Scandal at City Hall

Residents can voice concerns about future development in Palm Springs

Special meeting scheduled Monday at 6PM

Palm Springs Special Meeting on...

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - UPDATE: 7:01 p.m. 

Joy Meredith recalls hearing about the news of former Palm Springs mayor Steve Pougnet, and developers Richard Meaney and John Wessman, charged with bribery.

"It was disappointing to hear all of this news about what is alleged to have gone on," Meredith said. 

Having had a business in the city for about 30 years, one of her big concerns was the future of development, including the Desert Fashion Plaza project in Downtown. 

"I really try to be informed on all of the things that have to do with Downtown and Uptown Palm Springs," Meredith said. "And certainly, this project was one of the biggest things we had to deal with.'

But city leaders are gearing up to host a special public meeting next Monday, giving residents and business owners a chance to voice their concerns or ask questions about the future of city development following the filing of the charges.

"We need to first know what the options are, and make decisions on the best thing for our city and for our residents," Palm Springs City Council Member Geoff Kors said. "Ultimately, we want to hear from the community at this meeting about what they think should happen. Do they want Downtown development to go as planned? Do they not? How do they want people to move forward? I think we want to have a conversation among the council with expert legal advice so we know what options, if any, we have."

But one concern Meredith said she has is the former Desert Fashion Plaza site itself. 

A project, she said, that's evolved over the years. 

"The mall was vacant for 12 or 15 years before construction even began," Meredith said. "And so, for the merchants across the street from there, that happens to be on my block, it has been very challenging."

Meredith said both Pougnet and Wessman held multiple public meetings in 2011 to talk about plans for the Desert Fashion Plaza site, but said since then, things have changed. 

"One thing I know that confused me was the changing of the building numbers," Meredith said. "So, when I thought we were talking about one plot of land, it turned out, later on, I found out that we were talking about a different plot of land there."

"We approved plans that actually reduced the total square footage in that development by 49 percent," Kors said talking about the Desert Fashion Plaza project. "So, there have been a lot of changes made, in that, to scale it down, and make it fit better with our city."

Meredith said she and others are looking forward to voicing their concerns about the future to the city. 

"I applaud the city council for having this meeting on Monday, and allowing people to give their opinion now on how they feel about all of this," Meredith said. "Because I'm sure that it has shook up plenty of people." 

The meeting will be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center next Monday night at 6 p.m.   

Kors said the city will also have a former assistant California Attorney General to help with any legal advice.


ORIGINAL STORY: 5:29 p.m. 

It's been a week since the Riverside County District Attorney's Office filed bribery charges against former Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet and developers Richard Meaney and John Wessman. KESQ News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 continue to investigate the Scandal at City Hall as some residents are wondering about the future of developments within the city.

City officials are holding a special public meeting to address that issue on Monday at 6 p.m. at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The Palm Springs Convention Center is located at 277 N Avenida Caballeros.

One concern for residents is the Desert Fashion Plaza project. Some are saying the current renderings for the project are different from plans previously drawn up in the past.

Watch Zak Dahlheimer's report on KESQ at 6 p.m. and on CBS Local 2 at 6:30 p.m. to hear more about the special meeting and how council members are bringing in help to assist with any legal advice.

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