Editorial: Palm Springs bulldozed a Black neighborhood. Compensate survivors
Palm Springs is home to the “Havana of the West”
This editorial was originally published in the Spring 2015 edition of The Palm Springs Desert News.
It’s been a decade since the city of Palm Springs bulldozed a large and mostly African American neighborhood of single detached homes, built in the 1920s, and turned it into a parking lot for the community’s municipal building. The neighborhood, the Pico Neighborhood, and the building, the B.L.A.C. Building, were once located on a quiet residential street with a number of large single-family homes, including three prominent early 20th century homes.
Now, many of the residents are displaced, some are dead, and others are living in temporary housing. In order to rebuild the neighborhood, the city, on behalf of its own residents, has negotiated with the owner of the old B.L.A.C. Building, the Palm Springs City Council, and a number of individual homeowners. The city seeks to compensate them with grants so that they will relocate permanently. The city and the owners have agreed to a settlement that will be part of a larger settlement to compensate the area’s Black residents.
The city’s deal with the homeowners is one of the great social justice victories in modern history. The city’s settlement with the homeowners was first announced on September 24, 2013, in the local newspaper, the Spring Valley Sun.
The Pico Neighborhood was once a typical residential neighborhood, with some large single-family homes and a neighborhood commercial center, such as the B.L.A.C. Building and the “Furniture Building,” also located on Pico, a two-story building also used for commercial business. Both structures were located on a four-lane through street that ran by homes. It was known as a quiet neighborhood where neighbors met regularly in