Sister City program has broad backing, awaits crucial signature

The path forward for the Palm Springs Sister City Committee to officially propose their plans to city officials is becoming clearer.

The news: At a Thursday morning Committee meeting over Zoom, co-chair and business owner Jeffrey Bernstein gave community stakeholders some more information about the city they’re proposing forming a relationship with — San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Why that city: Bernstein says San Miguel de Allende is similar in size to Palm Springs and it shares a love of arts and culture. There’s also a thriving ex-pat network there to make cultural exchanges easier.

  • Bernstein mentioned the Palm Springs City Council wanted to form a relationship with a city that is ethnically and culturally diverse. 

The process: Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton simply has to sign a formal letter of intent addressed to the Mayor of San Miguel de Allende to begin the process.

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  • Any costs would be undertaken by the Sister City Committee, not the city.

At issue: City Council members signaled they were holding off on sending that letter until they saw more broad support from the community. Hence the meeting of stakeholders representing major Palm Springs organizations.

  • Among those present were representatives from the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce and Desert Business Association, the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, Visit Greater Palm Springs, and more.

What they said: Each of the stakeholders appeared to support the idea and were brainstorming how they could be of help in the process.

Next steps: Bernstein suggested they all sign a letter to show support and present it to City Manager Justin Clifton, then wait to hear back. 

But wait: Victoria, British Columbia was one of three cities that had a sister city relationship with Palm Springs that fell away over the decades. Victoria Park carries its name. It was hoped the relationship could be renewed.

  • Bernstein said the committee is still actively pursuing a renewed relationship, but representatives from Victoria said they wanted to wait until after their autumn elections to continue discussions.
  • Also on the table are Aix-en-Provence, France and Henley-on-Thames, England.

Zoom out: Besides a cultural and economic exchange, when cities establish a sisterhood there are opportunities for educational exchanges between students and teachers in the respective cities and even philanthropic aid.

  • Look no further than Cathedral City for inspiration. That city has a sister city relationship with Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico which has blossomed into the annual Taste of Jalisco Festival complete with musicians, tequila tastings, food trucks, and an artisan vendor market.

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