Bel Air Greens leaseholder again pushing to rezone dormant golf course’s land to allow for housing
On-again, off-again efforts to convert the dormant Bel Air Greens golf course into land available for housing appear to be on again, but there is no guarantee development will actually happen at the site.
According to Palm Springs Planning Department staff, the leaseholder of the land took the first step in changing its zoning last month, filing an “Intent to Convert Application” that kicks off a process that could ultimately result in housing on land currently designated as open space that once contained a nine-hole golf course.
The city and the leaseholder, Tommy Jacobs Bel Air Green LP, have been here before. In 2018 the developer proposed converting the land in order to build a resort hotel, multi-family dwellings and single-family homes across 22 acres of the roughly 35-acre site. In a letter to the city at the time of the application, the project was lauded by the developers as “an exceptional opportunity to contribute to the revitalization of this property and provide valuable housing opportunities…”
That application was eventually withdrawn, and a local land preservation organization entered the picture.
Oswit Land Trust (OLT) has been working to purchase the site from the land owners — five members of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians — in order to include it in the nonprofit’s proposed Mesquite Desert Preserve. The organization has so far been able to secure a grant to help in the purchase and has put together a team of experts to work on restoring the land.
News of the leaseholder’s latest move drew an urgent reply from the land trust’s leader last week.
“Once again, the leaseholder of Bel Aire Greens is trying to change the land designation so he can develop vs. selling to us for appraised value,” wrote Jane Garrison, OLT president, in a social media post. “We can’t let this happen!”
Contacted Tuesday, Garrison said a hot real estate market is most likely behind the resubmission, but that a zoning change would set a dangerous precedent.
“I think that it is a complicated situation,” Garrison said in an email. “You have the owners and you have the leaseholder. The leaseholder probably sees what is happening with real estate in the market and realizes how much money he could make if he could either develop it or get permission to develop it and then sell his lease to a developer.
“Bottom line is this property is designated as open space and the leaseholder knew that designation from the very beginning. … It’s also important for people to understand the consequences of converting open space to development. This could start a precedent where the other golf courses would follow suit …”
The former Bel Air Greens golf course is one of three in the area that Garrison’s group is pursuing. OLT is also hoping to purchase the neglected Mesquite Golf & Country Club and the city-owned Tahquitz Creek Resort Course to form “a beautiful natural desert setting with walking paths, educational plaques, community gardens and more.”
Earlier plans to purchase both city-owned courses that make up the Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort were dropped by Garrison’s group in order to find a compromise between the environmental group and owners of homes along the courses that would allow one course for golf and one as a preserve.
CONTEST WINNERS NAMED: The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway’s annual snow guessing contest officially ended on Tuesday with one inch of measurable snow at the Tramway’s Mountain Station as of 11:30 AM. The first 10 contestants who submitted the correct date are listed here. The winners will receive four regular Tramway admissions plus a Tramway-embroidered baseball cap. The contest began October 1 and 717 entries were received.
TRANSPARENCY URGED AT COD: Officials at College of the Desert were asked Tuesday for greater transparency by members of the community and the chairman of a committee charged with overseeing bond monies approved by voters for capital improvements — including a significant Palm Springs campus. The requests came during public testimony of the College of the Desert Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee. They follow media reports — including those first appearing in The Post last month — of allegations that new leadership at COD is deliberately planning to kill a promised campus in Palm Springs in favor of projects preferred by East Coachella Valley politicians. A COD official promised that transparency, but said to expect more delays in constructing a campus in the city as a “feasibility study” called for by the college’s president will take months to prepare. FOR THE COMPLETE STORY, CLICK HERE.
STORM HITS: The first winter storm of the season spawned heavy downpours and strong winds Tuesday that left roads a mess in some parts of Riverside County, as well as causing other hazards. In Palm Springs, crews closed the southbound lane on Indian Canyon at the Whitewater wash as well as the eastbound lane on Vista Chino at the wash at around 3 PM due to flooding. Just over a quarter inch of rain was recorded at Palm Springs International Airport, according to the National Weather Service. A peak wind gust of 32 mph was reported in the city. The fast-moving trough of low pressure began its race across the region during the overnight hours Monday into Tuesday, ushering in light rainfall that soon developed into powerful rain bursts, backed by stiff winds.
MIZELL CENTER: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers a knitting circle, chair yoga, Spanish, and more, starting at 8 AM. A complete list of all programs offered today can be found online here.
MOBILE HEALTH: A mobile health clinic will be parked at the James O. Jesse Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 W. Tramview Rd., from 9 AM until 4 PM. Operated and staffed by Borrego Health, the mobile unit will provide various medical services for residents.
HORA DE CUENTOS: La bibliotecaria Nancy Valdivia lee cuentos, canta canciones y enseña conceptos de aprendizaje temprano (miércoles en español y jueves en inglés) para estudiantes de preescolar de 10:30 AM a 11:30 AM Puedes ver los videos en YouTube aquí.
BOOK CLUB: The Morning Coffee Book Club meets via Zoom at 10:30 AM. this month the book club is discussing Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri. To receive meeting information and join the email list for the Morning Coffee Book Club, please email Scott Biegen in advance of the meeting at [email protected]
PALS CAFE: PALS (Planning Ahead for LGBTQ Seniors) holds an informal drop-in discussion via Zoom about any topic on the minds of participants from 4 PM until 5 PM. The organization is a volunteer-led community initiative based in Palm Springs that helps LGBTQ+ adults and friends plan ahead before a health or other life-altering situation arises. More information about the organization can be found here. To participate in the discussion, check out the Zoom link here.
STUDY SESSION: The Palm Springs Planning Commission holds a study session on housing density via Zoom starting at 4 PM. Information about viewing the study session can be found here.
SCHOOL DISTRICT BENEFIT: Students in the Palm Springs Unified School District will benefit from a toy drive being held tonight at The Village Palm Springs, 266 South Palm Canyon Drive. Greater Palm Springs Realtors are hosting the event from 5 PM until 7:30 PM, offering a free drink ticket to anyone who brings a new, unwrapped gift. The Foundation for Palm Springs Unified School District will collect the gifts and distribute them to students in need this holiday season.
REDISTRICTING WORKSHOP: A community workshop to discuss redistricting in the city is planned for the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 North Avenida Caballeros, starting at 5:30 PM. More information about the redistricting process is available at https://mappalmsprings.org/.
AIRPORT COMMISSION: The Palm Springs International Airport Commission meets at 5:30 PM via Zoom. Information on viewing the meeting or participating can be found here.
ARTS COMMISSION: The city’s Public Arts Commission meets at 5:30 PM via Zoom. Information on viewing the meeting or participating can be found here.
SPEAKER SERIES: The Mizell Center’s sound bath event with master Lisa Botts is tonight at at 6 PM. The free introductory experience, which is at capacity, is designed to engage participants, particularly older adults, who are new to the sound bath experience. Information for attendees is available here. Mizell Center is located at 480 South Sunrise Way.
Palm Springs comes alive in December with events for all ages and all tastes. The Post has put together a list of those events, organized by category, from reader submissions. Click here for the complete list. Want your event included? If it’s happening in Palm Springs, or involves a Palm Springs-based organization or business, Email [email protected]
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
MOVIE PREMIERE: Don’t miss the premiere of Musical Theatre University’s first full feature musical film. Tickets are now on sale for “Blame it on the Mistletoe,” showing at 7 PM on Thursday at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E Baristo Rd. Musical Theatre University students traded stage lights for the big screen this holiday season. Ticket sales benefit The Foundation for The Palm Springs Unified School District, which is working to save the arts in schools. Tickets are sold only online and include admission, popcorn, and a fountain drink. They may be purchased here.
BREAKFAST WITH SANTA: The City of Palm Springs Parks and Recreation Department, along with the Palm Springs Gay Softball League, will host Breakfast with Santa, a free community event for local children and their families on Saturday, December 18, from 8 AM until 11 AM at the Palm Springs Pavilion, 401 S. Pavilion Way. Reservations are recommended. The ‘all-you-care-to-eat’ pancake breakfast will also include a wide range of activities, including gingerbread house making, presents from Santa, and photos with both The Grinch and the Big Guy himself. With generous contributions from BMW of Palm Springs and Contour Dermatology, each of the expected 200 boys and girls, ages 5-12, will be able to select and take home a brand new toy for Christmas.” If you’d like to register, click this link. BMW of Palm Springs donated $5,000 for the event.
SANTA PAWS 5K: Run Palm Springs presents the annual Santa Paws 5K run and walk on Saturday, December 18, starting at 9 AM. Gather your family, friends, and neighbors (dogs and reindeer, too) and join the organization for the happiest Christmas race around. All 5K participants receive a five-piece Santa suit, festive T-shirt, beautiful finisher medal, and milk and cookies at the finish line. The course is located in the iconic Las Palmas neighborhood and is expected to sell out. To enter or find more information, turn to the event page here. The event benefits Guide Dogs of the Desert.
MOBILE CHRISTMAS: Well in the Desert is again planning its annual Christmas event as a mobile event due to COVID-19 restrictions. The drive-up event will be held Saturday, December 18, from 11:30 AM until 3 PM at The United Methodist Church, 1555 East Alejo Rd. Volunteers will distribute a frozen turkey and pie, as well as gifts for children to open on Christmas Day to any family in need. Donations can be dropped off at churches where The Well serves hot meals, between 11 AM and 1 PM: Mondays and Tuesdays: United Methodist, 1555 East Alejo Rd.; Wednesdays: Church of St. Paul’s, 125 West El Alameda; Thursdays: Our Lady of Solitude, 151 West Alejo Rd.; and Fridays: Our Lady of Guadalupe, 204 South Calle El Segundo.
INTERFAITH EVENT: Several city congregations are collaborating to present “Blue Christmas: Longest Night Service” on December 21 at 6 PM at The Church of St. Paul in the Desert, 125 West El Alameda. The service is designed as a contemplative service for those carrying grief and trying to manage the holiday season with so much loss and pain.
10K YOUR WAY: Angel View’s biggest fundraiser of the year — the 10K Your Way event — begins December 31. The public is encouraged to register to swim, run, walk, bike, or roll 10 kilometers and collect donations to support their efforts. Funds raised will support the organization, a nonprofit founded in 1954 that is dedicated to helping children and adults with disabilities. Last year, despite the pandemic, more participants joined in than ever and fundraising surpassed $80,000. Anyone interested in raising money through swimming is invited to the Palm Springs Swim Center, 405 South Pavilion Way, during its open hours on December 31. To register, send email to [email protected] or call 760-835-0464