Do away with the tram!!!

General Palm Springs area.

Postby LAMike » Mon May 07, 2007 8:11 am

:wink:
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Postby cynthia23 » Mon May 07, 2007 11:15 am

I'm enjoying this debate and i applaud TKVance for introducing a little discussion of ecological/use issues in here. The tram was built in 1963 and it's very unlikely a similar project could be built today. I see arguments both for and against it. My deepest concerns, however, have to do with development on the borders of the park. Tkvance mentioned whether there were other issues to be involved in. Indeed there are! A lot of out-of-town Mt. San Jac hikers seem unaware that a HUGE project is planned that will ENTIRELY FILL the WHOLE FLOOR of Chino Canyon, from Highway 111 right up to the Lower Tram Station--everything from high-end houses, hotels, a golf course, condos, and convenience stores. The project has been approved and is perilously close to being built. This isn't in the distant future--they are trying to start the grading process (which will involve TERRACING the entire bottom of the canyon, moving millions of tons of boulders and dirt.) Great plan, huh? If you think it won't happen, think again--this land is incredibly valuable to the handful of private owners (chief among them, Suzanne Somers) who hold title to the land. Also, because the Tram is firmly in the hands of local developer/Spawn of Satan John Wessman, the Tram is 100percent behind this appalling project.

Chino Canyon is one of the most beautiful, majestic settings in the SoCal area, if not the United States. Building a bunch of junky suburbs in it makes about as much sense as Timeshares in the Grand Canyon or a laundromat at Niagara Falls. The Palm Springs City Council Members are all deeply in the pocket of local developers. If you are an out-of-towner who is horrified by this desecration, contact the P.S. City Council--they do care about tourist dollars. Or contact the Sierra Club (they are fighting a last ditch legal battle.) There is also a local group that is fighting against it. Post if you want more info.
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Postby TRumble24 » Mon May 07, 2007 12:31 pm

Cynthia - I would love some info on how to get involved, I heard of this project awhile ago but I did not realize it was actually coming to be. Makes me sick to my stomach to think about.
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Postby tkvance » Mon May 07, 2007 1:57 pm

Excellent ideas, cynthia23. I for one will contact the PS City Council right away. Any other ways to get involved? Your insight/knowledge of these issues is so important. Let's try to do something about this!!! Obviously, the ecological harm that this development will inflict will have a long-lasting negative impact on this beautiful area.
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Postby tkvance » Mon May 07, 2007 2:25 pm

I just sent emails to the Palm Springs City Council and Planning Department, expressing my concern about this development and the negative impact it will have on the surrounding area. I also strongly expressed the point that as a tourist who frequents the area, I would not continue to spend my tourist dollars in their city if they continue with this and other developments in sensitive natural areas.

Here's their website; if you are concerned, I would urge you to do the same:
http://www.ci.palm-springs.ca.us/council.html

kathyw, you'll be pleased to know that I did not ask them to dismantle the tram. Not yet......
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Postby LAMike » Mon May 07, 2007 4:54 pm

So THAT"S what they're up to. Thanks for the info. For what good it does, I wrote to them just now too, but, if it's a done deal, not a lot we can do is there????
Can we force an ecological impact study to delay them at least?
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Postby KathyW » Tue May 08, 2007 5:29 am

Economics may help delay the project for a while.
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Postby cynthia23 » Tue May 08, 2007 1:10 pm

Thank you so much for posting all those links, KathyW. The first three will all help people here understand the magnitude of what is being planned. In particular, check out Shadowrock's site and their "Artist's Drawing" of the planned mega-development. Truly, a picture is worth a thousand words--of course, their "dream" vision (Chino Canyon filled with a golf course and houses) is my nightmare! The "saveourmountains" site has links to the P.S. city council and mayor so you can write a letter expressing your horror, and there is also a site for donations if you wish. My understanding is that currently the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity are mounting a legal battle on procedural grounds, arguing (if I understand it correctly) that the Shadowrock development (this is not all of the development, but a big chunk of it) was approved over ten years ago, and that developer Mark Bragg's time to build it has expired. (Indeed, it would be harder to get such a mega-project approved now.) Let's hope this argument holds sway. But remember Shadowrock is not the only project under development. The tract home builder of Mountain Gate (on the other side of 111) also has a HUGE development they are ready to go on--hundreds of tract homes from the edge of 111 up. And, since the Indians own chunks of this land, they could also build a casino ...

KathyW is correct that current economic conditions (i.e. a poor real estate market) are to some extent currently slowing the project; however one can't rely on this indefinitely. This piece of real estate is so incredibly valuable that the motivation is extraordinarily high to build there. To me, it seems that the only real hope is face the fact of human greed, and to purchase the land from the various owners and establish a conservancy. Indeed, I believe this is being proposed/explored. It's basically extortion (these private owners bought the land back when it was a few dollars an acre) but there seems no better option. The Indians, I understand, will go with the flow, so to speak--they would not build unless the others do.


The biggest problem IMO is that locally, this place is very conservative. Environmental thinking is still pretty radical here. A project like this would NEVER EVER get built in a place like, say, Santa Barbara--there would be an uproar. Here, people have little concept of the economic value of environmental tourism and it honestly hasn't occurred to them that the scenic beauty here is what brings the tax dollars in. The "environmental writer" of the Desert Sun refers to "barren desert wasteland"--they are deep in promiscous coital bliss with any and all developers. They never met one they weren't eager to be screwed by. Sorry for the crude metaphor but the corruption and incestuous political dealing here is like something from a Faulkner novel. Head Archon of Evil John Wessman basically controls Palm Springs. His latest plan is to build a giant four story tower directly next to the Palm Springs Museum--yes, that's right folks, as you head up the DM trail, you will be seeing people in their hotel rooms for quite some time. His PR guy made a telling statement in the press recently, when he was asked about the (few, pitiful) opponents to Wessman's plan to build highrises all throughout downtown: he said "the mountain is the problem. If it weren't there, we could expand to the west." Got that, folks? The Mountain: Developer's Big Problem. Can you imagine this in, say, Newport Beach? The problem: the ocean! If it weren't there, we could build all the way to China!

These clueless morons simply do not get that the Mountain and the Wilderness are the (sole) reason anyone comes to Palm Springs--even the tourists who spend all of their time on the golf course and drinking margaritas poolside. They may not want to climb the mountain like we do, John Son-of-Satan Wessman, but they definitely want to look at it. Once these greedheads have overbuilt every square inch of land, the tourists will go home, the developers will retire to their private palaces in Colorado and Montana, and we'll be living in a place that looks like LA--only a lot hotter.

Developers, go build in hell!!!!!!!
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Postby KathyW » Tue May 08, 2007 3:50 pm

There's still a lot of farmland in the Coachella Valley that can and will eventually transition to residential use, but I guess that flat valley land isn't good enough for those with lots of money.

I hate to see the farmland transition to suburban tract housing, but I'd prefer to see that than estate residential houses built in the "Chino Cone."

After several years of a very hot residential land market in the Coachella Valley, and the rest of Southern California, it all came to a standstill at the end of 2005/beginning of 2006 due to the slowdown in the housing market. The speculative investors stopped buying because the builders didn't need anymore lots. How long before the market picks up again is anyone's guess.

There is a limited amount of land in Southern California that is privately held and there is a limited amount of water. Some feel that the conversion of farmland in the Valley to urban uses makes sense because the water use is just transfered and the land has already been disturbed from it's native state. I personally find the farmland to be beautiful, but at the same time I see that it makes more sense to use this land than to build in the mountains.

Much of the mountainous land surrounding the Valley is already public land or is zoned for conservation. So, some may argue that it is okay to develop the Chino Cone. It is private land and there aren't many other areas like it that can be developed. If it is approved for development by the powers that be, then the owners will be able to legally develop. I may be wrong, but I think the original land use designation that allowed for development on that area goes way back to the 1960's when the tram was developed. As Cynthia said, the tram would never be built today, so I wonder if those houses should be?

Unfortunately, I think everyone of us, including myself, that lives in a suburban single-family residence is guilty of not being much of an environmentalist. Why don't we all live in multi-family housing and conserve more land? Do we all need a yard that we never go out into?

There's another interesting development proposed for the Oasis area - The Blixeth Desert Ranch - money talks.
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