Palm Desert, a city perhaps best known for being home to a Marriott with a nice lobby and for not allowing drive thrus, is once again attempting to fuck over tourists with a measure in the upcoming election. One would think that a city that depends so much on tourism to support its economy might appreciate those coming in from out of town to spend money. Nope.
Voters will decide on election day whether the city will raise it’s transient occupancy tax rate – that annoying thing you find out about when you check out and your hotel bill is way higher than it should be – from 9 percent to 11 percent. The city tried to do this 2 years ago and, as the Desert Sun notes, failed:
This is the second time in two years that Palm Desert is trying to raise its TOT. In 2014, Palm Desert had two ballot initiatives: Measure G was to raise the tax to 11 percent and Measure H dedicated the revenue generated from it to marketing the city for tourism.
Both measures failed by wide margins. This time, only one measure is proposed.
But if residents clearly said no to the City of Palm Desert fucking over tourists just two years ago, why try again now?
“It is completely different this time,” Mayor Bob Spiegel said Tuesday.
“Last time, we said we would use the funds for marketing, which did not make any sense to residents,” Spiegel said.
Marketing is important to draw tourists, he said, but public safety is a higher priority. The city currently employs 1.6 police officers per 1,000 residents – “the highest in the valley,” Spiegel said. “We don’t want to cut back on that, but without the money, we may be forced to.”
But here is the thing, while Speigel and company are trying to scare residents into thinking the streets will go unpatrolled, leading every night to become The Purge, that’s just complete and utter bullshit.
As former Mayor and Councilwoman Jean Benson points out, the city has over $50 million dollars in reserves – so yeah, they have a rainy day fund. Also money from this measure would not have to be spent on public safety – the city could spend it any way it wants to.
Oh, and this is also kind of important, if the city didn’t do things like give nearly $300,000 to former city managers accused of showing everyone in the office pictures of naked employees – maybe they could then use that money on cops and firefighters.
Other cities in the Coachella Valley, such as Palm Springs, are already dicking over tourists with higher TOT taxes than Palm Desert – which anyone who has stayed a night in Palm Springs knows, all those fees and taxes add up to a ton of cash that tourists could have instead spent inside small businesses, tipping their server a bit more, or taking an Uber – just so long as they do it outside of the airport! Then again, some of those fees do go to making dumb as shit tourism videos, so money well spent I suppose.
Here’s an idea for Palm Desert. If you are worried about spending, maybe try to not spend so much money on bullshit. Did we really need a $13,000 “preview” of what San Pablo might one day look like? Probably not.
Oh, and if you are worried about revenues, why not allow food trucks to operate all over the city?
Nah, you would just prefer to fuck over tourists with higher taxes approved by scaring residents into thinking you are pulling cops off the street.
Fuck you, Palm Desert.