Councilman Gary Gardner's Priorities
Desert Hot Springs is the fastest-growing city in the Coachella Valley, and as such there are a number of critical issues that will come before the city council in the next four years. Here are my priorities going forward:
- Making sure public safety grows as the city grows. We’ve already bonded for one new fire station on the east side, and we are expanding our downtown police campus -- both will open in 2022/2023. We need to plan now for additional police officers and another fire station, as well as expanded animal control and code enforcement as the city grows. If I’m re-elected this will continue to be my number-one priority.
- Nearly 40% of our municipal budget comes from cannabis taxes, but that’s too much in one bucket. We need to expand our tourism economy by revitalizing our spas, capitalizing on our access to outdoor recreation, as well as new areas such as canna- tourism. We can increase the amount of taxes those sectors bring in, reducing our reliance on cannabis taxes. As the city’s representative, and vice-chair on the Visit Greater Palm Springs Joint Powers Authority, I’ve worked hard to make sure Desert Hot Springs isn’t overlooked in regional marketing and I’ve worked on spa revitalization and outdoor recreation so our tourism industry grows with the city.
- Our desert landscape is beautiful – it’s one of the main reasons I came to Desert Hot Springs, and why many of us love it so much. Since I was elected, we’ve made great strides in cleaning up our desert, we increased fines for illegal dumping, and we’ve opened new hiking trails and are developing more trials as well as pushing for a visitor center for the Sand to Snow National Monument. I will continue to work to expand our outdoor recreation opportunities and work to keep our desert clean.
- We must improve traffic flow and reduce accidents and fatalities. New houses and new residents and growing industries bring increased traffic, and new roads take a long time to plan and to find funding for. It’s vital that we start the planning process now. I worked to get funding for message signs alerting drivers when roads are closed due to weather, and I promise to make improving our road network and reducing traffic deaths a high priority.
- We need to continue to work on growing our commercial business sector in Desert Hot Springs so residents can shop and dine in their city and not have to travel so far for basic needs and keep sales tax dollars here. Our population level is such that the city needs to do everything it can to attract new retail and restaurant options. I will work with our economic development team on making sure the city is attractive to new stores and restaurants.
- Desert Hot Springs is woefully short on park space for our residents. In 2022 we updated our parks master plan, and we are making some significant investments in improving our existing parks, but we need more parks, especially on the city’s east side. Finding locations and funding for new parks will be a high priority of mine.