Bennion Deville Homes REALTOR® James Ronald Whitney, based out of the Palm Springs Main office, located at 850 North Palm Canyon Drive, was recently elected to the Palm Springs Regional Association of REALTORS® (PSRAR) Board of Directors. Whitney will serve a two-year term, starting January 1, 2018, and has several grand ideas for key issues affecting the real estate industry both locally and across the state: Address the homeless epidemic in the Greater Palm Springs Area, work toward a suitable resolution of the short-term vacation rental ordinances, and promote Palm Springs and Southern California as an attractive alternative for East Coasters seeking warmer areas in the winter.
What makes this election result all the more impressive is the astonishingly short amount of time it has taken Whitney to climb the ranks and earn the respect and trust of his fellow real estate professionals. He only recently earned his California Real Estate Salesperson’s License late in 2016 and has been practicing real estate ever since, both selling and listing properties resulting in aggregate transactions already worth several million dollars. His prior experience as a Wall Street executive, his success in the entertainment industry as an Emmy Award® winning HBO filmmaker, and his tenure as President of two real estate development companies launched his business in Palm Springs, where he teams with renowned industry veteran Jay Saufl to form the Saufl-Whitney Group, also known as the BlueJays (www.BlueJaysSWG.com).
Whitney was approached by two PSRAR representatives who urged him to consider running. “They both felt my broad experience on Wall Street, in the entertainment industry, and my prior real estate credentials would be a tremendous addition to the PSRAR Board of Directors,” Whitney said, where he will sit side-by-side with fellow Director David Cantwell, Managing Broker at Bennion Deville Homes Palm Springs Main and a former PSRAR President. James quickly generated a wealth of support from his constituents to add a unique voice with fresh ideas for the Palm Springs Regional Association of REALTORS®. “In addition to my three platform initiatives, my goal is to streamline systems and procedures while eliminating redundancies, establish collective association goals that are both logical and achievable, prioritize agendas effectively, and make continuing education and tech user-friendliness a focus.”
Running on a critically focused trimodal platform, Whitney effectively campaigned to earn the votes of his colleagues. “Few knew that I was President of two real estate development companies; however, everyone seemed to be aware of the fact that I had hung my first shingle at the Bennion Deville Homes Palm Springs Main office only 6 months ago, so I felt honored that my colleagues afforded me their vote.” Although new to the business in Palm Springs–aside from acquiring half a dozen properties, as he has a penchant for house-flipping–Whitney had been travelling back and forth between New York City and Palm Springs for the better part of a decade and has an impressively strong command and understanding of the Greater Palm Springs real estate market.
For the first of his three initiatives, Whitney wants to address the homelessness issue in Greater Palm Springs, a cause that is near and dear to him. “Many of my West Coast relatives are homeless, a number of whom are featured in my HBO film, ‘Just Melvin, Just Evil.’ I am planning on meeting with key decision makers within the City of Palm Springs, including Mayor Rob Moon and City Manager David Ready, first to learn more about plans and procedures that are already in motion for tackling the homeless epidemic, and then to drive things forward expeditiously from there.” Part of Whitney’s plan is to help raise funds for local homeless shelters by literally shining a spotlight on the issue with a highly publicized Palm Springs’ premiere of his HBO feature film “Just Melvin, Just Evil,” a film that Roger Ebert touted as “The best documentary I have EVER seen!,” wherein names, faces, and personalities will be given to the otherwise nameless, faceless, invisible society of homeless community members in the Greater Palm Springs neighborhoods. For the 10-year anniversary of The World Trade Center Attack, former Palm Springs Mayor Stephen Pougnet and City Manager David Ready co-sponsored a similar premiere event for Whitney’s Emmy Award® winning HBO film, “Telling Nicholas,” about a seven-year-old boy whose mother was killed during the 9/11 attack, which raised tens of thousands of dollars for Variety—The Children’s Charity Of The Desert.
The short-term vacation rentals ordinance is a hot issue in the local market, and the second agenda item that Whitney wants to tackle head-on with a satisfactory resolution. “I’ve attended meetings in regard to Ordinance #1918 that went into effect April 16th of this year, and although my PSRAR® Directorship has not yet officially begun, I’m relatively up-to-date on the latest news, as more than seven million dollars contributed to Palm Springs’ bottom line as a result of the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) in 2016-2017 alone. That said, this fiscal issue has widespread repercussions for Palm Springs and the real estate industry in general, all of which will ultimately have state and even national implications.” To that effect, Whitney’s third initiative is to showcase the exceptional Palm Springs’ lifestyle opportunities available to East Coast residents–especially New Yorkers–where he split his time previously. “Should the Greater New York City area second-home real estate investment dollars head southwest to the Greater Palm Springs Area as opposed to the traditional flow directly south into Florida, it would be an incredible boon both to Palm Springs and the other Coachella Valley cities—not to mention the coffers of my fellow REALTORS®. The fact that there are finally direct, non-stop flights from NYC to PSP only helps us make our case stronger!”
Adds Bob Deville, Co-Founder of Bennion Deville Homes, “We are proud of James for representing Bennion Deville Homes on the PSRAR Board. He has made a tremendous impact in his time with us, and we are excited to see what he can do with this new platform. We wish him the best of luck with his tenure on the Board starting January 1, 2018 and look forward to supporting him in that role.”
ABOUT BENNION DEVILLE HOMES
Founded in 2001 by Bob Bennion and Bob Deville, Bennion Deville Homes serves home buyers and sellers throughout Southern California in the primary markets of the Greater Palm Springs Area (Coachella Valley) and San Diego and Orange counties. Coachella Valley offices include locations in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta. Spring-boarding off the massive success of the company in the desert, Bennion Deville Homes began serving coastal Southern California communities in 2010, with offices serving Orange County in Laguna Niguel, and San Diego County in Little Italy (Downtown), Encinitas, and Carlsbad. Bennion Deville Homes also has a presence in Glendora in Los Angeles County, and Garner Valley, Redlands, and Lake Arrowhead in Riverside County.
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