Palm Desert

A Balanced, Sustainable Community.

Gayl Biondi

City of Palm Desert, California
73510 Fred Waring Drive
Palm Desert Civic Center
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Phone 760-346-0611

After 35 years of incorporation, Palm Desert is the model of a healthy and successful city with a true sense of community spirit. Its ever-increasing year-round population, two high-profile universities, and a solid balance sheet give this community at the center of the Coachella Valley the poise to continue achieving great things well into the future. With a full-time population of just under 51,000 and a seasonal influx of part-time residents, Palm Desert has evolved from a retirement Mecca into a decidedly au courant destination for sun seekers and business moguls alike. While one group of visitors might be prowling Ralph Lauren or Gucci for must-have fashions, another could be sealing a multimillion dollar venture at the Heckmann International Center for Entrepreneurial Management at the UCR campus.

A Haven for Retail

Annual taxable sales of more than $1.6 billion reflect Palm Desert’s position as a retail powerhouse. Some 15 centers and plazas provide a wide variety of shopping options, from brand-name stores to smaller neighborhood shops and the festive atmosphere of College of the Desert’s weekend street fair.

The popular Gardens on El Paseo will soon be joined by a companion center — an all new El Paseo Village — with a combined 70,000 square feet of retail, two anchor restaurants overlooking the boulevard, and second floor office space. According to Gardens General Manager Bob Fliday, “The Village will look similar to The Gardens, but have a more contemporary vibe with stores like Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand, and Kate Spade for a younger clientele.” El Paseo Village is expected to open in November of 2009.

Just to the east of The Gardens, plans are coming together for the four-star Hotel El Paseo, featuring 106 rooms and 16 three-bedroom suites with private outdoor spas. Guests may enjoy two large swimming pools, a restaurant and bar, underground parking, and a chic rooftop desert garden just steps away from El Paseo’s trendy one-mile promenade.

Designs are underway to expand Westfield Palm Desert to include more specialty stores and bring Nordstroms to the desert. This will expand the luxury brands in Palm Desert and bring new stores to residents and tourists.

A Center for Higher Learning

Palm Desert secured its position as a center of educational excellence when College of the Desert opened its campus on Monterey Avenue more than 40 years ago. Since then, COD has grown into a keen community resource and workforce training center as part of California’s vibrant community college system. Funds from a bond measure are being used to double the capacity for nursing and health science students and provide infrastructure to train police and fire personnel.

The city’s north sphere has taken on the mantle of “University Park” to reflect the residential and commercial activities destined to take shape around a sparkling new tandem campus at Cook Street and Gerald Ford Drive. The complex houses California State University, San Bernardino’s Coachella Valley Campus and the University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert Graduate Center on land donated by the city.

Dr. Fred Jandt, dean of Cal State’s Palm Desert campus reports that the $4.5 million, city-sponsored Palm Desert Health Science Building is accepting students for two nursing programs. One program allows working nurses to attain BSN degrees; the other focuses on transitioning general-education students from College of the Desert into nursing classes toward a professional health career.

The Richard J. Heckmann International Center for Entrepreneurial Management at the UCR Palm Desert Graduate Center links MBA students and small business people with successful former CEOs and corporate executives as mentors through an innovative Executives in Residence program that operates like a virtual incubator. Transferring technologies discovered in the university lab to commercial use is another key component to UCR’s three-pronged commitment to education, research, and service.

A Sustainable Future

Not taking anything for granted, Palm Desert leaders are always looking ahead. They’ve made a commitment to “be recognized as a world-class destination for tourism and as a leader in energy efficiency and recreation for the community” by 2013. Already flush with parks chock-full of amenities, the city is developing an indoor aquatics center with a pool for competitive swimming at Civic Center Park.

Having made great strides in the tourism and recreation arenas, Palm Desert’s sustainability agenda is coming on strong. In 2007, Palm Desert kicked off its effort to reduce energy consumption by 30 percent over five years in a partnership with Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas Company, and The Energy Coalition by establishing a Department of Energy Management.

Says department Director Patrick Conlon, “Homes here in our desert environment use 150 percent more energy than comparable homes elsewhere. The California Public Utilities Commission is very interested in replicating the programs we initiate here around the state.”

Palm Desert is now the first city in California to offer an energy-efficient loan program to their residents to make energy-conserving home improvements. The city recently committed $2.5 million to assist residents with the big-ticket items that can reduce energy consumption, such as new air conditioning, windows, and solar panels.

The Wall Street Journal recently commended Palm Desert as one of nine cities worldwide innovating green programs to cut energy usage.

A Place To Call Home

It takes a well-rounded mix of businesses, housing choices, and services to make a balanced community. Palm Desert has consistently implemented a thoughtful planning process to keep up with the economy while serving the needs of its citizens and visitors. The Palm Desert Redevelopment Agency continues to build affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families and seniors along with facilities to benefit the public.

Visitors and residents alike can appreciate the desert oasis at Entrada del Paseo. Nearby the Palm Desert Visitors Center is the Henderson Community Building, housing the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce, along with comfortable and environmentally friendly meeting space for community groups. The grounds have been dedicated as the Eric Johnson Memorial Gardens, in honor of the horticulturalist and landscape designer whose vision helped shape Palm Desert’s lush and water-efficient landscape.

To ensure the future safety of its residents and guests, the City of Palm Desert is working with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department to facilitate the construction of a regional sheriff station on Gerald Ford Drive between Monterey and Portola Avenues.

Parks and recreation. Schools and shopping. Relaxation and opportunity. Everywhere you look, there’s something for everyone in Palm Desert. To learn more about business opportunities, contact the Palm Desert Economic Development Division at (760) 346-0611 or visit

Mayor Jean M. Benson

Jean M. Benson

Mayor Pro Tem
Robert A. Spiegel

Council Members
Jim Ferguson
Cindy Finerty
Richard S. Kelly

Year Incorporated


Median Household Income
$67, 328

Palm Desert Development Chart