After another neighborhood coyote attack, here’s what city officials advise

A recent increase in coyote sightings, including an attack on a pet dog in South Palm Springs, has lead to some advice from city officials: Your best defense is always a great offense.

During the most recent attack, in Canyon Vista Estates last week, a small dog out for his daily morning walk with his owner had a piece of ear bitten off when two young coyotes emerged from nearby trees and attacked. Fortunately the dog was on a leash and his owner was able to pull him away from the predators.

The city’s location near several wilderness areas contributes to the issue. It’s not uncommon here to see coyotes and other predators in neighborhoods. It’s also not uncommon for encounters to end up deadly. In the case of coyotes, although they are naturally fearful of humans, food and water in neighborhoods simply proves too attractive.

“As the City has many location to visit and see the splendor of nature, nature too visits us,” animal control officials said. “Even though the sight of a raccoon or the coyote crossing your path can be held in wonder, it too can be dangerous, not only for you but for your pet.”

What should you do if you spot a coyote? First off, officials said, do not run. Instead, make as much noise as possible, throw something at the animal, yell, wave your arms, or use a whistle if you carry one.

“Your best defense is always a great offense,” they said, adding that you should also “know what animals are in your area, when they forage for food, where they might nest or seek cover.”

It’s also important not to encourage the wildlife to feed in neighborhoods. Simple tips to prevent that include:

  • Never leaving pet food out at night
  • Securing your trash cans
  • Never leaving small pets or even children unattended in areas travels by wildlife

For more information or to request that an animal control officer attend a neighborhood meeting, contact Animal Control at 760-323-8151.

Mobile food pantry to serve North Palm Springs

A food desert in North Palm Springs will soon get healthier options, free of charge for residents. 

City officials announced this week that a partnership with FIND Food Bank will see food distributions twice a month through a mobile food pantry at James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 Tramview Road. The program grew out of a City Council Business Retention Subcommittee meeting with local residents and the business community, held every other month.

The neighborhood has long been in need of a grocery store. Lack of convenient access and transportation for some residents exacerbates the issue. The nearest grocery store in the area is 2.6 miles away.

“Partnering with the City of Palm Springs to bring our mobile food pantry to Desert Highland was a natural fit,” said Debbie Espinosa, CEO of the food bank. “(W)e are excited to begin serving the neighborhood and educating residents about healthy food choices.”

The mobile pantry will offer fresh produce, protein, dairy and grain items. Each family will receive approximately 20-35 pounds of food free of charge. Community healthcare workers will also be on hand to assist residents with referrals to medical and mental health resources, government programs.

Starting tomorrow, Aug. 22, the pantry will operate the second and fourth Thursday of each month from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. While the pantry is part of the solution to a lack of quality food in the neighborhood, the city is still pursuing a grocery store to serve the community.

“The Subcommittee is committed to ensuring that no area in our City is a food desert lacking access to fresh food and we will continue our work to bring a grocery store to the area,” said Mayor pro tem Geoff Kors .

Indictment handed down in alleged bribery case at City Hall

A Grand Jury indictment has been handed down in the case against former Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet and a pair of developers.

Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin announced the indictment today following years of delays. Pougnet, along with developers Richard Meaney and John Wessman, were charged in 2017 with bribery, perjury and conflict of interest. The case centers around alleged payments from the developers to Pougnet of at least $375,000 to buy votes and influence projects in downtown Palm Springs.

According to Hestrin, developers Meaney and Wessman secretly funneled money to Pougnet between 2012 and 2014 in order to buy his influence. At that time, both developers had a number of significant, lucrative development projects before the City Council . Pougnet, who was the mayor at the time, voted on a number of projects in which he had a financial interest over the same timeframe. Pougnet failed to disclose those financial interests. The 30-count indictment, which was returned Thursday, includes nine counts for accepting a bribe by an executive officer, nine counts of bribing an executive officer, eight counts of conflict of interest, three counts of perjury, and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. Pougnet was indicted on 21 counts and Meaney and Wessman were each indicted on 10 counts.

Arraignment is expected Sept. 12. If convicted, Pougnet could face up to 19 years in state prison and be barred for life from holding public office. Meaney and Wessman could each face a prison sentence of 12 years.

After a series of delays in trying to conduct a preliminary hearing, the District Attorney’s Office determined that an indictment would be the best method to move the case forward toward seeking justice for the community of Palm Springs. Consequently, the District Attorney’s Office opted to proceed by grand jury indictment rather than conduct a preliminary hearing.

In a joint statement released this morning, the Palm Springs City Council praised the DA’s office while also noting no other city officials or staff were found to have been involved in the case.

“The Grand Jury came to the same conclusion that the
District Attorney previously came to,” the statement read. “As
a result, a trial should now proceed more expeditiously through our
criminal justice system and continuous delays will cease.

“No other individuals, including City Staff, were found by either the District
Attorney or the Grand Jury to have committed wrongdoing. Each of us
was elected after the events that led to the indictments occurred and we
are proud of the work our Council, Staff and resident led Task Force
have done to enact and implement new, ethics and transparency laws
and policies that far exceed the requirements of state and federal law,
making Palm Springs a leader in open government.”