‘Forever Marilyn’ Goes to Court in Palm Springs

Opponents of the ‘Forever Marilyn’ statue lost the first round of their legal battle in Palm Springs this week, the Desert Sun reports.

“Riverside County Superior Court Judge James Latting upheld a tentative ruling issued on Wednesday supporting Palm Springs’ request for a ‘demurrer’ on four of the committee’s six causes of action — or reasons for bringing a lawsuit. A demurrer is essentially an objection that an opponent’s point is irrelevant or invalid.

After oral arguments on the request for a demurrer from Amy Minteer, the attorney representing the Committee to Relocate Marilyn, and Amy Hoyt, an attorney representing Palm Springs, Latting announced that the tentative ruling would be upheld. The move means that those four arguments are dropped,leaving the committee’s case largely resting on allegations that the statue’s placement violated state planning and zoning laws.

The Committee to Relocate Marilyn is suing Palm Springs over the city’s decision to allow local hotel association PS Resorts to place the ‘Forever Marilyn’ statue on Museum Way. The committee  — helmed by Chris Menrad and Trina Turk — has accused the city of violating various municipal and state codes with its closure of Museum Way. They argue that Palm Springs did not hold a public hearing to get resident input on the street closure before moving ahead with its plans.

The city has argued that it has a three-year contract with PS Resorts to install the statue on Museum Way, and that because the street closure will be temporary, the city isn’t required to follow the formal process of permanently closing a street.

The first and second causes of action in the committee’s case alleged that the placement of ‘Forever Marilyn’ violated California’s vehicle code and streets and highways code respectively. The third cause of action argued that the statue’s placement violates Palm Springs municipal code, while the sixth alleged that it violates the California Environmental Quality Act.

In her oral arguments on Thursday, Minteer reiterated the committee’s belief that the city’s closure of Museum Way does not fall under the definition of ‘temporary’ … Arguing that ‘temporary’ street closures are typically associated with short-term events like parades, Minteer continued, ‘Entirely closing a street for three years or likely longer is not similar in nature and scope to short-term events like parades and celebrations. In the city’s definition, they could close any street, for any length of time, as long as the closure is not referred to as ‘permanent.’

A status conference also was planned for Thursday, which would have involved a discussion setting the dates and details for future hearings, including the hearing on the now-amended petition for writ of mandate from the Committee to Relocate Marilyn.

That status conference has been rescheduled for Sept. 9.”

Meanwhile, guest columnist Steven Keylon has addressed some of the myths about Marilyn’s connection to Palm Springs – read more here.

“Many who supported the return of the statue ‘Forever Marilyn’ argued it somehow ‘belonged’ in Palm Springs because Marilyn Monroe lived here, in a house in Vista Las Palmas on Rose Avenue. In fact, she was only an occasional visitor and never owned property here … Another argument was that Marilyn belongs here because she was ‘discovered’ in Palm Springs when photographer Bruno Bernard introduced her to agent Johnny Hyde at the Racquet Club. Again, untrue principally but with a grain of truth: Monroe and Hyde were introduced on Dec. 31, 1948, at a New Year’s Eve party in Beverly Hills. So Monroe was already dating Hyde when Bernard took her photo at the Racquet Club in 1949.”