About Indian Lease Land

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Home buyers on lease land are attracted to lower selling prices, where many properties sport larger lots and fantastic views. Understanding a bit more about land leases can be helpful when home shopping.

 A Little History:  In the 1860s, the Federal Government granted the Southern Pacific railroad a large swath of land on each side of the railroad right-of-way, but with only the odd-numbered sections being granted.

By executive order in 1876, President U.S. Grant created the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation with the remaining, even-numbered sections allotted to the Tribe and its members The result was a checkerboard of private fee land interlaced with Tribal land.

In the 1950s, the Agua Caliente began leasing land typically for 65 years, although some leases were executed for up to 99 years, the longest term permissible.

Today, there are nearly 8,000 residential leases, with the bulk of them being in Palm Springs where roughly one half the homes are built on lease land.  To put this into perspective, Agua Caliente members lease more residential land than any other tribe in the nation.

A vast number of 65-year residential leases were executed in the 1980s with expiry coming due in 2045, more or less.  Although mid-century seems like a long time from now, there is a very important, long-term instrument that runs headlong into lease expiration dates:  the Home Mortgage.

Mortgage lenders require any manner of land lease to run at least five years longer than the term of the mortgage.  So, to get a 30-year loan in 2020, there must be no fewer than 35 years remaining on the lease — in this case, the year 2055!  Homeowners and home buyers today should be keen on being able to sell their home sometime in the future taking comfort that the purchaser can obtain a full-term home loan.

There’s a rush to extending, replacing or eliminating existing leases.   In home communities, many leases were executed by the developer, who then provided sub-leases to the homeowners.  The development company negotiates an extension to its master lease with the landowner, which may contemplate an increase to the annual rent and/or a one-time fee for extending.  Often there is a grace period for the sub-lessee to sign onto the extension, but steep increases are typically incurred if delayed too long.

Some communities have negotiated out of their leases entirely by successfully purchasing the land from the owner.  An example of this is Greenhouse East condo homeowners purchased their land from the Agua Caliente landowners in 2008.

Sometimes, a lease extension is not possible: the master lease holder and owner may be unable or unwilling to negotiate an extension.  Rather than extending the existing lease, a new successor lease may be executed thanks to a recent change in Federal law allowing the new lease to be drawn up many years in advance.

With its current lease expiring midnight December 22, 2047, Parc Andreas, a community in South Palm Springs, found itself in this very predicament.  So, the Parc Andreas HOA elected to negotiate directly with the landowner with both parties reaching agreement on a new lease succeeding the original, commencing at 12am on December 23, 2047.  This is the first lease of its kind in the nation, and many communities have been closely watching its development and deployment.

For Parc Andreas, it’s a true win-win-win result: The landowner has a far better lease for itself and its heirs.  The HOA owns the successor master lease on behalf of the homeowners and for that there will no longer be a “middleman” to take a cut of the rent.  And with the new, extendable expiry date of 2081, there’s no impediment to mortgage loans.

New Palm Springs Village Starts to Blossom


After years of wrangling, hand wringing, scope changing, Measure “J” and even some scandal, the Palm Springs downtown is realizing a much timely renewal.

The Kimpton Rowan Hotel, Starbucks Reserve, Blaze Pizza, West Elm, H&M, Kiehl’s, MAC Cosmetics and the new public parking garage are now open for business. Coming real soon now are Tommy Bahama, Free People, Francesca’s, and Il Corso.

Although Virgin Hotel construction has not yet begun, it promises to be another unique hotel. Virgin Hotels CEO, Raul Leal said, “Opening a property in California has been on our wish-list since day one, and Palm Springs has grown beyond its reputation of a retreat for Californians, we knew it was the ShowImage (1)perfect location for a Virgin Hotel.”

The new DOWNTOWN PARK will be situated across the street from the Palm Springs Art Museum. It will be placed where the original Desert Inn was located. Nellie Coffman, the Desert Inn’s founder embraced the “space, stillness, solitude and simplicity” of Palm Springs, and the park is steeped in her spirit. The Downtown Park will serve as a refuge to complement the hotels, shops and restaurants with open space, special events and public art.

Introducing Starbucks Reserve™ Bar

Vancouver_Reserve_BarFIRST CAME Starbucks Reserve™ Roasteries: “immense theatrical shrines to coffee passion…”, and if you’re in Seattle or Shanghai (Milan opening soon), you can enjoy “an experience found nowhere else in the world.” Starbucks Reserve Bars, on the other hand, offer a more intimate small-lot coffee experience. Presently, there are only seven Reserve Bars in California, with one located at the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon in Palm Springs.

Starbucks has been bucking competition from “Third Wave” coffee brands where the priority is to produce high-quality coffee, and to consider coffee as an artisanal foodstuff, like wine, rather than a commodity. Among other attributes, this involves stronger relationships between coffee growers, traders and roasters, as well as higher quality and fresh roasting, sometimes called “microroasting”.

The Starbucks Reserve bars are turning the ritual of snatching a cuppa coffee into more of an experience. Baristas receive a significant amount of training at Reserve locations. They learn to use the more uncommon brewing equipment, like siphon brewing. They also sell coffee flights and cold-brew floats.

Reserve Bars are spacious and inviting, where customers can gather around long communal tables or settle in at a low, wood-clad bar to watch the baristas as they work.

Polo: The Sport of Kings

image002WHEN ANNE and her husband lived in England, they were only a 20 minute drive to Cowdray Park, the home of British polo.  Prince Philip began playing and competing there in the early 1950s, as did The Prince of Wales later on. These days, polo has moved on from being a sport principally played by wealthy  gentlemen into one where most teams hired talented overseas professional players. Interestingly, Polo is an inexpensive and fun spectator sport – and you can enjoy it during the cooler months right here in the Valley! We have two polo clubs in Indio: the Empire Polo Club and the Eldorado Polo Club. The season lasts for about three months—January thru March. Polo is a dynamic equestrian sport which has been played for centuries throughout Asia and the Middle East. The West was introduced to the sport when the British colonized India. A game with talented players can be an impressive sight. Although the horses used in the sport are called polo ponies, they are really full-sized horses, where thoroughbreds are the traditional mounts, although other breeds may be used as well. In all cases, horses are selected for speed, agility, and obedience. Put together a picnic, and rendezvous with friends for Sunday tailgating.  You are parked just at the edge of the pitch, and the play goes on right before you.  Bring your own chairs, sun umbrellas and picnic fare.  Dogs are welcome on a leash.  Admission is free, although there is a small charge for parking. If tailgating isn’t your thing, consider reserving a VIP seat or table for the day. Champagne and cucumber sandwiches, anyone?

The Mesa: Celebrity Enclave

image006WITHOUT A DOUBT, The Mesa is one of the most beautiful, eclectic and historic neighborhoods in Palm Springs.  Located on South Palm Canyon, this community is close to nature, while at the same time is close to town.  The community is located at the base of San Jacinto which offers protection from the desert winds and incredible views.  Its scenic streets and paths are ideal for dog walking, cycling and hiking. The Mesa is an ungated neighborhood of about 180 homes.  A mixture of several different architectural styles, such as Old Spanish Pueblo, Mid-Century Modern, Ranch style, Mediterranean from small to mansion, as well as ultra-modern contemporary. Overall, it’s a delightful mix of small homes all the way to large, walled estates. Mesa property prices range from about $600,000 to $12-million. Many of its earliest homes were built in the 1930s and 1940s.  Over the years many homes were built by notables such as King Gillette (shaving razors), George Jessel, George Montgomery and Jolie Gabor (mother to Zsa Zsa, Eva and Magda).  Modern day residents have included Sonny and Mary Bono, Barry Manilow, Joseph Cotton, Robert Wagner and Herman Wouk. Neighbors fairly well sum it all up when they tell you, “For all its history and celebrity, The Mesa’s best feature is its sense of community.”

Indian Water Rights Go Underground in Valley

water-rightsFor over 20 years, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has sought ownership interest in groundwater in the Coachella Valley and its interest in responsible management of the aquifer’s condition. Presently, groundwater in the Coachella Valley aquifer is managed by local water districts, including Desert Water Agency and Coachella Valley Water District. On March 7, 2017, the 9th Circuit Court rejected efforts to limit the tribe’s rights to the valley’s groundwater. The ruling represents a strong rebuke to the Desert Water Agency and the Coachella Valley Water District, whose leaders argued that the tribe was only entitled to surface water on the reservation. This case is important because it will help clarify what rights, if any, Indian tribes enjoy in groundwater as a matter of federal law. Other federal reservations, like national parks or national forests, also enjoy a similar form of water rights, but the Supreme Court has never explicitly addressed the question of whether any of those rights apply to groundwater. The court pointed out that surface water is “minimal or entirely lacking for most of the year” in the region and “a reservation without an adequate source of surface water must be able to access groundwater.” The water districts have argued that the tribe could do anything they pleased with the water, including operating a bottled water plant, say. However, Barton Thompson, an expert on water law and a professor of natural resources at Stanford Law School states, “Indian tribes around the USA have frequently managed their water quite well. And if that is a concern, then the answer is for the federal government to ensure they have the resources to manage the groundwater effectively.” Although the case could set a national precedent on Indian water rights, the decision is only the first step in a long process. Future stages will quantify the tribe’s water rights and will determine whether the tribe is entitled to water of a certain quality.

Deep Well

deep-wellIt all began in 1895, with some acreage purchased to grow apricots, near a native Cahuillla village. Severe droughts and no available water resulted in dead trees and lost investment for a number of owners, until Henry Pearson, who acquired the land in 1926, drilled a well and hit water at a relatively shallow 100 feet. Being surprised that so much water was available so near the surface, he continued to drill further until reaching 650 feet—becoming the deepest well in the valley. By 1928, the Pearsons wanted to be closer to the village and sold the ranch to Roger Doyle, who transformed the ranch house and apricot sheds into guest quarters—and the Deep Well Guest Ranch was born. In time, new owners and new buildings made the property a fine guest ranch. Frank and Melba Bennett of Beverly Hills were persuaded to operate the ranch in the winter of 1931, along with Philip Boyds (later Palm Springs first mayor). In 1932, the Boyds and Bennetts purchased the property together, and the latter operated the facility for the next 18 years—but by 1949, new subdivisions were starting to press upon the simple, rural, western ambience that was so dear to the Bennetts. So, Frank and Melba Bennett sold Deep Well Guest Ranch to Yoland Markson of Boston, and moved into the village on Valmonte Sur. In the late 1950s Deep Well Ranch was more valuable for its development potential than as a resort. Deep Well Guest Ranch would be rebranded as Deep Well Ranch Estates. In 1952 Bill Grant, builder of Thunderbird Golf Club, began development of the subdivision adjoining the guest ranch, and would “carry on the tradition” of having ranch-style houses and street names which would “tie in with the activities of ranch life.” Deep Well Guest Ranch is no longer. It was all razed when finally subdivided for homes. And what has become of Pearson’s deep well?

Meet Betty McNees

mcnees-1-2-aspectBetty is a 30-year real estate veteran who has served the greater Palm Springs region for nearly 24 years.  Anne and Betty have teamed up to combine their unique skills to take the stress out of buying or selling your home. Throughout her career, Betty has strived for excellence, and it shows:  she is an award winning real estate agent with an exceptionally loyal clientele, where referrals and repeat business have formed the foundation of her professional works. Betty says, “Real Estate for me is about creating relationships.  I have become friends with many of my clients over the years and have earned wholeheartedly their trust in me.  They refer their kids, friends, family and colleagues time and time again.” Betty’s real estate success is a good match to Anne’s business acumen.   Anne cofounded ASNA (Amalgamated Software of North America) in 1982 and served as its president and CEO until the company was sold to an Israeli investment group in 2008.  With offices in the USA and Europe, Anne directed the company’s product development and sales growth into all of the world’s continents, save for Antarctica. In addition to having been selected as a Soroptomist Business Woman of the Year, Anne is a member of the Women’s Council of Realtors, member of the Council of Residential Specialists, member of the Bentley Driver’s Club.  Anne has also built and remodeled several homes over the years.

Lake Mirage Racquet Club

Lake MirageSituated on Country Club Drive, just west of Monterey is a proud Rancho Mirage residential community where every home is on the shore of either one of the two lakes on the property. In addition to the beautiful lake views, residents can take in the spectacular mountain views. Among its many amenities, Lake Mirage Racquet Club provides a clubhouse with a billiard room, card room, exercise room and an indoor basketball court. Moreover, there are a large main pool plus ten neighborhood pools and spas, nine tennis courts, a couple of pickle ball courts, a three-hole pitch-and-putt, two racquetball courts, and a 24 hour attended entrance gate. Homes in the community range from 1615 to 3000 square feet on fee simple land. The lakes’ area covers over 20% of the development’s 80 acres, and many residents own electric boats which can be navigated on either of the lakes. Residents may wish to join the Lake Mirage Yacht Club, which has three large electric party boats. Lake Mirage is within a short drive, or even walking distance, from El Paseo Drive, the McCallum Theater, Eisenhower Medical Center, and over 100 golf courses. Food stores like Albertsons and Bristol Farms are only minutes away on foot.

Desert Winds Freedom Band

Desert Winds Freedom Band Shows a Lot of Class

dwfb-logo A couple of months ago we had the pleasure of attending a wonderfully uplifting presentation by members of the Desert Winds Freedom Band.  Our ears were witness to an oleo of concert band and jazz band music by familiar and notable composers including Leonard Bernstein, Dmitri Shostakovich, Stan Kenton and Rimsky-Korsakov. Founded in 2001, it is comprised of dedicated musicians whose goal is to make great music together and serves the greater Palm Springs and Coachella Valley areas.  Some are retired music professionals and others haven’t played since they graduated from high school or college.  In all, DWFB is a diverse group open to all gay and gay-friendly musicians who like to play concert band music. Besides the large concert band, DWFB has created numerous smaller ensembles to add to their community involvement, and to increase the playing opportunities for its members. The largest is the DWFB Jazz Band which is comprised of 21 musicians. Other ensembles include a Jazz Sextet, Saxophone Quartet and Brass Quintet that play numerous gigs around the area. Depending on scheduling, any of these groups are available to perform at your next function. DWFB also hosts a variety of guest artists, both local and national.  Performing at the event we attended was composer and guest composer, Rossano Galante, who conducted his composition, “San Andreas Landscapes”. The band is also a member of the Lesbian and Gay Bands Association (LGBA), which has member bands throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. The Desert Winds Freedom Band is proud to announce that they have been chosen to host the LGBA Annual Conference in Palm Springs on Pride Weekend (November 2-6) in 2016.  The theme will be California Gold—Palm Springs Style.  The weekend’s pinnacle event is the Saturday evening concert comprised of two 150—person concert bands.  And to wrap up the weekend, a 300-member marching band and color guard will be featured in the 2016 Greater Palm Springs Pride Parade on Sunday. For information about being a sponsor, and for tickets to upcoming performances, go to www.desertwindsfb.org.

Property Profile: The Millennials

The recent slowdown in household growth was quite intriguing given that it corresponded with the coming of age of the millennials (born 1985–2004), the largest generation in history. Over the past 10 years, the number of adults under age 30 increased by roughly 5 million but the number of households in that age group rose by just 200,000. Indeed, if young adults headed households at the same rates that they did in 2005, there would be 1.7 million more households in this age group today. Over the next decade, however, the aging of the millennial generation will be a boon to household growth. Household headship rates rise from about 25 percent for adults in their early 20s to about 50 percent for those in their 30s. As they move further into these age groups, millennials are expected to form well over 2 million new households each year on average, raising their numbers from 16 million in 2015 to a projected 40 million in 2025. But for many young adults, low wealth remains an obstacle to home buying. In 2013, renters aged 25–34 had median net wealth of $4,850 and cash savings of $1,030, well below the down payment needed for today’s median-priced home. Renters aged 35–44 were not much better off, with median net wealth of $7,900 and cash savings of $510. Given the large discrepancy in wealth between owners and renters, the inability to access homeownership may further divide the haves and the have-nots. Growth in the adult population will support significant household growth over the next decade and beyond. Demographic forces alone will drive the addition of more than 13 million households in 2015–2025. Much of this growth will occur among the retirement-aged population, with the number of households age 70 and over projected to soar by over 8 million, or more than 40 percent. These increases will lift the share of older households from 16 percent in 2015 to about 21 percent in 2025. * Excerpted from Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University