Twentynine Palms: Shanghai-La in the making?http://new.vote29.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/shangri-la.png
This commentary began as a response to Twentynine Palms Planning Commissioner Larry Briggs.
Seems he called me out for lying in a comment. I held some councilmembers responsible for plucking the goose to get the most feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing. Mr. Briggs didn’t like me calling some councilmember out for a a humongous $33 M debt, and for their wilful inaction that resulted in an increase in property taxes for local residents and 29 Palms water ratepayers. Mr. Briggs thinks that is a big fat lie.
Referring to someone as a liar is right up there with a violation of the Ten Commandments.
Mr. Briggs is a longtime resident. He has made the city a better place in various ways. But you can’t just go around suggesting people are a liar, or calling them a liar then running away and never backing up those allegation.
Feedback to that: My opinion is Mr. Briggs possesses the finesse of a alleycat, the disposition of a junkyard dog, and the civility of a curmudgeon. Right back at you Mr. Briggs.
Anyway, the commentary to Mr. Brigs morphed into a short history about the saga (folly) of Project Phoenix. It became to long and too telling to pass-off as a comment.
HERE IS WHY
After an all told $33M bond debt passed on to property owners and taxpayers and, after going on a decade now, the city council hasn’t the money to construct the proposed Project Phoenix massive steel superstructure frame to house a multi-purpose edifice for indoor sports, a conferences room, banquet rooms, art galleries, computer room, special events, a new (city-paid) county library, and god only knows what else.
Twentynine Palms is not Long Beach. It is a city with a small population: Census, April 1, 2010 | 25,048. This includes a rotating and transient USMC population within the city.
Given the totality of facts, over the many years surrounding this fiasco, a few people on the city council have been and are now out-of-touch with reality.
So much so that they expect to get a grant — or a loan — from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Good luck with that hunch.
The fiscal conservative new president, his Republican administration and cabinet members are not very pleased with California. They are holding the horse’s reins tight on give-away money projects. It is not business as usual.
Meanwhile, the mandated for affordable low-income housing continues to be on the bottom shelve; it is given less that patronizing visibility. Affordable low income housing is a must requirement pursuant to the project phoenix bond mandates.
Where are tentative concrete plans for Project Phoenix affordable low-income housing?
California has already said they are not going to bail out cities and provide them money for low-income housing because cities created the problems by stalling and too many restrictive building codes.
During the strategic planning meeting last week, the Chamber of Commerce urged the city to lax city codes in furtherance of city growth. They also urged that tourism not be the main priority.
I am familiar with the U.S. Economic Development Administration, having studied urban development in graduate school. The EDA broadly speaking offers three important components to assist cities.
- Planning Program and Local Technical Assistance.
It would not come as a surprise if the city council will attempt to take out a loan with the EDA — if the EDA fails to provide the city with a grant — to pay for an ego-driven Shanghai-La.
Shanghai-La is a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. Hilton describes Shangri-La as a mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains. Shangri-La has become synonymous with any earthly paradise, and particularly a mythical Himalayan utopia – a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world.
What also came out of the strategic planning meetings last week is that the council continues to follow the dream of marketing tourism to the world: Twentynine Palms – the Shangri-La of the desert.
That moniker is more intelligent that wasting taxpayer’s ($40K a year) money marketing the Joshua Tree Gateway Communities. This drives tourism to J.T. and builds the economic base of Y.V. , not 29 Palms.
The council is in the process of spending more more money for consultants that they believe will help market tourism to the world.
We continue to have a majority on the council who have frittered away much time, effort and taxpayers money thatnaught, and too little on city planning of infrastructure priorities and serving a rural community.
The city has much to offer as a small desert city.
Granted the downtown area is blighted. That can be fixed but for putting all the eggs in one massive steel superstructure frame to house the elements of Shanghai-La .
The city needs better infrastructure city-wide for the people who live here, the forgotten people in the desert landscape.
Tourists don’t give diddly squat about a massive superstructure planted in the downtown area like they do it in Long Beach. They want a nice small rustic town not blighted throughout.
Is that too much to ask of local elected officials?