Palm Springs to vote in special election on downtown hotel

Mayor Steve Pougnet supports new hotel, owner of small hotel has gone to court to fight it

Palm Springs to hold special election on downtown hotel

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Out of a crowd of 20, many shared their support of the Palm Springs City Council's efforts to move forward with plans to build a Kimpton Hotel as part of revitalizing downtown.

In a unanimous decision Friday, Mayor Steve Pougnet and his council approved to leave the fate of the hotel up to the people of Palm Springs. The city will hold a special election as soon as April 22, to vote whether the community supports the hotel portion of the project as approved by the city council.
The special election won't come cheap. It's expected to cost $80,000 of tax payers money.

"It's a shame we have to spend the money but it's money well spent," said council member Paul Lewin, during a special public meeting Friday.

The council said the election price tag outweighs the cost of litigation fees and delaying the project any longer.

Pougnet, council members and residents blamed local small hotel owner Frank Tysen for the delays. He's at the epicenter of controversy for pushing lawsuits against the city. His defense, the 7-story hotel will tarnish the city's charm and city leaders should leave it up to the people to decide if it's built or not.

"I love this city and it's successful right now because people love the sense of the village, the buildings and mountains. Why make it look like downtown LA?" said Tysen.

Tysen warned, he wasn't the only one against the projected height of the 185-room hotel, "2,700 people signed a petition to put it on the ballot. There are lots of people who don't want it," he said.

"We're talking about moving forward, forward with the project and make a decision in a timely matter," said City Attorney Doug Holland.

"I think it's a wise way to avoid other costs and it's a darn shame that we have to but I think it's the right decision," said Steve Rosenberg, of Palm Springs.

For or against the hotel, Tysen said pushing the mayor to put the issue on a ballot was the goal.

"So basically we won. We got him to do an election," said Tysen.

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