After downtown graffiti, Palm Springs could give grants to businesses

Acid-etched graffiti that appeared on the windows of several storefronts in downtown Palm Springs prompted police and several business owners to call for help.

Palm Springs police said on May 16, officers investigated eight different incidents of vandalism on the northern half of Palm Canyon Drive, the 100 to 300 blocks. An acid marker caused a permanent etch in the glass, resulting in what police described as “thousands of dollars in damage.”

Vandalized businesses and properties included Wabi Sabi Japan Living and cigar store Tinderbox, said Joy Brown Meredith, president of Main Street Palm Springs.

On Monday, police posted images on Facebook of three people they believe were responsible for the graffiti. Police have asked anyone with information to contact investigators at 760-323-8157.

Three people who Palm Springs police believe are connected to the recent vandalism.

Among the business owners affected is Darrell Baum, the owner of Wabi Sabi Japan Living.

Baum said he currently has no money to fix his windows and many of his neighbors don’t either. So he approached city council member Geoff Kors to create a city grant that would provide business owners with money to replace graffitied windows and similar types of damage.

Now the council is due to vote on Thursday to award grants to businesses that have been vandalized and those that want to install security camera systems or make general improvements to their exteriors.

According to a memo written by City Manager Justin Clifton, the city has periodically offered economic assistance to encourage improvement and investment in commercial or retail properties that help revitalize the city.

The city offered funding for facade improvements several times over the past decade before removing the program from the budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year due to concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic could cause a loss of revenue for the city.

The current proposal is for the city to allocate $50,000 in grants to businesses that have been vandalized and an additional $50,000 to businesses looking to purchase cameras. Clifton’s memo does not say if there will be a cap on how much a business can get or if businesses will have to match city funds.

If council agrees, an additional $150,000 will be allocated to businesses that want to make general improvements to the exterior of their storefront, including walls, signs, awnings, windows and paint. These will be matching grants of up to $5,000.

The board meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

David H. Henry