- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
County has 1,900 criminal cases awaiting trial, while down 30 judges
The Riverside County Superior Court has more than 1,900 criminal cases awaiting trial — a backlog that authorities blame on COVID-19-related shutdowns and a shortage of judges.
Before the pandemic closed courtrooms in March 2020, the county had a backlog in the “low hundreds,”said Riverside County Superior Court spokesperson Marita Ford. The backup now is about 10 times as large as before the pandemic.
The extensive logjam means some suspects are being detained for months or even years before their case is heard — jeopardizing their Sixth Amendment rights to a speedy trial. It also means that crime victims are facing extensive waits for justice to be served.
The Desert Sun previously calculated that the court system initiated about 50 jury trials per month over the last decade. At that rate, it would take about three years for the current cases to reach a courtroom.
Ford said the exact number of cases awaiting trial is difficult to report because it’s constantly changing with new cases being filed and old ones resolved on a daily basis — either because a trial concludes, charges are dropped or a defendant agrees to a plea deal.
— Christopher Damien
Newsom, Democrats vow to protect abortion in Calif. constitution
California voters could get a chance to add abortion protections to the state’s constitution this fall.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and top legislative leaders committed Monday to put an amendment on the November ballot that would “enshrine the right to choose” in California.
Their comments came hours after Politico published a draft opinion from the court that revealed a majority of the nine justices want to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that stopped state governments from banning abortion.
If the court overturns Roe v. Wade, at least 26 states are likely to either further restrict abortion access or ban it outright, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights advocacy group.
California won’t be one of them. Instead, Newsom has pledged to make California a sanctuary for people to come and get abortions. State legislative leaders have endorsed 13 bills to do so, including proposals that would potentially use taxpayer money to pay for people from other states to come to California for abortions.
Abortion rights supporters rallied Tuesday in Palm Springs.
— Tom Coulter
Groups purchase Palm Hills for $7M
Three conservation groups have paid roughly $7 million to purchase about 3,500 acres of desert land above East Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs often called Palm Hills or the Goat Trails.
The land, located behind the Rimrock Plaza shopping center anchored by Vons, includes a range of popular hiking trails such as the Clara Burgess Trail and Jane’s Hoffbrau Oasis Trail. The Coachella Valley Mountain Conservancy and the Coachella Valley Conservation Commission financed the purchase, which was negotiated by the Oswit Land Trust.
“It was a very challenging, long process,” said Jane Garrison, founder and executive director of the Oswit Land Trust. “It was really 30 years in the making and the last two years was just running it across the finish line.”
Garrison said conservation groups had been eyeing the land for decades, but momentum had accelerated following a 2005 referendum that saw Palm Springs voters overturn a city council-approved golf course and residential development on the land.
— James Cutchin
La Quinta residents opposed to surf resort file complaint after key votes
A group of residents who oppose a proposed surf resort in La Quinta have called for the removal of a planning commissioner they say acted inappropriately and disrespectfully during the April 26 meeting regarding the Coral Mountain Resort.
The complaint was filed with the City Council on Tuesday by Alena Callimanis, a representative of the citizens group La Quinta Residents for Responsible Development, also known as LQRRD, which has repeatedly voiced opposition to the Coral Mountain Resort.
The complaint is against Commissioner Kevin McCune, who voted in favor of the 386-acre project that is planned at the southwest corner of Avenue 58 and Madison Street. It alleges that McCune used inflammatory rhetoric, made derogatory comments and was disrespectful of opponents’ opinions.
The city attorney, however, disagrees with the complaint, saying that he was at the meeting and believes McCune acted in a professional manner.
On April 26, commissioners moved the project to the City Council with recommendation for approval in two votes.
Iconic Kaufmann House sells for record $13.06M
The Kaufmann Desert House, made famous in the iconic 1970 Slim Aarons photograph “Poolside Gossip” shot by its pool, has sold off-market for $13.06 million, according to its listing agent. It was originally listed for sale for $25 million in late 2020.
The sale price narrowly beats out the Bob Hope estate, which set the prior record for the most expensive home sold in Palm Springs in 2016 when investor Ron Burkle bought it for $13 million. Despite the massive price tag, it falls short of the Coachella Valley-wide record set earlier this year by a Bighorn estate, which sold for $42 million in January after listing for $50 million last year.
Property records do not yet reflect the sale, although that is common for very recent transactions.
Listing agent Gerard Bisignano of Vista Sotheby’s International Realty said “the history, the pedigree (and) the architect” of the property all drove its sky-high selling price.
Designed by modernist architect Richard Neutra and built in 1946 for Pittsburgh department store magnate Edgar Kaufmann, the roughly 3,200 square-foot, five-bedroom house has had a small number of owners over the past 75 years. Brent R. Harris, a longtime executive at Newport Beach-based investment manager PIMCO, undertook a yearslong series of multimillion-dollar renovations after he acquired the property in the early 1990s.
— James Cutchin
Palm Springs mulls how to spend money on infrastructure
A library renovation, a fire station and pickleball courts are three new projects Palm Springs is considering funding in the next fiscal year.
Those projects, however, are being considered alongside dozens of others – including some that are much farther along and which have already landed substantial city commitment for a line item in the annual budget. That budget must be in place by July.
City Manager Justin Clifton said in April that the city’s general fund is flush with cash because revenues from various taxes had recovered much quicker than expected after the pandemic.
Clifton said that while the infrastructure fund isn’t quite as flush, it still has more money than anticipated largely because Measure J sales tax revenues exceeded expectation. Measure J is a1% sales and use tax that is to be used to fund city services, and is the largest contributor to the infrastructure fund.
The Palm Springs City Council started considering which projects to fund on Wednesday, and failed to reach a consensus but did come to a clear conclusion: The council will need more time and information to determine how to spend the $70 million the city will likely have to spend on infrastructure in the next year.
— Paul Albani-Burgio
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Palm Springs area news: Kaufmann House, abortion, Palm Hills