Desert Hot Springs Make Over

Desert Hot Springs Make Over 3.38/5 (67.50%) 8 votes

City Finances Complicate Election Bid

DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA – Desert Hot Springs Mayor Yvonne Parks finds herself forced into a campaign make-over as she vies for reelection amid dismal performance numbers on crime, city finances and new retail development. It is a make-over that goes so far as to peel years off her age in a picture appearing in her campaign mailers.

Desert Hot Springs City Council Mayor Yvonne Parks

Desert Hot Springs City Council Mayor Yvonne Parks election campaign picture.

During her first term in office, Yvonne Parks benefited from an actual reduction in violent crime due largely to efforts of former Police Chief Patrick Williams who marshaled resources from several law enforcement agencies for a gang sweep in 2007. However, those numbers, especially violent crime, have steadily risen, the result of the city’s inability to fund its police department. Violent crime is up 2% according to data available from a Unified Crime Report (UCR) compiled by the city and reported to the FBI.

City finances throughout Yvonne Parks tenure as mayor have shown a steady decline marked by five years of deficit spending according to a report issued in June 2013 by an independent financial consultant to the city, Urban Futures.

Desert Hot SprinDesert Hot Springs City Council former mayor Yvonne Parksgs City Council Mayor Yvonne Parks

Desert Hot Springs City Council former mayor Yvonne Parks

The city’s financial situation, said the report, is so bleak the city will run out of cash reserves by Spring of 2014. Urban Futures explained this is the result of an ongoing structural budget deficit for the past five years with no action taken to correct it by Yvonne Parks as mayor.

“You don’t have a plan. You have a plan to hope but you don’t have a plan,” said Michael Busch of Urban Futures at a May 30, 2013 presentation on city finances to Yvonne Parks and the rest of the city council.

The city faces a $4 million deficit with only $4 million remaining in city savings (reserves) to cover city operations in 2013. In 2012, the city used $1.1 million of it’s savings to make it through the year. The $4 million deficit in 2013, said Busch, is the result of the city running out of one-time revenue it had been using to get by.

At the request of Yvonne Parks, Busch included several new tax options for the city council to consider. Those included raising taxes that would be imposed by the city on electric bills, phone bills, water bills and sewer bills, otherwise known as a utility tax.

Other new tax measures presented to the city council by Yvonne Parks include a new city sales tax, increased property tax and a new 911 surcharge imposed on homeowners and businesses.

The trouble in funding the police department, and in the budget, stem largely from an inability to attract new retail stores to the city, this despite the city spending over $1 million over three years on an aggressive economic development plan.

Creating a city of dollar stores

That plan included the hiring of an economic development consultant, Michael Bracken of Development Management Group at a cost of $10,000 per month.

So far, Michael Bracken has managed to produce only a single dollar store located on the city’s main commercial corridor. A second dollar store, just now going through the permit approval process and scheduled to be built on the corner of Palm Drive and Fourth Street, was also brought to the city by Michael Bracken.

While any store is welcome in a city that by all accounts is seriously lacking in retail shopping, the sales tax revenue generated by the dollar store, a Dollar General outlet, is only an estimated $69,000 per year, hardly enough to make a dent in the city’s $4 million deficit in 2013.

Added to those retail shopping problems, the city has seen several retailers exit the city, including Burke’s Outlet. Burke’s was a 10,000 square foot clothing and household goods retailer with 12 years in the city.

The city also invested over $5 million in a plan to revitalize its downtown retail district. In that plan spearheaded by Yvonne Parks, the city purchased an entire block of the city’s downtown for renovation. Five years after that renovation was completed, the retail spaces remain empty where previously several long established retailers were in place.

Meanwhile, Yvonne Parks on the campaign trail has for understandable reasons ignored the numbers. Instead she has produced a campaign mailer (the one with her heavily altered photo) that shows a much rosier and vibrant picture of the city. It is the picture Michael Busch said is a “plan to hope” but not a picture that accurately reflects the city’s dire financial condition.


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Dean M Gray

Writer, Artist & Publisher at Desert Vortex News
Dean started in the newspaper business at the age of nine earning 90 cents a week walking 3 miles delivering a newspaper door to door. He then began writing his way out of a paper bag and traveling uphill.

For over 40 years Dean has been published in a variety of small newspapers and magazines. As publisher he founded an alternative city weekly newspaper in 2008 and published over 200 uninterrupted issues over 4 years to over 20,000 readers via 800 locations (and online) before selling the business.

Dean is a Master Carpenter and the author of the biography of Hilda M Gray, desert homesteader.

In 2014 he was appointed Planning Commissioner for the city of Desert Hot Springs, California.

Dean M Gray is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors and lives in Desert Hot Springs, California.

7 thoughts on “Desert Hot Springs Make Over

  1. DHS is gonna “solve” the budget crisis buy doing cheap shit, like opening more Dollar Stores. So instead of having warehouses full of shit we can’t sell, ruining our economy and ecosystem, why don’t people take the time to make shit we would actually like to buy? Maybe give a grant or two to open up a place people would like to eat at?

    HEY HEY HEY!!! Maybe since DHS is a shit town and scary as fuck, you can crack down on all the sketchy shit out there, so people won’t be afraid to go out and spend money in their own town and leave their jobs late at night.

    Thank God I live on the nice side of the freeway

    • She also promised Tuscan Hills would “fix everything” and Palmwood would bring a golf resort (anyone see a golf resort on Indian anywhere?) and Skyborne only 20% finished, which sits in the middle of nowhere and has empty lots with pads and plumbing sticking up out of them and broken fences, all of which looks like crap. She promised that if we only would borrow $30 million dollars that by now we would have a downtown makeover that would draw in a new world class hotel and restaurants and shops, worthy of El Paseo, and people would need to use a scramble intersection to get across the street as there would be so many people flocking to downtown, and just look what millions in borrowed tax increment bonds bought us, some palm trees and green glass embedded in concrete curbs with no one to be seen for miles. No new stores, no happening downtown vortex, a remodel that looks like the 80’s, and just a city center core that sucks, sucks because of worthless promises of Yvonne Parks, master voter manipulator. Oh she also promised last year that that stupid golf cart trail would come to DHS, and now we learn that’s never going to happen. And when things don’t go as she promised, she always blames someone else. Oh then there’s those music festivals. For those of us not under Yvonne’s magical trance spell, it’s easy to see that the only one’s calling a spade a spade are Bentley, McKee, Betts, Sanchez, and who’s that other guy again? They have a huge mess to clean up but someone’s got to do it or the city is doomed.

  2. We need another dollar store like we need a hole in the head. We have to get some bigger stores here in DHS. I am getting tired of having to drive to Palm Springs or Cathedral City to do my shopping. The dollar stores are not the answer and they should not be allowed anymore here in DHS. They do have some good buys but most of it is pure junk.

  3. I wonder if soon-to-be Ex Mayor Parks will have her goodbye party in DHS or a more affluent neighboring city? I guess it doesn’t matter as long as it’s “Goodbye”. Maybe she can get a group discount if Pye and Matas are included in the package.

  4. None of the people running for any political office in this town are to be trusted , we have 3 Parks in this town Tedesco and Veterans, then we got Yvonne No good Matas is full of sh-t and a big wheel at the Lutheran church and who the hell is Pye

  5. what is Adam Sanchez bringing to the table? another Cardenas or Carniceria hey maybe another Mexican Taco joint, we could use another Dollar Store? Bring some REAL business in this dump

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