Section 14 survivors seek millions in compensation from city of Palm Springs
Hundreds of minority families are seeking compensation from the city of Palm Springs for the destruction of the land known as Section 14 in the downtown area more than half a century ago.
It happened after long-term land leases were legalized on Indian land, making commercial development there possible and causing the value of that land to soar.
“My father worked hard and built our home and we had to leave it behind,” said Section 14 survivor Delia Taylor. “My childhood innocence, fun and happy-going life was taken from me.”
Taylor, who was born and raised on Section 14, is one of hundreds of Black and Mexican families who were forced out of the prime downtown property by the city of Palm Springs in the 1950s and 60s. They now want economic justice returned.
Areva Martin, lead attorney for Section 14 survivors and descendants, gathered with dozens affected in Los Angeles Tuesday to announce an amended claim against the city of Palm Springs seeking restitution.
The city of Palm Springs issued a formal apology in September 2021, but the survivors say that alone is not enough.
Economist Dr. Julianne Malveaux calculated the economic harm done to these families based on the present values of the homes and property that were lost.
Malveaux said it’s an estimated $400 million to $2 billion dollars.
“That’s not the number that we’re necessarily asking for; that’s the number we come to the table with,” she said. “We’re asking for Palm Springs to deal with us in good faith.”
Christy Holstege, a Palm Springs councilmember and State Assembly candidate, admitted it would be hard to properly compensate survivors.
“The city of Palm Springs has a $220 million annual budget,” Holstege said. “I think lifting this up to the statewide level and discussing ways that the state might be able to help fund this effort would be helpful.”
The claim could be the first step toward a lawsuit against Palm Springs, but both Martin and Palm Springs City Attorney Jeff Ballinger said they hope to avoid one.
“If we continue to put pressure on the city of Palm Springs to come to the table with reasonable solutions, then we all have an opportunity to win in this situation,” Martin said.
Last week, the city of Palm Springs issued a request for proposals for reparations program consultant services to help the city develop a reparations program.
Mayor Lisa Middleton said in a statement Tuesday: “While this process may seem to be taking longer than some might like, the city has an obligation — not only to those who were displaced — but also to its residents, businesses and taxpayers — to thoroughly investigate the history as it develops remedial programs that are fair to everyone.”