(Part II updated @ 9:14 am, Friday September 28, 202)
This is Part 2 of 2 of a story concerning the Alternate Universe wherein five elected city councilmen dwell. A parallel universe far removed from reality. The inaction on the part of this city council when they know beforehand that their lack of action will put residents, visitors, businessperson or investors in harm’s way is unconscionably. No reasonable, prudent person could argue otherwise. Part I of the story can be found at this Link.
Coming Attractions: The public safety train-wreck for the private and public sectors
The Lear station fire engine will not be there for residents and property owners when emergencies occurs. Rather, the Station will be staffed with a brush prevention unit according to a telephone interview with 29 Palms Fire Captain Robert Marquez.
In addition to the absence of adequate fire protection, response time to medical emergencies, catastrophic emergencies or seasonal flooding and the quality of public safety in general — relegating the Lear Station to brush prevention and cutting the fire department by 50% will likely lower standard insurance rating and raises local rates for fire insurance, explained Captain Marquez.
At the last Joint Water District Meeting, Fire Chief Thompson said that “98 percent” of all the calls for fire services and public safety issues come from the City of 29 Palms. The Fire Chief also said a single fire station would provide “an inadequate level of service.” Thus, the Lear Station will not be there for city residents, business owners or investors. The city council is content with gambling with the public safety of their constituents.
Realtor understands this: Downsizing Lear will certainly have a a big impact on 29 Palms and the future of the City’s growth and safety.
This is especially alarming when considering the “ two in, two out rule”
Captain Marquez explained how the “two in, two out rule” works. Whenever there are two firemen in a burning structure, it takes two firemen on the outside to rescue them (as per California Department of Occupational Safety and Health regulations).
Moreover, extreme weather conditions are here to stay, namely flooding and fires caused largely by drought. The NYTimes recently reported: Until recently, many scientists spoke of climate change mainly as a “threat,” sometime in the future. But it is increasingly clear that we already live in the era of human-induced climate change, with a growing frequency of weather and climate extremes like heat waves, droughts, floods and fires.
Will investors set roots in a small town which turned the clock back on public safety by 50 years?
There seems to be this attitude at city hall that 29 Palms Fire Department is “not our problem. “Tell that to every teacher in the Morongo Basin School District, or every parent, homeowner, retailer or investor. Fire and public safety is of paramount importance.
Perhaps one of the most important issues facing City Hall.
What parent would sleep comfortably knowing the fire department is cut in half? What business person, investor or resident would welcome higher fire insurance and the lack of assurances of public safety of churches, schools and the general public?
The unwillingness of the city council to help fund County fire in order provide adequate fire provide services to 29 Palms — at least during the first year of the transition from TPWD to the County Fire Department — is, to say the least, daunting.
Chief Thompson further stated: “Twentynine Palms receives the highest percentage of ad valorem tax revenue of any city in the county, yet none of it goes to fund fire services for its citizens.”
The 29 Palms Fire Department lost a significant funding source earlier this year when Measure H - the special fire tax – went down in flames. This was the proximate cause for the TPWD to call for a transfer of fire services to County fire. The City failed to accept the responsibility, so the County agreed to take over fire services.
Unfortunately, the County’s Fire Department inherited an underfunded fire department that would have been bankrupt in a year. The city council ought to lean into the wind and take another look at funding to help County Fire to protect people and property within its city limits.
Response time to all the various emergency and calls to the fire department will certainly be longer in some situations, if at all in other predictable situations (due to downsizing, loosing a captain, an engineer and a firefighter/paramedic and one fire truck) when there are simultaneous emergencies or a a fire that is severe and difficult to contain.
While the city manager dug his heals in for a (failed) water slide at a cost of hundreds of thousands and steadfastly rammed through a $13-15 duplicated civic center to house a $9.8 hi-tech underground second city playhouse, public safety is about to be compromised without a peep from civic and elected officials.
What is this City Manager thinking?
Why is the Chamber of Commerce a no-show for the safety of its membership and their member’s properties? Just recently, the Chamber voiced its concern why business investors are NOT becoming members of the Chamber. Members want more service. They want a chamber that is their advocate. It’s that simple. The chamber ought to be their advocate and work with the City Council for public safety.
Nonetheless, the chamber is growing and is working to become a more responsive chamber than its predecessors.
It’s the job of the City Council to respond to a crisis in good faith in order to protect the public and property.
After all, the city funds the 29 Palms Chamber of Commerce annually in many ways. And taxpayer’s money kept it from going bankrupt; it funds Theatre 29 with a generous lease and exclusive use of the city’s performing arts theater; it co-sponsors and funds other local groups on a seasonal basis, it funds artsy signs in the tens of thousands of dollars, it annually funds ChalkFest to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars; and it funded a truckload of borrowed money for Project Phoenix – a dreams of grandeur by securing a 30 year/$31 million debt without a public vote.
Why is the City Council afraid to address pubic safety issues on fire under the blanket of silence?
The decisive moment for leadership is now.
Remember to vote next month. There is a window of opportunity to vote in an intelligent and promising new voice on the city council. A voice that has already committed herself to public safety in Part I of the this story.
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