CITY COUNCIL TO TACKLE "SEWER" FEES AND PLANNING CONSIDERS A LAUNDROMAT
Planning Commission meets July 19, Council on July 20
[UPDATE July 18, 2022] The Planning Commission agenda released last week contained additional details on the planned “Cholla Laundry”. Two items of note: 1. The laundromat will use a recycled water system. 2. Although the laundromat has been granted a CEQA exemption, it will be subject to the same monitoring and mitigation measures for cultural artifacts that were used for Project Phoenix and agreed upon by the City and Tribal representatives. The staff report and site plan are attached below.
Please see our City Council agenda review for additional updates on sewer fees and other agenda items.
[UPDATE July 10, 2022] Per the City Manager - the wastewater treatment plant at Project Phoenix is scheduled to go online March 2023 but design is not completed and it has not gone out to bid as yet. The capacity will not be sufficient for the planned laundromat to hook in, so Dipierro Development will need to present another solution at Planning. The lot with the triplex, also owned by the City, will be used for an expansion of the plant. Quoting the City Manager “I have been working on, not complete yet, a policy for expansion and connection of the downtown plant so no ability yet. And with that policy will be fees, connection/capacity fees. So right now, there is probably NOT capacity to connect.”
City Council Meeting, Wednesday, July 20, 6pm
We don’t yet have a full agenda for this meeting, but we do know that it includes a hearing on “the placement of sewer fees on the tax roll for FY 2022-2023 and approving the City Manager’s Written Report (sic) of assessed fees by land use and delinquent and unpaid sewer collection charges for the purpose of collecting said charges on the tax roll.”1
Residents found this confusing since we don’t have a sewer system in 29 Palms so we sought clarification from City Manager Frank Luckino, “Its fees and not a tax. And it’s the operations of the sewer in Project Phoenix for the approximately 15 businesses.”
Ok, so it’s for Project Phoenix and the businesses in the immediate vicinity. BUT we have verified that Project Phoenix does not have a “sewer” in the sense that most people understand the word “sewer” - ie sewage being transported to a wastewater treatment facility.
we have verified that Project Phoenix does not have a “sewer” in the sense that most people understand the word “sewer” - ie sewage being transported to a wastewater treatment facility.
The City applied for and received a $1,675,680 matching grant2 to support construction of a package wastewater treatment plant for Project Phoenix in October 2021. The treatment plant is intended to service the businesses within the Project Phoenix footprint, bordered by Twentynine Palms Highway on the north, Cactus Drive on the south, and running from Cholla Avenue on the east to Tamarisk Avenue on the west. But ground has not yet been broken on the package wastewater plant project. The plant is projected to be built on an empty lot that is south of the Virginian, on the other side of the parking lot and triplex also behind the Virginian.
Currently the businesses within the Project Phoenix project are being serviced by sewer collection lines feeding a common community septic tank.3 Instead of the septic to sewer conversion anticipated by the businesses, they are still being serviced by a septic to septic conversion.
We have to wonder whether the costs for the construction of the package wastewater treatment plant will have increased in the past nine months, given near doubling of the budget for Luckie Park Pool in a similar time frame.
Planning Commission Meeting, Tuesday, July 19, 2022
Again we don’t have a full agenda for this meeting and are working from a public notice in the Desert Trail. Concurrent with City Council looking at “sewer” fees, the Planning Commission is considering a proposal for a business that relies on adequate sewer access: a laundromat.
A laundromat is considered a necessity in any city, but especially so in an economically disadvantaged City. Residents without laundry facilities have been driving to Joshua Tree since the Alamo Laundromat closed several years ago. The opening of a new facility is considered a priority by City residents.
29 Palms has been without a laundromat since the Alamo Laundromat closed several years ago and the opening of a new facility is considered a priority by City residents.
The proposal is being put forward by Dipierro Development Corporation, which is associated with the family of prominent 29 Palms landowner Charles Donaldson. The property, located at 6543 Cholla Avenue, was acquired by Dipierro Development in May 2017, several months after the City acquired the land for the package wastewater plant, located on the west side of Cholla across from the proposed laundromat.
While the prospect of a new laundromat is cause for celebration by City residents, its location and timing begs a few questions: Given that the location is outside of the Project Phoenix boundary, will the laundromat be allowed to hook up to the planned package wastewater treatment plant across the street? Laundromats produce vast amounts of wastewater — wouldn’t it overwhelm the existing common community septic system? Or will the laundromat be held up by the delay in building the package wastewater treatment plant?
Should be an interesting discussion at Planning but fingers crossed it all works out.
Public notice, Desert Trail, July 6, 2022
Heather Clisby, Twentynine Palms Secures Funding for Wastewater Plant within Project Phoenix, Z107.7, October 5, 2021