On Friday, Oct. 7, the College of the Desert Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting to compare two studies related to the West Valley Campus, one from their independent consultant — and one study from Visit Greater Palm Springs. The Board will also vote on a construction contract for the Cathedral City automotive campus and review a history of community meetings regarding additional campus sites, including Palm Springs.

SPEAK: The meeting begins at 9 a.m. and can be viewed online at bit.ly/COD-Zoom-Oct. Use the Zoom meeting link to make a public comment at the beginning of the meeting. Once logged in to the meeting, use the “raise hand” function to be called on to speak. You can also attend in person. Your input is needed. Click HERE to view the Board agenda.

Facts to know:

Funding from a $346.5 million bond measure passed by Coachella Valley voters in 2004 was to be used in part to build this campus. As originally envisioned in 2011, College of the Desert’s West Valley Campus in the northern part of Palm Springs would have been completed in five phases, with a building footprint of 650,000 square feet.

COD abandoned the original location and bought the Palm Springs Mall site on Tahquitz Canyon and promised a full campus and hospitality school if voters passed a second, $577.8 million bond measure which voters did indeed pass. Currently, not a single part of the promised West Valley Campus has ever broken ground.

11 years later, COD officials presented a dramatically scaled down project at an Aug. 4 virtual presentation – and now appear determined to build a campus of just 142,000 square feet to be located at the site of the former Palm Springs Mall, with a projected opening in 2027-28. By that time, nearly 20 years will have passed since COD voted in 2007 to select Palm Springs for its West Valley Campus. This is unacceptable. As the years stretch into decades, the size of the campus continues to shrink and students continue to lose educational opportunity.

The Culinary School has also been reduced to 10,000 square feet with no analysis or input from employers. In addition, the cost per square foot of the project has skyrocketed to $2,600 per square foot. 

For perspective, this is over twice as much per square foot at the cost of the Acrisure Arena, currently under construction. That arena, which is 25 feet below ground and 85 feet tall, is a much more complex project and is using all union labor.

This is about equity. A reduced West Valley Campus does not do enough to meet the needs of our students and workforce, the majority of whom come from diverse, underserved backgrounds. In fact, 97% of students in the West Valley are economically disadvantaged and 89% are students of color.

Palm Springs residents voted to spend close to $1 billion of their money based on promises COD made for a West Valley campus to complement the ones in Indio and Palm Desert. The City of Palm Springs considers this new drastically reduced plan unjust — and will continue to advocate and fight to ensure that the college campus promised to our students becomes reality.

What you can do if you can’t make it:

EMAIL: If you can’t speak in person, send an e-mail to otp@collegeofthedesert.edu and include President/Superintendent Garcia and the Board of Trustees emails (below). It is important you ask that your comments be read into the minutes.  

SHARE this information with residents and neighbors. 

Email your comments to otp@collegeofthedesert.edu and include the following: 

Dr. Martha Garcia 

Superintendent/President, College of the Desert 

mgarcia@collegeofthedesert.edu 

College of the Desert Board of Trustees: 

Chair, Rubén AríAztlán Pérez 

ruperez@collegeofthedesert.edu 

Vice-Chair, Bonnie Stefan 

bstefan@collegeofthedesert.edu 

Board Clerk, Fred E. Jandt 

fjandt@collegeofthedesert.edu

Board Member, Bea Gonzalez 

bgonzalez@collegeofthedesert.edu 

Board Member, Aurora Wilson 

awilson@collegeofthedesert.edu 

Student Trustee, Allen Pahl 

stascod@collegeofthedesert.edu 

Leave a Reply