As the citizens of Twentynine Palms prepares to vote in November it is time to start thinking about what it is to be a member of the City Council of Twentynine Palms and what some of the real issues facing this city in the years to come.
Council members have the responsibility of representing not only the people who elected them, but all citizens. Council members also serve as a resource to the residents of this city, making sure they receive quality services and helping them to solve problems.
Representing the citizens at council meetings is a big responsibility; council members need to understand each issue, each proposal and how it will affect everyone. They spend a lot of time preparing for the formal council meetings on Tuesdays. On Fridays, council members receive a packet which has the agenda and many reports with background information. They read the packet, which is often quite long, over the weekend. (Most council members admit that having homework on the weekend is not their favorite part of the job.)
Council members should spend time meeting with citizens. But, most citizens will call City Hall when they have a question, a problem or an issue they want to discuss and will most likely talk to the city staff. The staff listens to the majority of the citizens and tries to find a solution. Sometimes it’s as easy as making a phone call to the right department; sometimes it’s harder because the citizen disagrees with another citizen. When two or more neighbors are in disagreement about an issue, a council member’s job is to help people find a solution. The council member will consult with all of the people involved, with any city departments that might know about the situation and with staff.
Besides meeting with citizens to discuss neighborhood issues, council members also meet with business owners. Business is good for the city, so council members often meet with business owners who might want to move to Twentynine Palms. Council members talk about all of the services the city offers and find solutions to any problems the business might have.
Council members know that citizens also have solutions. Council members might spend their time visiting schools, neighborhood associations and local events. Talking to citizens about what is going on in Twentynine Palms gives council members a chance to hear what citizens think about issues such as what kinds of businesses should come to Twentynine Palms, crime in their neighborhoods, where to put a new park or how to expand the public transportation system.
Now that you can see what a council members duties are, it is not surprising that some, if not any of that has accord. Regrettably, the actions and/or inactions by past Councils show some of the signs of irresponsible government. The interests of a few outweighed the interests of the city as a whole. This did nothing but help the excessive influence by special interests facilitate the achievement of narrow political objectives.
Political control of members of the City Council is unfortunate. It happens and it continues to happen. The City Council cannot escape its responsibilities to its average citizen. When you think about what are the real problems facing this city the list get very long.
In the city’s General Plan Update Community Survey a few questions stand out that demonstrates what the real desire of its citizens is.
One question asked,” What are the three (3) most important issues currently facing Twentynine Palms?”
- Lack of retail and services within the City
- Lack of infrastructure
- Water and energy concerns
- Increasing public services (especially schools)
- Overdevelopment and urban sprawl
- Increasing crime rates and expansion of police force
- Creating more jobs and maintaining employment
- Lack of restaurants and entertainment opportunities for families
- Fostering a stable economy independent of the Marine Base
- Keeping small businesses while attracting big retail too
- Foreclosed and empty homes
Another asked “What do you hope Twentynine Palms will be like in twenty years?”
- More businesses, especially to meet basic shopping and service needs of residents
- Downtown improvements while maintaining “small town’ feel
- Popular destination for artists and nature lovers, increase cultural appeal
- Growth, but retain openness/not too dense
- Clean blighted areas
- Attract tourism
- More like Yucca Valley
- Safe city to live and work in
- Improve and increase parks (dog park, children’s park, pedestrian trails and connectivity)
- Better employment opportunities (quality and quantity)
- Build Casino
- Improved infrastructure
- Better housing
Another asked “What issues do you believe Twentynine Palms will face in the next twenty years?
- Infrastructure- keeping roads up, roadway systems and circulation plans, emphasis on arterials but local streets in need of repair, water availability, groundwater protection, sewer system
- Increase in crime
- Traffic issues
- Need for economic growth
- Jobs and increasing unemployment rates
- Limited and poor quality housing
- Inadequate public services (esp. schools)
- Maintaining open land and desert environment
- Relationship with Marine Base
- Energy alternatives (solar, wind)
- Emergency preparedness
- Poverty levels
- Lack of activities and entertainment
Did you see the reoccurring themes? More, bigger, better, businesses.
Any objective evaluation of the problems being facing The City of Twentynine Palms would lead to the conclusion that a fundamental issue is its commercial business expansion and the loss of revenue base. It is obvious that the revenue base must be expanded.
It can be successfully argued that Councils in the past have not attempted to address these issues. And in-fact may have led to them.
We need a council with a “vision”. We need a council that will empower the planning commission so that they are not giving this city away to those that want to skirt the rules that are black and white.
We need to begin the process of planned development. Residential, Commercial, and Industrial development is what we need. The goal should be to promote and aid business growth in the city. Our city should offer an atmosphere that is very pro-business and works very closely with its prospects and new businesses to assure the smoothest move and transition for companies. We want businesses! This city should have an atmosphere that is very pro-business. We should be seeking commercial growth and offer a quality workforce.
Some say that we want to keep our “small town feel”. When what we need is to combine a small-town feel with big-city amenities. It is not in the best interests of Twentynine Palms that all the potential tax dollars go to places like Yucca Valley instead, because the citizens of “Mayberry” don’t have a decent place to shop. You have to drive 60 miles roundtrip for a pair of shoes for our children. 80% of all tax dollars spent are sent west to surrounding communities due to a lack of retail and restaurants locally.
While everyone wants to keep the small town feel, who is helping with local paying jobs? So far, the Marine base with the construction jobs is pretty good. Of course those jobs are being done by contractors from out-of-town with out-of-town employees. We all see them they are the ones staying at the local motels. But that’s ok, there is the TOT. Everyone wants to complain about big box stores like Wal-Mart. Those who gripe about Wal-Mart certainly are seen there just about any weekend.
Now most people in Twentynine Palms have heard about a casino that was proposed to be built south of the city off Adobe and Base Line. There was a big uproar about how that it would disrupt the travels and nesting of the Desert Tortoise. There is no need to discuss the merits of that.
What is being overlooked, is the advantages of having a casino in Twentynine Palms. Jobs, Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund, help to improve blighted areas, economic growth, and tourist attraction. I think most people do not understand the real point of the Indian Nation; they are just that, a sovereign nation. And what they wish to do with their tribal land, this city has very little it can say.
Now there has been a lot mentioned here, with a lot to think about and digest. Take your time do you own research, ask the tough questions, attend the city council and planning commission meeting. Learn what is happening in your city. Then come November, go vote.