Borrego Springs is No Palm Springs
Borrego Springs is no Palm Springs. The Anza Borrego desert town is about one 30th the size of Palm Springs.
Borrego Springs certainly does not have the reputation for being a mecca for the rich and famous, as does Palm Springs. It does not have the big names, the big money, the big golf tournaments, the baseball training camps, the convention business, the problems that Palm Springs has.
But some people are afraid that will change. Palm Springs is 100 miles from Los Angeles. Borrego Springs is 90 miles from San Diego. With the San Diego area growing in leaps and bounds, some worry that what began to happen to palm Springs 40 years ago will soon happen to Borrego Springs.
The most notable common denominator between Borrego and Palm Springs is their climate. The very thing that made palm Springs so popular. So why couldn’t Borrego in, say, ten years, become another Palm Springs?
Borrego Springs has a population of about 1200. Seasonal population can grow to. But most of that seasonal growth is from tourists, not part time residents like palm Springs.
Borrego relies on tourism to support itself. But besides the climate and the natural features of the desert, there is little here to keep the tourists longer. There are no high class hotels or motels, none of what you’d call nightlife, very few restaurants and one grocery store.
Some, like the De Giorgio Corp., are hoping to change that. The De Giorgio family has owned a lot of land in Borrego Springs for a long time. Until the mid sixtys, the land was used primarily to grow grapes. But a labor turnaround pushed the family interests in another direction.
They formed their own development corporation and began to build. They put up the town’s first and only shopping center and they’re building luxury condominiums near one of the town’s golf courses. The De Giorgio biggest plans are for this vast area of desert land in borrego springs called the south slope.
Over the next 20 years, they hope to turn these 3300 desert acre. Into a huge planned unit development with 1600 housing units. De Giorgio Development’s vice President George Kurtz would not talk with us about Borrego Springs growth, but it can be said that Borrego growth is in the interest of the Diorgio corporation.
Borrego Springs is in San Diego County’s Fifth District, and Lee Taylor is the county supervisor. He’s heard all sorts of opinion on Borrego and believes that the town can handle sizable growth.
“Gosh borrego could grow from where it is now, probably 1000, 502,000 people. It could go to 25 or 30,000 without any problem. I don’t think that the market is there. I don’t think the demand in Borrego will be there for perhaps another 15 or 20 years. I’ve been watching Borrego for the past 20 years and it just hasn’t moved.
I’ve gone over there three or four times to buy property, thinking I would, but every time I go, I come back because it just hasn’t moved. And it has. Moved yet. It may soon, but it hasn’t yet.”
Even though developments like De Giorgio’s South Slope Plan have been controversial, there is no organized, no growth or slow growth movement in the town. Opposition at county hearings has come, for the most part from those who own land or property in Borrego and live full time elsewhere.
Harriet Allen and her family own 40 acres in Borrego Springs near the south slope.
How big do you think Borrego could stand to be without having an adverse effect on the environment?
“I would wanted that to depend entirely upon the amount of water that was available, of good quality and good quantity and a good clean air for which that area is famous.
What are your major concerns with the developing Borrego?
“That it will be excessively developed and will not be able to support itself over the long run, either financially or through. Good environment.”
The Borrego Springs chamber of commerce president is jack pugh, a realtor. He’d like to see borrego grow enough to pick up some amenities for the town, like a children’s clothing store, a shoe store, a bookstore, another grocery store or two, and maybe a hospital, since the closest is 55 miles away in brawley.
“We’d like to see Borrego have a very controlled growth, and them a growth that gave us a supportive town for this 500,000 acre state park that we have. And by supportive, I mean we’d have adequate motel facilities, adequate eating places, adequate places for the campers and the people that come here to shop and so on. “
Borrego Springs now is no palm springs, though the potential may be there.
The town in the state park drew more than 2000 people over the April 1 weekend. That’s nearly twice. As many people as the town has residents.
There is, of course, no way to predict what will happen to this cozy little desert community, but it seems likely that Borrego Springs is in for some change. Doug McAllister, News8 on the move, Borrego Springs.