Palm Springs to temporarily close Baristo Park to address homeless issues
PALM SPRINGS — In response to resident concerns regarding ongoing public health issues and unsafe activities in Baristo Park, the city of Palm Springs announced today, Oct. 26, that it will temporarily close the park.
The closure will allow city officials an opportunity to perform a safety inspection, implement a security plan, install cameras, and complete needed cleaning, maintenance and overseeding.
The park, located at 296 S. Calle Encilia, is expected to temporarily close to the public within the next few weeks for about six weeks while the City addresses the ongoing issues. The park is located on 2 acres and includes picnic tables, basketball court, tot lot, play structures, grills, and drinking fountains. It has been open until 10 p.m.
Police and Fire Department calls for service at Baristo Park have escalated significantly over the past two years. From 2017-2019 Baristo Park had 558 calls for service while from 2019 to the present, Baristo Park has had over 1,245 calls for service.
In its current state, Baristo Park is detrimental to the health and safety of the public due to issues such as use and abandonment of unlawful drug paraphernalia, toxic and biohazardous materials such as used sharps, human feces, litter and cigarette butts discarded throughout the park, indecent exposure, and general destruction of public property.
“In order to protect public health and safety, the City is taking this step to address persistent issues in the park related to a small group of transient individuals,” said City Manager Justin Clifton, who added that communities across the United States are struggling to deal with the worsening impacts of homelessness.
The park closure is one in a series of steps the City has taken to address homeless issues, including expanding security and maintenance in downtown and convening meetings with service providers and stakeholders to find solutions. Another important step, in August the City partnered with Martha’s Village and Kitchen to open the Palm Springs Access Center across from the Airport, a new daytime drop-in center with wraparound services for unhoused individuals. So far, the center’s track record has been impressive, serving hundreds of unduplicated residents with few secondary impacts.
In addition, at their next meeting on Thursday, Oct. 28, the City Council will discuss development options for a new Homeless Navigation Center to shelter the west end of the Coachella Valley’s unhoused population and offer the kind of full suite of support services Palm Springs has long needed.
“The City of Palm Springs is committed to compassionately managing the impacts of homelessness while finding solutions in order to help our unhoused population obtain permanent and supportive housing,” said Clifton. “Building a new navigation center provides a unique opportunity to make a real impact and greatly expand our ability to serve our unhoused population while reducing secondary impacts that can affect quality of life.”
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