Concerns for cannabis

In this week’s newsletter: Help for an ailing industry, lower speeds in La Quinta, and more.

Welcome to Wednesday, and to March!

Over the course of one week, Palm Desert and Cathedral City made drastic changes to their respective cannabis tax rates in order to relieve the financial burden on local operations. 

  • At a Feb. 16 council meeting, Palm Desert City Council members voted to decrease retail and delivery taxes from 10% to 5% of gross receipts and decrease cultivation taxes from $13 to $10 per square foot. The change is estimated to decrease the city’s fiscal year 2022-23 revenue by an additional $500,000.
  • Then, on Feb. 22, Cathedral City officials voted to decrease the retail tax rate from 10% to 5% of gross proceeds and cut the cultivation tax rate from $15 to $10 per square foot which will lead to a revenue loss of about $710,000 for the city. 
  • Local cannabis shops have been concerned about oversaturation in the market for some time, and shop owners and growers statewide have been hit hard by high taxes and rampant black-market marijuana.
  • Bottom line: Throughout the valley, cities have been seeing a consistent decline in revenue from cannabis taxes. In Palm Springs, for example, a review of its mid-year budget last week showed a 25% decrease this fiscal year compared to last.

Record run for fair

Congrats are in order for organizers of the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival. It was announced Monday that this year’s event had a record-breaking return to Indio after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • While no official numbers were released, the company that operates the fair’s rides — Pickering Events — said it broke records dating back 20 years on three days. In addition, food sales were up 10%, and the Junior Livestock Auction saw 187 project animals sold on Saturday.
  • “The tremendous turnout for the Date Festival is a testament to how important this event is to our community,” said Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez.
  • What to watch for: The fair returns next year on Feb. 17.

Lower speeds in La Quinta

Last week, the La Quinta City Council voted to decrease the speed limit on a one-mile stretch of Jefferson Street between Avenue 52 and Avenue 54 from 50 to 45 mph. 

  • After a traffic and engineering survey observed the route on a typical Monday afternoon, the City Council accepted the recommendation.
  • The report found that 183 cars traversed the route and the 85th percentile speed for both directions was between 49 and 50 mph.
  • Before voting in favor of the speed limit reduction, Mayor Linda Evans noted that the city is able to have this flexibility in setting speed limits thanks to AB 43, a new law that Palm Springs City Councilmember Lisa Middleton championed.
  • “We can do our own study versus waiting for the annual state study. So from a safety standpoint, that’s great,” said Evans.
  • But wait: Some traffic engineers have pointed to problems with the 85th percentile speed rule and suggest cities curb speeding by changing the engineering of the roads and streets.

Home prices climb, sales slow

According to the most recent Desert Housing Report, home prices are up and sales are down in the Coachella Valley.

  • The median price of a detached home rose $10,000 to $650,000, which is up 5.7% year over year. 
  • The average of sales was down to 413 units, 52% less than the year before and 41% below average. The biggest sales declines were seen in La Quinta, Indio, and Rancho Mirage, and the smallest percentage declines were in Coachella and Indian Wells.
  • The report calls the decrease in sales “distressing” but notes that home sales usually begin to rise this time of year, which may help slow or even stop the decline.
  • Bottom line: Valley inventory stood at 2,025 units as of Feb. 1. Analysts had hoped we would hit 2,500 units by the end of March, but they have since revised those predictions after observing the lack of new listings.


Palm Springs International Piano Competition Concerts & Events announces the return of Three Pianos-Six Hands

Concert: March 20, 5:30 p.m., McCallum Theatre
Dinner: 7:30 p.m., The Club at Morningside

This fundraising concert event will support PSIPC’s Competition for ages up through 17, as well as our ongoing community and education programs that bring talented young virtuoso pianists to local schools for live performances.

Click here for tickets

In other news

One CVUSD student was detained and three schools were locked down after a student turned in a magazine with bullets. This comes one day after hundreds of students at CVHS staged a peaceful protest over school security concerns.

Mount San Jacinto experienced a rare avalanche after the week of heavy snow.

Dozens of homes remain without power in the valley following extreme weather that led to downed power lines.


Cathedral City LGBT Days
All weekend | Downtown Cathedral City

Cathedral City LGBT Days, California’s first Pride event of the year, offers a full weekend of live entertainment, community engagement and fun activities. Find the schedule here.

Indio City Council
Tonight | 5 p.m. | Council Chamber
The City Council meets on the first and third Wednesday of each month. Read tonight’s meeting agenda here

Cocktail mixer honoring Bruce Fessier
Tonight | 5 p.m. | Willie’s Modern Fare, Rancho Mirage
The nonprofit Amy’s Purpose will be honoring the award-winning journalist, and “Amy’s Purpose Champion,” Bruce Fessier at a cocktail mixer tonight. ($35)

Family Night: Dr. Seuss
Tonight | 5:30 p.m. | Rancho Mirage Public Library
The library will celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday with an event that features fun reading and crafts.

Indian Wells City Council
Thursday | 1:30 p.m. | Indian Wells City Hall
Find more details about Thursday’s City Council meeting on the City of Indian Wells’ website.

La Quinta Art Celebration
Thursday through Sunday | La Quinta Civic Center
Jury-selected, world-class artists from across the nation — and the globe — will exhibit their original artworks.

Show: “Hitting New Heights”
Thursday | 7 p.m. | McCallum Theatre
This concert event will include songs from “Wicked” to “Hamilton” and beyond. 

Observatory Public Exploration Night
Thursday, Saturday and beyond | 7 p.m. | Rancho Mirage Observatory
Haven’t been to an “exploration night” at the observatory yet? Head there this Thursday or Saturday.

Burner: A Group Exhibition of International Street Artists
This weekend and beyond | CODA Gallery, Palm Desert 
This collection features works from globally renowned street artists and will be on exhibition (and available for acquisition) at the CODA Gallery from Saturday until March 24. An opening party will be held on Friday, starting at 4 p.m. 

The Coachella Valley Wildflower Festival
Saturday | 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Palm Desert Civic Center Park
Can’t wait to see if a wildflower superbloom materializes in the California desert this year? In the meantime, head to this free event on Saturday, which features local artists and exhibitors, a kids’ zone, a beer and wine garden with live music, raffles, food and beverages for purchase, and much more. 

Palm Desert Certified Farmers’ Market
Sunday | 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. | 72559 Highway 111, Palm Desert
Fresh produce and sustainable artisan vendors can be found at the farmers’ market every Sunday, from October through April. 

Sunday Sounds Concert Series
Sunday | 2 p.m. | Palm Desert Civic Park Amphitheater
In partnership with Desert Recreation, the Palm Desert Library has an ongoing series called Sunday Sounds. All concerts are free, and attendees are invited to bring picnic baskets and blankets or lawn chairs.

Citi Taste of Tennis Indian Wells
Monday | 7 p.m. | Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa
This event features cuisine prepared by Michelin-star chef Minh Phan and the Coachella Valley’s finest chefs, and also welcomes some of the biggest names in tennis, including Grand Slam champion Tracy Austin. Get tickets here

2023 BNP Paribas Open
Next week and beyond | Indian Wells Tennis Garden
The annual tennis tournament’s opening day is next Monday, but the action continues until March 19. Tickets and a full list of activities can be found here

⌛ And finally …

The fourth edition of Desert X, the site-specific international art exhibit, kicks off this Saturday with works from artists based in Europe, North America, and South Asia. 

  • This year, the artists will create paintings, writings, architecture, designs, films, music, performances, choreography, environmental activism, and educational experiences in addition to the hallmark sculptures.
  • The website offers some clues about the art we can expect to see, including a “shimmering pyramidal haze of color floating above the desert floor” and a herd of mechanical bulls made of a reflective surface. 
  • Co-curator, Diana Campbell, spoke about this year’s themes of place, culture, and ecology, “In a time of global crisis, many of the artists have created spaces of freedom and possibility, suggesting new ways to build healing cultures of care that embrace and protect (bio)diversity, opening up opportunities for joy and hope anchored in justice.”
  • What to watch for: Keep an eye out for the map of the exhibits that drops on March 4. Desert X will run through May 7.

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