DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. — Along a hot, dusty stretch of freeway in California’s Coachella Valley, a green rush is booming that not even the coronavirus pandemic can slow.
Desert Hot Springs, once a sleepy retirement community overshadowed by its more glamorous neighbor, Palm Springs, to the south, is transforming into a cannabis-growing capital as businesses lured by tax incentives and a 420-friendly local government pour into the small city.
“It’s fun times right now to be the mayor,” said Mayor Scott Matas, who has been in city government since 2007 and once voted to implement a moratorium on cannabis businesses.
Last year the industry contributed more than $4 million to city revenue, overtaking real estate as the biggest generator of tax profit, Matas said. City officials anticipate an even higher revenue stream from cannabis businesses this year.
Deputy City Manager Doria Wilms said: “It’s been incredible to see the transformation. We don’t see it slowing down.”
A new industry blossoms
It took Gold Flora CEO Laurie Holcomb only 48 hours to decide to open a cultivation business in Desert Hot Springs after it began to allow large-scale operations. She already owned a real estate development company and saw an opportunity to expand into the growing industry.
In eight growing rooms inside Gold Flora’s cultivation facility, insulated metal panels similar to those in walk-in coolers shield more than 9,000 cannabis plants from the unrelenting sun. Even without air conditioning, the building will never heat up beyond 80 degrees inside despite triple-digit temperatures outside, facilities manager Adam Yudka said. Plants are stored atop rolling benches that use an internal irrigation system to water crops individually.
Published: May 10, 2021
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News