New questions are being raised about Palm Desert city councilmember Gina Nestande's role as a realtor in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and whether she is breaking any rules splitting time between the Sunshine State and the Golden State.
A Facebook page created in April of this year identifies Gina Nestande as a "South Florida realtor" affiliated with the Fort Lauderdale-based Rachel Barach Group. News Channel 3 obtained a copy of Nestande's broker sales license from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, indicating that it was issued in December 2022 and registered to a Fort Lauderdale condo address.
News Channel 3 reached Nestande via her Fort Lauderdale area code phone number. She confirmed her Florida real estate work, but said she still owns a home in Palm Desert and also holds a California broker's license. Nestande explained that she has been dividing her time between California and Florid to assist her daughter after the birth of her grandson. She declined to speak on camera.
Nestande has appeared via Zoom in four of the past 11 Palm Desert city council meetings. In a June 22 meeting, she cited the reason for her remote participation as "family care."
The Palm Desert Municipal Code stipulates that "a council member...must live in that district and must be a registered voter in that district to be eligible to hold office." Nestande said she still meets these conditions.
City officials said Nestande informed them in January of this year that she would be spending time in Florida, emphasizing that there was no indication that she intended to permanently reside there.
Three members of Palm Desert city committees have voluntarily resigned after city staff learned they were either seasonal residents or living outside city limits.
Nestande contends that her absences have not hindered her ability to conduct city business effectively, but declined to make a statement to constituents.
The city administration has noted that in June 2023, Nestande confirmed her move to a new residence in North Palm Desert and pledged to resume attending City Council meetings in person starting in August.
Late last year, Nestande was one of two city leaders in turn for the rotating position of mayor, but she deferred. She told News Channel 3, "Being mayor takes a lot more time than being on just the city council."