As you may have read in the Desert Sun newspaper on June 17, construction of the planned downtown Palm Springs entertainment and sports arena is on hold. With the Covid pandemic, the ban continues on large gatherings including concerts and hockey games the likes of which would be held at the Tribe’s casino arena.
But even with construction on hold, planning for the arena has continued at various levels. Based on a review of public documents and information obtained from other sources,
here’s where we are:
The developer (Oak View Group) and
the city began
negotiations on a memorandum of understanding addressing key issues raised by the city last year. If the arena moves forward, we hope and expect that the agreement will be made available for public review, analysis and feedback before any action is taken. The major issues are public safety, including new demands on the city’s departments and the impacts on citizens of Palm Springs, and parking and traffic.
In formal communication with the city so far,
developer has offered to cover the cost of some additional public safety resources, but nowhere near what the fire and police chiefs said last year is needed. Related, the developer has prepared a report on the arena’s presumed economic and financial impacts, which the city is studying. (Often in these cases developers say that facilities will produce economic activity including direct and indirect tax revenue as a way to argue for decreased public support payments.) We have asked the city to provide this document so that the public can review the assumptions and calculations.
The developer still has not offered to build any new parking downtown
or at satellite locations to meet a total parking requirement in the 2,500-3,000 range based on arena capacity. Though some of the locations they’ve identified for surface parking, including on Tribal land downtown, could result in some net-new spaces not currently available to the public.
The city in March invited outside consultants to study the parking situation and provide recommendations. A variety of responses were received, offering ideas including a residential parking permit program, angled striping on a variety o
f downtown streets to increase parking capacity beyond parallel parking, time limited parking and paid parking. Our primary concern about parking is that demand for arena spaces will crowd out non-arena patrons of businesses downtown, including bars and restaurants, if no meaningful new parking is created.