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18 Feb 2013

About That Six-Story Hotel: Some Compromises That Would Make Everyone Happy—or Not

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This story is all about stories, and how, in my view, too many of them can block the view.

The impending demolition of the Desert Fashion Plaza in downtown Palm Springs has raised concerns that a new six-story hotel will impede the view of our local mountains.

But just how important is it to have a view? After all, Sarah Palin says she can see Russia from her house, but she still thinks Africa is a country. Barbara Walters reminds us to take some time to enjoy the view, but asks us: If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

What is it about our magnificent mountains that makes them so visually appealing? I've come up with some ideas that would allow sky-high structures to exist while still retaining the all-important view.

Idea No. 1: All buildings above six stories must be made entirely of glass. This would allow people to see the mountains right through the building.

Of course, occupants would be required to provide their own means of privacy. This would apply primarily to restrooms and bedrooms.

Idea No. 2: Embed all new buildings into the mountain itself. This would ensure that the structure would essentially become part of the view. The soon-to-be razed Chart House restaurant would be a perfect example of this.

Idea No. 3: Eliminate the mountains. If there are no mountains, there would be no view to be blocked.

There are two ways this could be done. We could wait for natural erosion to do its work. However, this method may take several million years.

For those who are too impatient to wait that long, an organized effort could be made to supply workers with pickaxes. These laborers would chip away at the terrain until there's nothing left. However, removing the mountains may put an end to the tourism industry here.

So all of us have to decide what's more important: having the ability to construct tall buildings, or keeping the view?

The development in question is slated to take up three city blocks, so the solution is actually quite simple: All someone needs to do is walk a short distance to their left or right. When they are no longer standing in front of the hotel, the view will miraculously reappear. But in this car-conscious society, any suggestion of walking would be met with resistance. Therefore, I'm proposing some ideas to get people moving.

Idea No. 1: Install a conveyor belt directly in front of the hotel. It would look much like the ones passengers stand on in airports. People could then be taken a few blocks away, where they can once again see our majestic mountains.

Idea No. 2: The city could issue stilts to anyone seeking to elevate their view. These would be similar to the stilts used by circus performers. However, this technique might give the area more of a carnival atmosphere than it already has.

Idea No. 3: Have a series of trampolines situated in front of the hotel. Anyone who can jump high enough would be able to catch a brief glimpse of the mountains.

Of course, some of these ideas may cause serious injury, especially to our elderly visitors.

We could make use of the many local artists here in the desert. For a small fee, one of them can paint an artist's rendering of our snow-capped mountains so people won't miss the real thing. We could even take a cue from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and have a cable car attached to the power and telephone lines directly in front of the hotel.

Some of these proposals may be considered shocking—in the case of the last one, quite literally. But this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

What it all comes down to is perspective. It's really all about how you look at the situation.

If you went to see a movie, and there was a tall person sitting in front of you blocking the view, would you chop off his head with a pickaxe? It depends whether the movie is worth watching. But generally speaking, we shouldn't lose our heads about this.

Palm Springs has always had a quaint, village-like atmosphere. Building a new six-story hotel is a tall order that would bring controversy to new heights. That's my view. End of story.

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