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Music mogul Irving Azoff and Apple exec Eddy Cue build their ultimate golf course in the Coachella Valley

January 10, 2024
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THEIR HAPPY PLACE Azoff and Cue at Ladera Golf Club in Thermal, Calif. Photographs by Channing Benjamin

The only thing better than building your own golf course is building one with your best friend. Better still is when money isn’t really a concern because you’ve both won low-net and gross in the game of life. Irving Azoff dropped out of the University of Illinois in 1970 because it would’ve been financially reckless not to transfer his robust booking business of fraternity bands (among them REO Speedwagon) to Los Angeles. He would run Ticketmaster and later be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Eddy Cue, a first-generation Cuban-American from Miami whose father was a stagehand and mother a butcher, studied computer science at Duke and has worked at Apple since 1989. Today, they count nearly two dozen memberships between them, mostly the same clubs, and play about 70 rounds a year together. Now that they’ve opened Ladera Golf Club in Thermal, Calif., Golf Digest’s Best New Private Course of 2023, the worlds of music and tech have merged like never before. How did this power twosome get paired?

Two decades ago Cue was busy launching a new service called iTunes, but the library didn’t include one of his boss’ favorite bands, the Eagles. To placate Steve Jobs, Cue tracked down their manager to clear the impasse with the record label. Azoff proved a useful contact because in addition to the Eagles, he has represented or promoted U2, Guns N’ Roses, Van Halen, Fleetwood Mac, Jimmy Buffett, Bon Jovi, Journey, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, yada yada. Together, they would revolutionize the digital sales and distribution of the music industry.

“Irving is the super-agent because of three things,” begins Cue, swirling a glass of cabernet over a thick New York strip. (Cue, 59, was a standout high school basketball player and still has the appetite of an athlete, as well as a powerful voice that would command a locker room. Azoff, a smaller engine thrumming nicely at 75, is having iced tea with fish and greens, and will softly note that his rock ’n’ rollers were always comforted knowing somebody sober was at the helm.) “One, Irving will kill for his clients. Two, he answers his phone 24-7. Three, he’s never slipped into the trap of thinking he’s the talent.”

Then Azoff says, “Eddy makes decisions with financial implications that are 100 times what I deal with.”

We’re sitting at a table in the temporary Ladera clubhouse where sleek steel beams and plush interior defy the word, and similarly unbelievable is how often Azoff’s iPhone rings and the names that pop up. In 10 minutes, a threatening letter with powder from a deranged fan has arrived for a legendary diva, a radio personality in New Zealand urgently needs a doctor for his kid, and the clubhouse manager wants to know if it’ll be lunch or dinner at next month’s inaugural member-guest tournament. Azoff treats each matter with equal and calm attention. That is, until Azoff and Cue start goofing by answering each other’s phones. The scene suggests the original name intended for the place, which the duo ultimately decided to call the par-3 course: Q&A.

Ladera translates to “Spanish foothills” and is the street name at one of Azoff’s homes, which is only sort of funny if you consider the club doesn’t have a paved entrance yet. For now, just park in any dirt space between the lemon trees bordering the driving range. The property is a construction site with fully finished golf facilities and is basically a second office for Azoff, who has been walking nine holes daily. It’s a getaway for Cue, who rarely plays golf in San Francisco where his real life is.

In the beginning, neither knew the other was a golfer. That happened in a surprise encounter at El Dorado Golf and Beach Club in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Then the bromance really heated up at another Discovery Land property, Gozzer Ranch Golf and Lake Club in Idaho. A half-serious comment about wanting a house nearer the water got serious when a certain property became available, so they bought it together. Thus began many trips and holidays with their families to Gozzer and beyond.

All three Cue children love to play golf. Jeffrey Azoff qualified for the 2023 U.S. Mid-Amateur, and his younger brother, Cameron, is also a tournament player. Together, they were responsible for many of the details at Ladera, including the scorecards, tee markers (the tips at 7,705 yards are pink, a whimsical twist on machismo), practice areas, golf-shop merchandise and more. Someday the children will inherit the club. To date, Cue and Azoff have sold nearly 40 non-equity memberships to their jet-setting friends, but ownership of Ladera will stay within the two families.

“Their friendship is aspirational,” Jeffrey says. “For two guys who deserve to make everything in the world about them, that they’d involve us in all the meetings about creating [Ladera] is humbling.”

“They all get along so great, and it’s cool to think about them one day sitting in these chairs with their grandkids, applying their own perspective and taking this place to a whole new level,” Cue says. As for his generation, Cue recently sent a recap email of a banner day made possible, in part, by the private air strip that’s a five-minute drive from the course—18 holes of golf, courtside at a Lakers game, backstage with U2 in Las Vegas—with the subject heading: Membership Has Its Privileges. Some of the early members include powerhitters like Fred Harman (co-owner of the Golden State Warriors), Rob Light (managing partner and director at Creative Artists Agency), Patrick Healy (CEO of Hellman & Friedman investments in London) and Harry Styles (you know what he does).

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CREATIVE JUICE The genius of Cue, Azoff and Hanse combined to transform a lemon grove into holes like the par-4 13th.

Like many great notions, Ladera traces to the pandemic. Q&A have the self-awareness to know how absurdly privileged this sounds, but in their view the opulent private desert club where they rode out COVID became overrun. That is, by the hordes of adult children and their children who fled cities during lockdown to the sweet, gated embrace of their forebears’ retirement communities, ballooning the number of humans with golf privileges. Newcomers to the game are wonderful and need to be encouraged, of course, but there are only so many unreplaced divots men of certain taste will stomach. “There were golf carts being driven in bunkers!” Azoff says, cringing at the memory.

As with the Gozzer house, when the ideal property came up for sale, neither guy blinked: in this case, 300 acres of lemon grove in the Coachella Valley (with existing water rights) nestled against the Santa Rosa Mountains. The most in-demand golf architect, Gil Hanse, flew in to assess the site and seriousness of its new owners and was pleased on both counts. The next day, back at work at Los Angeles Country Club in preparation for its upcoming U.S. Open, Hanse received a surprise delivery of eight pies from Azoff’s L.A. restaurant, Apple Pan, with a challenge to decide his favorite.

“The staff makes room in the kitchen refrigerator, and less than 24 hours after meeting these guys I’m alone in my room doing a pie-tasting,” says Hanse, who chose the chocolate banana cream.

Not long after, Hanse was flying to Ja-pan with a seven-hour layover in L.A. He texted Azoff. “A car picks me up and takes me to the Harry Styles concert,” Hanse says. “Before the show, we’re underneath the stage hitting balls on a simulator with Harry, then it’s dinner with several stars and all these amazing wines. At the concert I’m standing next to The Edge. That was my layover. Another time I went over to Irving’s house to watch a movie, and David Geffen, Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann were there. Irving lives in this different world and moves effortlessly through it, loving nothing more than making people happy. Then there’s Eddy. Every time a new Apple product is released, I’m on this special list. But more important than any of these things has been the experience of just hanging with these guys and creating the happiest place on the planet for them.”

Ladera Golf Club

Ladera Golf Club
Thermal, CA
Ladera breaks the mold of desert golf in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. The design does not incorporate unnatural water features, it’s not lined by palm trees, and it’s not constrained by housing considerations. Instead, it is a beautiful and varied expression of what desert golf can be in its most natural form, though nothing about it is natural. The 300-acre site slopes 140 feet from the high point near the Santa Rosa Mountains across once-level land that was formerly lemon groves and mango farms. Hanse and Wagner propped up the low side of the property to reorient sightlines over the valley floor toward the eastern Mecca Hills and moved millions of cubic yards of earth to create each particle of golf.Ladera’s fairways are generous, 60 to 100 yards with no formal rough, but strategy abounds with options to play to wide parts of the fairway though the best approach angles and lines-of-sight are reserved for those who skirt the boundaries of the hazards. Even completely straight holes, such as the par-5 seventh, are full of options with staggered bunkers and a treacherous side slope short of the green. The greens reveal a tremendous variety of sizes and forms, some modestly contoured like the enormous saucer third and others a pattern of ridges and falling tiers (the 14th). But the most distinctive features at Ladera are the attractive dry gullies and arroyos that Hanse, Wagner and their team cut through the site emulating sandy, eroded vegetative lows that water would rush through during rare periods of heavy rain. The excavated sand was used to create sweeping elevation changes and to prop up greens like the par-3 fourth, the altar-like 15th, the par-3 16th and the par-5 17th that hangs over the edge of a deep arroyo.
Though the project hasn’t been all sunshine and grab-ass with the stars. There was a lot of row to hoe before, say, Hanse and Azoff were riding together in sunglasses in a dozer pushing dirt, Dead & Co. blasting from a huge speaker strapped to the back, each pinching himself that he’s learning from the preeminent authority on C.B. Macdonald/John Mayer. Having opened The Sphere in Las Vegas plus five other massive modern arenas during COVID, Azoff can navigate the matrices of development better than most. Having overseen crucial aspects of Apple News, Apple Pay, Apple Books and more, Cue is also no stranger to tense deadlines. (With Hanse’s contractual commitments to other courses, if Ladera wasn’t finished in 10 months, it would’ve taken at least another full year.)

Azoff is unequivocal. “I had to put more time and energy into building this golf course than The Sphere. I don’t think anybody else will be able to pull off what we’ve done in this area.” He’s referring to irrigation, electricity, flood walls, roads, Internet, $40 million for the golf holes, which doesn’t include the planned clubhouse and seven villas, and a hundred other challenges that come with moving two million cubic yards of dirt to create a sloping masterpiece from poor flat nothing.

“It’s obnoxious to talk about cost, but I compare it to the Apple Park campus. Short-term it sounds insane, but 100 years from now the figure will seem cheap,” Cue says. “One difference is there were no computer renderings. Gil shows you his black-and-white pencil sketches, and you just have to trust him.”

Playing with Q&A, both giddy as schoolboys, they don’t hide that Hanse and his partner, Jim Wagner, and by extension their construction partner LaBar Golf, exceeded their expectations. Cue points out ideal strategic lines and is quick to offer fist-bumps, even chestbumps, if you pull it off. “We’ve got fucking 360-degree views of the mountains,” says Azoff, spinning slowly to behold, and who, by the way, is rocking high-top G/Fores and an untucked polo. A minute later his head’s down, getting nerdy about the turf maintenance program. The best part about having a personal playground? Ask that and Azoff’s gaze goes mid-range, squarely on you. “Sharing it with other people.”

Dotting the course are a handful of converted Airstream trailers replete with air conditioning, bathrooms, refrigeration, and every snack conceivable. Such “comfort stations” are not novel, yet Q&A want Ladera’s vibe to be a departure from other high-end new courses that have celebrated golf as part of a relaxed recreational smorgasbord without stuffy rules. Q&A are still figuring out what this means exactly but know they want golfers who walk instead of ride and who “respect the virtues of the game.” The historic international destinations that draw the most ardent golf lovers exist under the weight of their own traditions, your Augustas and Pine Valleys, but Ladera is a blank slate.

Azoff’s phone rings. The greatest basketball player of all time wants to play tomorrow. “OK, but can he keep it to one group?”

No more than four foursomes per day is one idea at Ladera. Another is that it’s not a local course for retirees to bang balls for 10 minutes, play 18 holes in two and half hours, head home, then rinse and repeat. The complete lack of housing suggests this, as does the absence of a swimming pool, gym, tennis and pickleball courts. But the most unique attribute is the insistence on walking, with a caddie or a pushcart or carrying your bag. In deference to heat, hills, and even age, desert golf has always been played in carts. I’m aware of no other course in this part of the country that’s as committed to the ideal of golf as a soulful trek together as Ladera.

“Golf’s about friendship, but it’s also an incredible business tool,” Azoff says. “So much business, especially in my business, is done on the golf course.” From what I can’t help but eavesdrop, at least a portion of this marketing genius’ daily work involves giving away concert tickets to important people. It’s good to hang around Irving.

To the question, “Why don’t more folks in tech play golf?” Cue says, “Programmers are solitary individuals, and even though golf is an individual sport, it’s very social at its essence.” Whether that is construed as positive or negative is unclear when Cue says to me: “I now know you better than if we had six dinners together.”

What will become of Ladera Golf Club? As tech and music have shown in California, it’s all possible.

Below: The stunning par-5 first sets the stage for what's to come at Ladera: enormous landing areas, slick playing surfaces, arroyos that criss-cross the property and meditative views of the Santa Rosa Mountains and Coachella Valley.

What the NAR Settlement Means for Buyers and Sellers 

There has been significant media coverage of a recent legal settlement regarding the real estate industry. Last week the National Association of Realtors® entered into a settlement agreement in the Sitzer-Burnett case, agreeing to pay a $418 million fine. We’d like to clarify what this means for home buyers and sellers.

First, note that the settlement is pending approval by the courts, and if approved, won’t go into effect until mid-July. Thus, it has no immediate impact. If it goes into effect, buyers and sellers will see brokerages and agents adopting new policies nationwide.

Since the 90’s, seller’s agents have shared their commissions with buyer’s agents. This settlement will, in short, encourage buyers to pay for - and negotiate - compensation with their agents. Here’s how this will likely affect buyers and sellers:

SELLERS

  • The seller does not have to offer compensation to the buyer’s agent. This has always been the case and has not been affected by the settlement. There is no pre-set amount; it can be set at the initial marketing of the property or negotiated directly with the buyer’s representative prior to ratifying a sales contract. There are strategic implications to consider when taking either approach and how then may impact the value, timing, and logistics of the sale.
  • A seller will still be able to offer compensation for an agent who brings a buyer to the property and facilitates the sale for that buyer. The compensation amount, however, will no longer be published in the MLS, which feeds to all major portals like Zillow and Realtor.com, and is the de facto platform for searching available properties. Cooperating commissions can still be shared publicly on brokerage marketing materials including flyers, websites, and social media.
  • Sellers have always been - and will continue to be - able to negotiate commissions with their agent based on the exchange of services that agent is offering.
  • There will be changes made to the California Association of Realtors contract and forms to clearly delineate not only the amount, but how, when, and where offers of compensation will be exchanged.

BUYERS

  • By mid-July, before being shown any properties, buyers will be required to enter into a written agreement with their agent representative, which clearly defines the compensation that will be due in exchange for their agent’s service. Compensation must be a percentage or dollar amount and cannot be open-ended. For example, the agreement cannot say, “buyer broker compensation shall be whatever amount the seller is offering to the buyer.” An agent cannot receive compensation for brokerage services for more than the amount or rate agreed to in the buyer representation agreement.
  • The compensation may be paid by the buyer, offset in the future by a seller willing to cover the amount, or covered within the loan structure in the form of a seller concession as part of the terms of the sales contract. There are limitations to the concession percentage allowance determined by the loan based on the buyer’s down payment that could impact the overall amount received.

Buyer compensation has historically been folded into the purchase price; as these changes go into effect, it remains to be seen how payment will be applied. Furthermore, it is unknown if and how these changes will impact home prices, particularly given the historically low supply and high demand in our competitive market.

In sum, the major news headlines and stories, from the New York Times, to CNN, have misrepresented and inaccurately reported this story. While change is inevitable in any industry, we are confident that you, our clients, understand and value our work, and we will continue to go above and beyond to exceed your expectations.

Dining Around The Desert: Kiki’s La Quinta

Kiki’s La Quinta opened last October in the space where Bucatini used to be next to the movie theatre on Washington and 48th. Kiki's offers a delightful dining experience with a blend of Italian-inspired cuisine and creative cocktails. I’ve had the pleasure of dining there multiple times, and it’s always been top-notch.

Jon Butler's culinary expertise, honed at reputable establishments like Penney and the Parlour, The Rose in Venice, and Republique in LA, brings a high standard to the kitchen. The focus on sourcing prime local ingredients alongside imported staples from Italy speaks to a commitment to quality and authenticity.

The menu boasts a variety of enticing dishes, from the popular Persimmon & Arugula Salad to the indulgent Sausage & Onion Pizza and Ricotta Gnocchi. My friends and I have tried homemade focaccia, burrata, carbonara arancini, and braised meatballs from the starter menu, all of which have garnered praise. The Heirloom Beets Salad with seasoned burrata is also a refreshing choice.

While the Fresh White Truffle Pizza might be a splurge, it's surely an experience worth trying for those looking to indulge. Other pasta options like the Fusilli Pesto and Shrimp Casarecce Alla Vodka are some of my favorites, showcasing various flavors and ingredients. The Rigatoni Bolognese and Braised Short Rib offer comforting and hearty options for those craving something savory, and they are two of Michael’s go-to entrees.

The well-crafted cocktails, from classics like the Aperol Spritz to classic concoctions like the Old Fashioned, perfectly complement the dining experience. And with a wine list covering Prosecco, Rose, Whites, and Reds from California and Italy, there's something to suit every palate.

Overall, it's clear that Kiki's La Quinta has made a significant impact on the local food scene, offering a combination of excellent food, attentive service, and inviting ambiance. It's no wonder my friends and I plan to return for more culinary adventures.

CONTACT US

 46660 Washington St La Quinta, CA 92253
 [email protected]
 760.777.8008

RESTAURANT HOURS

Wednesday & Thursday: 

12:00pm - 8:00pm

Friday: 

12:00pm - 9:00pm

Saturday: 

11:30am - 9:00pm

Sunday:

11:30am - 8:00pm

Closed Monday & Tuesday

PARTY AT KIKI'S

Saturday:

9:00pm - 1:00am

The Coachella Valley’s Enduring Love Affair with Dates

Date palm trees with bags hanging off to protect the fruitUnder those bags there's caramel gold. | Courtesy of Visit Greater Palm Springs

The Coachella Valley's Enduring Love Affair with Dates

The desert hotspot is now best known for its music festival, but an obsession with the Middle Eastern fruit has persisted for over a century. There’s even a dates festival in its honor.

TUCKED AWAY ALONG THE EDGE OF A COUNTY FAIR IN INDIO, CALIFORNIA, is a curious building with distinct Middle Eastern flair: white with blue trim, covered in murals, and topped with a bulbous gold Persian dome and pointed arches that court the Southern California breeze. While elsewhere on the grounds neon-lit Ferris wheels spin against the night sky, demolition derbies smash large vehicles and musical acts like Smash Mouth smash eardrums, inside this building are wrinkly and glistening fruit, a virtual embarrassment of chewy caramel riches. Abbadas, Medjoosl, Barhis, Brunettes, you name it. Halawi, Hellali, Honey, sure, those too.

This is the Taj Mahal building, a remnant from when the Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival was a tribute to the Coachella Valley cash crop of dates, and its Middle Eastern origins. Though today the Coachella Valley may be best known for its blowout music festival, in the early 1900s, thanks to some intrepid scientists and the imagination of some truly Disney-level storytellers, it was the destination that dates built.

This iteration of the transportive fair was launched in 1947. On certain nights guests wearing Arabian Nights-style attire got in the fair for free, and the whole grounds resembled a movie set—camel races and all. A Baghdad stage designed by Hollywood art director Harry Oliver hosted sequined nightly performances of “One Thousand and One Nights.”

a woman in white on a ladder leaning against a date palm tree in the Coachella Valley
Beauty queens also had to have great balance. | University of Southern California / Corbis Historical

The overt appropriation has dwindled, but in its 76th year, the heritage remains in a few architectural elements and the National Date Festival’s Queen Scheherazade Pageant. A part of the fair from its beginnings, the pageant originated as a stepping stone to the glitzy Miss California title. Today it’s morphed into a scholarship fund, where women eschew swimsuits in favor of billowing harem pants, vying for up to $3,500 in prizes.

And the dates remain. Today, the Coachella Valley is still the number one producer of dates in the US, shipping off 90% of the country’s crop. Throughout the valley, date palms dangle fruit in clusters like grapes. And yet, dates aren’t native to the United States, let alone California. So how did the flowering plant come to headline a regionally beloved festival and serve as a magnet for local tourism?

Enter the agricultural explorers.

two people in dated costume clothing sipping a date shake while a camel looks on
The 1958 version of sharing a date shake. | University of Southern California / Corbis Historical

Traveling the world, one tree at a time

A little over a century ago, American cuisine was heavy on meat, cheese, and potatoes. The country’s agricultural yields had little in the way of fruits and vegetables, and many were seeking some palette diversity (not to mention fiber). In an effort to diversify American crops and diets, in 1898 the USDA formed an elite task force of plant scientists. These “agricultural explorers” would trek around the world Indiana Jones-style, culling plants and bringing them back home to the States. They introduced tens of thousands of foods we still eat today, including: mangoes, avocados, horseradish, kale, nectarines, papaya, pistachios, and, of course, the date palm, native of the Middle East and North Africa.

The program came on the heels of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where Greater Los Angeles was coincidentally introduced as a place of fertility, abundance, and all things tropical. A couple decades earlier, the Southern Pacific Railroad laid tracks throughout the desert as a result of westward expansion, but the discovery of nutrient-rich soil and a massive desert aquifer stretching from the San Jacinto Mountains to the Salton Sea lead to another gold rush of sorts for parcels of the region’s farmland.

The USDA’s agricultural explorers noted that the soil conditions in Algeria, its neighbors, and the Arabian Peninsula were similar to that of the Coachella Valley, which some referred to as the American Sahara. And there, the date palm, one of the oldest domesticated crops, were abundant. Plus, the palm’s fruit was desirable—sweet, delicious, and rich in vitamins and minerals helpful for relieving common ailments like constipation. The quest to import date palms to the States began romantically: A botanist named David Fairchild went to Baghdad to investigate the species, in part because he remembered its role in A Thousand and One Arabian Nights. His fellow USDA scientist Walter Swingle followed, lugging a clutch of large, unwieldy, 60-pound tree offshoots back to the Coachella Valley (they had to be offshoots, as seeds could create anomalies in the DNA). Once planted, the trees thrived.

a hand holding some ripe yellow dates
One for you, the rest for me. | Courtesy of Aziz Farms

Curving through the Palm Desert, the Southern Pacific Railroad, and eventually Highway 111, allowed tourists to travel to foreign lands without leaving the country. At the turn of the century, the acres of date palm farms provided an escape to what at the time was viewed as exotic—an admittedly problematic perspective popular culture was all too happy to support.

Fueling it was an Americans obsession with a romanticized idea of the Middle East, as studios pumped out movies like Cleopatra, The Queen of Sheba, and The Sheik, starring a very un-Middle Eastern Rudolph Valentino. Not only were films affected by the craze, but architecture, fashion, art, and agriculture. Landscapes were fashioned accordingly: The towns of Coachella Valley went all in, designing attractions to mirror Hollywood sets and opening date shops shaped like pyramids and Bedouin tents. The town of Walters changed its name to Mecca in 1904, while elsewhere, there were name makeovers like Cairo Avenue, still in use today. There were even (thankfully abandoned) plans to create an entire town called Arabia, with architecture reminiscent of the Sahara and a shopping complex where customers would arrive on camels.

And in 1921—the same year as The Sheik’s big screen debut—the town of Indio launched the International Festival of Dates to a backdrop of masquerading harem girls, camel races, and elaborate Arabian costumes. All “The Wise Men” were going, said the promotional pamphlets.

Sometime after the second World War, the Date Festival merged with the Riverside County Fair. And as geopolitics and America’s perceptions of the Middle East shifted in the subsequent decades, the societal obsession with Middle Eastern stereotypes dwindled. The dates, it seemed, were the era’s few survivors.

a colorful metal shed painted with images of pyramids
The Packhouse at Aziz Farms | Courtesy of Visit Greater Palm Springs

Saving the Coachella date—a survival story

Stop by the farmers market in Indio on a typical Saturday and you might run into Tadros Tadros—“A man so nice you gotta say it twice,” says his son Mark—manning the Aziz Farms booth. Born in Egypt and armed with a degree in agriculture and horticulture from the University of Cairo, Tadros moved to the States in the 1960s in search of new opportunities. He was a beekeeper for a time, as well as an exceptional tennis player, and took a job as a tennis pro in the Coachella Valley. It was there that he first spotted California-grown Yellow Barhi dates.

“He was familiar with the more exotic [date] varieties like the Barhi,” says Mark. “But most growers were letting it cure to a brown state as opposed to selling it when it was still crunchy and yellow like an apple.” Seeing an opening, Tadros procured some Yellow Barhi, drove to Los Angeles, and sold them out of the trunk of his car to Egyptian expats. He eventually saved up enough money to buy some land and start his own operation. Today, Aziz Farms ships primarily within the United States.

Detroit's really big for us,” says Mark. “Medjool dates are big there for folks like us, because we're kind of a small to mid-sized producer and will deal with a lot of the marketplaces where you'll see larger ethnic populations.”

“I've had friends that to this day think I’m a coconut farmer and I’m lying to them about what I grow on our trees.”

A few years ago, Mark took over the business, and had to reckon with the declining state of the industry. In Mark’s words, farms are a dying breed. But he has a few tricks up his sleeve to keep the farm alive, including diversifying his crops, planting vegetables and partnering with restaurants to meet their supply needs.

He’s also started hosting adult field trips. Based on the same curriculum as the school kids’ program, the grown-up offerings are geared towards spreading the word about proper growing practices and the financial impacts of agritourism.“If you look at some of our ethnic customer base, they're what I consider date experts, date aficionados: They understand dates at their core, they eat them differently, they use them differently, they cherish them differently, and they understand very specifically where these things come from,” Mark says. “But I don't think that the average American really understands the impact of the Coachella Valley. I've had friends that to this day think I’m a coconut farmer and I’m lying to them about what I grow on our trees.”

a giant roadside knight pointing at a shed
Let the knight point your way. | Courtesy of Visit Greater Palm Springs

The perfect date: How to tour date farms in Coachella Valley

For those interested in learning more about the date’s renaissance in California, the Date Museum inside the Coachella Valley History Museum pays homage to the region’s agricultural transformation. But while you’re in the area, thick creamy date shakes are a must. Some would say it’s the unofficial drink of Palm Springs. And you’ll find an abundance of options. Stop by farms like Hadley’s Fruit Orchards, or even get a version at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club. But for the full date experience, take your date to Shield’s Date Garden. One of the oldest date farms in the country, just look for the kitschy gigantic knight armed with shield and sword, pointing to the showroom.

First opened on Christmas Day in 1924 by mining engineer Floyd Shields and his teacher wife Bess, two lovebirds looking to capitalize on the burgeoning date industry, romance was a part of the formula from the beginning. Tasked with deciding how to market his business, Shields looked at the Arabian Nights themes elsewhere and decided he would focus on matters of the heart—and the libido. Specifically, with a slideshow called the Romance & Sex Life of the Date. Today, you can screen the presentation in the shop’s Romance Room (or just stream it on the website).

The subject matter is more about the propagating fruit and the intricacies of date farming, but the insinuation is more than enough to draw curious passersby inside Shields’ agricultural castle. So while the National Date Festival’s date focus has admittedly dwindled over the years, swapping the centerpiece fruit for rides, livestock shows, and Smash Mouth, there’s still much to see. Try doubling up your next Southern California getaway—or your trip to Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival—with a stop at the fruit-forward gem. Get the date shake, and if you’ve brought a date yourself, consider opting for two straws.

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Vanita Salisbury is Thrillist's Senior Travel Writer.

Proposition 13 & 19 – Home Protection for Seniors, Severely Disabled, Families, and Victims of Wildfire & Natural Disasters Initiative

California Proposition 13, passed by California voters in 1978, was a groundbreaking law that helped to keep property taxes under control for homeowners. The property tax caps offered by Proposition 13 affect everyone who owns real estate in California. Proposition 19 marked a significant change to Proposition 13, changing tax benefits for families, seniors, severely disabled persons, and victims of natural disasters in California.

Proposition 19 amends the California Constitution by expanding qualifications for the transfer of a property's taxable value. These changes may affect your next escrow and title transaction if eligibility requirements are met. Additional documents may be required by escrow if you plan to transfer the current taxable value of the property.

How does Proposition 19 affect property tax base transfers:

Starting April 1, 2020, Proposition 19 allows an owner of a primary residence who is over 55 years of age, severely disabled, or a victim of a wildfire or natural disaster to transfer the taxable value of the primary residence to a replacement primary residence:

  • anywhere in California;
  • purchased or newly constructed within 2 years;
  • of any value with an upward adjustment for a more expensive replacement; and
  • the property tax base can be transferred up to three times for persons over 55 years old or with severe disabilities and once for wildfire or disaster victims.

How does Proposition 19 affect inherited properties?

Starting February 16, 2021, Proposition 19 narrows the rules for parent-to-child or grandparent-to-grandchild exemption for inherited properties. The child or grandchild can transfer the taxable value of the inherited property if:

  • the property is the principal residence of the child or grandchild or is the family farm;
  • the homeowner's or disabled veteran's exemption is claimed within one year of the transfer to the child or grandchild; the property is used as the principal residence and has a market value above $1 million, in this case an upward adjustment in assessed value would occur.
Source: https://www.boe.ca.gov/prop19/ and https://assessor.lacounty.gov/about-prop-19/

Contact Sheri Dettman & Associates for more information on Proposition 19

Navigating the Housing Market: Answers to Your Top 3 Questions

Clarity is crucial in the ever-evolving landscape of the housing market, especially when conflicting information abounds. Addressing the top three questions on everyone's mind, we turn to expert insights for a comprehensive understanding of the current scenario.

  1. What's Next for Mortgage Rates?
    • Mortgage rates have recently surged, prompting concerns for potential homebuyers. Historically, there's a correlation between mortgage rates and inflation. With inflation easing, the Federal Reserve has paused rate hikes, leading experts to anticipate a gradual decline in mortgage rates in 2024.
    • Aziz Sunderji, a Strategist at Home Economics, suggests, "Interest rates are likely to be lower—perhaps even lower than many optimists think—in the weeks and months to come."
  2. Where Are Home Prices Headed?
    • Contrary to fears of a market crash, data indicates a steady rise in home prices across the nation, albeit at a more sustainable pace. The Home Price Expectation Survey from Pulsenomics, involving over 100 experts, underscores confidence in continued appreciation in the coming years.
    • The consensus among experts is that home prices will keep climbing, presenting a positive outlook for the housing market.
  3. Is a Recession Around the Corner?
    • Recession concerns have been prevalent, but recent indicators provide a more optimistic perspective. The Wall Street Journal's regular polls of experts reveal a shift in sentiment, with a decreasing likelihood of a recession.
    • Over 52% of experts now believe we are not headed for another recession, marking a significant departure from earlier projections.

Conclusion:

  • The housing market, despite its dynamic nature, appears resilient. The convergence of factors such as easing inflation, sustained home price appreciation, and diminishing recession concerns paints a hopeful picture.
  • It's essential to stay informed and connected. Contact us to discuss any housing market questions or concerns and gain a clearer perspective on your real estate decisions.

BNP Paribas Open – 2024 Player Field Just Released!

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BNP PARIBAS | OPEN
MARCH 3 - 17, 2024
INDIAN WELLS TENNIS GARDEN
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Just Released: 2024 Player Field!
The official 2024 BNP Paribas Open player field has just been unveiled, with a star-filled list of names bound for Indian Wells headlined by:

  • 5x Champion and No. 1 Novak Djokovic
  • 3x Champion Rafael Nadal
  • 2022 Champion and No. 1 Iga Swiatek
  • 2023 Champions Carlos Alcaraz and Elena Rybakina
  • 2024 AO Champions Jannik Sinner and Aryna Sabalenka

The full list also includes American stars Coco Gauff, Jessica Pegula, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul, and Ben Shelton, as well as former BNP Paribas Open Champions Taylor Fritz, Naomi Osaka, Dominic Thiem and Victoria Azarenka. Be here to see them all in the desert this March!

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INDIAN WELLS TENNIS GARDEN
MARCH 3-17, 2024
ATP MASTERS 1000 WTA 1000
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FILA INDIAN WELLS Masimo BMW Emirates
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‘Entourage’ Creator Doug Ellin Is Moving On From His Lovely La Quinta Home

Sheri Dettman & Associates Sells "Entourage" writer's home at Andalusia CC in La Quinta

By Jennifer Kelly Geddes

Doug Ellin, creator and head writer of the huge HBO hit “Entourage,” is parting with his lovely La Quinta, CA, abode for exactly $3,995,000.

Nestled in the Coachella Valley and surrounded by the soaring Santa Rosa Mountains, this four-bedroom, 4.5-bath vacation getaway measures just over 4,100 square feet inside.

Ellin hasn’t had the home for long. He purchased it a year ago for $3,300,000, according to Realtor.com®.

The house sits on a third of an acre

(Realtor.com)

Living room

(Realtor.com)

Kitchen

(Realtor.com)

Main bedroom

(Realtor.com)

Primary bathroom

(Realtor.com)

Outdoor lounge area

(Realtor.com)

Fire pit and pool

(Realtor.com)

A recent renovation added premium appliances, custom cabinets, and gorgeous stone counters to the spacious kitchen. The open floor plan also includes a dining area and family room, which features a bar that’s perfect for hosting a real-life entourage. The main bedroom comes with a sitting area, remote-controlled blinds, and a spacious spa bath.

There’s a guest casita with a living room, kitchenette, and fireplace. Out back, there’s a covered patio, dining space, a pool, and a fire pit.

Most coveted of all, however, just might be the southern exposure, which offers views of the mountains, desert, lake, and the fancy Andalusia golf course, where this home is located.

“Entourage,” Ellin’s biggest hit, ran for eight seasons, ending in 2011. He also wrote and directed the 2015 movie “Entourage,”  and he was a producer on the 2016 movie “Bad Santa 2.” Currently, Ellin is co-host of the “Victory” podcast.

$50 Million Renovation Plan Approved For Hideaway Country Club

 

The members of the country club cast their ballots to support changes for the future of the premier club in La Quinta.

The Hideway Golf Club in La Quinta will undergo a massive renovation, as members voted.
The Hideway Golf Club in La Quinta will undergo a massive renovation, as members voted. (Design Rendering)

LA QUINTA, CA — Construction on renovations to the Hideaway Golf Club was slated to begin in May after members voted to go ahead with a massive renovation this week, according to a recent news release.

Peek inside the video below to see what they have planned for the space for the exclusive club.

The plan includes refreshing the golf courses, including new greens, bunkers, transitional landscaping and updated irrigation.

Improvements to the clubhouse include a new spa and fitness center building, a new upstairs casual dining room, renovated formal dining areas, and more.

Still, more improvements will include expanded pickleball courts, two new tennis courts, and an indoor/outdoor dining area with bocce courts for league and family play.

Robert McDonald, President of Hideaway’s Board of Directors, described the voting process with members as successful.

“The overwhelming turnout and strong support is the culmination of three years of planning and scores of meetings with members," he said. "Throughout this process, the Board and our committees listened to what our 435 equity members wanted. We also heard their concerns and their needs through focus groups and surveys. Engagement was bolstered through the 65 club members who volunteered their time to review plans and give feedback. It is gratifying to see the membership come together in support of this significant plan.”


 

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