Local businesses that surround the Presidents’ Plaza East and West Parking Lots, just off of Highway 111 between Larkspur Lane and Portola Ave, are frustrated with the lack in parking. Residents have also voiced their concerns saying there has been limited parking available for months.
"If they can't find a parking space, they go somewhere else. And that's where the loss is,” said owner of The Patio Barbershop Joe Hernandez.
The City of Palm Desert has stepped in to help property owners revitalize the Presidents' Plaza East and West Parking Lots. The improvements include new asphalt pavement, underground utility upgrades, planter areas, modernization of the trash enclosures, new striped parking stalls, and enhanced ADA-compliant pedestrian walkways.
“We’re just upgrading the utilities and the roadway finish so it's a smoother and safer area for visitors,” said the Presidents’ Plaza Project manager Audrey Nickerson.
Construction on the lots began in June 1, 2021 and was slated to be complete by January 2022. However, construction has been delayed through at least February.
Owner of The Vault Fine Jewelry, Stanley Harris, said it has hurt business even more especially after strict lockdowns during the pandemic. “We’ve lost half our business. We can’t even find parking in the morning for ourselves. My customers can find parking as all," Harris added, "We’ve pretty much lost a whole season by the time this is done.”
Local shop owners also voiced frustration about the Jensen’s parking lot, located right across the street. That shopping center has put up signs warning shoppers they will get towed, if they try to shop in the presidents’ plaza.
“If an elderly lady parks over there and she needs to come across the street, theres quite a few stores around here, and now they wanna tow their cars away," Harris said. He also claimed that while the Jenson's parking lot was under construction, their employees and customers would crowd the Presidents' Plaza parking lots.
The city has said the delays began after the contractor unexpectedly encountered 14 previously unknown septic tanks. In addition, the contractor has encountered various existing private utilities in conflict with the planned construction, which must each be adjusted. And due to the supply chain issues, the project team is also working on paving options for the east parking in late December followed by the west parking lot.
The City says they are planning to pave the west lot by February 24th, but there isn’t a set deadline for when the project will be finished.
The city has provided some solutions for any customers having trouble finding parking:
Typically, two courtesy carts circulate on El Paseo from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. A third cart has been added into the rotation and will focus on the streets around Presidents’ Plaza and within the parking lots themselves. Courtesy carts will pick up patrons at The Gardens on El Paseo at 15-minute intervals and can be dropped off at their desired location. Hours of operation have been expanded to service Presidents’ Plaza from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Temporary Parking Locations
Signage has been created to encourage patrons to park at the Gardens and to take a courtesy cart shuttle to their destination. City staff is also working on finalizing short-term parking agreements for the use of nearby parking lots (Union Bank at El Paseo and San Luis Rey and U.S. Bank at El Paseo and Portola) that Presidents Plaza businesses can use through the end of January for employee or valet parking.