The City of Rancho Mirage
This photograph, the text of which is at the end of this History, shows what is believed to be the original entrance to Magnesia Falls Cove residential development by Hollywood lawyer A. Ronald Button and his friend and fellow investor Dave Culver who bought 1,920 acres of farm land and orchards in the region and developed a 425 home subdivision in Magnesia Falls Cove, the area’s second settlement. The small homes sold quickly, and residents realized the need for a community organization to set and maintain standards.
The Rancho Mirage Community Association was founded by a growing group of civically minded and concerned homeowners and then chartered by the State of California in April 1937, thirty-six years before the city of Rancho Mirage was incorporated. The sole purpose of the RMCA was then and still is to maintain and improve the property value of homes and businesses within its purview.
Initially, the RMCA was known as the Rancho Mirage Property Owner Community Association, a moniker that neither acronyms well nor lasted long. Although it is called a “Community” association, the state regards and regulates it exactly like an HOA, requiring Articles of Incorporation, By-laws, and CC&Rs. The State Charter grants powers of supervision of proposed improvements to properties, and regulation of building covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs).
As this community grew in its early days, new tracts of homes were built by various investors including Art Linkletter, developers, and contractors, resulting in there now being fourteen different sets of very similar CC&Rs. Those documents are now woefully dated and include regulation of outhouses, the raising of chickens, boarding of horses, and even racial restrictions sadly typical of the date of their composition. The Board of Directors has worked several years to adopt revised, restated By-laws and uniform CC&Rs, and recently solicited members for their vote of approval. Voting members of the Association still have not returned a sufficient number of ballots to constitute a quorum, so that all of them may be opened and counted.
No longer does the RMCA have common or community properties as it did many years ago when there was a large and active community swimming pool within the loop of Rancho Mirage Lane at Sahara Road. Initially, annual – yes, “annual” – dues were $10.00. They skyrocketed many years later to all of $25.00. Currently the exorbitant dues members of the Association pay are $35.00 a year. What a return on investment that is!
Almost all the work of the RCMA is accomplished by its Board of Directors, initially eleven members, now seven, all volunteers who work dedicatedly to fulfill their duties required by the State and to serve the community, its homeowners, and residents. Board members attend and participate in City Council meetings, lobbying and testifying on issues affecting the community, to maintain strong and effective relationships with the City and its lawmakers.
A high watermark in the history of the RMCA:
Devastating floods in the late 1970s seriously damaged many homes in Magnesia Falls Cove and caused too many Association members to move and rent their houses to persons who didn’t maintain the properties well. No new construction started, resale of housing slumped, property values steadily declined, and the neighborhood became increasingly run down. The Association rededicated its efforts in the early 1980s to improving the community and ensuring it would not suffer devastation from floods again.
Members of the RMCA worked diligently with the City in bring about flood controls and protections. The west flood channel was completed, mostly solving the problem. Now there is the substantial flood reservoir, concrete spillway, berm, and large channel on one side of the Cove to protect homes, and the wide earthen channel and long berm on its other side to direct flood waters from the surrounding mountains safely into Whitewater River and away from homes in the Cove.
The Association fought with the City for construction of curbs and gutters on streets in the community, not only as added protection from floods, but to improve the appearance and quality of the neighborhood. The RMCA negotiated a $2 million contribution from the City to assist in these street improvements.
R/V or not R/V, that is the question:
The Association conducted a survey at the request of the City and RMCA members to determine owners’ and residents’ attitudes toward the parking of recreational vehicles on private property. Many members felt the neighborhood was suffering abuse by such R/Vs turning it into their parking lot. That survey and members expressing their preferences on the issue resulted in creation of City Codes governing where and for how long RVs can be parked on the street or visibly in private properties throughout the neighborhood and city.
Another fight the RMCA won was for major improvements in the local Post Office. The new and large U.S. Post Office serving the neighborhood is located at The River shopping center and was named after local resident President Gerald Ford.
For some time, the Association gave annual awards to the Best New House, Best Remodel, Best Landscaping, and Best Commercial Building, all in a campaign to encourage pride of ownership and continual improvement in the appearance of the community. Although these awards have not been made for several years, it may well be time to reinstate them and distribute them to the deserving.
But that’s all history. . .
The RMCA has many plans and goals to extend its work in behalf of owners and residents and improve life and property values throughout this community and into the future.
To know what the RMCA did for property owners and residents of our community during that history read the Accomplishments Page.
Information regarding the photo at the beginning of this article…
The text of the photograph of the original gateway to Magnesia Falls Cove residential development, above, is a come-hither for real estate sales, and states:
“Rancho Mirage, Palm Springs’ favorite suburb, a development of beautiful lots and outstanding homes. Drive out Hiway 111 to the planned community of your dreams, 8 miles Southeast of Palm Springs just adjacent to the Thunderbird Country Club or phone FAirview 8-1121 for additional information.”
Of course one should always believe as true everything stated in advertising, except perhaps for the facts that Rancho Mirage is not and never was a suburb of Palm Springs, and is 11 miles from Palm Springs, not 8, hence the original name of the area that later became Rancho Mirage, “Eleven Mile Ranch”, because it was exactly eleven miles from Indio on one end of Coachella Valley and eleven miles from Palm Springs on the other end. As for Magnesia Falls Cove being “adjacent to the Thunderbird Country Club”, it certainly is, that is if “adjacent” means “about three miles down the road.”