Volume 48 | March 2021
Mayor Pro Tem
Dear Neighbors,
I am sure it is not lost on anyone that the COVID crisis hit our community about this time last year. Our lives, our vocabularies and even our relationships to our homes have changed dramatically over that time.  I did not used to have such serious conversations with our dogs, but now they are co-equal participants on our family Zooms. And who knew that at my age I’d be doing so much zooming? 

Fortunately, we’ve navigated the last year as a community-wide team. Neighbors helping neighbors. While things are still challenging in many ways, we are seeing some hopeful signs around town. Vaccination supplies are increasing and ICU admissions are declining. The weather is good and outdoor dining is available for those who are interested. We still have many struggling businesses and too many people unemployed, but there is progress, and in that is hope!

Our City Hall challenges are not as severe as those faced by the medical and school communities, but we know that our services matter. For me, the biggest stress this last year has been the responsibility for our City employees who have risked their own well-being in service of the public. It has been a hard year, so I am very proud of my City colleagues who have stepped up. 

We were fully understanding recently when Riverside County Public Health and Goldenvoice announced that no music festivals would take place again this April. Makes sense. We are looking forward to a safer 2022 when public gatherings of that sort will be possible, albeit with a heightened focus on public health and safety.  But we are confident that Goldenvoice and Empire Polo will be back, doing the quality events Indio has proudly hosted in the past. New and improved, I am sure. What gives me that confidence? When you work with these groups you realize if they cannot do it well, they do not do it at all. 

Meanwhile, all cities are doing our best with our reduced budgets, keeping our essential services to the public intact. We may not have the resources we normally do, but we have adjusted and deferred some one-time capital spending plans to cover daily operating costs. That would be a bad strategy if we thought this would last forever, but we are already seeing signs of recovery.

Sales taxes, for instance, actually went up slightly over the last year. Understandably, internet sales went way up, as we quarantined in our homes and ordered everything conceivable for home delivery. It would appear that residents curtailed travel — so they spent on their homes. House and yard projects increased. Some inspired souls learned to cook! (Admittedly, I lacked that inspiration…)

Only recently have some of our local businesses finally been able to reopen with limitations. Some businesses (restaurants, gyms, personal care services) suffered badly, so I continue to urge our community to support these businesses. 

As we plan for a new fiscal year starting July 1, we are encouraged to see new home building permits remain extraordinarily strong. Commercial investors are calling, seeing Indio as a strong emerging market. With all of this interest, we spend our time at City Hall trying to make sure we are encouraging good growth — not just “growth for growth’s sake.”

The City Council has done its best to allocate COVID relief dollars from the Federal government as meaningfully as possible. We have received Federal funding to initiate a small business grant program, a renter assistance program through our partners at the Lift to Rise nonprofit, and an Indio Water Authority utility bill assistance program administered by our friends at the United Way of the Desert. We are also distributing PPE supplies to our local businesses acquired through our Community Development Block Grant program, others from the Riverside County Office of Emergency Management, and more still from the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership. We were also able to send some of our Federal COVID relief funds to great local nonprofits, including the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, FIND Food Bank, the Boys & Girls Club, and the Coachella Valley Community Trust.

Our community is deserving, and we are all so proud to be part of it. On behalf of all of us at City Hall, thank you for how you have responded to us over the last year -- your patience, your understanding, your generosity and your caring! Our public is our inspiration.

Mark Scott
Indio City Manager 

In February, the City of Indio hit a milestone with 200 businesses and nonprofits that have received personal protective equipment courtesy of its PPE Business Assistance Program. This number will improve exponentially as the City's partnership with Coachella Valley Economic Partnership's Million Mask Giveaway gets underway.

As part of this effort, last week more than 1,600 registered businesses in Indio started receiving deliveries of hand sanitizer, face shields and disposable face masks. Among those is Pastion Industries, which has installed and monitored security and fire alarms in the community for over 30 years. "We appreciate the City of Indio and its contribution to the health and well-being of its residents and local businesses," offered Vice President Jason Pastion (pictured).
Indio’s City Council authorized a Free PPE program in the fall of 2020 to prioritize the safe and cost-efficient reopening of its most vulnerable businesses. In addition to the deliveries now underway, a significant quantity of free disposable masks and rubber gloves are still available to eligible businesses and nonprofits that complete a simple form on the City’s website. This PPE distribution is paid for through the City’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.
To apply for PPE directly, visit www.indio.org/indioPPE (English) or www.indio.org/indioEPP (Spanish). Full program details are available at www.indio.org/PPE
Learn more about the city's efforts to assist businesses at www.indio.org/coronavirus

The City of Indio invites its residents and visitors, businesses, and community members who may not reside year-round in Indio, to complete a survey to help shape a plan for current and future housing needs.

This survey is available in English and Spanish, and can also be viewed on the City’s Housing Element Update website www.indio.org/housingelementupdate through April 12, 2021.

The 19 question survey aims to get a sense of the housing interest in Indio, how they assess the quality of life in Indio, affordability, the City’s most urgent housing needs, and how the City can plan for nearly 8,000 additional housing units by October 2029.

The City will use the results of this survey as part of its efforts to update its “Housing Element.” This plan, which is required every eight years by the state of California, includes obtaining public input about the types of housing that the City must plan to build to meet the needs of its population. In addition to the survey, the City is holding a series of virtual public meetings to discuss strategies to encourage housing for all income levels. 

The next two upcoming public meetings are scheduled and can be viewed live on the City’s Facebook page. If you are interested in participating in the meetings, connections to the Zoom webinars can be found on the Housing Element Update web page (indio.org/housingelementupdate) on the day of the meetings.

  • Thursday, April 22, 2021, 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 8, 2021, 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

To provide additional input or ask questions, leave a voicemail at (760) 391-4061 or email housingupdate@indio.org


Experience alone gives most coaches an edge over their players, but in the case of the Indio High School Varsity Girls Golf team, Susie Maxwell Berning comes with some seriously covetable credentials, including eleven LPGA Tour victories. 

Maxwell Berning, an Indio resident, three-time U.S. Open Champion, and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, is not the official coach, per se, but Coach Carlos Ayala says she's already taught him "a whole lot!"

Ayala and Maxwell Berning connected earlier this year, and the four-time major champion offered to practice a time or two with Ayala's team of seven female Rajah golfers.

"I was expecting a Zoom meeting maybe and some words of encouragement," explained Ayala. But Maxwell Berning showed up for a socially distanced practice with the team at the Lights at Indio Golf Course. "The girls LOVED it," Ayala exclaimed. Maxwell Berning came back the next week. And the week after that. Now she's part of the team, Ayala says. "The girls are excited to see her. She's such a great teacher. And it's good for them to hear a voice other than my own, especially a female one. That goes a long way."

"I was thrilled when Coach Ayala ask me to help," added Maxwell Berning. "You see, I took up golf while in high school, and just look where that start has taken me, because someone offered to help me!"

This is Ayala's fourth season coaching the Rajah Girls Golf Team, and one of the most challenging. Typically the girls would use school district vans to drive to the practice course after school. But with no in-person instruction, the team must find their own transportation. Having Maxwell Berning in the mix has been a treat for them, Ayala says. "The girls really gravitated toward her, and we've been hanging on every word." 

The admiration is mutual. Maxwell Berning says "I just hope I can relay to the girls how far golf can enrich their lives."

The Rajah's will play their first match of the season on March 22 against Shadow Hills High School. 

From new housing, to new retail, restaurants and office buildings, the city's Community Development department is busier than ever. Driving around the city, as ground gets graded and walls go up, you might be curious about the final products.
Here is a look at what is opening Indio:

  • AutoZone (expansion): The current store on Jackson Street has been issued a permit to nearly double in size.
  • Beazer Homes: Phases 12, 13 and 14 of its Barcelona community east of Monroe and south of Ave. 50 are under construction, with some homes nearing the final inspection process.
  • Kia Dealership: Approximately 120 to 150 jobs created, expected to open in July 2022 on Varner Road.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the inability to present indoor art exhibitions, the CV Art Center (CVAC) brought new art outside! The public can easily view several new pieces on the north wall of the CVAC facility located at 45140 Towne Street in downtown Indio. The installation features seven artists who accepted the challenge of the project entitled, "Artists Comment." Four of the seven artists reside in or near the Coachella Valley, and one resides in Indio. The remaining three artists are students at the Otis College of Art and Design MFA Graduate Program.

The artists have created works that address issues important to them at this point in time. They were asked to create a piece that would be a 'COMMENT,' be at least 8' x 8' in size and survive outdoor elements. The pieces will be on display through April. 

The seven artists on display are:
  • Kim Manfredi
  • Julie Weiman
  • Judy Lichtman
  • Xiouping
  • Hector Salas
  • Box Cutter
  • Alicat

For more information about the installation or the CV Art Center, visit

Nonprofit organizations or local governmental agencies that missed the last round of Community Grant/Sponsorship funding from the City of Indio are getting a second chance to receive up to $1,500. Made available by the Indio City Council, this program is an extension of the program released in the winter of 2020. A total of $26,000 is now available, and the deadline to apply is March 31, 2021. Applications and sponsorship eligibility information can be found on the City of Indio's website.

Questions about the application process may be addressed to Jim Curtis, Community Services Manager, at (760) 391-4174 or jcurtis@indio.org

The application period is now open for the ‘Help 2 Others Indio COVID-19 Water Bill Assistance Program.’
Eligible IWA customers must:
  • Have past due water bills issued after April 1, 2020 and due by December 31, 2020
  • Demonstrate loss of job, reduction of income, health impact or other documentation connecting need to COVID-19
  • Not have utilized other assistance to cover past due water charges during the qualification period
  • Turn in an application before March 16, 2021 OR until funding is exhausted
Indio’s City Council set aside $110,000 in Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus funds to pay for and implement the program to help Indio Water Authority (IWA) customers through an existing partnership with United Way of the Desert. Up to 800 IWA customers could benefit from this program, with funds subject to a maximum cap.
Visit unitedwayofthedesert.org/help2others-indio for additional program details and to fill out the digital application form. Those who do not have access to a computer can call 760-766-2603 during normal business hours.
Individuals who do not qualify for the temporary Help 2 Others COVID-19 Water Bill Assistance program may still benefit from the existing Help 2 Others Assistance Program. Visit unitedwayofthedesert.org/help2others for full details.

Desert Theatreworks at the Indio Performing Arts Center is delighted to announce KIDSWORKS Virtual Productions for spring 2021. COVID-19 has created new and exciting educational opportunities of experimentation and flexibility. With that in mind, DTW has designed a unique online experience for students (age 7-18) to perform in a streaming performance with an emphasis on character development and some aspects of stagecraft, taught by KIDWORKS' professional team of theatre educators. 
Connection and belonging were the most urgent focus of DTW since the pandemic hit. "We want to provide our students with a learning community of belonging where they can continue to develop in the art form they love and remind them that no one is alone," said DTW Artistic Director Lance Philips-Martinez. Participants will receive a show-kit package of materials, including script and art supplies to create their own costumes and backdrops.  
Productions (to be announced) will be streamed 1-2 weeks after classes are completed.  

April 10-May 22, 2021 
Saturday afternoons 1 to 3 p.m. 
Two groups: age 7-11 & 12-18 
Free (limited space available) 
Registration begins March 12, 2021 at 5pm.  
Acceptance is on a first-come basis.  
Visit Kidsworks.org to be notified when registration opens.  

The folks at the Indio Library are excited to reopen to the public! In order to do this safely, take a quick read to see some of the limitations and modifications to services:

Masks are required.
To help continue the efforts of social distancing, a limited number of people will be allowed in the branch at any time, with visits limited to one hour per person per day.
Eight computers will be open for use.
Patrons can still print material needed, but only exact change or credit/debit card will be allowed.
Visitors can browse for items among the bookshelves, however if an item is touched please place it into a marked bin for sanitation before reshelving. Patrons can bring in laptops and other devices to use the available Wifi, but seating is limited to one of the eight open computers.
Donations are still not accepted at this time.
At this time, there is no in-person programming. Virtual story times are offered for children. Light novel reviews for teens and adults who are interested in anime/manga can be viewed on the library's YouTube page (or linked from Facebook). 

Hours of operation will resume as before:
Monday 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Tues., Wed., Thur. & Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed Sun. & Fri.

The City of Indio will host 2021's first Sustainability Collection event on Saturday, March 13 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Indio Corporate Yard/Indio Water Authority located at 83101 Avenue 45. This event combines a number of highly requested environmental services, including the collection of old tires, used oil and oil filters and electronic waste, and free paper shredding and a compost exchange.

The City of Indio regularly collects waste tires in an effort to reduce the quantity of tires illegally dumped in the desert. Tires will be collected from passenger cars and trucks of Indio residents only and must be removed from the rim. Trailer or tractor tires will not be accepted. 
Used oil and oil filters will also be collected. "Anyone who brings in oil or filters will receive a new oil pan and oil filter container," noted Sara Toyoda, Indio's Environmental Programs Coordinator. "We have folks who drive all the way from North Shore to dispose of their oil responsibly, and thank them for doing that."
A paper shredding truck will also be on site. Up to four boxes of shredding are free for Indio residents, and although residents of other cities can drop off shredding, a small fee will apply. Electronic waste, including televisions, desktop monitors, and LCD screens, will also be collected. Other household hazardous waste will not be accepted at this event.
Residents who bring small amounts of food waste to the Sustainability Event in a container that can be emptied and returned, will be given a 3.5 gallon reusable bucket of compost in return. The Compost Exchange is designed to educate residents about food waste and how it should be disposed. In the near future, SB1383 will become effective, and food waste will not be accepted at the landfill because it creates powerful greenhouse gases. 

For more information, visit indio.org/sustainability

To help seniors file their taxes in a safe way with a minimal amount of contact, AARP’s Volunteer Tax Team is now taking reservations for a “drop-off” tax assistance appointment at the Indio Senior Center. Drop-offs will begin on March 1, 2021 from 12:40 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Representatives will also be available to assist in Spanish.
Click here to make an appointment for a 20 minute drop-off window, or call (760) 391-4170.
“We are pleased to be able to continue to offer this free service to our seniors, in spite of the restrictions caused by the pandemic,” said Argelia Jimenez, of the Indio Senior Center. “We hope people take advantage of the opportunity to have a caring and concerned professional take some of the stress out of filing their taxes this year.”
Preparation of the final return will take seven days, and an appointment to return will be provided upon drop-off.
Filers must bring the required documents and proper identification (driver’s license and Social Security card(s) for each person on the return) to their drop-off appointment. The Indio Senior Center is located at 45700 Aladdin Street.

Text to 9-1-1 is now available in Indio.
The Indio Police Department Dispatch Center is now accepting "text to 9-1-1 services" as an option to help those who are hearing or speech impaired, and for anyone who may be in danger if heard making a voice call to 9-1-1. The service is based on wireless coverage and availability. 
“We understand there are situations where a person may not be safe calling 9-1-1 or cannot physically do so,” said Indio Police Dispatch Supervisor Nicole Melendez. “In these circumstances, we know seconds are crucial and this may be the only way to get help to them quickly. It is good to know that our community now has another way to reach out for assistance when needed.”
Text to 9-1-1 is intended for use in the following emergency situations:
  • When the person is deaf, hard of hearing, or has a speech impairment.
  • When someone is in a situation where it is not safe to make a voice call to 9-1-1.
  • When a medical emergency renders the person incapable of speaking or hearing.
How do you text to 9-1-1?
  • Open a new text message, and enter the numbers “911” into the “To” field.
  • Include the address or location of the emergency, and the nature of the emergency. You may also request police, fire, or paramedics.
  • Push the “Send” button.
  • Answer any questions and/or follow any instructions from the 9-1-1 Dispatcher.
Helpful Reminders:
  • Do not use emojis, abbreviations, or acronyms.
  • Do not send photos or videos as they will not be received. 
  • Do not include 911 in a group message, as the text will not be received.
  • Text in English only. Translation services are not currently available.
Dialing 9-1-1 in an emergency is still the preferred way to request help. It is the fastest and most efficient way to reach an emergency dispatcher. We would like to remind the public to, “Call if you can, text if you can’t.” Texting is not always ideal because it can take longer than a voice call, and does not provide the accurate location of the texter. The Text to 9-1-1 function is currently available in English only. Individuals who do not speak English should call 9-1-1, and an interpreter will provide assistance in their language. For any questions regarding Text to 9-1-1 in Indio, please call 760-391-4057.

The City of Indio, Caltrans and the County of Riverside are moving forward with a project to improve traffic and safety around Jackson Street and Interstate 10, and the Draft Environmental Document  for this project is now available for review and download.

In addition, a virtual public meeting with Caltrans and the City of Indio is scheduled for Thursday, March 10, 2021 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Register here for the Zoom meeting, or send an email to Interstate10_Jackson_Int@dot.ca.gov to submit comments prior to March 26. Please include "Interstate 10 Jackson" in the subject line.

The public review period runs from February 24- March 26, 2021, however, it should be noted this is a very long-term project, and funding for the construction has not been secured. Performing design and environmental review is a required step in the project's process.

The proposed changes include redesigning and widening the Jackson Street interchange on the I-10 freeway to improve traffic flow by reconstructing the freeway on and off ramps, replacing the 264 foot long Jackson Street overcrossing with a wider structure with turn lanes and additional lanes for the CV Link. The bridge over the CV Stormwater Channel will also be reconstructed to account for more traffic and the CV Link path.

The current estimated project cost is approximately $80 million, with the design phase completed by Fall 2023. More information about the Jackson Street/I-10 Interchange Project, as well as views of the four alternatives being considered, can be found here: https://rcprojects.org/jackson

When it comes to water conservation, people of all ages can adjust their habits to reduce water use. That includes children.
Teaching kids about conservation can lead to a lifetime of water savings. Parents and other adults can provide a number of age-appropriate ideas.
As kids learn about brushing their teeth, parents can lead by example. Remember to turn off the faucet. Once they are old enough to brush on their own, be sure to remind them that this is an important part of the process.
Eventually, children make the transition from enjoying baths to taking showers. Of course, shorter showers use less water. This is a great opportunity to let them know that every minute in the shower will use more than 900 gallons of water over the course of a year. At that rate, a 10-minute shower every day would nearly fill a swimming pool!
Another way children can conserve water is by using a single cup or glass to drink water over the course of a day. This means there are fewer glasses to clean, reducing overall water use.
Tap into the natural curiosity of kids. Children of all ages can be on the lookout for leaks. Teach them to tell an adult if they see dripping faucets or other water leaks. And whether it is a faucet or hose, kids should know that they should never leave water running unattended.
For more ideas on reducing water use, visit www.IndioWater.org

Spring Break for Desert Sands Unified School District and Coachella Valley Unified School District is from April 5 to 9, 2021. The Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District (CVMVCD) wants to bring you FREE and virtual carnival-themed crafts and games. All materials needed for their Virtual Spring Carnival Camp will be mailed to you at no cost. More details to come, stay connected with us and follow our social media platforms. 
¡la primavera está a la vuelta de la esquina! Las vacaciones de primavera para DSUSD y CVUSD son del 5 al 9 de abril. Queremos traerle juegos divertidos y artesanía. ¡GRATIS y virtual! Todos los materiales necesarios para nuestro Campamento de Carnaval de Primavera Virtual serán enviados por correo a usted sin costo alguno. Más detalles por venir, manténgase conectado con nosotros y siga nuestras plataformas de redes sociales.

On Feb. 23, Riverside County’s adjusted case rate for new COVID-19 cases dropped below a threshold for the required period that will allow transitional kindergarten through sixth grade education to reopen in accordance with the state’s framework.

Desert Sands Unified School District has a safety-plan approved by Riverside County, and state approval is anticipated. If the DSUSD Board approves an opening date at its March 2 meeting, hybrid in-person learning could begin for DSUSD students from TK through 5th grade as early as March 15, 2021. Approximately 70 percent of DSUSD students live in Indio. 

Since 6th grade at DSUSD is part of middle schools, and secondary schools are not yet allowed to return to in-person learning, 6th grade students are not included at this time. Under current state guidance, counties have to reach a threshold of seven or fewer cases per 100,000 residents (Red Tier) to resume in-person learning for middle and high school students. Although Riverside County's adjusted daily COVID-19 case rate is less than 25 per 100,000 residents, it remains in the Purple Tier.

Schools previously open for transitional kindergarten through 6th grade education under the earlier waivers process remain in operation, as do those schools that opened for all grade levels during the county’s brief period in the state’s red tier framework, according to Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser.

“The pandemic has had a major impact on education, like everything else, and as case rates currently continue to decline we can start getting more kids back in class,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County’s Public Health Officer. “But this can’t be without safety precautions or monitoring. Our districts and schools are committed to operating safely, and so am I.”

A county schools team, including Dr. Kaiser, continues to review other districts’ safety plans expeditiously along with state review.

Indio Business is a new feature of Indio Live, showcasing the stories that make our City's small business owners so special. To nominate a business, email news@indio.org

Who: Radhika Rakholia, owner of Whisking Up Love is a self-taught, creative baker of sweet treats from the city of Indio. Whisking Up Love is a minority-owned, woman-owned business.

What: In 2017 Rakholia graduated from California State University, Los Angeles with a degree in Economics and a certificate in accounting. She returned home to Indio with diploma in hand and up to her ears in student loans. What to do? Rakholia needed to work, so she landed a job as a staff accountant at CGC-Mroz Accountants and Advisors. BUT, she quickly realized that one job was not enough. "To de-stress I liked to bake sweet treats," said Rakholia. "So I decided to follow my passion and mix the best of both worlds: baking and accounting." Admittedly, Rakholia says she knew little about how to create a successful business, but Whisking Up Love was born. Then Covid struck. Rakholia pivoted and began to think outside the (cookie) box. 

Behind the scenes: Rakholia found the Coachella Valley offered so many resources to help local small business owners. She contacted the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for education on the basics to creating a successful business in the city of Indio. The SBDC directed Rakholia to the Coachella Valley Women’s Business Center (CVWBC) for guidance and support. "Because of the pandemic I decided to create an E-commerce business due to the challenges of having a brick and mortar building," said Rakholia. Building a website and advertising through social media became Rakholia's second full-time job. Though still in its infancy, her customer base has grown exponentially. Radhika’s dream is to become a nationally known brand and to migrate her business from her home kitchen to a commercial kitchen and hire local employees.

Right now: “What began as a way to pay down my student loans has become my way of spreading joy. My dream is to offer homemade cookies that contain ‘love so real you can taste it’!"

Advice to others: “Follow your dream, no matter how difficult it may seem. Life is short, eat more cookies!”

Contact: Instagram: @whiskinguplove
Facebook: Whisking Up Love
Phone: (562) 334-2353
The City of Indio is the largest and fastest growing city in the Coachella Valley with more than 90,000 residents. Nearly 1.4 million people visit Indio every year to attend its world famous arts, food, and music festivals. With nationally recognized public safety services, exceptional schools, great parks and senior and teen centers, no wonder more than 2,800 new housing units are in construction or being planned throughout the city in addition to new hotels, restaurants and retailers. Indio was the first city incorporated in the Coachella Valley on May 16, 1930, and is governed by an elected City Council that employs a City Manager. The City of Indio embraces its diversity and provides outstanding municipal services to enhance the quality of life for its residents, visitors and business community.
City of Indio |100 Civic Center Drive | (760) 391-4000
information@indio.org | www.indio.org