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Their Palm Springs Neighborhood Burned More Than 50 Years Ago. They Want Compensation.

Beginning around the 1940s, a neighborhood near downtown Palm Springs became home to mostly Black and Latino residents.

The one-square-mile tract was on the land of the Cahuilla Indians and offered one of the few places minorities could live because of racial housing discrimination.

After a federal law change in 1959, these residents were evicted and their homes destroyed to make way for economic development.

For years, former residents said they were evicted with little or no notice.

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Their Palm Springs Neighborhood Burned More Than 50 Years Ago. They Want Compensation.

The billboards rise above the desert valley, introducing millions of visitors to what was an almost forgotten chapter in Palm Springs history. “Know before you go. Palm Springs Section 14,” one billboard reads. “We smelled the smoke, we watched our houses burn.”

In the 1960s, in Palm Springs, a sun-drenched resort destination in Southern California, a neighborhood of mostly Black and Latino families was razed to make room for commercial development. A 1968 report by the state attorney general called it “a city-engineered holocaust.”

Today, there are few physical remains of the community called Section 14 beyond a vacant lot and the remnants of concrete slab foundations that once held houses. A convention center, hotels and a casino now dominate the landscape.

The Palm Springs Section 14 Survivors group, made up of aging former residents and descendants, is asking for compensation for the loss of their homes and personal property, along with damages for racial trauma. The city apologized for its role and said it was committed to pursuing a reparations program. But negotiations stalled.

There are few physical remains of Section 14 in Palm Springs beyond a vacant lot and the remnants of concrete slab foundations.

In April, after months of intense talks, the city offered about $4.3 million to settle the claim, along with building affordable housing and other community projects.

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