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City of Desert Hot Springs

Address : 65950 Pierson Blvd,
Desert Hot Springs, California 92240

Phone : 760-329-6411

Official Website

A Fast Growing City Ready To Spread Its Wings

Words by Daniel Vaillencourt


MAYOR: Scott Matas
MAYOR PRO TEM: Gary Gardner
COUNCIL MEMBERS: Russell Betts, Jay Pye, Roger Nuñez


According to the most recent U.S. Census, Desert Hot Springs isn’t just the fastest-growing city in the Coachella Valley — it far outpaces every other desert municipality, having experienced a 25.3% increase between 2010 and 2020, compared to Palm Springs’ 0.1% growth and Cathedral City’s 0.6% increase.

“We’re uniquely positioned,” says Deputy City Manager Doria Wilms. “We have amazing views, the most space for development, and some of the most affordable housing. There’s also a forward trajectory with the open-mindedness of our city council to embrace new industry.”

The burgeoning business to which Wilms refers is not just Desert Hot Springs’ longtime embrace of cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and retail, but the relatively novel opportunity brought by cannatourism (a term the city coined), whereby sanctioned boutique hotels invite guests to legally consume onsite. “We’ve taken the health and wellness foundation that’s always been prevalent here and wrapped the cannabis industry into that,” says Wilms.


Housing Developments

Naturally, the families flocking to Desert Hot Springs need roofs over their heads, so the city has made a concerted effort to modernize and expedite the development process. “We’ve graduated to online permitting and plan-check that’s all digital and can be done remotely,” says Assistant City Manager Daniel Porras. “Architects no longer have to come to our front counter.”

“I do believe we have the most technologically advanced permitting process of any valley city,” adds Wilms, who points out that Desert Hot Springs has never ascribed to a “city hall as usual” philosophy. “We don’t create bureaucratic processes for the sake of doing so. We actually look for ways to streamline processes.”

The city has not only paved the way for projects stalled in the economic downturn of 2008 to resume — such as Mighty Buildings, Agua Dulce, and Lennar at Skyborne — but has also approved a bevy of new construction. The upshot being that nearly 1,000 singlefamily homes and multi-family residences are in the process of being built, from mobile homes and standalone houses to townhomes and apartment complexes. Prices range from $300,000 to over one million dollars. “The difference is that you can really maximize your value in Desert Hot Springs,” says Wilms. “A home here that may sell for $600,000 would easily be $1.2 million elsewhere. So, you get a gorgeous home on a hill, near natural mineral hot springs, with breathtaking views. You can’t go wrong with that!”


City Facilities

To go along with this massive residential expansion, Desert Hot Springs has ensured the upgrading of the municipal services that cater to its booming population. Coming soon are a new, 6,000-square-foot, sixmillion- dollar annex to the existing police station, which will house the detective unit and other administrative offices; kitchen and sleeping quarter improvements to Fire Station 37; and a brand new, 9,000-square-foot, seven-million-dollar Fire Station 98. “This is a big deal because we have one of the busiest fire stations in the entire country,” says Porras. “This third fire station is going to help relieve the other two we currently have. We have one in the west, one in the center of town, and this one will be in the east.”

Perhaps most exciting, the city’s 911 dispatch center — most recently headquartered in Cathedral City — has returned to town. “Our residents felt very strongly about wanting to bring that back in-house,” says Wilms. Adds Porras: “We’re the first in California to have the newest, state-of-the-art 911 software the state now requires. No other city has it. It’s the highest technology you can use, so we’re very proud of it.”

In addition, the Carl May Center, formerly the DHS Chamber of Commerce, will be refurbished to allow for enhanced senior services, and a new, 13,000-square-foot library on Palm Drive was recently unveiled.


A New Downtown

Since every city should have a downtown that is its pride and joy, the Desert Hot Springs City Council has placed in motion multiple steps toward ascertaining what the two blocks fanning east and west from the intersection of Palm Drive and Pierson Boulevard should look like. “Our mayor has created a downtown steering committee that includes residents, business owners, teachers, and other local constituents,” says Porras, adding that a grant received from the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) will enable the city to evaluate downtown parking improvements, while graduate students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo are currently involved in a Desert Hot Springs Downtown Project Study Report. “They’re going to ask the community what types of features they’d like to see and make recommendations based on their findings.”

Already begun are two new downtown core initiatives. A unique park of brightly colored shipping containers will not only accommodate small businesses such as retail shops and restaurants but will boast an outdoor entertainment venue. Across the street, sustainable building materials will be used to create additional space for new enterprises.

“We’re not on Highway 111,” says Porras. “We’re a little bit on the north side of the freeway. We have a low amount of traffic. So, we do want to bring that community feel back to our downtown. Our engineering department is working on alternative designs that would reduce four lanes down to two to create a more walkable experience with ADA-compatible crosswalks sporting different, brightly colorful striping that would be safer for pedestrians and cyclists.”


Spa Revitalization

Finally, in keeping with the aforementioned fact that Desert Hot Springs has always been known for its restorative natural mineral baths, a double-pronged incentive program has recently been put in place. “Over the years, a number of small boutique hotels have either transferred ownership or sat in disrepair,” confesses Wilms, adding that the city council wanted to give these businesses a boost “to get them operational again in all their glory.”

Accordingly, entrepreneurs purchasing a non-operational hotel in hopes of restoring it will see their transient occupancy tax (TOT) waived 100% for two full years. Those making improvements to existing spas would be offered a TOT rebate. Wilms explains: “If you were bringing in $10,000 a month in TOT, and you did renovations and are now bringing in $15,000 a month, you would be eligible for the difference in your TOT as a reimbursement for two years, or up to the cost of your investment, whichever comes first.”

With all this, it’s certainly an understatement to say that Desert Hot Springs’ reinvention is well-underway.



Total Population – 32,539
Median Age – 33.1
Annual Growth Rate – 0.19%
Average Household Income – $58,033
Median Household Income – $42,134

High School Diploma – 28.08%
Bacheloir’s Degree – 9.19%
Graduate / Professional Degree – 5.34%

Retail Trade – 15.92%
Healthcare / Social Assistance – 14.91%
Accommodations / Food Service – 11.30%
Construction – 11.90%
Admin / Support / Waste Management Services – 8.35%
Transhportation / Warehousing – 5.46%
Education Services – 5.52%
Manufacturing – 2.98%
Professional / Scientific / Tech – 3.22%

SOURCE: Esri/Coachella Valley Economic Partnership


  • Courtesy Azure Palm Hot Springs

    Courtesy Azure Palm Hot Springs

  • The Azure Palm Hot Springs majestically perched overlooking the San Jacinto Mountains offers a complete hot springs spa experience. Photo courtesy Azure Palm Hot Springs

    The Azure Palm Hot Springs majestically perched overlooking the San Jacinto Mountains offers a complete hot springs spa experience. Photo courtesy Azure Palm Hot Springs

  • Skyborne development entrance. Photo by Chris Miller/

    Skyborne development entrance. Photo by Chris Miller/

  • One of the newest housing developments Silver Rock — DHS 41. Photo by Chris Miller/

    One of the newest housing developments Silver Rock — DHS 41. Photo by Chris Miller/

  • Rendering of the Desert Hot Springs Fire Station.

    Rendering of the Desert Hot Springs Fire Station.

  • Rendering of the new Desert Hot Springs Police Station.

    Rendering of the new Desert Hot Springs Police Station.