No Consensus On Section 14 Reparations; Back To Square 1, As Palm Springs City Council Asks Staff To Draft A New Request For Proposals

If reparations are going to be paid to survivors of the Section 14 evictions in the 1950’s and 1960’s in Palm Springs, they won’t be paid anytime soon.

A proposal to hire a team from Columbia University in New York for a year-long study of the facts of the Section 14 evictions and possible reparations for the victims, has been shot down by the Palm Springs City Council.

By a vote of 3 to 2, the Council opted to direct City Staff to issue a new Request For Proposals, with no specific time frame for when that might be done.

The Staff will then wait to see if any new proposals are submitted.

Mayor Grace Elena Garner and Councilwoman Christy Holstege voted to pay more than 502-thousand dollars to a team from Columbia University, The African American Redress Network, FirstRepair ( a non-profit group that educates local and regional leaders who are seeking to set up reparations programs), and the International Center for Transitional Justice,  for what would be a one year study of the history and the facts surrounding Section 14, and recommendations for how reparations would be paid to the people who were wronged.

But many of those people are no longer living.  Others have moved away.  Just compiling a list of people who were impacted and where they are now located,  and what they might be owed, would be challenging.

Mayor Pro-Tem Jeffrey Bernstein, Councilman Ron deHarte, and Councilmember Lisa Middleton voted against the expenditure,  arguing the team from Columbia University was biased in favor of reparations being paid.  Those 3 Council members wanted a bigger focus on fact-finding,  and gathering of historical evidence…to determine the level of culpability on the part of the City of Palm Springs.

The Palm Springs City Council publicly apologized in 2021 for what happened to low-income people living in substandard housing on Section 14 tribal land in the heart of town in the 19450’s and 60’s.

The City ended up bulldozing homes and setting them on fire, after the U-S Congress approved a long-term land lease deal for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Frank Bogert, who was Mayor in Palm Springs at the time, and Tribal officials went to Washington D.C. to lobby Congress for an extended land lease for tribal property.

After Congress approved the long term land lease, and to  pave the way for economic development on tribal land, the City of Palm Springs evicted people living on Section 14 property.

Some people were given notice, others were not.  Some went to work, only to find their home destroyed  when they returned.

Many people were pushed to move to the north end of Palm Springs, what is now called the Desert Highland Gateway section of town.

Now more than 60 years later after people were evicted from Section 14, and their homes were destroyed, the City Council has brought to the table the idea of paying reparations to the victims of Section 14.

So far, the Council has only managed to tear down the statue of Frank Bogert, which had stood outside City Hall for 30 years.

It is in storage, and won’t ever be on display on city-owned land again.

It remains to be seen if a reparations program moves forward…and when.



Packs of dollar bills falling through the air on a white background.

Photo by Alpha Media USA Palm Springs CA