Ahead of the Curve
The Fountain of Life in Town Square.
City of Cathedral City, California
68700 Avenida Lalo Guerrero
Cathedral City, CA 92234
A decade ago, Cathedral City instituted a four-day workweek for all City Hall workers to save energy. That’s progressive government at work. Today, states, cities, and corporations are seriously considering the concept. Utah recently mandated a four-day workweek for its state employees. “In Cathedral City, we are quietly ahead of the curve. Cathedral City just goes ahead and does it,” observes Mayor Kathleen DeRosa. Four-day workweeks and innovative environmental initiatives combined with business and community development programs set Cathedral City apart. This is a city whose core values include three guiding words: family, progressiveness, and business.
Earlier this year, the City Council adopted a resolution agreeing to join the Coachella Valley Energy Conservation Initiative, which adopted the goal for energy conservation and resource sustainability, including the goal to reduce valleywide per capita energy consumption 10 percent by 2012. The city has adopted several resolutions over the years that reflect its ongoing conservation commitment, including a resolution adopting a source reduction and recycled-product procurement policy; a resolution authorizing the city to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Energy Coalition, Southern California Edison, and Southern California Gas Company to deliver an energy-efficient program known as the Community Energy Partnership; and a resolution declaring support for the California Green Builder Program.
In 2004, the city participated in a program to construct a photovoltaic carport-like structure to provide solar electrical generation. In addition, the city evaluated and implemented energy conservation measures in all of it buildings, replacing fluorescent lamps; retrofitting electronic ballasts and incandescent exit signs with LED fixtures; installing reflective window film on all south-, east-, and west-exposure windows; installing occupancy sensors throughout all buildings for automatic lighting shut off; and retrofitting all traffic and pedestrian crossing signals with LED technology. These combined measures resulted in a 79.9 percent reduction in the city’s energy usage.
A newly launched Business Development Team assists business owners across the city. It’s a one-stop resource for business owners as the team works with businesses, lending assistance wherever needed. This ranges from formulating business plans, consulting on ongoing business needs, and helping navigate through various city departments for permitting. “The Business Development team’s mission is business retention, expansion, and attraction. The team serves as a liaison with the business community and the city and acts as a resource to commercial real estate brokers who are marketing properties within the city,” says Jan Davison, redevelopment director. “The team functions as our liaison with the Cathedral City Chamber of Commerce, the Auto Dealer’s Association, and the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership,” Davison adds.
The Team worked on this summer’s “Locals Dine-Out Campaign,” in conjunction with the city’s Marketing Committee and the business community. This effort fits into the city’s “Shop, Dine and Play” marketing efforts and encourages residents to supporting local businesses by shopping locally and support business-to-business patronage. The city asked local restaurants to choose a day to promote their restaurant with any promotion they thought their customers would enjoy. The city in turn — at no cost to the restaurant — compiled a list of participating restaurants by the day of the week they selected and promoted this list through advertising in the Cathedral City Sun, on the radio, on-screens at the Mary Pickford and Desert IMAX theaters, and on the City of Cathedral City Web site. “This is also a way for us to do something for our families. We are very family orientated, since Cathedral City has the youngest population in the valley,” observes Mayor DeRosa.
Several new revitalization programs focusing on Ramon Road promise to benefit businesses, residents, and visitors.
On the Ramon Road business corridor, one of the city’s major east-west routes stretching from Landau Blvd. to Da Vall Drive, the city has two revitalization programs. “The goal is to revitalize businesses on Ramon Road, to attract new merchants, shoppers, and pedestrians to the area,” Mitch Nieman, Cathedral City development project manager explains.
The Commercial Façade Program offers funds to assist business owners and tenants with a variety of improvements, including facade renovation, signage, doors, windows, awnings, exterior lighting, parking lot improvements, and landscaping. In this program, businesses can receive a dollar-for-dollar match from the Redevelopment Agency, based on the size of their property.
Businesses outside the Ramon Road business corridor may also be eligible for the program with City Council approval. The city may also engage an architect to help the business owners with architectural design. The goal is to change the look of Ramon Road to be more attractive to shoppers.
The Ramon Road Streetscape Beautification Program is the sister project to the Façade Program. Its goal is to create a pedestrian friendly and aesthetically pleasing corridor. It beautifies areas in the public right of way like median strips, sidewalks, curbs, and gutters. It will also add new lighting and landscaping, as well as street furniture such as benches. The Façade Program enhances private property, while the Streetscape Beautification Program improves public areas. Cathedral City is a city with extensive community involvement. Business owners are key decision-makers on improvements.
Cathedral City’s downtown and town square continue to grow as a choice destination for residents and visitors to “Shop, Dine and Play.” The city is aggressively acquiring land near the city center to remove blight and in preparation for planned mixed-use development that will truly turn the area into a live/ work/play downtown.
The city has focused it’s out-of-area advertising tourism efforts on spreading the word about how much Cathedral City offers visitors. This includes prominent advertising on Expedia, Alaska Airlines Magazine, and Tourism Television in Los Angeles. “We want visitors to know that your trip to the desert isn’t complete without visiting Cathedral City,” says Allen Howe, the city’s communications officer. “We have special attractions here not found elsewhere like Boomers, Big League Dream Sports Park, Desert IMAX Theater, and Buddy Greco’s Dinner Club,” adds Howe.
New businesses continue to open in the town square. A recent and welcome addition next to the IMAX theater is Picanha Churrascaria and Picanha Pronto, two choice eateries offering Brazilian dining experiences. On Highway 111, Cathedral City’s auto dealerships, Toyota of the Desert and Palm Springs Ford, have completed major expansions and remodels, offering more reasons to come to Cathedral City.
Other areas in transition include Perez Road. Long known as the valley’s hub for building suppliers, Perez Road is fast becoming home to upscale interior designers, home furnishing showrooms, and associated design services and products. The new Stater Bros. in Plaza Rio Vista at Vista Chino and Landau Boulevard provides residents on the city’s north side additional shopping options.
The city’s seven entry points will soon have a new look, as options are being reviewed to replace the existing monuments welcoming you to Cathedral City.
Cathedral City’s ahead-of-the-curve approach is evident in its award-winning and first-of-a-kind environmental conservation and community programs. “Our City Council has been very open to trying pilot programs and, once they are successful, expanding them citywide. They are very supportive of environmental programs,” explains Deanna Pressgrove, Cathedral City’s environmental conservation manager.
Here are just few:
Reduction, Recycling, and Composting Programs.
Assembly Bill 939 requires cities throughout California to annually divert 50 percent of their waste stream from landfill disposal. AB 939 legislation gives the state the right to penalize a city $10,000 a day if they fail to meet the yearly 50 percent diversion requirement. Thanks to implementing source reduction, recycling, and composting programs with no general-fund dollars used, the city has steadily increased its diversion rate to 56 percent.
WaterSmart Landscape Grant Program.
Cathedral City was the first valley city to initiate a water conservation program in which residents can receive up to $500 in matching funds to remove the turf from their yards. This program promotes replacement of grass with drought-tolerant landscaping and removal or replacement of a sprinkler system so that it does not allow for spillover onto sidewalks and streets. This program won the 2007 California Resource Recovery Association Award in the Outstanding Waste Prevention Program category. According to Mayor DeRosa, the city has saved 14 billion gallons of water with this program.
Environmental Education Programs.
The S.C.R.A.P Gallery Program and the city’s Refuse & Recycling Guide are just two of the city’s educational programs. In January, the Student Creative Recycling Art Program, more commonly known as the S.C.R.A.P. Gallery, celebrated its 11th year of environmental service to the community. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to the education of youth regarding environmental issues. The mission of the S.C.R.A.P. Gallery is to utilize creative ways to engage children as stewards of the environment by stressing the four Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, and responsibility. The S.C.R.A.P. city calendar and the Refuse & Recycling Guide have both won numerous national awards.
Once again in 2008, Cathedral City stayed ahead of the curve, continually developing progressive programs and making a difference for its families and businesses.
Mayor Pro Tem