The Desert Hot Springs City Council last month voted to extend its temporary moratorium on certain new licenses, permits or entitlements in the city’s downtown area to give city staff time to develop a comprehensive plan for the area near city hall.

“Part of our general plan does emphasize the need for providing a downtown that’s a central business district [that] serves as a key area for local businesses, government functions and public gatherings,” Erick Becerril, community development director, said. “The downtown area really has to play a critical role in bringing together residents to shop, socialize and share a collective experience in the city.”

The temporary moratorium will remain in place through Jan. 17, 2025, and only includes the area bound by First Street, Buena Vista Avenue, Mesquite Avenue and Cactus Drive. 

The moratorium applies to uses such as check cashing and payday loan providers, food preparation and catering services, data centers, homeless shelters, day care centers, medical service facilities, schools, convenience stores, grocery stores and funeral parlors among others. It does not apply to uses such as restaurants, breweries, marijuana dispensaries, spas, hotels and art galleries among others. A full list can be found here.

“[The approved] uses really, again, revolve around restaurants, bars, breweries and cannabis, farmers markets, so on and so forth that really help bring the community together,” Becerril said.

The council previously approved the interim ordinance at the Jan. 17 meeting for a maximum of 45 days, but extended it to allow city staff more time to create a new downtown specific plan in conjunction with California Polytechnic University to ensure that the downtown area is being used in a manner consistent with the city’s general plan.

While the council can take action in the future to amend or rescind the urgency interim ordinance, City Attorney Jennifer Mizrahi said it cannot be extended beyond two years.

The extension passed 4-0, with Councilmember Russell Betts recusing himself for the discussion and vote since he and his wife have a hair salon in the downtown area.

In other council action: The Desert Hot Springs City Council voted 4-1 to support a proposed Chuckwalla National Monument and expansion of Joshua Tree National Park with Mayor Pro Tem Roger Nuñez voting against.

You can watch a full recording of the Feb. 7 meeting here.

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