Dear Indio Neighbors:
It is April, so it must be time for the Coachella and Stagecoach Music Festivals! These two music festivals are widely reputed to be the largest and best of the year. As you know, people from all over the world are talking about Indio each April. It enhances our reputation and there is no doubt that many of our growing business opportunities are fostered by the Coachella and Stagecoach Music Festivals.
In every respect, these festivals are “hosted” by our entire community. There are marvelously positive effects from these concerts, and there are also some not-so-marvelous traffic and noise impacts on our patient neighborhoods. I thought that in this month’s newsletter I would point out some of the positives in hope that it might offset some of the negatives this community so graciously endures.
And I do mean gracious! Many of you will recall that last year we had unusually strong winds blow into the Coachella Valley on the Wednesday before weekend two of Coachella. Thousands of campers started arriving on Wednesday night, ready to “load in” very early on Thursday and Friday. But the wind gusts topped 90 MPH, creating an environment where tent stakes could have blown through the air like daggers. Event promoter, Goldenvoice, widely found it necessary to keep the camp grounds closed until the winds subsided. Indio served as temporary host to thousands of young people looking for something to do on that windy day. That was where Indio residents and businesses came forward to create the legendary day known in some circles as "Walmart-Chella"! The stories shared online were remarkable. The Indio Walmart opened its parking lot to the campers. City parks were turned into venues for all-day football games and ad-hoc three-on-three basketball tournaments. We even had one resident who invited sixty young people over to her home for a pool party and barbecued hot dogs. Indio businesses opened their doors and called in extra help. All the stories were positive. (Some of our neighboring cities did not fare so well in the blogs, but Indio has a big heart.) The gates to Coachella eventually opened and these festival goers left Indio remembering not only Beyonce’s high tech performance, but also a spontaneous day interacting with a great community.
Thanks to Goldenvoice and the Empire Polo Club, the music festivals net the City of Indio budget approximately $3 million in direct revenues each year. And whether one likes short term rentals or not, the Transient Occupancy payment we get from Airbnb now exceeds $2 million per year. These revenues make a lot of City services possible in Indio each year. To put this into context, our entire annual Sales Tax revenue is only $12 million. So this annual three-week event allows us to pay for a lot of City services. All of our City Police and Public Works costs are reimbursed over and above the revenues cited above.
I have been very pleasantly impressed by the length that Goldenvoice and our City team goes through during and preceding the festivals to address every residential or HOA concern. During the festivals there is an army of officials out in the streets addressing every conceivable complaint. You should see the contingency plans they prepare in advance relating to security, safety and community relations.
Again, all of us at City Hall are grateful to our community for your graciousness during Coachella. I hope that most of you enjoy the concerts and our community’s association with them. I also thank Goldenvoice and the Empire Polo Club for their ongoing citizenship role in our community not only during April, but all year long.
Beyond festival season, good things are happening all around Indio these days. It is a great time to be City Manager here. I look forward to doing these columns each month. Please tell me what you would like me to talk about in the future.
By the way, if you want to see something remarkable and inspiring, stop by the Shadow Hills High School gym (easy parking) on Saturday, May 18, 2019 between 9-11 a.m. to see the Red Hot Ballroom competition featuring a gymnasium full of the most impressive middle school students you will ever see. The event is free to the public and an absolute validation of the quality of our youth and the instructors, teachers and parents who are guiding them. No kidding.
Indio City Manager
P.S. Send me the name of your favorite local business and let me acknowledge them in this space. I ate at Unique Bites Eatery on Jackson & Avenue 42 this week. Home cooked food served or take-out, ran by a great local family.
P.P.S. Yes, I pay full price!