Gay Desert Hot Springs

Documents: City offering payments totaling roughly $4.3 million to Section 14 survivors, descendants

Posted on April 13, 2024

The proposal was sent to lawyers representing a group of former residents of the land and their descendants shortly before the city announced a series of new initiatives aimed at acknowledging its part in the evictions.

www.thepalmspringspost.com BY MARK TALKINGTON ● CITY HALLNEWS ● APRIL 12, 2024

Click HERE to read story on original site.

Dieter Crawford, a member of the Section 14 Survivors, addresses the crowd at a rally held in September 2022.

The city of Palm Springs has proposed a compensation plan for its role in evictions from Section 14 in the 1960s, offering to pay for verifiable real and personal property losses totaling an estimated $4.3 million.

The proposal was sent to lawyers representing a group of former residents of the land and their descendants Thursday evening, shortly before the city announced a series of new initiatives aimed at acknowledging its part in the evictions.

Local reporting and journalism you can count on.

Subscribe to The Palm Springs PostSubscribe

“I think you will agree that this offer of monetary damages, and the potential for a resolution of these issues, for these Section 14 Survivors is a historic move,” City Attorney Jeffrey Ballinger wrote in an email to attorneys Areva Martin and Andrew Kratzer. “…It is my and the City Council’s sincere hope that your clients give this offer serious consideration for what could be truly a historic resolution in reparative justice.”

The $4.3 million figure, arrived at years after the city agreed to offer some form of reparations for those who were evicted from land owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, is a fraction of what the attorneys were seeking.

According to information supplied to The Post, as of March 8, the Section 14 Survivors organization was seeking between $187 million and $366 million for damage to 350 homes and the destruction of personal property. The group’s attorneys said they believed the houses on leased land were worth approximately $18,000 each in 1965. The personal property belonging to each of the 350 homes, they claimed, was worth $4,200 in 1965.

Ballinger said that after reviewing public records, the city believes it was involved in demolishing no more than 145 houses following landlord evictions. Furthermore, Ballinger said the city believes each home was worth no more than $2,000 in 1965 and that the personal property was worth $1,000.

“Therefore, the city is willing to compensate up to 145 households an amount of $29,494.81,” in today’s dollars, Ballinger concluded, putting the total monetary compensation at $4,276,747.

“The city is willing to make payments to households or their descendants of the 145 houses identified in public records as having been demolished,” Ballinger wrote, “as long as such household or their ancestors were living in any such house.”

Following a closed session Thursday afternoon, Palm Springs Mayor Jeffrey Bernstein said the City Council has pledged to address historical injustices, including the displacement of minority groups, through new initiatives to promote equity and healing.

The Council acknowledged that city funds were previously used to clear land housing tenants, including minority groups, particularly in Section 14. In response, they have agreed on several steps to rectify these past wrongs.

A significant part of the Council’s plan involves contributions to a Community Land Trust to facilitate more affordable housing. Additionally, the Council is reviewing a new small business entrepreneur pilot program with Caravanserai, indicating a potential for expanded funding.

The Council is also considering the feasibility of establishing a healing or cultural center, dedicating an art installation, and renaming a community park to honor the history and survivors of Section 14. A day of remembrance and a historical context study are also proposed measures to acknowledge and learn from past actions.

City staff have been directed to coordinate with various levels of government for potential funding for these projects.

Author

MARK TALKINGTON

Mark first moved to the Coachella Valley in 1994 and is currently a Palm Springs resident. After a long career in newspapers (including The Desert Sun) and major digital news websites, he founded The Palm Springs Post in 2021.