springs, to apartments for veterans in Cathedral City, to a mobile home park in Mecca.

What they're saying: “From 2010 to 2018, there was an average of about 38 units of affordable housing per year being produced in the Coachella Valley,” said Ian Gabriel, director of data, policy, and planning for the local nonprofit Lift to Rise. “Now there are about 1,600 units that are either under construction or set to break ground within six months.”

Why that matters: The need for such housing in our region – about 14,700 more units are needed just in the valley – is so acute that it was called out specifically by a national organization in one of its reports.

Yes, but: While some unique barriers make it difficult to build affordable housing in the valley, just like in other places in the state it mostly comes down to access to money.

  • “It’s pretty complicated because these projects require five, six, or seven different types of funding sources," Gabriel said. "On the other hand, market-rate development can bypass a lot of the red tape and get by with fewer funding sources.”  
Bottom line: It costs about $450,000 to $500,000 per unit to build affordable housing here. That's steep, but still not as steep as in Northern California, where developers are spending up to $1 million per unit.

Dive deeper with Kendall Balchan's complete report here.

Next up: Votes are still trickling in

While tens of thousands of ballots remain to be counted in Riverside County, the Coachella Valley’s results are starting to solidify.

Driving the news: On Tuesday the county announced it had received approximately 50,000 additional timely postmarked ballots since Election Day in addition to 67,000 that still remained to be counted.

  • It is not known how many uncounted ballots from the Coachella Valley remain. While some races are now tighter than they were a week ago, none of the early results have changed.

What we know: Among incumbents who appear to have survived challenges are Coachella Mayor Steve Hernandez, Indio Councilwoman Elaine Holmes, Mayor Ernesto Gutierrez in Cathedral City, La Quinta Mayor Linda Evans and City Councilmember John Peña, and Desert Hot Springs Councilmember Jan Pye.

  • In Palm Springs, the only incumbent running, Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner, is narrowly behind challenger Scott Nevins in District 1.
  • Incumbent Coachella City Councilmember Josie Gonzales still trails Stephanie Virgen and Frank Figueroa, who would each earn one of two open seats if the results hold.
One of the valley’s most contentious issues, short-term vacation rentals, was up for a referendum in La Quinta. The latest vote tally shows about 100 more voters have chosen “yes” on Measure A than chose "no." If the measure passes, the city would eventually phase out permits for non-hosted STVRs.

More information: You can track the latest vote counts on the county website here.

Dive deeper with our complete story.


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🗞️ In other news ...

🔥 If you saw smoke near El Paseo Drive in Palm Desert Tuesday, it was coming from a commercial building that caught fire. (NBC Palm Springs)

🏘️ October's housing report shows home prices, inventory inched higher. (Coachella Valley Reporter

🏈 The high school football season isn't quite over for local players and coaches. A game titled "Desert Showcase" is planned next month at Shadow Hills High School. (KESQ)

🎖️ The doors have swung open on a $27 million veterans housing development in Cathedral City. (Coachella Valley Reporter)

📅 See & do

🎈 Even if you don’t attend the 8th Annual Cathedral City Hot Air Balloon Festival, you’re definitely going to see it from anywhere in the valley as dozens of colorful balloons dot the sky.

Busy weekend: The event spans Friday through Sunday at multiple locations and includes balloon launches, music, food, and a market.

  • Every morning at 6:30 a.m. there will be a balloon launch in different locations, including the Agua Caliente Resort and Casino in Rancho Mirage (Friday and Sunday), and the Westin Mission Hills Resort and Spa (Saturday).

Plus: There will be a food truck fiesta on Friday and Saturday, chances to ride in a tethered balloon, a Saturday market, and a concert and car show amongst glowing earthbound balloons.

Details: We’re probably missing something, so check out the full schedule on their Facebook page or online.

📌 Also this week

Horror Society Book Club
Today | 12 p.m. | Coachella

The club is discussing Stephen King’s Firestarter and comparing it with the movie adaptations. (Free)

Jack Wrather: A Legacy Of Film And Friendship
Today | 7 p.m. | Rancho Mirage Library

This short documentary centers on the story of a Texas oil millionaire who produced film noir classics and hit TV series like Lassie and The Lone Ranger. There will be a Q&A after the screening. (Free)

Desert Hot Springs State of the City
Thursday | 10 a.m. | Desert Hot Springs Rec Center Gym

The annual event gives residents and business owners an overview of the past year of economic activity in the city. Mayor Scott Matas is the featured speaker. ($85)

East Valley Transgender Day of Remembrance
Thursday | 6 p.m. | The LGBTQ+ Center Coachella

Honor the lives of trans people in this event full of love at the outdoor garden at The Center Coachella. (Free)

Desert Theatre Works: Barefoot in the Park
Thursday through Sunday | Indio

This romantic comedy by Neil Simon follows newlyweds post-honeymoon. ($40)

Magic of Lights
Friday through Jan. 1 | 6 p.m. | Empire Polo Club

Ring in the holiday season with a magical drive-through light display. ($15-$45)

Household Hazardous Waste Collection
Saturday | 9 a.m. | La Quinta

Drop off your household hazardous waste for free at La Quinta City Hall until 2 p.m. Examples of acceptable items include fluorescent tubes and bulbs, household cleaner cans, pesticide and garden chemicals, electronic devices, and auto and household batteries. (Free)

Zoo Time Adventures: Fall Fun
Saturday | 9:30 a.m. | The Living Desert
This event for preschool-aged children invites them to learn and explore about our desert pollinators in a hands-on way through music, stories, art, and more. ($80)

Junior Ranger Expo
Saturday | 10 a.m. | Indian Canyons

Kids 17 and under are welcome to come learn about the ecosystem of the Indian Canyons. There will be archaeology, hikes, a photo booth, and more! Register online before. (Free)

Escaramuza Charra Alteza
Sunday | 1 p.m. | Coachella Valley History Museum

This historic narrative and demonstration features a group of young girls (Adelitas) and their horses carrying on the Charro tradition of horsemanship, precision riding, and team roping. (Free)

And finally ...

💻 An estimated 6,500 people in Indio will soon have access to high-speed broadband internet thanks to a $250,000 state grant.

Driving the news: Residents in downtown Indio, the Jewel community east of Jackson St. and north of Ave. 45, and the forthcoming College of the Desert campus expansion will get expanded internet access.

  • According to the city, almost a quarter of the people living in downtown and the Jewel neighborhood lack internet access.

Dive deeper: The money comes from the Local Agency Technical Assistance grant from the California Public Utilities Commission. The project it funds will produce the design, engineering, and environmental documents needed to support the city’s master plan. 

Why now: When schools and jobs went online during the pandemic, it revealed the inequity in internet service in this country, particularly in communities of color and low-income communities.

What they’re saying: “Expansion of fiber networks typically reaches newer homes and commercial developments, often leaving established neighborhoods with inadequate broadband,” said Ian Cozens, the city’s director of information technology. “This project allows us to expand accessibility to a vital service, provide faster connections and significantly improve the lives of our community members.”

🦃 Kendall just realized Thanksgiving is next week.

🧮 Mark continues to be mathematically challenged. 

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