Coachella, California - City Guide
Small-Town Atmosphere, Big-City Advantages
By Gayl Biondi
From his office window at City Hall, Mayor Eduardo Garcia looks out at Coachella’s historic downtown center and its recently completed $1.7 million in improvements that include new lighting and landscaping along a pedestrian-friendly streetscape, decorative street surfacing, new sidewalks and gutters, and the undergrounding of utilities.
“This street project is much more than cosmetic,” he says. “It represents the importance of people in our city’s plans for the future.” In fact, city staffers have observed that as their workday winds down, residents are gathering on benches and near fountains to socialize. Storefronts along the block are busy with activity.
Despite being among the oldest incorporated cities in the valley, Coachella is a city of youth, with a median age of 26. More than 150 teams play league soccer at Bagdouma Park. That energy is what drives policy makers to reinvest in the community with new parks and public facilities, as well as develop the commercial and retail core to keep tax revenues in the city and provide residents with more choices.
The city’s blueprint for growth — its General Plan — is being updated with smart-growth and green principles and a significant health and wellness component thanks to a grant from Building Healthy Communities. Community leaders see the refreshed land-use plan as an opportunity to lay the groundwork to proactively address the jobs/housing balance and facilitate more robust public and private investment as part of a holistic approach to serving the needs of citizens.
With 16,000 acres of undeveloped land in its sphere of influence, Coachella was one of 14 places in California selected as a partner for the 10-year strategic initiative of California Endowment. The program’s goal is to create healthy, balanced communities that maximize their resources through public/private partnerships.
Recognizing Coachella’s potential, New West Company has secured 2,200 acres of desirable land for a master-planned development of up to 8,000 homes. La Entrada is completing the entitlement process in order to get infrastructure ready for building in the near term as existing housing inventories are depleted.
The site rests on the foothills along the grade to Chiriaco Summit on Interstate 10, affording spectacular views back toward the Coachella Valley. In addition to residential communities, the project will include retail, school, and open-space uses. It also will create at least one new freeway interchange east of Dillon Road onto Interstate 10.
Says New West Company CEO Terry Manley, “This is an exciting opportunity to create something unique in Coachella. After the mistakes of the last real estate cycle, developments of this magnitude are better thought out and much smarter. This community will fit into its surroundings and will offer amenities that make sense. We look forward to partnering with city staff and civic leaders to create La Entrada — the entrance to Coachella.”
The city continues to lay the groundwork for population growth with public safety enhancements, a $4.8 million expansion of the Coachella Sanitary District’s water reclamation facility, and the setting aside of ample open space for parks. The 30-acre Rancho Las Flores Park is set to open this fall. Bagdouma Park features an expanded soccer complex and a new football field.
Coachella represents an area of significant demand and market growth, as evidenced by the city’s most dependable economic barometer: increasing sales tax revenues. Retail businesses like Walgreen’s, Family Dollar, and Sav-A-Lot are keeping pace and were recently joined by a new Sears Hometown Store. Sears Manager Omar Lopez reports that customers are pleased they no longer have to drive to the midvalley to shop. Local grocery stores continue to be the busiest outlets in their respective chains.
On the commercial business side, Coachella is poised to attract firms in the target areas of supply chain/logistics and green technologies. Says Mayor Garcia, “What these two industries offer is wellpaying jobs. What we offer is a solid infrastructure for transportation and technology innovation. When you put the two together, you come out with a win-win situation for everyone.”
Thanks to its location, Coachella has access to the global marketplace. The city sits at the hub of Interstate 10, State Highway 86, and a major rail-shipping line, putting it within easy reach of 25 million people from Los Angeles to Phoenix to Mexicali. With plans in place to create a multimodal network, Coachella will be able to serve coastal California ports that ship worldwide.
Most of the city lies within a State Enterprise Zone, and much of it is overlapped by an Empowerment Zone. Those designations make doing business appealing and cost effective, especially in challenging economic times. In spite of the loss of state redevelopment funding, Coachella and its two partner agencies have committed to continue funding for the Enterprise Zone as a highly effective business development tool.
Coachella is one of five public entities in the valley that provide water and sewer services to residents. The City was planning ahead when it completed a $24 million state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility. In addition, Coachella installed 5 million gallons of water storage capacity for future growth and long-term service reliability.
The mayor, city council, and staff have done an aggressive job seeking grant funds from state, federal, and nonprofit sources. Their success in acquiring these funds has generated economic development, public safety, and quality-of-life benefits throughout the community.
Garcia puts his vision for Coachella this way: “We recognize our role in the region. We’re on the right track. Our finances and projections are stable. With space to grow and an investment in good planning, we are ready for the next wave of economic expansion. In the meantime, our focus is on providing a healthy, well-rounded, and affordable lifestyle for our residents.”
For more information, visit www.coachella.org or call (760) 398-3502.
Description: Coachella is a city with a vision. The former farming hamlet has grown in a measured, thoughtful way from a modest 2.5 square miles to 32 square miles and a population of nearly 40,000. It is the fastest-growing city in the Coachella Valley, and in the top 20 fastest-growing cities in California.
The new Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Southern California Sales & Distribution Center in the Rancho Coachella Business Park is a 60,000-square-foot building on 7.8 acres at 86-375 Industrial Way.
What People Are Saying
|This site is a member of the City & Regional Magazine Association Online Network|