Pawnee, Inland Empire

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Pawnee
Charter city and county seat
A view of the Santa Rosa from the Eagleton district.
A view of the Santa Rosa from the Eagleton district.
Flag of Pawnee
Flag
Official seal of Pawnee
Seal
Nickname(s): First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity
Motto(s): When you're here, then you're home
Location of Pawnee in relation to Sierra.
Location of Pawnee in relation to Sierra.
Country  Sierra
Province Flag of Inland Empire.svg Inland Empire
County Coachella
Incorporation April 8, 1917
Founded by Rev. Luther Howell
City hall Pawnee City Hall
Government
 • Type Council-manager
 • Mayor Amy Leslie Bergqvist (DR)
 • City Manager Andrew Long (L)
Area
 • Total 21.756 sq mi (56.35 km2)
 • Land 21.499 sq mi (55.68 km2)
 • Water 0.257 sq mi (0.67 km2)
Elevation 217 ft (66 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 52,452
Demonym(s) Pawneean(s)
Time zone Pacific Standard Time (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 33455–33456
Call codes 442/760
Website pawneeie.ks
Pawnee (About this sound Listen : pɒ́-ní) is a city and the county seat of Coachella County, Inland Empire, Sierra located in the Coachella Valley. Approximately 115 miles from Porciúncula, 64 miles from Riverside, 5 miles from Downtown Palm Springs, and 220 miles from Phoenix, its proximity to these cities and to the busy Interprovincial 1 freeway has made the city an increasingly popular resort and commuter town. It is the second largest city in the Valley after Indio and the 22nd largest in the Inland Empire. As of the 2010 census, the population of Pawnee was at 52,452 and is one of the fastest growing communities in the region.

Present-day Pawnee was first explored by Henry Washington, a former American colonel, and his men on an expedition to find a desirable route to connect the Gold Coast to Maricopa in 1850. South of the town, he found rock formations that were reminiscent of a cathedral. The area would be informally known as the "Cathedral Plains" until the arrival of Reverend Luther Howell, a minister of a Baptist church, who decided to establish a settlement for his congregation in the Coachella Valley in 1891. Naming the settlement, Pawnee, local legend suggests that Howell intended the town to be called Paradise but when he wrote its name down, it was misinterpreted as "Pawnee". The settlement would gradually grow, eventually being incorporated in 1917 as the county seat of the newly-established Coachella County.

Pawnee would remain a sparsely populated town until the 1960s when real estate developers arrived to the area and saw potential in the town's expansion. In addition, the arrival of the regional headquarters of sweets manufacturer Sweetums and weapon manufacturer Starco accelerated growth and cemented the town's status as a bustling community. Today, Pawnee's suburban development continues to grow and the city has undertaken a city-wide renovation program to improve its government buildings and parks. The nightlife in Pawnee has also attracted younger demographics and tourists into the area, further supporting Pawnee's local economy.

On January 11, 2017, a devastating 7.6-magnitude earthquake was centered just north of Pawnee, inflicting severe property damage and infrastructural failures in Pawnee locally, and broader destruction across Southern Sierra. The town alone suffered over $50 million in damages from the earthquake and the two major fires that broke out afterwards. The earthquake and related fires ultimately resulted in at least 28 casualties.

History[edit | edit source]

Rev. Luther Howell, a Baptist minister and founder of Pawnee.

Pre-foundation[edit | edit source]

Historically, the Coachella Valley was inhabited by the Cauhilla and the Luiseño Indians who primarily lived as hunter-gatherers before the arrival of the Spanish who subjugated them under the Spanish mission system. Following the disbandment of the mission system under the newly independent Mexican government, the Cauhilla and the Luiseño remained tied to the area surrounding their former missions. Under the Compact Indian-Sierran Friendship Act, both the Cahulla and Luiseño were granted 4 reservations. Today, that number has increased to 15 federally recognized tribes and bands consisting of either of the two peoples. The Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, located only 2 miles to the southeast of Pawnee, is the closest of such reservations. Archaeological records suggest that Indian activity within the city limits of Pawnee have existed although no known permanent Indian settlement has been known to have ever been established.

The grounds of present-day Pawnee itself would remain largely obscure from Westerners until the arrival of Colonel Henry Washington in 1850. He and his team of men were traveling towards the Mojave Desert in hopes of establishing a suitable trade route between Porciúncula and Phoenix (now known as the Washington Trail). Discovering some rock formations south of Pawnee that reminded Washington of a cathedral, he named the area Cathedral Plains, recorded the location, and subsequently, the area would be placed on Californian maps. Pawnee would become part of the Inland Empire following the establishment of Sierra in 1858.

Early Pawnee[edit | edit source]

In 1891, Reverend Luther Howell, local Baptist minister from Orange, and his congregation were in search of a new place to settle and preach. Wary of the rise in urban cities back in the coast, Howell believed God instructed him to plant a religious community in the desert so that believers would be free from the vices and temptations in the cities. Traveling eastward, Howell arrived to Cathedral Valley believing both the name and location would be ideal for his new community. Drafting a city charter, Howell was its chief architect and wrote much of its code and ordinances. According to local legends, Howell intended to have the town named "Paradise". However, possibly due to Howell's poor penmanship, other members of the congregation misinterpreted Howell's handwriting and thought the name would be "Pawnee". From there, the name caught on and Howell himself liked the name, finding it unique. The name has no connection with the Pawnee people of Great Plains or of the other towns in the United States and Wabash which bear the same name as well.

Howell's vision of a religious community were short-lived as word of a new settlement quickly caught hold in nearby towns and cities. Travelers and merchants also began arriving, initially to Pawnee as a pit stop station before staying there for the long-term as seasonal residents. The town government also struggled to manage the town with limited access to utilities and water. The arid, dry climate and hot summers of the Valley were almost enough to force a mass exodus of residents out of the town in 1895, thus threatening Pawnee's survival. The arrival of the Coachella Valley Aqueduct, the construction of the nearby Southern Pacific Railroad track, and financial support by the Inland Empire government however, placed Pawnee back on track.

Modern Pawnee[edit | edit source]

By 1917, Pawnee's population had quadrupled from less than 1,000 in 1891 to 4,356 residents. With other nearby communities such as Palm Springs and Indian Wells growing, the Inland Empire decided to separate the Coachella Valley from Valle Vista County and form a new county, known as Coachella County. This decision and reorganization was simultaneously enacted with the incorporation of Pawnee as both a town and the county seat of this county. Pawneean residents had been demanding township for several years prior to the decision, primarily to gain additional rights over land use and enacting its own unique city code. Up until then, Pawnee was a census-designated place and was informally headed by the unofficial Pawnee Town Hall with the city management similar to a modern homeowner association. Charlton Sharpspeed was elected the first mayor of Pawnee and a city council composed of five members was established. The Coachella County Board of Supervisors and Pawnee Superior Court were both also created due to Pawnee's status as the county seat.

In the 1930s, the Boone Bread Factory was constructed and became the region's chief provider in bread. Renowned for its pumpernickel, the factory would be the town's largest employer until the 1960s when two companies: Sweetums and Starco built their regional branch headquarters in Pawnee city limits. Eventually, both would relocate their main headquarters to Pawnee from Irwindale in 2001 and Kingman in 2003 respectively. The establishments in Pawnee signaled the town's rapid evolution to its modern state as local investors and developers saw Pawnee as an ideal location to expand. The Inland Empire province as a whole was experiencing a population boom as residents from the Gold Coast and Orange were eager to live in cheaper, affordable homes. In 1967, Eagleton, the first tract housing community in the Pawnee town area was established. Outside city limits, the neighborhood resisted annexation plans by the Pawnee city government seeking to raise tax revenue. It would remain unincorporated until 1993 when it was officially annexed into Pawnee.

Since the 2000s, Pawnee's development has changed the cityscape profoundly. The population of Pawnee is currently over 50,000 and is one of the Empire's fastest-growing cities. In order to meet continual growth, the city of Pawnee initiated a plan to renovate its historic downtown and to improve its facilities and parks throughout the town to increase its attractiveness and value. Situated near the resort city of Palm Springs, Pawnee has successfully copied its smaller, yet more famous neighbor city's tactics of establishing resorts, golf courses, and malls to lure in visitors. In recent years, Pawnee has become a popular town for retirees, but its obesity rate has been on the rise and it has been meant with concern (the town was ranked the fourth most obese town in Sierra in 2003) with nearly two-thirds of its population overweight or obese.

2017 earthquake[edit | edit source]

Geography[edit | edit source]

According to the 2010 census, Pawnee had a total area of 21.756 square miles (56.3 km2) with 21.499 square miles (55.7 km2) being land and 0.257 square miles (0.7 km2) of the remainder being water (1.18% of the total area). Located geographically in the northern region of Coachella Valley (itself part of the much larger Salton Sink) and politically in western Coachella County, Pawnee is situated at the bottom of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains to the west and southwest and the Little San Bernardino Mountains of the Transverse Ranges to the north. A desert city, it is located completely within the Colorado Desert, a part of the even larger Sonoran Desert. To the west, Pawnee borders Palm Springs, and to the east, Pawnee borders Rancho Mirage and Sky Valley. About four miles to the north is the city of Desert Hot Springs. It is bounded to the north-southbound K.S. Route 111 and is ten miles south of the west-eastbound and busier Interprovincial 1. Pawnee is approximately 42 miles northwest of the northern shores of the Salton Sea

Neighborhoods and areas[edit | edit source]

  • Historic Pawnee District
  • Downtown
  • Caliente Sands
  • Eagleton
  • Desert Park Estates
  • Santa Rosa Hills
  • Echo Park
  • East Echo Park
  • Date Palm Dunes

Climate[edit | edit source]

Climate data for Pawnee, Inland Empire (Pawnee Weather Station)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 95
(35)
99
(37)
104
(40)
112
(44)
116
(47)
122
(50)
123
(51)
123
(51)
121
(49)
116
(47)
102
(39)
93
(34)
123
(51)
Average high °F (°C) 70.8
(21.6)
74.0
(23.3)
80.4
(26.9)
87.7
(30.9)
95.7
(35.4)
103.7
(39.8)
108.1
(42.3)
107.3
(41.8)
101.9
(38.8)
91.2
(32.9)
78.5
(25.8)
69.2
(20.7)
89.0
(31.7)
Average low °F (°C) 45.4
(7.4)
48.0
(8.9)
52.2
(11.2)
57.4
(14.1)
64.3
(17.9)
70.8
(21.6)
77.5
(25.3)
77.6
(25.3)
71.9
(22.2)
62.3
(16.8)
51.6
(10.9)
44.1
(6.7)
60.3
(15.7)
Record low °F (°C) 19
(−7)
24
(−4)
29
(−2)
34
(1)
36
(2)
44
(7)
54
(12)
52
(11)
46
(8)
30
(−1)
23
(−5)
23
(−5)
19
(−7)
Source: Royal Climate Administration

Pawnee has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification: BWh) with over 300 days of sunshine and only approximately 5 inches of rain annually. During the summer, temperatures often climb up to the 110s by noon with overnight lows of temperatures around the 80s. During the winter, the days remain sunny and warm, with highs of 80s, although temperatures in the 90s have been observed as well. Days with freezing temperature lows usually occur between January and February, typically the wettest months of the year in Pawnee.

Demographics[edit | edit source]

The 2010 Sierra Royal Bureau of Census reported that the city of Pawnee had 52,452 residents living within its city limits. The racial makeup of the city was 33,307 (63.5%) White, (32.3% or 16,941 being Non-Hispanic White), 1,363 (2.6%) African American, 576 (1.1%) Native Sierrans, 2,622 (5.0%) Asian, 52 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 12,326 (23.5%) from other races, and 2,206 (4.2%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 30,841 persons (58.8%).

The Census reported that 52,137 people (99.4% of the population) lived in households, 262 (0.5%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 52 (0.1%) were institutionalized.

There were 17,047 households, out of which 6,580 (38.6%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 7,586 (44.5%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 2,284 (13.4%) had a female householder with no husband present, and 1,176 (6.9%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,056 (6.2%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 784 (4.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 4,296 households (25.2%) were made up of individuals and 2,267 (13.3%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.99. There were 11,063 families (64.9% of all households); the average family size was 3.67.

The population was spread out with 14,214 people (27.1%) under the age of 18, 5,035 people (9.6%) aged 18 to 24, 12,326 people (25.3%) aged 25 to 44, 12,431 people (23.7%) aged 45 to 64, and 7,553 people (14.4%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 105.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 107.2 males.

There were 20,995 housing units at an average density of 965.0 per square mile (372.6/km²), of which 10,769 (63.2%) were owner-occupied, and 6,278 (36.8%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 4.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 11.0%. 30,999 people (59.1% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 21,190 people (40.4%) lived in rental housing units.

During the 2009–13 fiscal years, Pawnee had a median household income of $45,703, with 14.7% of the population living below the federal poverty line.

Economy[edit | edit source]

The economy of Pawnee relies heavily on tourism, particularly spillover from its more famous neighbor, Palm Springs. The largest employer in Pawnee is the Coachella County government with 1,588 employees (2,587 including the Coachella Valley School District and 3,358 including the city government of Pawnee). Two major Sierran companies, Sweetums and Starco, are headquartered in Pawnee and together are the largest private sector employers in the Coachella County and the city with a combined employee base of 2,880. In recent years, in order to attract visitors, Pawnee has seen the rise in upscale resorts, condominiums, golf courses, and retail centers.

Top employers[edit | edit source]

# Employer # of Employees
1 County of Coachella 1,558
2 Sweetums 1,332
3 Starco 1,281
4 Coachella Valley School District 999
5 City of Pawnee 971
6 Pawnee City Outlet 888
7 Colorado Princess Country Club 717
8 S&J Associates 478
9 Von Holt 301
10 Date Palm Auto Dealership 211

Infrastructure[edit | edit source]

Utilities[edit | edit source]

Pawnee's electricity is provided by the Pacific Electric's Inland Empire affiliate, PE Inland while water is provided by the Coachella Municipal Water District (CMWD) through the Colorado River and Coachella Valley Aqueduct Systems. The South Central Waste Management Agency (SCWMA) works in conjunction with the Pawnee Department of Waste and Sewage Management towards waste and sewage management services.

Transportation[edit | edit source]

The closest major airport to Pawnee is the Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) which is 5 miles due northwest of Pawnee and services the entire Coachella Valley area and the rest of the southeastern Inland Empire.

Highways going through Pawnee include:

  • Route 111 (Inland Empire).svg - KS 111 (runs through Downtown and the Historic District)
  • Interprovincial 1.svg - I-1 (runs through northern Pawnee)

Arts and culture[edit | edit source]

Annual cultural events[edit | edit source]

  • The Grito de Dolores Festival is held every third weekend of September to commemorate the independence of Mexico.
  • The Harvest Festival of Arts, Music, and Fun is a three-day event fair held every mid-October which exhibits local art and music, and features over 20 carnival-style rides and attractions.
  • The Springtime Bash is a week-long, city-wide celebration of the springtime around mid to late April in commemoration of the arrival of spring.

Points of interest[edit | edit source]

The Colorado Princess Country Club is Pawnee's largest and most popular resort, featuring a Triple Diamond Certified 18-hole golf course, a 1,500-room hotel, a full-time spa treatment site, an all-purpose field park, 5 on-site restaurants, a public accessible man-made lake, and the adjacent Pawnee City Outlet. It has been a popular choice among locals for parties, weddings, and vacations and has been visited by members of the Royal Family including King Charles II and other prominent individuals. The facility itself lends it names after the Princess of Colorado title, (currently held by Clara Maria) traditionally to the third-oldest daughter of the Family.

The Pawnee Community Marketplace in downtown has also been a popular destination where it features an open-air farmers' market, 30 private businesses, and an operational ferris wheel. Its square is frequented by locals and tourists alike where bands and other performers host shows every Friday night.

ATV and dirt bike riding is also available at the Date Palm Racing Area in northern Pawnee where over 800 acres of land is owned and accessible to the general public.

Parks and recreation[edit | edit source]

There are five parks in Pawnee, each outfitted with restrooms, playgrounds, and picnic areas.

  • Ramsett Park: The oldest park of Pawnee near Downtown and features the Pawnee City Library, Community Center, and a swimming pool.
  • Echo Park: The second oldest with a running track, football field, basketball courts, and a baseball field.
  • Rosa Park: A park situated at the base of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains which includes several hiking trails leading up to the peak.
  • Underwood Park: A natural gardens park featuring exotic plants, flowers, and shrubbery and an on-site barbecue facility.
  • Dune Park: A park in northern Pawnee that features natural sand dunes suitable for recreational driving and bike riding.

Government and politics[edit | edit source]

Local government[edit | edit source]

Leslie Amy Bergqvist (DR), current mayor of Pawnee

Pawnee is governed by an elected mayor and a five-member council who are responsible with the legislation and enforcement of city policy and ordinances. The mayor is elected in a citywide election while each member of the council is elected within the five wards that divide the city. The city manager is appointed by the mayor and is responsible for administrating and supervising city operations and managing the city budget.

The current mayor of Pawnee is Leslie Amy Bergqvist, a Democratic-Republican, who was elected in 2014 and previously served as the Deputy Director of Department of Parks and Recreation. The current city manager, Andrew Long, was appointed in May 2015 after predecessor Peter Russo was fired for his involvement in a prostitution scandal, drug abuse, and mismanagement of rattlesnakes. The five current members of the 2014-15 Pawnee City Council are Joseph Hubble (R), Aaron Snyder (DR), Debbie Navarro (R), Bob Strange (DR), and Daniel Acuña (DR).

Federal and provincial representation[edit | edit source]

Historically a conservative-leaning city that voted for Royalists, the city has increasingly voted in support for Democratic-Republicans. In the Sierran Senate, Pawnee is represented by Elizabeth Geffreys (R) and Preston Barton (R). Pawnee lies within the Inland Empire's 6th parliamentary district and is represented by Farrell Kissinger (DR). In the Inland Empire Provincial Legislature, Pawnee is in the 4th Senatorial District and is represented by Emilia Ammons (DR), and in the 17th Assembly District which is represented by Tyler Cho (DR).

As the county seat of Coachella County, the city of Pawnee lies within the 1st Supervisory District which also includes Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Desert Springs, and Indian Wells. The supervisor of the 1st District is Regina Muñoz (R).

Courts[edit | edit source]

  • Federal
    • District Court for the South Central District of the Inland Empire
    • Sierran Bankruptcy Court, 3rd Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel
    • Sierran Bankruptcy Central District of the Southwest Corridor

  • Provincial
    • Inland Empire Court of Appeal, Second District, Division One
    • Superior Court of the Inland Empire, County of Coachella

Crime[edit | edit source]

Like most of the country, crime rates have been on the decline in Pawnee. Since Pawnee's urban development and rising living standards, Pawnee's historic crime has been significantly reduced thanks to a community outreach program and a well-funded law enforcement force. According to the Royal Bureau of Investigation, from 2000 to 2010, the number of crimes (most being misdemeanors) dropped from 932 incidents to only 521. During the 1980s, the illegal sale and use methamphetamine was rampant in the Coachella Valley region and drug-related gang violence occurred in Pawnee. The infamous "Red John" serial killer of the 1990s came from Pawnee and killed most of his victims in the area, including 3 in the city itself. Today, the majority of violent crimes have been domestic violence cases (24 in 2014), attempted murder (1 in 2014), aggravated robbery (13 in 2014), and general assault and battery (45 in 2014). A city-wide neighborhood watch and additional privately-hired security have further reduced crime and dissuaded would-be offenders in and outside the city.

Education[edit | edit source]

Pawnee's public education is under the jurisdiction of the Coachella Valley School District (CVSD), one of the four school districts in the Coachella County, led by five board members. Pawnee's only private education institution, the Mayfield College, offers health care training and degrees in business and technology.

Public schools within Pawnee include:

  • Palm View Elementary School
  • Sunny Sands Elementary School
  • James Workman Middle School
  • Nellie N. Coffman Middle School
  • Pawnee High School

Media[edit | edit source]

Pawnee is part of the Palm Springs Designated Market Area.

The TV stations that service Pawnee and Coachella Valley include:

  • KDAT-TV (RBS), Channel 38 (Channel 4 on cable)
  • KPSA-TV (16ON), Channel 40 (Channel 7 on cable)
  • KSUN-TV (EBN), Channel 42 (Channel 2 on cable)
  • KPAW-CD (Pawnee Public Access), Channel 46 (Channel 1 on cable)

Other networks including Fox, Tokki, and ABC are covered in the area by low-power TV stations.

Newspapers and magazines[edit | edit source]

Several local newspapers and magazines are dedicated primarily for readers in Pawnee and the Coachella Valley.

  • The Pawnee Journal is the local daily newspaper servicing Pawnee and the Coachella Valley.
  • The Pawnee Life is the Pawnee Journal's official monthly magazine dedicated to lifestyle, fashion, health, and entertainment.
  • The Coachella Sun is a weekly tabloid publication.
  • The Desert Daily Guide is a LGBT weekly periodical.
  • The Palm Springs Villager is published in Palm Springs.
  • The Indio Tribune is published in Indio.

Major regional publications that service Pawnee include the Porciúncula Times, the Orange Star, the San Diego Herald-Review, and the Inland Empire Register.

Sister cities[edit | edit source]

Pawnee is a member of the Sister Cities International and is partnered with six international cities.

In addition, it engages in a community exchange program with one domestic city: Crescent City, Shasta, a partnership that began in 2004.

See also[edit | edit source]