Tag Archives: Twentynine Palms Tourism Business Improvement District

TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL TAKES UP VACATION HOME RENTALS

Tourism and vacation home rentals were the big topics at last night’s Twentynine Palms City Council meeting. Reporter Heather Clisby was there…

It was standing room only at last night’s Twentynine Palms City Council meeting and the public lectern was in full use.

The first issue was the re-authorization of the Tourism Business Improvement District now in its fourth year. Its chief goal: “To put heads in beds.”

Local hotelier Veno Nathraj asked the council to delay the decision and wait for more data to prove TBID is effective but the council unanimously approved the continuation of TBID.

Veno Nathraj, owner of Rodeway Inn America’s Best Value hotels, asked the council to wait for more data to prove TBID is effective. Heather Clisby photo

The council approved the $40,000 needed for necessary inspection to “underground” utility lines for Project Phoenix. The council also approved the Channel Trail Grant Application to enhance the Twentynine Palms Flood Control Channel Trail between Adobe Road and Split Rock Ridge where a bridge is also in the works.

But much of the meeting was a discussion around the pros and cons of vacation home rentals (VHRs). There are currently 80 active VHRs in the city with 10 pending. (Twentynine Palms has 5,380 single-family homes and 1.4 percent of those are VHRs – the smallest percentage among Morongo Basin communities. Joshua Tree has 1,160 VHRs and Yucca Valley has 193.)

Nalini “Ash” Maharaj, owner of Harmony Motel, speaks at the Council meeting. Heather Clisby photo

The focus was on the Indian Cove neighborhood specifically, but many residents and business owners expressed support for VHRs in general. Per city ordinance, each VHR must have a sign posted out front with the owners’ phone number so they can be easily contacted in case of problem. Captain Luke Niles confirmed that there have been no complaints or issues with VHRs within city limits.

Maria Gauthier, employee of Desert Beacon, spoke about the vacation home rental issue. Heather Clisby photo

Jim Krushat, who lives between two VHRs, noted that much of the resistance to VHRs had more to do with the “possibility of problems, rather than actual problems.”

Comments from hotel owners, mortgage lenders and VHR cleaners illustrated VHRs as a boon for tourism while also providing flexible incomes to residents. Still, there was concern about VHRs decreasing affordable rental options for residents while also changing the face of a neighborhood.

Tony Navaral, owner of Sunnyvale Garden Suites, offers his opinion at last night’s meeting. Heather Clisby photo

Ultimately, Mayor Joel Klink and the council declared that a committee made up of residents and council members will be formed to discuss the matter further.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for October 13.

TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL MEETS, TOURIST FEE, AIR BNB’S ON AGENDA

Tonight, the Twentynine Palms City Council will meet downtown to address issues around tourism fees, the undergrounding of utilities, trail improvements and vacation home rentals. Reporter Heather Clisby has more details…

During this evening’s Twentynine Palms City Council meeting, a public hearing will be held regarding the council-approved tourist fee for the Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID). The 1.5 percent fee, which is in addition to the city’s 9 percent transient occupancy tax, is to be implemented by hotels, motels and short-term rentals.

“Undergrounding,” the process of moving unsightly utility poles below ground, is a state-wide effort by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) with support from Southern California Edison. The council will discuss inspection fees behind undergrounding efforts within the city.

The council will also discuss an application for a Channel Trail Grant that would be applied to the Twentynine Palms Flood Control Channel Trail. That same trail also ties into the Split Rock Avenue Bridge currently being designed.

The council will discuss the issue of vacation home rentals. Residents have concerns regarding a related increase in noise and traffic.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 6136 Adobe Road. Residents can livestream by visiting the city’s website, 29palms.org, and clicking the “Meeting Agendas” link. Once concluded, the meeting will be available on-demand on the same site.

TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL REAUTHORIZES TOURISM FEE

The Twentynine Palms City Council met last night to reauthorize the existing tourism fee and wrestle with an important election matter. Reporter Heather Clisby was there…

Last night, the Twentynine Palms City Council gathered to address several items. The Council approved the implementation of SB 743, a state bill aimed reducing greenhouse gases using updated measuring tools that are less car-centric and more focused on citizen health.

Councilmember Karmolette O’Gilvie makes a point. Heather Clisby photo

To help fund the budget for the Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID), the Council reauthorized a 1.5 percent fee to be implemented by hotels, motels and short-term rentals. The fee is in addition to the city’s 9% transient occupancy tax.

Twentynine Palms Event Planner Christina Benton gave an update on this year’s Pioneer Days, which will be held mostly online due to COVID-19. This year’s theme is “Rediscovering Our Pioneer Past” and KTLA News Anchor Frank Buckley, a graduate of Twentynine Palms High School, will be the grand marshal.

Twentynine Palms Event Planner Christina Benton tackles a very unique Pioneer Days 2020. Heather Clisby photo

The evening’s deepest discussion focused on the upcoming election for District 1. Councilmember Steven Bilderain is running for re-election unopposed and the council considered skipping that election, saving city funds (approximately $12,000) and officially appointing Bilderain to the position. Resident Jim Krushat and others made a case to keep the election to avoid any perception of write-in candidates being shut out. Councilmember Bilderain himself made the motion to move forward with the election and the council approved.

Jim Krushat addresses the Council. Heather Clisby photo

The TBID sub-committee, comprised of Mayor Joel Klink and Bilderain, appointed Maria Quinteros to the TBID Advisory Board. Quinteros is the general manager of the Holiday Inn Express in Twentynine Palms.

The next meeting of the Twentynine Palms City Council will be held on Wednesday, September 16.

Karen Harper, a resident of Yucca Valley and a landlord in Twentynine Palms, makes an inquiry to the Council. Heahter Clisby photo

TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL BEING CREATIVE IN COVERING COVID-19 COSTS

To cover the costs of the COVID-19 shutdown, the Twentynine Palms City Council met last night to discuss how best to move the money around. Reporter Heather Clisby was there…

In hopes of presenting a balanced budget come June, Twentynine Palms City Manager Frank Luckino offered some creative solutions last night to the council to cover COVID-19-related shortfalls.

City Manager Frank Luckino and Mayor Pro Tem Dan Mintz. Heather Clisby photo

Regarding personnel, the city has laid off part-time staff while offering voluntary furloughs and early retirements. The council will further discuss freezing some scheduled raises and retirement payouts.

Program Supervisor Kary Minatrea. Heather Clisby photo

The city and the Morongo Unified School District still disagree on equal cost sharing for the school resource officer. MUSD currently covers 19 percent of the $187,000 cost, while the city covers the remainder, and that cost is growing to $216,000 in July. Possible solutions included the removal of the MUSD school resource officer and a deeper discussion between the school district, Captain Luke Niles, Mayor Joel Klink, and Council member McArthur Wright.

Battalion Chief Scott Tuttle and Captain Luke Niles attended the Twentynine Palms City Council meeting remotely. Heather Clisby photo

With the travel industry shrunk by at least 30 percent, the city will miss both the transient occupancy taxes (TOT) and sales taxes usually generated by tourism—a $557,000 loss this fiscal year. The city sent a letter to hoteliers offering to defer their first-quarter payment of TOT for 90 days with an incentive to pay it now. At this writing, three hotels and 14 short-term rentals have paid.

Twentynine Palms City Council in action. Heather Clisby photo

With the heat of summer looming, reduced hours for the city’s pool were also discussed. The council took a wait-and-see approach, knowing how much kids depend on the facility. They will re-visit the issue in the weeks leading up to Memorial Day, traditionally the busiest weekend.

The city decided not to fund two part-time staff members at the visitor center, saving $28,000 as two staffers—funded by TBID—will remain.

TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL TAKES UP SEWER RATES

The Twentynine Palms City Council gathers this evening for a discussion on sewer rates for Project Phoenix and playground safety, among other things. Reporter Heather Clisby has the details…

Tonight’s Twentynine Palms City Council meets to discus the sewer rate fee study and rate-setting process for customers within Project Phoenix. The proposed sewer project would provide to a limited number of customers and include its’ own package treatment plant. The Council may approve the study, authorize mailings and, if possible, call for a Public Hearing on April 7. As it now stands, these specialized rates would require an annual General Fund Subsidy of $38K. The Council will also hear the Tourism Business Improvement District Quarterly Update and review the City’s Playground Safety Management Policy. The Twentynine Palms City Council meeting will begin at 6 pm at City Hall, 6136 Adobe Road.