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Sheri’s Palm Springs Area Blog

Whether it be real estate updates, restaurant reviews, events, or highlights of unique homes in Palm Springs, follow Sheri as she covers all that Palm Springs and the surrounding area has to offer.

Some of the Desert’s Most Anticipated New Developments are on Schedule

Some of the Desert’s Most Anticipated New Developments are on Schedule

Some Optimism

Courtesy of Palm Springs Life: Bradley James

It’s not all bad. Amid the pandemic, while businesses and events adapt (or shutter) to avoid contributing to the spread of the novel coronavirus, local leaders insist we have plenty of room for optimism. A look around the Coachella Valley confirms many exciting, job-creating developments — from expanded college campuses to water-themed housing communities to destination attractions — still hold promise for the region. Palm Springs Life asked city officials, educators, developers, and tribal leaders about the status and impacts of the valley’s most anticipated projects.

GRAND OASIS CRYSTAL LAGOON
grandoasisranchomirage

The first phase of this expansive desert oasis in Rancho Mirage is still expected to debut within the next couple of years.

Planned on 618 acres of barren land bordered by Gerald Ford Drive to the north, Monterey Avenue to the east, Frank Sinatra Drive to the south, and Bob Hope Drive to the west, the development plan calls for luxury hotels, a resort, a variety of housing, parks, retail, restaurants, and a network of walking and biking trails — all situated around a sandy beach and a swimmable crystal blue lagoon.

ranchomiragegrowth

The city and DMB Development say the first phase, which includes the creation of the lagoon and surrounding homes, remains on schedule for a 2022–2023 opening but has not announced a timeline for the remaining phases, which include the hotels and retail outlet.

Once fully developed, the project will provide more than 1,000 full-time jobs and generate at least $10 million in annual revenues. Rancho Mirage Mayor G. Dana Hobart says the Grand Oasis will provide an alternative to traditional golf course developments. “This will extend the typical tourist season by several months,” he says, “offering recreational opportunities to a large array of users and attracting visitors from all over the globe.”

AGUA CALIENTE CULTURAL PLAZA
aguacalienteculturalplaza

The banners hanging at the future home of the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza in downtown Palm Springs read “2020 Vision” — a reminder of the optimism surrounding the project before the pandemic stopped construction and derailed this year’s grand opening. Located at the corner of Tahquitz Canyon Way and Indian Canyon Drive, the plaza features two attractions — The Spa at Séc-he and the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum — separated by the Oasis Trail, a place of reflection mimicking the elements of the nearby Indian Canyons.

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“Each federally recognized tribe throughout this country has a distinct culture that includes traditions, language, historic clothing and housing styles, as well as historical food and medicine preparations,” says tribal chairman Jeff L. Grubbe. “We want to share that with others, as well as acknowledge the fact that we are alive and well today living in the modern world.”

Though tribal leaders are mum about construction details and timelines, the plaza will become the second-largest Native American cultural center in the nation. The 48,000 square-foot will feature a mixture of artifacts dating back thousands of years with state-of-the-art interactive exhibits. The 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art spa will feature the signature “taking of the waters” experience, and a menu of innovative treatments.

CORAL MOUNTAIN
coralmountainlaquinta

Who says there’s no surf in the Coachella Valley? The wait for the perfect wave is almost over as developers appear on course to bring the largest, rideable open-barrel, human-made wave in the world to the desert. As scheduled, construction of Coral Mountain, a first-of-its-kind masterplan resort community in La Quinta, will begin mid-2021. Meanwhile, the 400-acre project continues the approval process, and developers Meriwether Companies and Big Sky Wave Developments expect no delays in the construction or its completion in early 2023.

meriwhethercompanies

“Based on changes brought forward by the pandemic and heightened interest in the Coachella Valley,” says Garrett Simon, a partner of Meriwether Companies, “we’re more convinced than ever by the mission and vision of Coral Mountain.”

Located in the shadow of Coral Mountain, the $200 million sports and wellness resort includes a 150-room luxury hotel and up to 600 private residences.

kellyslaterwavecompany

The biggest lure for visitors will be the waves created by Kelly Slater Wave Company technology. Homeowners, hotel guests, and members will have exclusive access to the 18-million-gallon wave basin that will pump out waves that roll for more than 700 yards and offer almost one-minute rides.

COLLEGE OF THE DESERT
collegeofthedesertindio

For more than four years, momentum has been building for an expansion of College of the Desert’s Indio campus off Oasis Street. The $56 million project calls for a new three-story classroom building with an adjacent plaza and outdoor pavilion. COD officials still expect construction to begin in 2021, more than doubling its campus capacity to almost 8,000 students and introducing an on-campus child development center.

While the pandemic may not delay the project, it likely will leave a fingerprint on it. John White, the college’s executive director of Bond and Facilities Planning, says the design may be tweaked for the safety of faculty and students.

CODIndio

The expansion more than doubles the capacity of COD’s Indio campus.

“COVID-19 has changed our world,” White says, “and as an institution of higher learning, we are adapting and changing along with it.”

At the same time, COD plans to build out a center for workforce innovation on approximately 27 acres at the corner of Farrell Drive and Baristo Road in Palm Springs. The project is in the early design stage.

SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT ARENA
riversidecountyarena

The $240 million sports and entertainment arena initially planned near downtown Palm Springs will be built instead north of Palm Desert in time for the 2022-23 American Hockey League season.

L.A.-based development company Oak View Group has partnered with the nonprofit H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation to build the 10,000-seat arena on roughly 43 acres at Interstate 10 and Cook Street, near the Classic Club.

The arena will be the home of the minor league affiliate for the NHL’s Seattle Kraken.

seattlekraken

The minor league affiliate of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken will play in the new arena.

OVG has also partnered with Live Nation Entertainment to attract other sports and entertainment events, including concerts and award shows, according to CEO Tim Leiweke. OVG’s plan to see the arena of Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians land in Palm Springs unraveled during land lease negotiations and amid concerns over traffic and parking.

CV LINK
cvlinkpalmsprings

Plans for a 40-plus mile bike and pedestrian path that would run through the Coachella Valley are progressing better than expected. The $100 million project, which will run from Palm Springs to Coachella along the Whitewater River and Tahquitz Creek, will provide unprecedented access for biking, walking, jogging, and small electric vehicles.

The only portions completed so far are a 2.5-mile stretch from Palm Springs to Cathedral City and another 1-mile section in Palm Springs.

coachellavalleylink

But Tom Kirk, executive director of the Coachella Valley Association of Governments, the agency behind the CV Link, says construction of about 20 more miles — stretching across sections of Coachella, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert, and Palm Springs — should begin by the end of the year and wrap up by the in early 2022. The entire project is expected to be complete in the next three to four years.

While the pandemic has changed working conditions, requiring masks and physical distancing, Kirk said it has not anchored progress. In fact, they are building more miles than anticipated this year. “Many projects had to slam on the brakes when COVID-19 hit,” he says. “CV Link wasn’t one of them. I’d almost argue that the pandemic has accelerated the project because construction is one of the only games in town, and we are able to get a lot of focus and attention on getting this done.”

CV Link will be a boon for cyclists and runners looking for new roads to travel, potentially reducing cyclist and pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and an asset to economic activity. It will also curb car emissions and, according to one study, produce more than 3 million bicycle and pedestrian trips per year by 2035.

“We’ve seen how many individuals and families have relied on walking and biking during this pandemic,” Kirk says. “More than ever, we need projects like CV Link to make sure our communities have safe, accessible routes so they can stay active and stay healthy.”

AGUA CALIENTE CASINO CATHEDRAL CITY
aguacalientecasinocathedralcity

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, which has casinos in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, is confident it will hit the jackpot this fall when its third local gaming operation opens in Cathedral City.

Construction on the 13-acre casino started in November 2019, and tribal officials say it’s on schedule for a grand opening this year. This comes as welcome news for job seekers eyeing the 500 new positions the project will bring. It’s also good for Cathedral City firefighters, who will receive a new fire station across the street from the casino — the result of a $5.5 million contribution from the tribe.

cathedralcitycasino

“It’s encouraging that this investment is going to be completed and opened,” says Joe Wallace, CEO of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership. “In times like these, all progress provides hope and opportunity.”

The casino will be roughly 30,000 square feet, offering a gaming floor with more than slot machines and eight tables games. It will also include eateries, a sports bar, and a 12,000 square-foot outdoor pavilion for concerts, weddings, and other events.

The casino’s general manager, Michael Facenda, says, “The excitement for Agua Caliente Casino Cathedral City continues to escalate each and every day as we prepare to open later this year.”

PALM SPRINGS DOWNTOWN PARK
palmspringsdowntownpark

Residents and visitors looking forward to a world-class park in downtown Palm Springs have reason to celebrate. That’s because plans for a 2-acre park across from the Palm Springs Museum remain on track despite calls to reduce the scope of the project — or hit the brakes on it entirely — amid the city’s pandemic-induced budget shortfall. Part of an ambitious revitalization of the downtown area, the $8 million park is expected to include two lawn areas, palm groves, and a water feature reminiscent of the waterfall in Tahquitz Canyon.

City officials say they will lean on funds from Measure J — a sales tax approved by voters in 2011 to help revitalize downtown Palm Springs — to advance the project. City councilman Dennis Woods, one of the park’s biggest supporters, says the venue is more of a necessity than a luxury. “We need to constantly recreate in order to keep our edge as a world-class resort destination,” he says. “This park is going to be an iconic, timeless place, creating a unique sense of place that is truly Palm Springs.”

The original plan had the park opening in November, but with construction halted due to the pandemic, the new target is early 2021.

 

Dining Around the Desert: TQLAS in Old Town La Quinta

TQLAS  is a Mexican Restaurant and Agave Bar specializing in Tequila and Mezcal craft cocktails, and traditional, fresh Mexican food.  They offer 75+ Tequilas and 20+ Mezcals;  all the Tequilas are 100% Agave.  All of their drinks are served in beautiful handblown glasses from Guadalajara.

They combine the best of Mexico through their food, drink, and colorful Mexican Art... The  large handmade metal “Katrinas” at the entrance will welcome you to a delightful experience.  The indoor dining room takes you to the artful experience of Coyoacan; dine or just have drinks on the patio under the hand-made lighted stars sipping a “Cazuela” and you’ll be transported to Tlaquapaque...The bar transports you to Agave bars found throughout Mexico with more colorful art as well as big screen TV's to enjoy watching your favorite sport.

We were a few minutes early so we went to the bar where Michael ordered a Cadillac Margarita and I had a Mistico which is El Tesoro Anejo Tequila, Prickly Pear Puree, Agave nectar, and lime juice. Very tart and very refreshing. They have a lot of TV's around the room which made for good viewing for future sports events.

A few minutes later, we were shown to our table outside on the patio. The entire staff wears masks, as do any guests upon entering. Once you are seated, you may remove your mask.

We started out with Homemade Jalapeno Poppers which were really good. Just the right amount of heat cooled off by the Blue cheese dipping sauce.

For our entrees, Michael had the Conchinita Pibil. Pork shoulder marinated 24 hours & cooked in a citrus & Achiote (an earthy, peppery Mexican spice) served with rice and beans. It had a nice bit of sweetness to it and the beans were great.

I had the Shrimp Diabla. Grilled Shrimp with a spicy red sauce served with veggies and rice. The shrimp was cooked perfectly and the sauce was flavorful but not too spicy. The veggies were overcooked so next time I'd ask for beans instead.

The service was personable, quick, and efficient. Since the restaurant had just opened right when the pandemic hit, it really hasn't had a chance to operate under "normal" circumstances. All and all it's a welcome addition to Old Town La Quinta and we'll be back!

Click here to go to the website

78015 Main St. Suite 109

La Quinta, CA 9253

(442) 256-4059

Open Daily 12 PM to 9 PM

Closed Tuesdays

Margaritaville Resort To Take Over the Riviera Palm Springs

Margaritaville Resort To Take Over the Riviera Palm Springs

Get Out the Cocktail Umbrellas

It shouldn't take long to discover you’re no longer at the Riviera Palm Springs and have been transported instead to Margaritaville Resort.

Courtesy of Palm Springs Life: JIM POWERS

Maybe it will be the giant sandal you’ll see as you enter. Or the 5 O’Clock Somewhere tiki bar. But it likely won’t take very long to figure out you’re no longer at the Riviera Palm Springs and have been transported instead to Margaritaville Resort.

The introduction could happen in October as renovations currently take place while the Palm Springs hotel is closed. The property has always been identified as the Riviera dating back to its inception in 1959 when it attracted celebrities like Elvis Presley, the Rat Pack, Desi Arnaz, and Sonny and Cher Bono.

That last part may not change. The whole Margaritaville concept is part of the Jimmy Buffett empire, whose song by the same name released in 1977 became his highest-charting solo single. Look at the social media channels for the Margaritaville hotels/resorts and you’ll see the now 73-year-old Buffett making appearances.

General Manager Matt Huss says under the Margaritaville umbrella, the hotel will continue the legacy it has built up over the years.

“The Riviera is a very iconic hotel with a lot of history,” Huss says. “Historically, it’s been a great place to escape, and here at Margaritaville, we are going to continue that legacy with this new brand. And it’s going to be a place for people to celebrate, create memories, and Palm Springs is really a growing tourist destination, and I think it’s going to be perfect for this new brand.”

Huss chatted further with Palm Springs Life about the hotel and what visitors and staycationers alike can expect.

So how do you create a new identity for that property? Maybe not necessarily erasing what was there, but kind of building your own brand?

Margaritaville has done a fantastic job of creating our identity. A lot of it is not only through the great renovation that we’re in the process of doing right now, but using Jimmy Buffett’s passion and love for music, and visually, they focus not only on the visual part but the music in the lobby and the lighting.

jimmybuffettflipflop

A giant sandal like this one at Margaritaville Resort in Hollywood Beach, Florida, will greet visitors to the Palm Springs location.

So what differences might people notice right away from its previous appearance?

I would say once you walk in the doors, you’re going to be hit with a lot of different sensory things. It’s going to be a very bright interior. The moment you walk in the door, you’re going to see a giant flip-flop to represent Jimmy’s laid-back style. The lighting, the music, it’s going to be very evident from the moment you walk in the door.

Is there any new construction going on, or is it strictly renovating what is already there?

It’s renovating what’s here. We are also creating another restaurant venue that we’re going to be doing a little bit of adjusting with the current food and beverage outlets so that we have additional options for people to dine. The retail space is being converted around to also offer food and beverage options.

And I noticed on the website that they mention family-oriented programming. Why is it important to include that segment?

I think it’s really important because this property with its great history has really been, I think, more of an adult resort. And Margaritaville brings a really diverse group of customers that are attracted to the brand. And as far as families go, that’s where a lot of memories are created that you carry throughout your entire life, and creating memories is what we really want to do here for people.

Can you maybe give me an example of what might be considered family-oriented programming?

I would say as we go through the food and beverage areas, we’re definitely developing menus and concepts toward different age groups. And one thing that we are doing in our guest rooms, we have some rooms that are double-bedded rooms, and we’ve turned those into king-size beds. So not a lot of hotels, when you have a double size room that you actually have large beds. So that would be helpful and accommodating families. And definitely the retail space is going to be very attractive and very different from what we’ve had here in the past with the items that we offer in there, and also the food and beverage options.

Palm Springs has always been considered a getaway place, a place to escape to obviously for visitors, but even for people who live here. How does Margaritaville fit into that type of experience, and why is it a good match for this market?

I think the big thing with the Margaritaville brand is, we use the term quite a bit about the different state of mind and relaxation, and we’ve got the amazing views here, and this is definitely going to be a place where you can relax.

rivierapalmsprings

One of the last indications of the Riviera signage.

If you listen to Jimmy Buffet music, when you hear it, you always kind of escape. You always think of vacation and being away in a place where you can relax. And then likewise, when you’re at work and you want to dream about being on vacation, he definitely has the type of music that makes you escape. So I think it’s a wonderful place to come.

I also saw that you guys were opening a resort in San Diego. Why was this a good time for the brand to branch into California?

I think California is a wonderful place. When you think about San Diego, I think most people who go to San Diego, it quickly becomes one of their, if not their favorite, cities to vacation in. And we’re really excited here in Palm Springs to be the first and kind of a gateway.

What kind of impact has the pandemic had on completing renovations and was there any thought to waiting until next year?

Whenever you talk about COVID, you want to make sure that safety is the No. 1 priority. So we are very conscious of that while this is going on. In some ways, it’s assisted from a standpoint of the property is closed, so construction and renovation actually can probably move a little bit faster from that perspective. I think every one of us has been on a renovation when the public is still occupying the hotel. So in some ways, if there’s any silver lining, it’s probably helped progress to be made without interrupting any guest experience.

We have a unique hotel mix in Palm Springs with boutiques and major chains. What will separate Margaritaville Resort from the rest?

I think what’s neat about Margaritaville is that they have a very unique programming and very unique design. From the perspective of how they train, the amount of time they spend training, and ensuring that the Margaritaville culture is integrated among all the staff members, I’ve never seen it this detailed before. All the people at the corporate office and the leaders are just very passionate about the brand and making sure that the spirit and culture of helping people to get away and escape is present at all times.

Will there be any additional amenities on the property that weren’t there before?

We’re still going to have our great spa, which is the largest spa in the city. The new item out by the pool will be our Five O’ Clock Somewhere bar. It’ll be like a tiki bar. If you picture listening to Jimmy Buffett music, you’d be sitting at that bar. That’s exactly what it’s going to be. But of course with the beautiful mountains in the background.

For more information, visit margaritavilleresorts.com.

 

When Is The Best Time To Visit Palm Springs?

Written by CARRIE BELL
Photos Courtesy of Greater Palm Springs CVB

Palm Springs, the former Rat Pack playground now crawling with expansive luxury resorts, hip hotels, and home rentals, is a popular destination for golfers, spa seekers, music lovers, the LGBTQ crowd, nature geeks, new bohemians, and architecture buffs. Whether you plan a trip where the desert is the sole destination, tack it on to a larger California exploration, or take a quick weekend getaway from Los Angeles, The OC, or San Diego, the best time to visit Palm Springs is in late winter or spring although those willing to brave the desert’s punishing summer temperatures will be rewarded with cheaper lodgings and flights.

This guide to the region’s climate, festival season, and other signature events including tennis tournaments, pride celebrations, and film festivals should help you plan the ideal vacation in the greater Palm Springs area.

Palm Springs Weather

The vacation oasis experiences a fairly textbook desert climate, so plan for extremely scorching summers, temperate winters, drastic differences between day and night temperatures (sometimes upwards of 25 degrees), almost 300 days of sunshine, generally low humidity, and very little rainfall.

December is the coldest month, but that translates to an average high temperature of 69 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 44 degrees Fahrenheit. By January, the forecast usually calls for the low 70s. In May and October, days in the 90s are still common, with some reaching triple digits. The heat drives most tourists away, especially in the height of summer, and if you can stomach (or even prefer) feeling hot, you’ll benefit from great deals and shorter lines. Remember to pack a few light layers as it can still get breezy and chilly when the sun goes down.

As with most deserts, there are occasional sandstorms. It can get very windy, hence the acres of electricity-generating windmills on the outskirts of town. April is typically the windiest month as seven or eight miles per hour gusts are normal. But when high-pressure systems move over the mountains from the coast, they can ratchet them up to 60 mph. It can move enough sand around to decrease visibility, degrade air quality, and close streets.

Palm Springs gets a majority of its annual rainfall between December and April. Although there isn’t that much need for warning as it doesn’t usually surpass six inches a year. But when rainstorms come, they have a tendency to drop fast and furious. It can lead to flash flooding and also shut down roads and hiking trails.

Peak Season

The climate dictates visitation. Traditionally, the tourist season hits its peak February through April and numerous signature events are scheduled in those perfect weather months. It’s a big Spring Break destination, and winter is popular with Canadian snowbirds as well. But the visitor stream is steady from November to May, especially around winter holidays (Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve in particular) and three-day weekends. During those coveted times, expect longer waits at restaurants, less timeshare availability, and higher rates at lodgings.

It will also be more expensive to fly there and take longer to drive from Los Angeles or San Diego, especially on Fridays.

Festival Season

For more than a decade, the greater Palm Springs area has been home to two of the biggest, most exciting music festivals in the world. For three consecutive weekends in April, the Empire Polo Fields are taken over by Coachella, a three-day rock, hip-hop, and EDM festival attended by 250,000 people, and Stagecoach, which is basically Coachella’s country music counterpart. Ticket holders should lock down lodging ASAP as the entire desert fills to capacity. If you aren’t interested in the shows, best to avoid those weekends as festival madness is all-consuming. Even budget motels like Rodeway Inn triple their rates and easily find people to pay those prices. Brands take over pools, private rentals, boutiques, and public spaces for VIP parties and pop-ups, which can spell late-night noise and debauchery in otherwise sleepy neighborhoods. Restaurants are overrun and traffic is nasty.

Another hugely popular event on the Palm Springs social calendar is Modernism Week, a celebration of the region's unique architecture and the desert modern/midcentury modern schools of design with home and neighborhood tours, expert lectures, and more. It's held in February. A fall preview in October, despite being a smaller affair, still draws a significant crowd of out-of-towners and makes hotel reservations harder to score and more expensive.

January

Visitors who spend months under umbrellas or shoveling snow might find the Palm Springs definition of winter, well, laughable as the average high is 71 degrees Fahrenheit and the low hovers around 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Events to check out:

  • Featuring more than 200 movies from 60-plus countries, the Palm Springs International Film Festival kicks off with an awards gala celebrating the previous year. Given its timing at the beginning of the annual awards season, it’s always a star-studded affair.
  • The American Express PGA Golf tournament is followed by two nights of concerts from names like Stevie Nicks, Luke Bryan, and Sammy Hagar.

Dining Around the Desert: Pueblo Viejo Grill in Indio & Palm Desert

I’ve written about Pueblo Viejo Grill in the past, as it’s our favorite Mexican Food place in the desert. Both Indio and Palm Desert are equally good. Since the restaurants here are just starting to open, we picked Pueblo Viejo in Indio as our first venture out into the new world of dining out during a pandemic.

One of the upsides is that they are taking reservations for the extremely limited seating, whereas in the past unless you are a party of 6 or more, there was no way to guarantee a table. We would normally sit at the bar, but right now there is no bar seating being allowed.

We were seated immediately at a booth, were greeted right away by our server, and asked if we’d like a drink. You have the option of using the regular menus or scanning the code on a posted sign at your table and seeing the menu on your phone. The entire staff wears masks, as do any guests upon entering. Once you are seated, you may remove your mask.

As usual, the food was wonderful. My go-to is the Taco Salad with Chicken and Michael likes the Salmon Fajitas. We both agreed that they were probably the best we’ve ever had. The Cadillac Margaritas were not bad either!

A nice bonus is that it’s pretty rare that I go out to dinner and don’t run into a friend or client. In this case, purely by chance, a brand new client who had just flown into town to see homes with my team member Adam Cheng walked in with his friends and was seated at one of the other tables. The next day we opened escrow on a beautiful new home in Andalusia!

Click here to go to the website

81931 US Highway 111 (4.20 mi)
Indio, California 92201

Get Directions

(760) 342-5900

Call for hours

Palm Springs Area Real Estate Market Update

Coachella Valley home prices, sales, and inventory show a healthy real estate market in a time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Courtesy of Palm Springs Life: STEVEN BILLER MAY 12, 2020 CURRENT DIGITALHOME & DESIGNREAL ESTATE

Photo courtesy of Desert Willow Golf Resort

Home prices and inventory appear stable in the Coachella Valley, and indicators — such as leads, showings, and offers — suggest the COVID-19 pandemic is having little effect on the local real estate market, experts said Tuesday during an industry webinar.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are not in a real estate crisis,” Brady Sandahl of Keller Williams told the audience of real estate agents and brokers during the Market Watch Spring Webinar, a Palm Springs Life event. “We are in a challenging market. We’ve been in a high tide for the last 10 years, and now there’s a health crisis, an unemployment crisis, and an economic crisis.”

But in the Coachella Valley, Michael McDonald of Market Watch beamed, “Inventory remains contained. There’s no rush to sell or put homes on the market.” On March 1, there were 3,019 available units on the market in the valley. On May 1, there were 2,924. “Inventory is not increasing, yet,” he explained. “If it doesn’t rise, it’s a good sign.”

Likewise, the price per square foot appears stable — $244 a year ago and $238 on May 1. The slight dip coincided with the issuing of California’s stay-at-home order in March.

“Prices will likely stay right where they’re at,” said McDonald, who analyzes sales and price data for single-family homes and condominiums in the market. He also predicted that real estate would be among the first industries to recover nationwide because it requires no risky proximity like, say, a restaurant or a movie theater.

Walter Neil of Franklin Loan Center emphasized the need for real estate professionals to discourage forbearance, which went into effect March 18 and allows borrowers to temporarily stop making payments on government-backed loans without risk of foreclosure.

Someone who’s motivated to sell will likely get the asking price in or around the unchanged average length of time on the market. But a seller hell-bent on fetching a premium price might need to be more patient.

Borrowers will not only make good on those missed payments — often in one lump sum — but their credit score will take a hit, as well. “This should be a last resort,” Neil intoned. “Only people who lost a job and have no resources should consider forbearance.”

Otherwise, Neil was as optimistic as Sandahl and McDonald. “I refer to the three-legged stool of recover,” he said. “One leg is monetary policy — the Federal Reserve keeping unemployment low (because unemployment puts pressure on the real estate markets; people need to pay their mortgages) and putting money into the market, which they’ve done with unlimited quantitative easing. The second leg is fiscal policy, which Congress did with the CARES Act. The third leg is COVID-19 containment.”

Neil points to the record-low interest rate, 3.125 percent, as a reason to get into the market, while Sandahl encouraged agents and brokers to listen to their clients. Ask questions. Understand motivations.

“It comes down to whether a home is priced to sit or sell,” Sandahl says. Someone who’s motivated to sell will likely get the asking price in or around the unchanged average length of time on the market. But a seller hell-bent on fetching a premium price might need to be more patient.

Webinar sponsors included Toscana Country Club, Andalusia Country Club, Franklin Loan Center,  Palm Springs Regional Association of Realtors, and the California Desert Association of Realtors.

The fall Market Watch webinar is scheduled for November. For more information on Market Watch, click HERE.

The Ramona Play – The Story of Early California

If you are not familiar with the Helen Hunt Jackson book or play, you owe it to yourself to make a point of attending the play next year.

Steve Alvarez with the Red Tail Spirit Singers & Dancers, the Spanish and Heritage dancers and musicians, and |
the Arias Troubadours, who have performed in the play since 1924.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY RAMONA BOWL

As a native Southern Californian, growing up in Hemet, I had the honor of participating in the play, in one of the lead roles as Margarita, as did my mother before me. Many of my friends played Rock Indians, Spanish Dancers, and other roles. It was as much of our childhood as the miles of orange groves and the intoxicating scent of the blossoms down the hill from the natural outdoor amphitheater.

 

Editor’s Note: The Ramona Outdoor Play has been canceled for this year due to the COVID-19 virus. This article was written prior to its onset.

Story Courtesy of Kent Black Arts & Entertainment

The Ramona Outdoor Play starts with a bang. A very big bang.

On a several-acre hillside in Hemet, several actors dressed in period Mexican military uniforms of the 1840s detonate a replica 19th-century cannon, marking the first momentous event in this two-plus-hour extravaganza: the handing over of California to the United States by Mexico. (To be clear: There is no cannonball, and the weapon is not aimed at the audience.)

Just as you unclench your buttocks, pull your fingers from your ears, and settle back into your seat in the 5,300-person audience facing the hillside stage, a thundering clatter of horse hooves signals the arrival of two Mexican officers on horseback. Following them are six members of the U.S. Army, led by Kit Carson, who ride in to accept the surrender of the state. Though audience members are sure to take in important details of the natural amphitheater — the corral, multi-room “hacienda,” indigenous dwellings, massive rock outcroppings, crisscrossing trails, and flower gardens around the front of the “set” — it’s difficult to appreciate the scale of the production until people and horses appear, and you realize you’re witnessing an outdoor play, the likes of which have not been seen since the Golden Age of Spanish theater when actual military ships fought in the battle scenes.

“It’s completely unique,” says Dennis Anderson, a retired San Jacinto College theater professor who has been directing the play for the last quarter-century and, as a young man growing up in Hemet, also appeared as an actor. “Part of the draw is experiencing California as it used to be, but the real draw is the experience of outdoor theater. People come here because [there are] cowboys and Indians riding horses, cannons firing, and live music. For years, people have asked us to put it on at night, but we’re purists. Lighting creates an artificial environment and we want to keep the action pure, so the audience can really see Old California.”

 

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY RAMONA BOWL

Ramona Cowboys with Padre Gaspara played by Randy Dawkins.

The story is an Old West Romeo and Juliet. Ramona, a half-Native, half-Scottish orphan is the ill-treated, adopted daughter of Señora Moreno, a snobby, prejudiced landowner. Ramona falls in love with Alessandro, the son of the chief of the local Temecula tribe. Dona Moreno condemns their love, and they run away to marry.

The original story was written by Helen Hunt Jackson and published in 1884. Jackson was from the East, wealthy, and well educated. (She was a classmate of Emily Dickinson at Amherst and the two corresponded throughout their lives.) In 1879, Jackson attended a lecture by a Native American chief in Boston who described the exploitation of his tribe by greedy land speculators who forced the removal of his tribe, the Ponca, to Oklahoma, where they lived in poverty and near starvation. Jackson became an activist for Native rights at a time when most European Americans were still reeling from the Battle of Little Bighorn. Undaunted, she enlisted allies among politicians and ministers and tirelessly advocated for the purchase of new and better lands for reservations. On a visit to California, she was told that only a few years earlier, an American wanted some land that was owned by a Soboba Indian in the San Jacinto Mountains above Hemet. His solution was to simply ride to the man’s cabin and shoot him dead. He was never arrested or tried. And he took the land.

Sheri Dettman as Margarita

Hunt returned to New York and wrote Ramona in about three months. Her aim was to write a book that would stir emotions and empathy the way Harriett Beecher Stowe had done with Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Though she died the next year, the book later went through 300 printings and sold more than 600,000 copies, and The North American Review named it one of the most ethical books written in the 19th century.

It may have faded away as another literary curiosity, if not for an unusual theatrical impresario named Garnet Holme. An English emigrant to California in the early 20th century, he was the poor man’s D.W. Griffith, a specialist in outdoor pageants, outsized spectacles with multitudinous casts in natural settings. At the time of his death in Larkspur, Marin County, California, in 1929, he was most well known for staging Drake on Mount Tamalpais. It was an historical reenactment of the English explorer’s arrival on the Northern California coast. However, six years earlier, he adapted Ramona at the behest of the city’s chamber of commerce. Enlisting the town’s populace, he created the Ramona Pageant with a huge cast and a natural amphitheater almost within walking distance of downtown Hemet. Holme’s adaptation was used until playwright and screenwriter Stephen Savage created a new version in 2014. No doubt, Holme would be delighted to know his pageant is the longest-running outdoor play in the United States.

 

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY RAMONA BOW

Anne Archer as Ramona and Frank Sorrell as Alessandro.

The pageant used to be an indelible part of growing up in Southern California. For most fourth-graders, field trips were meant to augment their year-long study of California history. There were three principal destinations: The mission of San Juan Capistrano, Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles, and a performance of Ramona. “We still get the fourth-graders,” says Anderson, who says the Thursday before the opening performance is reserved for fourth-graders from all over Southern California. “The boys go crazy when the cannon goes off or the cowboys ride in, and the girls shout when Ramona and Alessandro first kiss.”

One of the most important parts of Holme’s Ramona legacy was involving the entire community in the production. It was a fairly common practice with 19th century traveling theater troupes to augment productions. The professionals would star in the lead roles while local townspeople would take the roles of spear carriers and ladies in waiting. However, Holme took it a gigantic step further. 
In the sleepy ranch and farm community of Hemet, he had a robust ethnic mix with which to fill out an Anglo, Hispanic, and Native American cast.

The Ramona Outdoor Play (the former title, The Ramona Pageant, is now more of a nickname) has gone dark only twice: in 1933 during the height of the Depression and 1942 during World War II. It also runs over one of the shortest seasons: six performances on three consecutive weekends from mid-April to early May. It’s actually a huge commitment for a volunteer army. The cast has to be able to commit to nine consecutive weekends of rehearsal before the show’s opening — and that’s not counting costume fittings. Plus, countless volunteers run the concessions and parking lot. “Without our volunteers,” Anderson says, “we’d be done.”

Read more here about the play, including cast members Raquel Welsh and Anne Archer…

Home Buying and Selling during Coronavirus OCVID-19 – Update in the Palm Springs Area

Dear Clients,

I wanted to reach out and make sure you know my team and I are here for you in this historical time.
To our families with children whose schools have shut down, to our senior citizens, to our heroes at the hospitals, the grocery stores, and our first responders, to our local businesses struggling and to anyone impacted by this pandemic, our hearts go out to you.

For the last 13 years, I have been in real estate right here in the Palm Springs area. My team and I have been in many of your homes, we've seen your families grow, and we feel very much a part of this community. We want to extend an offer to help our community in these times of need. If you or anyone you know need anything, we are fortunate enough to know people who may be able to help with a grocery store trip, watching children, or even getting bills paid.

Again, if you need anything do not hesitate to reach out, it does not need to be about real estate. Many members of this community have reached out this last week. If you are concerned about the real estate market, I have listed some questions I am getting regularly:

How do I sell my home at this time?

Homes are still selling. Our Federal Reserve just dropped their interest rate to near zero to keep the money moving for people buying homes. It’s quite unprecedented.

How do I meet with you and still practice social distancing?

If you are in town, we can speak on the phone instead of meeting. A good percentage of our homes are listed and sold, without us ever meeting our sellers in person because they are not in town to begin with. For our buyers, we can take video if needed, and most of the homes these days have a virtual tour for you to get a better idea of the home. If we've already met with you and know what you like and dislike, we can eliminate homes that we know are not going to check your boxes.

What if I don’t want to show my house to strangers right now?

We may be able to sell it without showings. If we do need to show your home, we’ll provide sanitizer and anything else the CDC recommends for lowering everyone's risk of infection. Safety is our #1 priority for you.

Are housing prices dropping – should we wait to buy or sell? 

Some of the top Google searches now in real estate are “home prices dropping” and “home prices falling”. That’s not the case currently. We still have a housing shortage and need inventory. We'll keep you updated on this.

As we work together a community to slow down this epidemic, the market is still active and we’re here to guide you and make fact-based decisions. We have your back. We're here to help if you need anything!  Let us know and please take care!

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