The Grinch really isn’t trying to end Christmas in Palm Springs for the nation’s biggest private display of holiday lights.
But in the wake of the devastating warehouse blaze in Oakland that killed 36, local desert resort officials want to take no chances.
So the city of Palm Springs will be seeking legal action against the “Robolights” property, site of resident Kenny Irwin Jr.’s 8.4 million-light extravagant outdoor art displays, which the city claims are a public safety hazard.
Operated by Irwin for the past 30 years, Robolights has become a staple Christmas attraction, filled with a plethora of lighted structures occupying all corners of Irwin’s home. The sculptures and inflatables that make up Robolights have drawn widespread attention from locals and tourists, but also the City Council and its code enforcement department, which have issued numerous citations, particularly in the wake of a May electrical fire caused by a pool equipment motor.
City officials said that after the fire, subsequent inspections uncovered 10 life-safety, building and fire code violations. The city also claims that Irwin was given 30 days to submit a report detailing how he would resolve the issues, and though he did correct some of the violations, others remain.
City Attorney Douglas Holland insisted that the city “is not seeking the closure of Robolights,” only to bring it into compliance by removing two structures deemed unsafe.
“The city believes the owner has an obligation to comply with our life/safety, building, fire and zoning code requirements applicable to all single-family residential properties in Palm Springs and is obligated to correct any violations,” Holland said.
In a statement issued Thursday, the city cited the deadly fire at an Oakland warehouse as an example of safety concerns that spurred Palm Springs’ actions against the property.
“As we have seen with the tragic Oakland warehouse fire that killed 36 people, cities have a responsibility to ensure life-safety violations are corrected, particularly in a case like Robolights where the public is visiting the property regularly,” Holland said. “Due to the lack of compliance, in this situation we find it necessary to ask a judge to resolve the ongoing issues and order the property owner to correct the life/safety violations.”
If you’re headed to the desert, the giant display is at 1077 East Granvia Valmonte. The display has been open to the public each year, but it’s not clear if that’s the case now due to the city’s actions. Visitors are asked for small donations before touring the property.
— City News Service