‘Lot splits’ now allowed; doubts linger over whether they will help solve housing crisis
Owners of existing single-family home lots in Palm Springs can now subdivide their property under an ordinance adopted last week that helps the city comply with newly-enacted state law. Whether the move will help ease the state’s housing issues may not be known for years.
Under the rules approved by the Palm Springs City Council on Jan. 13, “lot splits” of single-family home parcels are now allowed, with certain conditions. Among those conditions:
- The property must be larger than 2,400 square feet.
- The new lots must have street access.
- No lot that contains a historic landmark or is located in a historic district is eligible.
The rules apply only to how property lines are drawn. They do not affect homeowners who build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on their property, although the same basic design standards for ADUs will apply to any homes built on split lots.
Among other requirements, the state law calling for cities to allow lot splits (SB9) forbids any new dwelling built on a split lot to be used as a short-term vacation rental. Property owners must also sign an affidavit stating they will occupy one of the homes on their property as their primary residence for at least three years. The law is specifically designed to encourage the construction of smaller, more affordable housing.
Exactly how small those homes will be in Palm Springs was mentioned as the City Council discussed the ordinance last week. While the state law asks for homes to be a maximum of 800 square feet, Councilmember Geoff Kors proposed Palm Springs allow greater flexibility in hopes additional square footage would enable families to have more space.
“We want to see housing come out of this,” Kors said. “So we want to do it in a way that gives us flexibility for different sizes.”
For now, the Council voted to set the maximum at 1,000 square feet. And while the rules went immediately into place as an “urgency ordinance,” they should get a full public hearing on Jan. 27 and even more scrutiny by a Planning Commission subcommittee in the spring. City staff could make further revisions to the rules following that subcommittee review.
Lot splits have been subject to heated debate in California. Mayor Lisa Middleton noted that while some have praised the move as a solution to easing the state’s affordable housing crises, “There are those who think single-family housing as we’ve known it for the last 100 years is going to come crashing to an end.”
Middleton said she’s hopeful allowing for lot splits will help. But she remains skeptical.
“The goal here is to build more housing,” she said during a discussion of the ordinance. “I’m going to put it out on the record right now – I don’t think this bill is going to result, however well-intended it was, in a significant number of new (homes) being built in the state. I hope I’m wrong. And I hope we get the numbers that prove it.”
Even if the numbers don’t eventually show lot splits helped, Councilmember Christy Holstege said allowing the option is worth trying in the city, where the average-size home is now selling for more than $1 million.
“[That’s] extremely unattainable for young people, working people, families, seniors on fixed incomes – people we want to retain in our city and also recruit,” Holstege said of the $1 million price point. “We want these housing policies to result in new housing, and I think that’s the failure we’re seeing at local government. These policies aren’t always translating into more housing units at the scale that we need to solve this deep housing crisis that we are in.”
WINTER LEAGUE STARTS: The California Winter League baseball season gets underway today in Palm Springs with the first pitch scheduled for 9 a.m. The six-team league, which includes players from The Palm Springs Power, will play daily through Feb. 15, when a league champion is crowned. All games are played at Palm Springs Stadium, 1901 East Baristo Rd. For a complete schedule turn here. Make sure to also check out a list of promotions, located here.
POLICE MEETINGS: Palm Springs Police Chief Andy Mills said Thursday his department will host a series of public meetings in the coming weeks. The meetings will be designed not only to inform the community about “exactly what the crime picture is in your neighborhood,” Mills said, but to work in a coordinated fashion to learn about each neighborhood’s concerns. The meetings will be facilitated, and officers will be on hand to interact with the community and explain data on display. Details about when and where the meetings will occur will be released in the coming weeks.
NEXT FOR CV LINK: Construction of the next portion of the CV Link in the city will begin next month, the city announced Thursday. The contractor, Ames Construction, will be working to extend the multipurpose path along Mesquite Avenue, between Sunrise Way and Compadre Road. When complete, it will allow the existing CV Link that ends at Demuth Park to be extended west and connect with Palm Canyon Drive. It will include a Class IV bikeway, designed to separate bicyclists from vehicular traffic in a dedicated lane, separated by barriers on the roadway. For more information you can call the project hotline 1-833-4CV-LINK (428-5465) or visit coachellavalleylink.com.
WEEKEND ROAD WORK: Anyone heading out of town will want to take note of a road closure on a popular route. All westbound lanes on the 91 freeway will be shut down along a roughly two-mile segment of the corridor in east Corona this weekend as part of an interchange improvement project, officials said Thursday. According to the Riverside County Transportation Commission, beginning at 9 p.m. tonight and continuing until 5 a.m. Monday, the westbound 91 from North McKinley Street to Main Street will be completely closed to traffic. The $270 million 15/91 Express Lanes Connector Project got underway last April and entails constructing a “seamless transition” between toll lanes on the 91 and toll lanes on I-15, according to RCTC. The project is slated for completion in mid 2023.
MIZELL CENTER: The Mizell Center, 480 South Sunrise Way, offers 10 classes and programs today, starting at 8 a.m. You can find a complete list of all today’s classes online here.
SUNSHINE SISTERS: The Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters will meet for a fitness walk in Rancho Mirage at 9 a.m., followed by vision board creation. You can sign up to be part of the group — formed to help women make new connections and friendships — on Meetup here.
COLLEGE TRUSTEES: The regular meeting of the Desert Community College Board of Trustees takes place at 9:30 a.m. in the Building C boardroom at College of the Desert, 43-500 Monterey Avenue in Palm Desert. An agenda can be viewed here. A livestream of the meeting can be viewed on YouTube here. Among the agenda items is a public hearing on proposed new voting district maps. To review current and proposed boundaries, and for more information about redistricting, visit dccdredistricting.org/.
BOOK CLUB: The Friends of the Palm Springs Library Book Club meets at 2 p.m. via Zoom. This month the book club is discussing Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. for more information on participating in the book club, turn here.
COMMUNITY CLEANUP: The first Community Cleanup of 2022 will be held Saturday. Organizers with the Community Partnership on Homelessness (CPOH) encourage anyone who wants to help beautify the city to meet at the KFC parking lot at 725 South Palm Canyon Dr., at 8 a.m. Trash bags, disposable gloves, and water will be available. Closed-toed shoes and thicker gloves are recommended for your protection.
FOOD DISTRIBUTION: Well in the Desert distributes food every Saturday at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. at 181 N. Indian Canyon Dr. For the early distribution, guests typically begin lining up at 5 a.m. and must show proof of residency. Guests are asked to bring a box, bags, or other containers to transport food items for both distributions. More information is available by phoning the Well’s office at 760-656-8905.
FLEA MARKET: A flea market and food fest are held Saturdays at 675 Crossley Rd. from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Information can be found here.
FARMERS’ MARKET: The Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market is held at 2300 E. Baristo Rd. (adjacent to The Camelot Theatres) from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. All Certified Farmers’ Markets offer a $15/$15 match to customers participating in CalFresh EBT and a $10/$10 match for WIC, SSDI, and federal unemployment. Find more details about all three Coachella Valley Certified Farmers’ Markets here.
SUNSHINE SISTERS: The Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters will meet for a bike ride at Mesquite Golf Course at 10 a.m. Saturday and a disco boozy brunch at Bouschet at 11 a.m. on Sunday. You can sign up to be part of the group — formed to help women make new connections and friendships — on Meetup here.
DISTRICT 1 MEETING: Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner is hosting a District 1 Town Hall on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. The event will be held via Zoom, using this link. During the meeting, the City Clerk will discuss redistricting and Garner will update constituents on matters of importance to them. She will also listen as residents discuss their concerns.
BENEFIT FOR INSTRUMENTS: An online benefit to raise money to purchase musical instruments for 3rd, 4th, and 5th-grade students in the Palm Springs Unified School District is scheduled for Saturday. LA Phil Affiliates in the Desert and the PSUSD Foundation will host the event on Zoom at 3 p.m. as part of the Zoom Salon Series. Featured will be saxophonist Vasti Andrade, a senior at Desert Hot Springs High School who has played the saxophone since 6th grade. More information about the event, including how to register, can be found here.
SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE: The Coachella Valley Symphony performs at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Annenberg Theater, 101 Museum Drive. Tickets range from $35 to $65 and can be purchased at the symphony’s website: www.CVSymphony.com