PALM SPRINGS — Dennis Woods, 59, an urban planner and chair of the Palm Springs Planning Commission, is, to date, one of four people seeking the open seat in District 2. The election is Nov. 5.
As will all potential candidates, Uken Report invited him to answer a series of questions as a way for voters to get to know him a little better.
Following are the questions and his unedited responses.
Uken Report (UR): Why specifically are you running?
Woods: Not only do I love Palm Springs, but I consider it my home. The City is one of the most livable places I have ever lived. Having discovered Palm Springs just after high school, I fell in love with its natural beauty. I want to preserve our natural and built environments as well as our great programs and institutions while building for our future. The City of Palm Springs is doing very well in this economic recovery and I believe the next step is to plan for our future to ensure continued prosperity with a reverence for our past. As a professional urban planner, I can lead and facilitate civic participation to outline where we want to be as a community. I want to build upon our successes by improving our brand as a world class destination, supporting services and programs to help our businesses thrive, ensuring cooperation from the County and CVAG to address the issues of the un-housed and the need for wrap around services, promoting development that will augment and complement what exists today, and ensuring our infrastructure is maintained and expanded. Our small town flair with big city amenities makes us unique. I bring history, experience and vision to the table and believe that is what is needed for maintaining and improving our quality of life both now and in the future. I am running because I have the passion to achieve results.
UR: City Council races are typically nonpartisan, but locals races of late have been highly partisan. This is your chance to set the record straight and speak for yourself. Are you liberal, conservative, or other and what does that mean to you and your constituents?
Woods: We may be witnessing the tribulations of ideologies clashing at the Federal level but at the local level it does not seem apparent. My observation is that council members in the Coachella Valley with differing political views are working cooperatively. This is exemplified by the efforts of the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) where the interests of the valley far outweigh partisan politics. I am a democrat, believing the will and betterment of the people is a primary source of legitimacy for a government.
UR: What is the most pressing issue in your specific district?
Woods: This is not such an easy question as the issues facing the City and region as a whole also face District 2. A district council member needs to realize that the overall health of the City leads to the health of the district. Having a district council member will ideally allow better access by residents and those doing business in the City to civic affairs. Knowing who to call and having a responsible council member should make the process easier.
In general, upgrading our infrastructure, improving our parks, focusing services for those who are un-housed, enhancing pedestrian safety, providing affordable housing and revitalizing N. Palm Canyon Dr/Hwy 111 are pressing issues in the district. Regionally, air quality and the Salton Sea are also issues that need to be addressed. The revitalization of the 111 corridor is not as easy as it might sound but I bring to the table experience working with CalTrans and the tools to overcome adversities to improve the corridor. The true issues of the District will be revealed as I listen to the concerns of the residents.
UR: With what issue, ordinance, project do you want your name to be most associated?
Woods: I would like to be known for being inclusive and working cooperatively on a variety of ordinances, issues and projects that will make the City better. I would like to facilitate improvements to the businesses along Hwy 111, making the entrance into our City one to be proud of. I would like to be known for setting a path to the future that can be implemented and will strengthen our position as a world class destination.
UR: Do you have any local government experience, serving on boards, commissions, etc.”
Woods: I have worked in municipal affairs for over 25 years. I am an urban and transportation planner by profession and I have served on many boards, commissions, working groups etc. I am currently the Chair of the Palm Springs Planning Commission and Vice-Chair of the Little Tuscany Neighborhood Organization here in Palm Springs, and a 2017 graduate of Leadership Coachella Valley. Some of the other organizations and groups I have been involved with include:
- Westside Urban Forum
- Past Chair of the Santa Monica Sustainable City Task Force
- Mobility 21
- ULI Young Leaders Partnership Forum
- Lincoln Blvd. Technical Task Force
- Metro Bicycle Transportation Strategic Plan Working Group
- SCAG Westside Cities Working Group
- Westside Cities Transportation Working Group
- Metro Arterials Working Group
- Arroyo Verdugo Steering Committee
- San Gabriel Valley COG
- Metro TAC (Technical Advisory Committee)
- Historic Arroyo Seco Parkway National Scenic Byway TAC
- Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority TAC
- SR-710 Gap Closure TAC
- League of California Cities GLBT Local Officials Caucus
- Human Rights Campaign Fund (HRC)
- Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
- Modernism Week Home Tours
- Project Angel Food
- Borderline Neighborhood Group
UR: What sets you apart from your challenger(s)? My history, experience and vision set me apart from the other candidates.
Woods: I am entering this campaign with over 25 years of public administration, land use and transportation planning experience in both the private and public sectors. In the Coachella Valley, I managed the development and implementation of the Coachella Valley’s multi-million dollar Transportation Infrastructure Program. In this position, I interfaced with local, regional and state politicians, City Managers, and Public Works and Planning Directors for CVAG member jurisdictions as well as representatives of Riverside County Transportation Commission, Western Riverside Council of Governments, Caltrans District 8 and Southern California Association of Governments. In Palm Springs, I was elected Chair of the Planning Commission within a year of being appointed to the Commission. This history and experience definitely sets me apart.
What else sets me apart is that I believe the City of Palm Springs is currently doing well and that the economic rebound has had positive impacts on the local economy and the services the City provides. We now need to plan for our future. I hope to bring my planning and sustainability experience to help guide the City into the future with leadership and vision. I believe the process of visioning our future will only be strengthened by the active participation of the Palm Springs residents, business interests, and those who visit Palm Springs. We need to maintain and strengthen our position as a world class destination, and a wonderful place to live, work and play.
In the past, I utilized my visionary thinking to transform blighted and underutilized urban areas into award winning projects, bringing people together and creating a sense of place. In Santa Monica I was the impetus behind the nation’s first sustainable living street transforming a crime ridden street into a “living room” used by the entire neighborhood. In West Hollywood, I was the transportation planner transforming Santa Monica Blvd. into an economic powerhouse that focuses on pedestrian access and identity.
I am a champion for causes and will fight for my constituents and the residents and businesses of Palm Springs. I am passionate about the issues I take on, giving them my all and I deliver results. In the Little Tuscany neighborhood, my track record of getting results on a number of issues is well a documented in communication and testimony to the Planning Commission, City Council, press etc.
- Dennis Woods: Dennis Woods