‘This one is special’: First agreement in renewed sister city program signed at Palm Springs City Hall

Palm Springs and San Miguel de Allende have similar cultural, culinary, architectural and arts scenes. After a ceremony on Wednesday, they also have a formal bond.
San Miguel de Allende Mayor Mauricio Trejo shows artwork from his city to Palm Springs Mayor Grace Garner Wednesday as Palm Springs Sister City Committee Board Chair Al Jones looks on at City Hall.

Mauricio Trejo knows a world class city when he sees one, and he sees one in Palm Springs.

Trejo, who arrived here with a delegation of 10 others earlier this this week, isn’t your ordinary visitor. He’s the mayor of San Miguel de Allende, a colonial-era city in the Mexican state of Guanajuato that is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but consistently ranked by Condé Nast Traveler as the best city on the planet.

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After an event held at City Hall Wednesday morning with Palm Springs Mayor Grace Garner, Trejo’s city is also the newest Palm Springs sister city.

“This is my second time in Palm Springs,” Trejo said shortly before joining Garner, other city dignitaries, and his city’s contingent of business and civic leaders for a formal signing ceremony. “The first time was 30 years ago. I came here to visit because I had heard so much about Palm Springs. It was beautiful.”

What were his impressions upon returning? “Palm Springs didn’t lose its magic,” Trejo said.

The Palm Springs Sister City Committee saw similar magic in San Miguel de Allende, electing to pursue the relationship after kicking off renewed sister city efforts last year. The effort was spearheaded by business owner Jeffrey Bernstein, who is now a member of the City Council.

“This is our first new sister city, but will not be our last,” said Al Jones, chair of the Palm Springs Sister City Committee Board of Directors. “… San Miguel is an ideal match. Its cultural, culinary, architectural and arts heritage is a perfect match for Palm Springs.”

San Miguel de Allende has similar agreements with Vail, Colo. and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Trejo explained Wednesday that they weren’t put in place without purpose, and neither is the one with Palm Springs. All of the cities share not only natural beauty, but also a tourist economy and cultural similarities.

“We don’t sign sister city agreements with just anybody,” said Trejo. “We look for sister cities that are culturally rich with something to offer us and that we can offer something to as well.”

Similar to Vail and Santa Fe, Palm Springs has plenty to offer. While pointing to opportunities for cultural exchanges and cross-promotion the agreement brings, Trejo also took time to praised elected officials, the business community, and residents for retaining the charm of the city he first visited decades ago.

“Yes, Palm Springs didn’t lose its magic, but it’s still able to grow,” he said. “Conservation and development have to go hand in hand, and I see that happening here.”

As for what happens next, it’s hoped that a delegation from Palm Springs, including Garner – whose family is rooted in a state three hours away from Guanajuato – can visit before the end of the year.

“There’s a lot we can do,” Trejo told the audience gathered at Council Chambers Wednesday. “I’m so happy for this sister city agreement. This one is special.”


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