Elephant in the room on Palm Springs homelessness: What about the drug dealers?

·2 min read

While I applaud the efforts of Judy Anniballi and other downtown business owners to address the effects of homelessness and drug addiction problems, there is one notable omission in any of the discussions outlined in the Desert Sun article:

Who are the dealers who are allowed to continue to supply the drugs to this group? Are there any plans from the city to go to the actual source of the problem?

While Anniballi acknowledges the "bigger issue of a very heavy drug-addicted crowd," nowhere does she actually point to the source of who supplies these people with the drugs.

Do our city officials condone drug dealing? To my knowledge, it remains illegal, and addressing the source of drug sales should be a No. 1 priority of this business group, the Main Street Association, Chamber of Commerce and all city officials.

Let’s admit it: Non-housed individuals will continue to be a problem that needs to be addressed.

Drug dealers and addiction must be made part of any solutions. And either there must be a plan to eradicate the illegal drug selling or city officials need to come clean and let the public know they find it acceptable.

After over 10 years of discussing this issue ad nauseum, it appears to me the time is now to address this elephant in the room: Drug dealing is not OK. Public drug use is not OK. Urinating and defecating in public is not OK.

Drugs don’t just appear out of thin air. Is anyone in the city willing to really address this issue?

One final question: Why are there no homeless encampments or public drug use in any of the retail districts in Old Town La Quinta, El Paseo in Palm Desert or major retail areas in Rancho Mirage or Indian Wells?

Do these cities advocate for porta-potties along the streets of their retail areas? These cities obviously have lessons our city officials can learn from.

Perhaps Palm Springs city officials should take a tour of these down valley retail areas and see for themselves how to maintain a clean business district.

They should meet with those city officials and find out what they are doing that Palm Springs is not. It won’t hurt to ask. Why does Palm Springs continue to be the magnet for encampments, public drug use and squalor at the doorsteps of our downtown businesses? This is not an acceptable welcome mat for our internationally known city.

Silence is complicity. Palm Springs residents are fed up with this situation, and they deserve action — not endless rhetoric. Let’s put these issues squarely front and center for decisive action once and for all. The residents, voters and business owners in our city deserve more.

David Carden Jr., who founded the Baristo Neighborhood Organization and Volunteer Palm Springs, is an advocate for disabled Vietnam veterans and sits on numerous safety committees.

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Big question on Palm Springs homelessness: What about drug dealers?

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