Palm Springs City Council made gutsy decision from which prior councils shied

PALM SPRINGS — The political futures of those currently sitting on the Palm Springs City Council hang in the balance after voting unanimously to begin the legal process for removing the controversial statue of the late Mayor Frank Bogert.

The atrocities for which Bogert is accused are not new. They have been passed down for decades,  yet no prior City Council has had the guts to address the issues with any force or consequences — until now.

This City Council — Mayor Christy Holstege, Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton, Geoff Kors, Dennis Woods and Grace Garner — not only voted to start the process for removing the statue that sits prominently in front of City Hall but also formally apologized for the city’s role in the forced eviction of families from Section 14. No City Council had ever apologized.

The California Attorney General called what happened on Section 14  a “city-engineered holocaust.” That was 50 years ago.

The city of Palm Springs was responsible for forcibly removing more than 200 families from their homes, city of Palm Springs staff burned people’s homes, and city of Palm Springs staff drove bulldozers that tore down people’s homes, according to Middleton.

As the city evolved from a desert outpost to a playground of the rich and famous, Section 14 became more desirable to developers. Between the 1940s and 1960s, competing interests vied for this valuable land. It became a battleground over issues of tribal sovereignty, land zoning, leasing, economics, and race.

We are not saying whether the statue should be moved. We are applauding the bold, courageous move the Palm Springs City Council took. Not only did it agree to start the process of moving the statue and apologize, but Councilors also said they support some form of reparations for those impacted.

A 1968 California Attorney General report on Section 14 includes details of some homes that were destroyed and their estimated value at the time. Based on that report, Mayor Holstege estimated that Section 14 families lost a total of $46 million in 2021 dollars.

Public comments for and against the statue were reportedly roughly split down the middle.

It would have been easy to kick the issue down the road and not do anything. Like it or not, this Council took a bold stand. Each voted his or her conscience and did what each believed was right to heal the city. They did not worry about their political futures. Now, that’s bold.



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