The City of La Quinta has allocated approximately $17 million for Police Services this fiscal year (2020-21). These services, contracted through Riverside County, are critical to the quality of life residents enjoy, and I will continue to work to ensure the level of service provided matches resident needs. And I will continue to pursue the use of our police service studies to develop even better, more cost-effective policing models. The annual cost increases for the contract are unsustainable and we are working together – the City and the Sheriff’s Department – to address the long-term impact through better policing policies.
Highway 111 Corridor Plan
Recognizing that the Highway 111 corridor accounts for approximately 75% of the sales tax generated in La Quinta means that we need to be aware of the changing trends in retail and business. A Corridor Plan was developed in 2019 through numerous community workshops and Council study sessions. The plan takes a long-term approach to changing business/tourism and incorporates design changes that will be more inclusive of small businesses, rather than favoring big box stores. It encourages more pedestrian-friendly access to welcome people to shop, dine and have fun, expanding the appeal to everyone. The next phases of this project are: creating new zoning to encourage redevelopment, and building out a demonstration project on City-owned property. As a former marathon runner and Planning Director I know what long-term planning can accomplish! I will continue to support the 111 Corridor to create a showplace for our retail, dining, and entertainment businesses.
North La Quinta Landscapes
When I ran for Council in 2016, one of the issues that was important to me and to the community was that many of the medians and perimeter landscapes had fallen into disrepair. Many of our landscapes had been created before the environmental impacts of water-use and desert-friendly plant materials were considered as fully as they are now. In 2016, a 10-year program was proposed to upgrade those areas. With the passage of Measure G, these projects became a high priority to complete faster. I am pleased to report these important improvements are already 80% complete. Another portion was just awarded for construction, and all the areas will be completed by July 2022.
I am eager to see this project, which will include a 5-star luxury hotel and a 4-star lifestyle hotel, fully developed and operational, and I know residents are too. So far, the developer has invested approximately $60 million in plan preparation, permitting, grading and utility relocation in anticipation of starting construction of the first hotel. There has been a minor slow-down in the permitting for the construction due to the pandemic. However, the developer recently reported to Council that the project will continue to move forward and there may be changes to the construction phasing. I will continue to champion and encourage development and we will keep you posted as we progress on this important project.
Short Term Vacation Rentals
La Quinta is the GEM of the Desert. I think we all appreciate living here for the beauty, the culture, and the vibrant, healthy environment. Impacts to the economy have created a cottage industry in the short-term rental market. We were fortunate that our leaders recognized early-on that the growth of tourism had encouraged people to rent their homes for supplemental funds, and their original program was mandated by ordinance in an effort to protect our quality of life. But, in the past few years, we’ve seen an explosion of new short-term rental permits. I recognize this as a serious issue that impacts the fabric of our city. This year, the Council established an ad hoc committee to study the program and to make recommendations to improve it. I hear your complaints, I understand the impacts to our neighborhoods, and I will continue to work on this issue to protect our community.
Vision for the Village
Building for the future means long term plans for the Village that will promote development that encouraging the growth of La Quinta’s economy. The vision for the village area is one that encompasses the area from the Museum and Francis Hack Park through Old Town, including the hotel, up through Civic Center Park.
A vibrant hub of retail, dining, mixed use live/work development, culture and recreation is the goal. In designing and building toward that future drainage improvements have been added under local streets. Transportation circulation improvements have been made. The new traffic patterns will provide more pedestrian friendly roadways. Reducing traffic lanes to include bicycle and golf cart access will create a safer more welcoming lifestyle hub in La Quinta.