Indy Digest: April 14. 2022
I recently stumbled upon a Facebook post, in one of the various neighborhood groups, that broke my heart.
The poster was asking if anyone had any leads on a room for rent or a studio apartment. Both he and his significant other had jobs, but they had resorted to living in their car.
The local economy is a mess, thanks to a weird combination of busy businesses, rising costs and the labor shortage. It’s gorgeous here, and the pandemic hastened the arrival of both new residents and more tourists. Businesses like restaurants are packed, yet they can’t find enough workers (or at least enough workers willing to work for what they’re paying), and they have to keep raising costs because all of their costs keep going higher.
The Palm Springs Post just published a fantastic piece on the housing crisis engulfing the entire valley—and specifically, on the fact that rental prices have gone through the roof. An excerpt:
Data made available by Zillow, similar to that found on Rent.com, shows the following:
- Rents for all available units on Zillow increased annually at a rate of 5.8% between the start of 2014 and the end of 2019 in Palm Springs, then increased 10% in 2020. In 2021, they spiked 25% on both Zillow and and Rent.com.
- The cost of an average rental in Palm Springs listed on Zillow was $529 more in January of this year than it was when the pandemic started in March 2020.
- For the first time, the average monthly rent in Palm Springs is now above $2,000 on Zillow. While that’s below the current state average of $2,300, it’s still double the rate asked for when Zillow began tracking rates here seven years ago.
Looking for relief elsewhere in the Coachella Valley? Good luck. Zillow data shows rents have also doubled or nearly doubled in all cities in the Coachella Valley with significant numbers of rental units. In Desert Hot Springs, for example, rents increased 122% in the past seven years. In Cathedral City they’ve gone up 94%.
Later in the piece, Mark Talkington and Kendall Balchan quote an account manager for a property-management company as saying the open rental inventory has dropped more than 80 percent in recent years. Demand has more than doubled. As a result, people who can’t afford more than $2,000 a month are, for the most part, being pushed out.
I’ve written before about the fact that my husband and I are more or less stuck in the apartment we’ve been renting since we moved here nine-plus years ago. We’d planned on being able to buy around now, but that’s just not possible with real estate prices being what they are. And with rental costs skyrocketing, we can’t afford to upgrade. Thank goodness we like where we’re at now, for the most part.
What’s the fix? Well, for starters, we need more housing. All the cities in the valley should be doing everything they can to promote the building of more homes and more apartments—while keeping sustainability in mind, of course. Palm Springs also would be wise to at least revisit the vacation-rental issue.
In any case, something’s got to give. People need to be able to afford places to live, after all.
From the Independent
Workers United: Employees at a La Quinta Starbucks Take Steps to Unionize
By Melissa Daniels
April 13, 2022
Employees at the Starbucks at Highway 111 and Jefferson Street have joined the hundreds of Starbucks shops across the country that have taken steps to form a union.
Growing Tension: CVRep’s Fantastic ‘Native Gardens’ Explores an Angry Dispute Between Neighbors
By Bonnie Gilgallon
April 13, 2022
CVRep’s Native Gardens tackles racism, classism and differences in artistic taste, and it will make you think about your origins—when we claim them, and when we don’t.
Beats vs. Business: The Marías Get Ready to Share Their Mix of Cultures and Genres With Audiences at Coachella, Pappy and Harriet’s
By Matt King
April 13, 2022
The Marías will be returning to two venues they’re familiar with: Coachella on Friday, April 15 and 22, and Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, April 21.
CV History: Stagecoaches Brought the First Non-Native Settlers to the Coachella Valley—but the Railroad Helped Them Stay
By Greg Niemann
April 14, 2022
The stage lines brought the first travelers to the area—before the railroad nudged them out of business. The railroad brought Palm Springs and the surrounding area to the public’s attention.
The Weekly Independent Comics Page for April 14, 2022!
April 14, 2022
Topics tackled on this week’s comics page include Mickey Mouse, homosexual recruitment, grad-student workers, miming for cash, and more!
• A lawyer for the state has resigned after claiming the governor’s office was interfering in a discrimination lawsuit against Activision Blizzard Inc. The Associated Press reports via PBS NewsHour: “Bloomberg reported Melanie Proctor, assistant chief counsel with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, told staff in a Tuesday email she was resigning in protest over the firing of Janette Wipper, the department’s chief counsel who worked on the Activision lawsuit. Proctor also said Newsom’s office asked for ‘advance notice’ on elements of the litigation. ‘As we continued to win in state court, this interference increased, mimicking the interests of Activision’s counsel,’ the email said, according to Bloomberg. Newsom’s spokeswoman Erin Mellon said claims of interference by the governor’s office ‘are categorically false.’ … An Activision board member, Casey Wasserman, donated $100,000 to Newsom’s anti-recall campaign, state campaign finance records show. Wasserman could not immediately be reached for comment.”
• The mental fitness of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein is again the subject of serious questions. SFGate reports: “A major San Francisco Chronicle report has raised new concerns over California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s mental fitness as she enters her fourth decade in office. Among the concerning exchanges: One unnamed California member of Congress who had known the longtime political titan for at least 15 years had to reintroduce themselves to her multiple times during an hours-long conversation. … Another Democratic senator put it bluntly. ‘It’s bad, and it’s getting worse,’ they said. The Chronicle spoke with four anonymous senators who expressed concerns over Feinstein’s mental state.”
• The federal transportation mask mandate has again been extended … but only for a couple more weeks. NPR explains: “The Biden administration is extending its face mask requirement for public transit for another 15 days. That means travelers will still need to mask up in airports, planes, buses, trains and at transit hubs until May 3. The mask travel requirement had been set to expire this coming Monday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is keeping in place its mask order ‘in order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity,’ according to an agency spokesperson. … The decision was made in response to the increasing spread of the omicron subvariant in the U.S. and an increase in the 7-day moving average of cases, which have risen by around 25% over the last two weeks nationally. Certain states are seeing much larger increases in new cases.”
• Sort of related … The Los Angeles Times says: “California is no longer recommending a five-day quarantine period for people who are exposed to the coronavirus but remain asymptomatic, a move that could potentially result in a relaxation of similar rules in Los Angeles County. Doing so, officials say, would relieve the burden for employers and institutions to keep otherwise healthy people at home following exposure. The move also reflects a new pandemic reality, according to state officials—that slowly but steadily increasing vaccination rates and the availability of anti-COVID drugs are reducing the overall risk of California’s hospitals being overwhelmed in potential future surges. The California Department of Public Health still recommends everyone who tests positive or shows COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, isolate and stay home for at least five days following the onset of illness or after the date of the first positive test. The state says isolation can end after the fifth day if the person has no symptoms, or the symptoms are resolving, and a rapid test result on the fifth day is negative.”
• Also from The Associated Press: Last year was the deadliest year ever in the United States: “The main reason for the increase in deaths? COVID-19, said Robert Anderson, who oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s work on death statistics. The agency this month quietly updated its provisional death tally. It showed there were 3.465 million deaths last year, or about 80,000 more than 2020′s record-setting total. … COVID-19 deaths rose in 2021 — to more than 415,000, up from 351,000 the year before—as new coronavirus variants emerged and an unexpectedly large numbers of Americans refused to get vaccinated or were hesitant to wear masks, experts said. The coronavirus is not solely to blame. Preliminary CDC data also shows the crude death rate for cancer rose slightly, and rates continued to increase for diabetes, chronic liver disease and stroke.”
• Baby formula is the latest thing to be in short supply. The Washington Post reports: “A growing baby formula shortage has retailers like Target and Walmart limiting purchases, leaving parents to make multiple trips just to confront empty shelves in the wake of a recent recall by Abbott Laboratories. In February, Abbott recalled powdered formula manufactured at a Michigan plant after several babies fell ill with bacterial infections and two died, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The recall compounded existing inventory troubles due to supply chain snarls and ingredient shortages brought on by the pandemic. Now, families in some parts of the country are finding formula tough to come by. … Walgreens and CVS are both limiting formula purchases to three per transaction online or in stores, the companies said, while Target said it is limiting online formula purchases to four units per item. Costco representatives declined to comment, but a two-pack for one brand being sold on its website was capped at two per order.”
• The Desert Business Association, the valley’s LGBTQ chamber of commerce, will be having its first Business and Community Service Awards since 2019 at 5:30 p.m., Monday, April 18, at the Desert Rose Playhouse. The DBA says: “Join us as we present five awards to business/community leaders and organizations. These recipients have served as examples of strength and foresight in their activities over these past few years. This year’s recipients are: Outstanding Business: The Roost Lounge, Cathedral City. Outstanding Business Leader: Jimmy Boegle, editor/publisher, Coachella Valley Independent. Outstanding Community Service Organization: Brothers of the Desert. Outstanding Community Service Leader: Ron deHarte, president, Palm Springs Pride. Legacy Award: Ron Celona, CVRep’s retiring founding artistic director. In addition, we will award three educational scholarships to LGBTQ youth from across the Coachella Valley to help them continue their college education. These awards are presented through funds raised by Brothers of the Desert, and the Desert Business Association, and distributed through our partner, Safe Schools Desert Cities.” Tickets are $75; get more info here.
• And finally … tomorrow is Jackie Robinson Day, which will be celebrated around Major League Baseball to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947. However … don’t let all the white-washed celebrations mask the fact that Robinson was a true, outspoken fighter for civil rights until his dying day. Here are articles worth reading. First is a piece in The Conversation headlined “Jackie Robinson was a radical – don’t listen to the sanitized version of history.” Peter Dreier writes: “The sanitized version of the Jackie Robinson story goes something like this: He was a remarkable athlete who, with his unusual level of self-control, was the perfect person to break baseball’s color line. In the face of jeers and taunts, he was able to put his head down and let his play do the talking, becoming a symbol of the promise of a racially integrated society. … I wonder, however, about the extent to which these celebrations will downplay his activism during and after his playing career. Will they delve into the forces arrayed against Robinson – the players, fans, reporters, politicians and baseball executives who scorned his outspoken views on race? Will any Jackie Robinson Day events mention that, toward the end of his life, he wrote that he had become so disillusioned with the country’s racial progress that he couldn’t stand for the flag and sing the national anthem?“
• The second, “Baseball reveres Jackie Robinson, but Robinson didn’t revere baseball. Here’s why,” written by The Los Angeles Times’ Ron Rapoport, covers related ground. A taste: “No one, of course, expects today’s baseball owners and executives to assume guilt for the actions of those who came before them. But any honest reckoning of Robinson’s legacy, of his triumph over bigotry, must take into account how that bigotry was allowed to persist. So the feel-good institutionalization of the annual Robinson tributes has led me to a conclusion that might be uncharitable, but here it is. Baseball is lucky that Robinson died at the young age of 53 because to him the self-satisfied celebrations of Jackie Robinson Day would be just another example of white America’s patronizing indifference to the struggle of Black America.”
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