Did a La Quinta resident threaten the City Council? La Quinta's Mayor says "yes" during a recent meeting on the future of short-term vacation rentals in the city.
But that resident and others argue the city owes him an apology.
"I was shocked. I was dumbfounded," said long-time La Quinta Cove resident, Paul Quill.
Quill says he was amazed anyone could have garnered a threat and safety concern over what he said at a recent meeting, January 27, when he suggested a referendum be called to ban short-term vacation rentals if the city council doesn't listen to its voting residents and act on the divisive issue first.
At the meeting, Quill said, "When our local leaders make decisions unfavorable to the voters who elected them we, the resident voters of that city, have the right to take matters into our own hands through the ballot initiative process."
That comment upset Mayor Linda Evans who posted this message to the City Attorney and visible to anyone watching. "From Linda Evans to Everyone--- Bill- What's the process for filing a safety concern from the threats made by Paul Quill???"
Quill served 12-years on the city's planning commission and says he made no threat to anyone.
"This is a threat to my free speech," Quill said "It is possibly I believe an attempt by the mayor to censor me," he added.
Evans said in an email to KESQ News Channel 3 Quill's words before the council made her feel unsafe. Evans admitted to making her comment public saying, "I was very concerned hearing the words from a resident to 'take matters into their own hands...' Those words resonated with me very unfavorably given the current climate in our country with recent actions taken or attempted to be taken against public officials."
Quill is a 41-year La Quinta Cove resident and one of dozens who urged the council to place limits on STVR's citing complaints of noise, trash, too many cars and strangers in their neighborhoods. Supporters, meanwhile, urged the council to allow more vacation rentals saying the conflicts can be mitigated.
In an email, the City Manager Jon McMillen said to KESQ News Channel 3 the City Attorney looked into Quill's comment but, "Because the meeting was entirely virtual, with no members of the public present in City Council Chambers, the city attorney determined the threat was minimal given the circumstances of this particular meeting."
Another resident who took part in the meeting agrees with Quill saying no threat was ever made.
Marcia Cutchin said Quill clearly used the word 'voters' in his comments. Cutchin said, "the word 'voters' implies propriety. It does not imply riots."
Quill's home is one of many in his neighborhood with yard signs advocating an end to vacation rentals. He's also written a letter to the city asking for a personal and public apology from Mayor Evans directly. So far, none has been offered.
News Channel 3 is asking the city for its internal communications regarding Quill if there are any. We'll let you know what we find out.