Natural gas pains

In this week’s newsletter: A shocking spike in natural gas prices, why golf courses still get so much of our water & more.

Happy Wednesday, you guys! 

If you haven’t looked at your natural gas bill this winter, we suggest you dig it up. Officials from SoCalGas have been trying to get the word out that customers can expect a lot of sticker shock when they get their next bill. 

Deborah McGarrey, public affairs manager for the gas company, said some customers are seeing bills that are double and sometimes triple what they were this time last year.

The utility company is basically caught in the middle. It simply purchases gas from the market and delivers it to customers, and the price for natural gas is 300% higher this month than in January 2022. “The cost is billed at no markup,” McGarrey said. “We don’t profit.”

Setting the mood: Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles

A rendering of the planned Avenue 44 Apartments in Indio.

Forward progress for more apartments

Nearly 600 new apartments in the planning process in two valley cities received mixed reviews last week, but plans for them are moving forward nonetheless.

  • In Palm Desert, the City Council unanimously advanced a 394-unit, luxury apartment complex off Frank Sinatra Drive despite pushback from some neighbors at nearby Desert Willow.
  • During a Jan. 26 meeting, residents living in the area raised concerns about the potential loss of views, privacy, and increased traffic.
  • The project is just one of several in the northern part of Palm Desert that could eventually see nearly 6,000 much-needed housing units.
  • Also last week, the Indio Planning Commission unanimously approved moving forward with the proposed Avenue 44 Apartments, a 180-unit affordable housing complex set to be built near Golf Center Parkway.
  • Why it matters: Dozens of housing projects are either under construction or in the works throughout the Coachella Valley to help make up for a large gap in housing for residents of all income levels, including low income.

⛳️ Why valley golf courses remain green amid Colorado River crisis

The Coachella Valley’s gated communities, resorts, and golf courses have long been promoted with palm-studded images of green grass, swimming pools and artificial lakes. That takes water. Should we stop creating an unnatural lushness as the Colorado River crisis plays out? The Los Angeles Times explored the issue, and here’s what we learned:

  • While urban suppliers are being asked to reduce outdoor water use by 10%, there are no restrictions for those using private wells or canal water to irrigate farmland, golf courses, or grass-covered landscapes, or to fill artificial lakes.
  • Our roughly 120 golf courses account for 18% of the valley’s water use, and a single course can consume as much as 1 million gallons a day. The courses draw half of their needs from wells and a third from the Colorado River. The rest is recycled water.
  • Conservationists and others are asking water suppliers to prioritize drinking water and reduce consumption that isn’t vital, including that used on golf courses.
  • Coachella Valley Water District officials don’t want to disrupt major users. Among other measures, they plan to reduce the amount of Colorado River water the district uses to replenish a crucial aquifer.
  • Bottom line: “It’s definitely going to affect our area if people continue to be irresponsible,” said Sendy Hernández Orellana Barrows, president of the CactusToCloud Institute. “Sooner rather than later, people are going to start regretting what they did.”

In other news

The Bed, Bath & Beyond off Highway 111 in Palm Desert is among 87 stores the nationwide retailer is closing as it inches closer to bankruptcy.  On Monday, it was announced that Palm Desert 10 Cinemas in the mall would be closing permanently this weekend.

The CEO of JFK Memorial Hospital stepped down this week after a decade at the helm. Karen Faulis, CEO of Hi-Desert Medical Center, stepped up to fill the shoes of Gary Honts on Monday.

Nine Coachella Valley high schools will be represented at the Academic WorldQuest Thursday in Indian Wells. During the event, competitors’ knowledge of world affairs is challenged. The top team and top three students from the local competition move on to a national event in April.


Taste of Jalisco Festival
All weekend | Cathedral City
Celebrate the sights, sounds and tastes of the state of Jalisco, Mexico at the 7th annual Taste of Jalisco Festival. The celebration honors the 26-year sister city relationship between Cathedral City and Tequila, Jalisco through culture, cuisine, music and fashion. (Free admission)


Indian Wells City Council meeting strategic planning session
9 a.m. | Indian Wells Golf Resort, Celebrity Ballroom
The Indian Wells City Council will hold a special City Council and Housing Authority joint strategic planning session on Wednesday morning. View the meeting agenda here

Indio City Council / Indio Water Authority
5 p.m. | Zoom and Council Chamber
The City Council Chamber will be open to the public, and City Council meetings are conducted both in person and remotely through Zoom. View the meeting agenda here

Coachella Valley Invitational
11 a.m. today through Feb. 18 | Empire Polo Club

The best clubs in professional soccer use this three-week competition to secure roster spots, build momentum, and unofficially officially launch the 2023 MLS season.


Morning Mixer: Better Homes & Gardens Desert Lifestyle Property
7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. | 73260 El Paseo Dr., Palm Desert
Join for networking, a continental breakfast, coffee, raffle prizes and much more. The mixer is free for members. 

Music at the Museum with the High Road Band
5 p.m. | La Quinta Museum
Join in the museum courtyard as the High Road Band plays rock and blues music with a “looking for love” theme. 


Coda Gallery First Friday Art Walk & Wine Tasting
4 p.m. | Coda Gallery, Palm Desert
Join Animal Samaritans for art and wine on the first Friday of each month. Organic wines and other beverages will be available with donation in benefit of Animal Samaritans.


Emergency Preparedness Expo at Trilogy
10:30 a.m. | La Quinta
the event features a variety of first responders answering questions and teaching CPR and basic first aid. Also look for emergency vehicles on display and more than 20 companies, government agencies and volunteer aid organizations with booths inside the clubhouse. For further information, contact Pete Fleury at

Emergency preparedness make & take event
11 a.m. | Cathedral City Public Library
Join city officials for a free emergency preparedness event aimed at providing information about how to respond to an emergency, like an earthquake, and what items you need in your preparedness kit. 

Plein air festival and reception: Paint the Desert
2 p.m. | Artists Center at The Galen, Palm Desert
As part of the festival, 65 artists, some internationally acclaimed, will paint the Coachella Valley from Thursday until Sunday. To find more information about the festival and its schedule, visit

COVID-19 remembrance event
10 a.m. until 4 p.m. | Civic Center Park, Palm Desert
People who have lost their loved ones to COVID-19 are invited to partake in this remembrance event. Attendees are encouraged to send pictures of their loved ones to this email address.


Wildflower nature walks
8:30 a.m. | Randall Henderson Trail, Palm Desert

Walk about 45 minutes on the wash trail and learn how to identify the various wildflowers at this event hosted by Friends of the Desert Mountains.

Hal Blaine star dedication 
2:30 p.m. | Downtown Palm Springs

Walk of the Stars Palm Springs will honor Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Hal Blaine with the 455th star at 100 North Palm Canyon Drive.

☕ And finally…

Mark here

I believe I’m among the last people in the valley to visit 6th Street Coffee in Coachella. But, wow, I’m really glad I did.

  • My wife and I motored down to the shop over the weekend and it’s as delightful as I’d heard. But the drinks were the star of the show. That’s on purpose, as owner Steve Garcia has focused on coffee, pure and simple, since opening in 2019.
  • “People want stuff in their coffee,” Garcia told Palm Springs Life in a 2020 report, “but [we] make sure we’re not overpowering it. That’s not us. We want you to be able to taste the coffee and how different it is than what you’ll find at other shops.”
  • We had our usuals — an iced mocha for me and a hot vanilla latte for her. We’re no experts, but “smooth” was probably the best way to describe the flavor, achieved by using beans roasted by Arcade Coffee Roasters in Riverside.

If you go: The shop is located in the library building at 1500 6th Street. Hours are 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sundays. Aside from coffee, there are also brunch items available until 1 p.m.

  • As a bonus, take your food and beverages across the street, where you can sit on one of the benches that surround a large fountain outside City Hall. 

Miss a day? Read past newsletters here.

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