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Focus on the Coachella Valley

Steady as we grow

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By California’s epic geographical standards, the Coachella Valley is not especially large. It measures perhaps 35 miles from east to west and averages fewer than 19 miles from north to south. Yet, nine extraordinary cities lie within its roughly 640 square miles of wholly desert terrain. Each claims its own pride of place: Palm Springs is the most famous, Indio is the biggest and oldest, Palm Desert is the commercial hub, and so forth.

Thus far in the new century, this valley has been one of the fastest-growing parts of the fastest-growing “big” county in a consistently fast-growing state. But its component cities have their own comparative strengths and weaknesses, and these in turn vary from year to year in response to changing conditions and events. Each October, Palm Springs Life gathers informative data for the latest complete year from unimpeachably objective sources and seeks out the opinions of relevant experts. We then proffer the results in a state-of-the-valley economic/demographic assessment in this, our annual Progress Issue.

On the following pages, we present the nine-city data for 2005 in five key categories: population, new construction, assessed property values, retail sales, and hotel room sales. Taken together, these paint a comprehensive picture of the current desert economy.

As you’ll see, 2005 was an exception-ally good year, a happy circumstance that seems to be continuing. In any case, it is now certain the valley has completely recovered from its 2001-02 business slowdown. There is some unevenness, of course, and points of frailty here and there. But whoever heard of a silver
lining without at least one or two tiny clouds, right? 

If you’re curious about a specific city’s performance — current and historical — in any or all categories, consult the 10-year bar charts in this issue’s special municipal advertising section. The information is very revealing.

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