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Newsletter #9, September 11, 2022
A tiny agenda, a big district and the sewer explained
The agenda for the September 13 City Council meeting is surprisingly brief with four consent calendar items and two minor action items, so we are forgoing our usual recap. The action items confirm two new members to the barely funded Public Art Advisory Committee and cancel a parking agreement. Highlights include a presentation by the Morongo Basin Healthcare District and the 2021 Sheriff Department Crime report, which is included in the consent calendar.
The management of City Council agendas remains a mystery to us. One can expect agendas to be more crowded over the summer when Council meets just once per month, but some were comical in their length and complexity — the June 14 agenda was 535 pages long, had 10 consent calendar items, a public hearing, and seven action items; the July agenda had 11 consent calendar items, two public hearings, and five action items, while the August 23 agenda had 10 consent calendar items and six action items. Nothing on those agendas could be discussed on September 13th? The VHR policy update, which was not time dependent, HAD to be at the end of the 17-item August 23rd agenda? As Desert Trumpet writer Jonathan Hume remarked, “If the objective is to jam things through with minimal discussion, that’s a fine strategy.”
On to this week’s two features….
Everything you always wanted to know about sewer in 29 but were afraid to ask
Maybe you’ve heard it rumored that sewer’s coming to Twentynine, or heard someone say it’s inevitable. Maybe you have friends in Yucca Valley who had to scrape together enough for a mandatory sewer connection fee and wonder if Twentynine will some day see the same.
Here’s the lowdown on sewer in Twentynine Palms.
Who are the players?
When it comes to a sewer system in Twentynine Palms the players are as follows.
Average Current Twentynine Palms Residents. At this point it’s unclear how average residents would benefit from sewer versus their current septic tanks. Equally unclear is the actual level of support the idea of sewer enjoys among residents — especially if they eventually learn that it’s going to cost them something. The City paid a consulting company to poll residents about sewer last year, but the questions were so slanted that it’s hard to draw any conclusions from the results.
Twentynine Palms City Council. Based on their comments and voting records, all five members support rapid construction of a sewer system.
City Manager Frank Luckino. Strongly supports rapid construction of a sewer system and has been instrumental in gaining state and federal funding for it.
TPWD (Twentynine Palms Water District). TPWD can advise on a sewer system, but as a Special District dedicated to providing water, TPWD cannot itself build or run a sewer system. In collaboration with the City and to serve its customers, TPWD supports sewer construction if it’s driven by a proven need to mitigate timely risks to water quality. In the absence of any current documented risk to water quality, TPWD’s support for immediate sewer system construction is far less clear. TPWD would likely prefer to wait for the USGS (United States Geological Survey) report on these risks, which has a projected completion date in 2027. In the meantime, this puts the beleaguered but popular TPWD potentially at odds with the various go-go sewer supporters listed here.
Big Twentynine Palms Property Owners. It’s safe to assume sewer would significantly increase the monetary value of the many acres of Twentynine Palms real estate which the sewer would serve, so it’s hard to believe that these lucky right-place-at-the-right-time landowners would be anything but big sewer supporters.
The historic 29 Palms Inn, a 9,000 year old Oasis, and the finest pizza you'll ever have make up Twentynine Palms City Council District 4.
The most interesting City Council district in terms of local history, businesses, and outdoor adventure is District 4. Currently represented by Mayor Karmolette O’Gilvie, who won her city council seat by two votes in 2018, the boundaries for District 4 encompass (mostly) everything east of Adobe Road and south of Highway 62. This includes the Utah Trail entrance to Joshua Tree National Park and the Observatory. Notable neighborhoods in District 4 include Hansen Tract and South Utah Trail.
This coming November, two candidates will go head-to-head for the seat to represent District 4. Karmolette O’Gilvie, a registered nurse who is currently Mayor of Twentynine Palms, and rookie Octavious Scott, a Hi Desert local and veteran, are the two names on the ballot for voters in District 4 to choose from.
If elected, O’Gilvie, a Democrat, will serve her second four year term. In a community where talk of term limits for City Council has gained notoriety due to a history of incumbents running unopposed, Scott, a Libertarian, decided to throw his name in the hat, opting to run on a platform focusing on affordable housing and youth programs for Twentynine Palms families.
Here are some things to do while in District 4: