Palm Springs officials cleared the air Monday evening regarding the fate of land once scheduled for development but now owned by the city that has drawn the attention of conservation groups and City Hall watchers.
Driving the news: Each year, the city must give the state an inventory of all its unused property. In the list, staff must identify the individual parcels as either “surplus” (no longer needed and eligible for sale) or “excess” (not currently needed but being kept for possible future use).
- The inventory and associated designations are listed in a staff report first reviewed in a City Council closed session and then approved for sending to the state in an open session. A unanimous vote to send the inventory to the state happened Monday evening in an open session.
Yes, but: Of the 17 parcels of land included in the inventory, two are pretty touchy subjects. Both were slated for development by the company responsible for the revitalized portion of Downtown Palm Springs — now known as Grit Development — that was also wrapped up in an alleged bribery case involving a former city mayor.
- The city received the parcels — 42 acres known as Crescendo and 31 acres named Boulders — as part of a settlement with the company related to the bribery case. City leaders promised they would work to ensure the land remained open space.
Conservationists and others with an eye on City Hall are keenly aware whenever the parcels are discussed. They fear the city will sell the land worth tens of millions of dollars without the public getting a chance to weigh in. Since they were listed on the inventory discussed in a closed session, those fears surfaced again.
- City officials again stressed Monday evening that there could be no change of the designation for the properties from “excess” to “surplus” without a process lasting months.
- “And to be clear, that would happen at an open meeting of the City Council,” said City Attorney Jeff Ballinger.