Concern Raised Over Desert Building Boom

April 13, 1986

My compliments, and thanks for Sam Hall Kaplan's excellent column (April 6) on the so-called planning process in Los Angeles County.

The excesses and manipulations of land developers were never worse than practiced today in the Coachella Valley. This area has been exploited and overbuilt in the last few years until the existenece of an economy dependent on limited water resources truly is threatened.

Yet, the building of ersatz country clubs with lakes, canals and, of course, thirsty 18-hole golf courses, goes on and on. Each week some carpetbagger buys a full page in the local press to announce yet another desert Eden.

No one in the regional press ever mentions the five-letter word water and it has become impossible to get letters to the editor on the subject printed. Small wonder, with extra sections of real estate advertising hitting the weekend editions regularly.

The growing traffic problems get talk from the various politicians in the area, but no action, and the principal artery between Palm Springs and Indio, California 111, is a real mess during the season here. Recently a group I belong to announced a luncheon meeting at which alternate routes between Palm Springs and Indio would be discussed by developer Ernest Hahn, a principal contributor to the problem!

Occasionally, one of our small municipalities is able to halt or change a developer's project that is too far over the line, but for the most part, the concerned officials are run over by the developer's lawyers with threats of zoning suits that assure bankruptcy for the struggling new cities. Most recently, Rancho Mirage.

My chief concern is falling property values and the threat of a ruinous water shortage not too far down the road. Water officials say there is water for more growth and many years.

The Desert Peoples United group in Palm Springs continuously warns its members (and tries to get into the press) facts on a falling water table that make liars of the water company.

A note from Sen. Barry Goldwater says conditions are almost as bad in Phoenix and Tucson.


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