Stability. Security. Sustainability.
Those are the key principles that continue to drive civic policy and community spirit in Desert Hot Springs. “We are a city on the move,” says a proud Mayor Yvonne Parks. “We are moving forward to bring our citizens a quality of life that brings them happiness, security, and a feeling of pride,” she continues.
While its population has more than doubled over the past decade, the city’s leaders continue to focus on the core priorities of fiscal management, public safety, economic development, and quality of life for residents and business owners. In order to thrive in the postrecession era, Desert Hot Springs is successfully maximizing collaborations and partnerships to make every dollar go farther.
There’s proof the strategy is working. “In addition to leading the Coachella Valley throughout most of last year in sales tax growth, Desert Hot Springs is showing strong economic recovery in home prices, and commercial and multifamily value increases,” Mayor Parks says. In fact, Desert Hot Springs leads valley cities in post-recession home value recovery, and has the second highest year over year percentage increase in assessed valuations in Riverside County.
Building for the Future
Demand for housing is strong in the city. Out of 73 zip codes in Riverside County, only 12 had more homes sold in May of this year than Desert Hot Springs’ 92240. Those new homeowners will reap the benefit of widespread infrastructure improvements underway throughout the community. Some 48 miles of streets have been resurfaced and improved following a massive sewer installation project spearheaded by a grant from Mission Springs Water District to bring entire neighborhoods online.
Other collaborations are also proving to be fruitful. Riverside County Flood Control is funding the first citywide, master-planned flood control project. Desert Hot Springs is partnering with Palm Springs and Riverside County on a grant to widen the Indian Avenue/ Dillon Road corridor to six lanes, greatly enhancing the Interstate 10 freeway interchange there. And, the city is coordinating with Palm Springs Unified School District on three Safe Route to School projects to improve safety and accessibility near schools.
It’s in the Water
Desert Hot Springs has long identified itself as the “Spa City” because of its location on top of one of the world’s finest natural hot mineral water aquifers. “The waters of the Desert Hot Springs region are recognized internationally, and have won numerous awards for taste and quality, as well as the reputed health benefits of this pristine resource,” says Russ Martin, Mission Springs Water District president. Residents formed the water district in 1953, and it has since won seven medals in an annual international competition for the best tasting municipal water.
Spa tourism continues to play an important role in the city’s economy. The city’s own mission statement emphasizes the town’s miracle waters, unique desert ecosystem, spectacular mountain views, and natural environment. Visitors come from around the globe to bask in therapeutic mineral baths at myriad resorts and spas ranging from pet-friendly to Hollywood trendy to clothing optional. The Desert Hot Springs Hoteliers Association’s annual spa tour has become one of the hottest tickets in town with more than 1,000 participants.
Health and Wellness
Desert Hot Springs residents are well served by a sparkling new 32,000-squarefoot Community Health and Wellness Center. The center was spearheaded by the Desert Healthcare District and features a Boys and Girls Club: with a computer lab, teen center, activity center and gymnasium; a community room with full kitchen, dental and medical exam rooms; and a cardio gym where adults can track their progress and share results with medical professionals.
Attached to the center is the John Furbee Aquatic Center, sporting a competition swimming pool, shade areas, and locker and shower rooms. The community pool is operated by the Desert Recreation District and offers open swim hours as well as classes and competitive events.
Borrego Community Health Foundation operates a state-of-the-art clinic in the center of town that is staffed by 10 physicians providing family practice, pediatrics, women’s health, and urgent care along with X-ray and lab services. The clinic was funded by a grant from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, and helps uninsured and under insured residents obtain preventive healthcare.
In yet another example of resourcefulness, the city is partnering with Riverside County and University of California, Riverside, to staff a new county health facility on 14 acres along Palm Drive. The UCR School of Medicine welcomes its inaugural cohort of students in 2013 as part of the first new public California medical school in four decades. Medical students will fulfill their mental health residency rotation at this Desert Hot Springs location.
Taking Care of Business
A number of retail and residential projects are in progress ranging from a hotel and villas on Pierson Blvd. to a golf course and housing development with retail along Highway 62. A logistics center totaling 2.6 million square feet is planned to take advantage of freeway visibility from Interstate 10 and to utilize the abundance of alternative energy sources prominent in the area.
A View from the Top
Perched above the desert floor with spectacular views, Desert Hot Springs has room to grow and the will to preserve its friendly, small-town flavor. In 2013, the city bested all other Coachella Valley cities in the increase of both sales tax and transient occupancy tax income. And, studies show there’s a current unmet demand for an additional $219 million of retail sales annually within the city’s boundaries.
Active community parks and three new schools reflect to a growing population. Cherished pieces of history like Cabot’s Pueblo Museum (on the National Register of Historic Places) and Two Bunch Palms (with long-standing ties to Hollywood) point to a sense of continuity. More and more of the 100,000 travelers zooming along Interstate 10 every day are taking the time to stop and enjoy the view.
— Gayle Biondi
Scott Matas, Russell Betts, Jan Pye, Adam Sanchez Sr.