City of Palm Desert
A Solid Present Launches The Future
Words by Daniel Vaillancourt
Photography courtesy City of Palm Desert
As the world continues to emerge from a global pandemic, the city of Palm Desert keeps delivering on its long-planned promises to complete projects whose potential will benefit every citizen of — and visitor to — the Coachella Valley. And while forever honoring the city’s past even as they enjoy its recent achievements, civic leaders keep their eyes perennially peeled on the future, seeking to fulfill even more dreams that, once made reality, will ameliorate quality of life in this, our beloved desert.
THE DOWNTOWN CORE
Seeing as San Pablo Avenue is such a crucial artery linking El Paseo, Highway 111, CV Link, College of the Desert, and the Palm Desert Civic Center, its revitalization — now complete — was not only a cornerstone of the city’s strategic plan but proof positive of a different approach toward enhancing transportation options for pedestrians, cyclists, and golf cart drivers. The project’s economic impact will more than offset its $21 million price tag (which included $3 million in state funding) because the renovation has transformed the area into a fertile ground for reinvestment in downtown. And speaking of CV Link, it’s just the first piece of PD Link, Palm Desert’s plan to fill the gaps in connectivity between neighborhoods, hotspot destinations, and the larger CV Link network.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 health crisis last year, Lupine Plaza, at the northern intersection of Lupine Lane and El Paseo, transformed a one-block section of an underutilized street to create a safe, comfortable, and therefore inviting and popular plein air dining destination capitalizing on the Coachella Valley’s near-perfect weather. Here, foodies can still carve out their private spot under an umbrella at one of the many shaded tables to enjoy take-out from one of dozens of nearby restaurants. In fact, such a hit was this culinary haven — which permits any local chef to showcase their innovative fare — that the city is in the midst of converting what was initially envisioned as a temporary space into a permanent fixture that can be used long after the pandemic is over.
One more area currently undergoing a major rejuvenation is Presidents’ Plaza, which boasts east and west parking lots that are vital to downtown businesses and their patrons on El Paseo, Highway 111, and adjacent frontage roads between Larkspur Lane and Portola Avenue. Improvements included in this $7.8 million initiative include new asphalt concrete pavement, planter areas with enhanced landscaping, more modern trash enclosures replete with ramps, new striped parking stalls, parking canopies with and without solar, and improved pedestrian walkways. Estimated to be completed by early 2022, this final swath of beautification and added efficiency will be but the latest feather in downtown Palm Desert’s cap.
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
All of these civic enhancements are meant to enrich the life of current residents and visitors. The future of Palm Desert has never looked brighter, with the city partnering with the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP) and the California State University San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus (CSUSB) on the Palm Desert Digital iHUB, or PD iHUB, home to a host of emerging tech companies mentored by CVEP and CSUSB’s newly established entrepreneurship, hospitality, and cybersecurity programs.
The goal of the PD iHUB is to attract these technology-based startup businesses to Palm Desert so that they may not only promote the creation of high-wage-earning jobs but provide opportunities for additional tech-focused student internships. What with PD iHUB’s highspeed bandwidth capacity (through a CENIC fiber optic cable that terminates at the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus located across the street), here entrepreneurs and their employees can telecommute to businesses located out of the area. Said network affords bandwidth speeds of up to 10Gbps, which is more than 1,000 times the rate of current options offered throughout the Coachella Valley. This will enable the incubation of businesses that can only develop their products and conduct their research utilizing these ultra-fast communications modes.
It’s no secret that — thanks to the presence of College of the Desert, CSUSB Palm Desert, the University of California Riverside at Palm Desert, and the first-rate scholastic opportunities each presents — the city has long been known as a local bastion of higher education. Plans are underway to further cement this stellar reputation with the advent of a major expansion of the existing Cal State satellite campus into our very own, standalone California State University Palm Desert. Recently created by the city of Palm Desert, Priority One Coachella Valley (priorityonecv.org) is a standalone non-profit whose sole focus — in concert with Riverside County, six other Coachella Valley cities, the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, the Visit Greater Palm Springs, Burrtec Waste, and Sunrise Company — is to finally bring this esteemed institution of higher learning home.
According to a staff report recently published by the city of Palm Desert’s Economic Development Department, just one of the main advantages of the expanded standalone campus is that it would permit the “enrollment of underserved students who would otherwise go without or make different choices about future educational needs.”
It is the hope of city leaders that many of these diverse alumni will ultimately choose to make Palm Desert their permanent home post-graduation. These young men and women — when combined with others attracted to the city’s relative affordability and central location — will ensure cultural, population, and economic diversity and growth for generations to come.
To learn more about development and/or business opportunities in Palm Desert, interested parties may contact the city’s Economic Development Division at 760-346-0611 or go to cityofpalmdesert.org.
MAYOR: Kathleen Kelly
MAYOR PRO TEM: Jan Harnik
COUNCIL MEMBERS: Sabby Jonathan, Gina Nestande, Karina Quintanilla
YEAR INCORPORATED: 1973
Total Population: 52,530
Median Age: 59
Annual Growth Rate: .95%
Average Household Income: $131,147
Median Household Income: $105,899
(Ages 25 and Older)
High School Diploma: 13%
Bachelor’s Degree: 23%
Graduate/Professional Degree: 17%
Healthcare/Social Assistance: 8%
Retail Trad: 6%
Accommodations/Food Service: 5%
Education Services: 3%
Real Estate/Rental/Leasin: 2%
Admin/Support/Waste Management Services: 2%
Wholesale Trade: 1%
Esri/Coachella Valley Economic Partnership