Twentynine Palms City Council Gets an Earful on Events and Tourism

Last night, it was a spirited meeting of the Twentynine Palms City Council as residents and business owners expressed views on the importance of event programming and how best to increase tourism.

During a public hearing at last night’s Twentynine Palms City Council meeting, several business owners took issue with the proposed 1.5 percent assessment fee on all short-term stays within the city. While the Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) would largely benefit from the approximately $285,000 generated annually, there was pushback on how that money would be spent.

Residents and members of the Downtown Business Association (DBA), also known as Rediscover 29, noted that while TBID would be using some of that money for influencer outreach and a website upgrade, the city might better utilize funds for much-needed event programming.

Referencing the stage at Freedom Plaza, Councilmember Klink sparked generous applause with his statement, “We should have a band playing there every weekend.”

Amidst the lively debate, council noted that all parties in attendance want the same thing – more events, increased tourism – and should be working together. Councilmembers Bilderain and Wright suggested that a “sub-group” of two people (probably including DBA President/Grnd Sqrl owner Michael Usher, who was notably vocal at the meeting) could work with and advise TBID, though they would lack voting power; the issue could then be revisited in January. Following this agreement, the council then voted unanimously to approve the assessment fee.

The council then discussed widening the boundaries of the Business Loan Improvement Program, which is a matching loan offer for commercial properties within the Downtown Specific Plan. Despite multiple reminders to 340 eligible properties, only $40,000 of the total $350,000 has been utilized. So, the council is considering extending the boundaries to include border streets of Encelia, Sullivan and Amboy. There will be a final vote at a future meeting.

Other tidbits included a suggestion that the VHR policy will need to be revisited again, the Twentynine Palms DMV will be closed several weeks for remodeling starting October 11, and the city welcomes three new employees: Cheyenne Ryan (City Hall front desk), Adessa Bigler (Finance), and Community Development Director Keith Gardner.

The next meeting of the Twentynine Palms City Council will be Tuesday, October 11.

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