Former mayor Oden named College of the Desert trustee as new design work stalls

College trustees could not agree on Friday whether to approve additional funds for design work needed for a satellite campus in the city.
COD land in Palm Springs
The site of a former mall in the center of the city is supposed to contain a satellite campus for College of the Desert.

While a former Palm Springs mayor has been appointed to serve on the College of the Desert (COD) Board of Trustees, decisions around the future of a much-delayed Palm Springs campus appear to be at a standstill again.

Driving the news: Last week, following a public meeting to review the latest plans for a satellite COD campus in the city on Thursday, trustees were unable on Friday to reach a consensus on whether to approve additional funds for more design work needed to move the revised plans forward.

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  • With only four board members currently in place, a no vote on approving the funds by trustees Ruben Perez and Bea Gonzalez made for a 2-2 tie. Both cited objections to increased costs for the project in casting their votes.
  • For now, that puts future design work in limbo, once again stalling a campus that has faced countless delays since voters first began approving funds for it in 2004.

Looking back: Palm Springs residents and elected leaders have been putting increased pressure on COD officials to start building the campus for the past 18 months. That’s roughly the time a new superintendent/president — Martha Garcia — arrived at the college and immediately began reevaluating projects in the western part of the Coachella Valley.

But wait: After less than two years at COD, Garcia will be headed to Mt. San Antonio College later this summer to fill a similar role. And last week, 

former Palm Springs Mayor Ron Oden was appointed to fill a vacancy created after Area 3 Trustee Fred Jandt stepped down due to health reasons.

Why that matters: Both of those developments may mean proponents of projects in the western part of the valley (Area 3 includes portions of Palm Springs and Cathedral City) could have a COD board that not only votes to move the campus forward faster but also chooses a new college president more open to seeing promised projects through.

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