It’s not entirely clear why the 20 condo homes directly next door to the site of a proposed 200-room hotel in Palm Springs were not notified about the series of public meetings the project moved through.
These meetings are often the most effective venues for public officials and developers to hear the concerns of residents.
However, the residents of the Center Court condo complex were left off of the notifications list. State law requires that homeowners within 400 feet of projects like this one receive a letter in the mail alerting them to the proposed project along with the time and place of the public hearing.
“I don’t know how they got left off,” said Lauri Kibbe, developer for the Dolce Hotel project, proposed to be built in the large parking lot across the street from Palm Springs Convention Center.
Because of this error, the Dolce project was pulled from the Palm Springs City Council agenda last week, where it was expected to receive the green light and move forward. Instead, it now goes back to the Palm Springs City Planning Commission where commissioners and the project’s development team will undoubtedly hear from those newly-notified residents who were left off prior mailing lists.
In the case of Dolce, the developers used Lawyers Title Insurance Corp. in Indio to research the names and address or homeowners needing notification. That information was then given to the Palm Springs Department of Planning Services which mailed the letters.
“The applicants are required to submit the labels, and the addresses are from the county assessors office. And we have do their title insurance company’s affidavit that that’s what they did,” said Margo Wheeler, director of Planning Services.
“We followed the regulation and the title company did the list and the city did the mailing,” wrote Kibbe in an email. “It is unclear what happened. We are happy to proceed and will do our best to support all being done properly as we move forward.”
Officials with Lawyers Title Insurance Corp. did not respond to a request for comment. Though in its documentation the company states the research is to “deem reliable, but not guaranteed.”
For their part, the residents want a chance to voice their concerns about the hotel — namely because they feel the building’s 56-foot height could potentially block their view of the mountains and construct sunlight. The residents would like more opportunities to work with the developer toward an agreeable end.
“The way I interpret it is that it is being sent back to planning commission to be heard again with the proper required notification,” said David Powell, a resident in Center Court and one of the organizers of a community meeting last week with residents, city officials and Kibbe. “Whether that means the plan will change or not is unknown, but hopefully the developer will seriously consider our comments about the impacts and modify the plan to accommodate all parties.”
Any substantial changes to the massive $127 million hotel and condo project may be a bit much to hope for. The project works within what’s known as the “building tent,” which means it stays within previously approved metrics like building setbacks, parking and other development codes.
And siting a large hotel next to the convention center — particularly one that could work as an event generator — has been a longtime goal of city officials.