Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions2021-12-06T08:23:52-08:00

Frequently Asked Questions



  • Encroachment permits are not required for work taking place within gated communities and private streets.
  • If work is taking place on a public roadway or public sidewalk an encroachment permits is required.  Work performed on private streets or facilities that does not interfere with public facilities does not require an encroachment permit.
  • Click here for the application. Once complete, submit application, copy of certificate of liability insurance, copy of business license, and traffic control plan (if applicable) to this email: pwpermits@ranchomirageca.gov.
  • The cost for the permits depends on the type of work being performed, click here to view fee schedule.
  • Payments can be made at City Hall or can be mailed (check), payable to City of Rancho Mirage at:
    City of Rancho Mirage
    Attn: Public Works
    69825 Highway 111
    Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
  • Permits are typically issued 2-3 business days after all required documents and payment have been submitted.
  • Permits are only active for the specified duration of the work.
  • With the exception to utility companies, most permits are active for a few days to a month.
  • If your project has been delayed for whatever reason, simply contact the Public Works Department at (760) 770-3224, so City staff can revise the permit.


  • Click here for the application. Once complete, submit application and copy of insurance to this email: pwpermits@ranchomirageca.gov. Permit fees can be found in the fee schedule here. The majority of applicants are out of the area and submit their payment via check payable to City of Rancho Mirage.
  • The mailing address is:
    City of Rancho Mirage
    Attn: Public Works
    69825 Highway 111
    Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
  • Annual permits are $91 and single round trip permits are $16. The majority of applicants are out of the area and submit their payment via check payable to City of Rancho Mirage, 69825 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270, attention Public Works.

Pool Drainage

  • A pool drainage permit is required within a gated community only when:
    1. The water is conveyed outside the community onto a public street.
    2. The water is conveyed to the Whitewater Channel.

    If these conditions are not met a permit from the City is not required.


  • All parks are open to the public from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • No commercial activity is allowed at City Parks and courts are not allowed to be reserved. Use of facilities is on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Use of all parks by groups of thirty-five persons or less shall be unreserved and shall be on a first-come, first-served basis. No city park, except Rancho Mirage Community Park, may be used by groups of more than thirty-five persons. Groups of more than thirty-five persons may only use Rancho Mirage Community Park after obtaining a park use permit issued under the terms of Section 8.26.040. (Ord. 757 § 1, 2001). Contact the Planning Department at 760.328.2266 for more information.



  • Public street pavement management falls into two categories. 1) Reconstruction – for any time the road has to be wholly or partially removed or milled.  Reconstruction is costly and disruptive, but necessary once the asphalt has deteriorated to a certain point.  2) Routine Maintenance – the city has a systematic approach for roadway maintenance via an annual roadway slurry application.
    • Street pavement condition is assessed every two years.  The City’s Two-Year Budget outlines the pavement projects planned for the next two years.  The City’s budget can be found on the City’s website here.
    • Pavement maintenance is currently being performed through annual crack-filling and roadway slurry projects.  The City has a six-year cycle in which every public street is scheduled for a crack-filling and slurry application.  The schedule can be found on the city’s interactive slurry map here.
  • The schedule for annual maintenance can be found on the city’s interactive slurry map here.
  • REAS stands for Rubberized Emulsion Aggregate Slurry, or in other terms an asphalt-like slurry that is infused with rubber shavings.
  • The City uses REAS for several reasons: 1) REAS performs better than non-REAS slurry, with a 5 year guarantee 2) It diverts tires from the landfill 3) It holds the black color better than non-REAS slurry 4) REAS is batched and tested at a central plant to assure consistency, and 5) It’s longer than typical lifespan equates to fewer reapplications and therefore less inconvenience for residents.
  • City-wide street striping is performed on a bi-annual basis, once every two years. City staff also performs an annual night survey of all striping and raised pavement markers (the reflective dots in the roadway) to assess if the striping schedule needs to be accelerated in any areas of the city.
  • Typically, streets are not built by the City, they are maintained by the City. Construction of streets is performed concurrently with private development projects. The City places requirements on the developer to construct roadways to serve their development, thus construction of roadways is performed through development activity. The City does not go in front of development to construct roadways. The City assumes maintenance responsibilities when the development is complete, except in the case of private communities. Private communities maintain their own roadways.
  • CLASS 1 – The Butler Abrams Trail falls under the class 1 designation and extends approximately 1 mile.
  • CLASS 2 – A Class II bike lane is an on-road striped bike lane. The City has over 40 miles of Class II bike lanes and continues to look for more Class II opportunities.
  • The City has a program to consider traffic calming in residential neighborhoods. The process begins with data collection on the streets and a presentation of the data to the residents of the neighborhood. Data and responses from the residents are presented to the Traffic Safety Commission. For more information on the program contact the Public Works Department at (760) 770-3224.
  • Probably not. Speed bumps are primarily used in private parking lots as a speed control device. Speed bumps negatively interfere with public safety response times and are discouraged from use.
  • Red curbs allow the views to be less obstructed and helps maintain the resort-character of the City. The red curbs are maintained by City staff on a rotating basis.
  • 2 minutes seems like forever when you are at a red light waiting to turn left.  Signal synchronization is based on a simple concept – give the majority of the green light time to the majority of the traffic.  Left turn movements constitute a small percentage of an intersection and vary from intersection to intersection.  For example: if an intersection has 6% of the volume making left turns then 6% of the time should be given to left turns and the majority shouldn’t stop and get out of sync with the corridor.  To see a more detailed explanation, see FAQ “How Does Signal Synchronization Work”.
  • Typically, medians are built by a developer as part of a private development project. The City assumes a maintenance responsibility after the project is complete.
  • The citywide median maintenance is performed by a licensed landscape company. At a minimum each landscaped median segment receives routine maintenance once a month.
  • Palm Trees are trimmed annually in the summer at the end of the flowering season. All other trees are trimmed in the fall.

Traffic Signals

  • Traffic Signal Synchronization matches the green light times for a series of intersections to allow the maximum number of vehicles to pass through without stopping. This reduces delays experienced by drivers travelling along our main streets like Highway 111 and Bob Hope Drive. Synchronizing traffic signals gives the majority of roadway vehicles a better flow of traffic, minimizes fuel consumption and decreases pollutant emissions.
  • Signal synchronization works by calculating the time it takes for a group of vehicles to travel from each signal to the next along the main street, usually at or near the speed limit.  The traffic signals are strategically timed to be green as the group of vehicles arrives at each intersection. In order for the traffic signals to be synchronized, a group of signals must all be set to run on the same cycle length (the amount of time it takes from the beginning of green on the main street to the next beginning of green in the same direction).


A deeper dive

  • Coordinating signals in one direction along the main street is fairly simple, just calculate the amount of time it takes to travel from one signal to the next at the speed limit, and set the green times to start accordingly.  It quickly gets complicated though when two-way streets are involved, and intersections are spaced irregularly such as here in Rancho Mirage.  Signal synchronization provides the most benefit during the peak traffic hours of the day.  During peak hours, say from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., about 60% of traffic is headed in one direction and 40% in the opposite direction.  If the signals are set to give complete priority to those 60% then traffic in the opposite direction and on the side-street is likely to stop frequently and suffer too much delay.  Therefore, priority is balanced to give as much time to the peak direction as possible while managing the delay to other movements.  Of course, in the morning the peak flow will be in the opposite direction and the priority must be shifted to that traffic.  Then add in the different patterns for the lunchtime rush and Saturdays, and you’ll understand how complicated signal synchronization is.

What exactly does this mean?

  • Groups of signals are working together to allow drivers to get mostly green lights when traveling along a major street.
  • By driving near the speed limit, signals are timed to turn green at the intersections ahead before you get there, or shortly after you arrive.
  • This should save you time – and be less stressful as there is no need to speed up in order to make the next green or stop for repeated red lights.
  • As a driver, it can be frustrating to stop at multiple signals along an arterial street. No sooner do you get your speed up and into the flow, and another red light brings you to a stop. As part of ongoing efforts to reduce congestion, the City has and continues to implement updated traffic signal timing plans that will provide improved signal synchronization. The goal is to synchronize the signals so that drivers have a greater probability of getting a green light before they arrive at the next signal, reducing the number of times they have to stop.
  • Drivers often get frustrated when they have to stop at successive traffic lights, or when they have to wait a long time for a green light, especially when there appears to be no traffic in the other directions. Traffic signals are designed to distribute the green time to conflicting traffic streams, generally based on the traffic volumes. If the traffic on a main street is considerably higher than the side street, more green time is given to the main street, which could result in a longer wait for drivers on the side street. However, synchronizing signals along a main street can benefit all motorists because once a vehicle enters the main street, it may continue with minimal stopping for several signals. The goal of synchronization is to get the greatest number of vehicles through the most intersections with the fewest stops.
  • Signal synchronization is a low cost, very effective way to reduce congestion on a street and improve traffic flow, and possibly avoid or delay much more costly street widening projects.
  • There are many other benefits from signal synchronization:
    • Reducing the number of times you have to stop at a signal
    • Saving you time in your trip across town
    • Making travel times more predictable
    • Reducing the amount of gas you use
    • Reducing vehicle emissions
    • Improving air quality
    • Reducing stress, frustration and aggressive driving
    • Improving safety and reducing accidents
    • Supporting drivers who stay close to the speed limit
    • Reducing congestion and improving the flow
    • Reducing response times for emergency vehicles
  • No. Currently the streets, or segments thereof, that have the technology for synchronization are:
    • Highway 111
    • Bob Hope Drive
    • Monterey Avenue
    • Country Club Drive
    • Dinah Shore Drive

Currently, there are multiple synchronization segments and periods based on travel demands at specific locations and times of day:

Example of Highway 111 synchronization schedule

Segment: One Mirage Place to Indian Trail

  • Weekday morning – 90 second plan (6:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.)
  • Weekday midday – 100 second plan (10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.)
  • Weekday evening – 90 second plan (6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.)
  • Weekday night – Free mode (8:00 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.)
  • Saturday morning – 90 second plan (7:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.)
  • Saturday midday – 100 second plan (10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.)
  • Saturday evening – 90 second plan (5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.)
  • Saturday night – Free mode (8:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. Sunday)
  • Sunday morning – 90 second plan (9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.)
  • Sunday midday – 100 second plan (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)
  • Sunday evening – 90 second plan (4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.)
  • Sunday night – Free Mode (7:00 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Monday)

Segment: Rancho Las Palmas to Magnesia Falls

  • Weekday morning – 120 second plan (6:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.)
  • Weekday midday – 130 second plan (10:45 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.)
  • Weekday evening – 120 second plan (6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.)
  • Weekday night – Free mode (8:00 p.m. to 6:45 a.m.)
  • Saturday morning – 120 second plan (8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.)
  • Saturday midday – 130 second plan (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
  • Saturday evening – 120 second plan (5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.)
  • Saturday night – Free mode (8:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. Sunday)
  • Sunday morning – 120 second plan (9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.)
  • Sunday midday – 130 second plan (11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)
  • Sunday evening – 120 second plan (4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.)
  • Sunday night – Free Mode (8:00 p.m. to 6:45 a.m. Monday)
  • When the synchronization plans are not in effect (i.e., after 8:00 p.m. on a weekday) the traffic signals default to their normal operation and respond to traffic as it approaches the intersection, based on the vehicle detection sensors at each signal.
  • The signals are equipped with special devices to give emergency vehicles priority at an intersection.
  • The signal will change to green for the direction the emergency vehicle is traveling, and red for all other directions for their safety.
  • This can cause the signals to fall out of synchronization and it may take several minutes for them to recover.  The City of Rancho Mirage is using the latest and most advanced signal controllers and software which tries to minimize this transition time to seconds rather than minutes.
  • Generally, signals are programmed to give the priority to the peak direction on the major street, which changes throughout the day, week, and season.
  • The signal knows how long it takes to drive from the previous signal and won’t change the lights to green until it is programmed to. The lights are programmed for drivers to travel at or near the speed limit. If you drive faster, you will arrive at the next signal too soon and the light will still be red.
  • By speeding up, you will stop more, so it’s better if you drive with the flow near the speed limit for which the signals are timed.
  • In order to accommodate the signal synchronization, the total traffic signal cycle length must be increased, and the timings adjusted to favor the primary through movements.
  • While this provides much needed congestion relief on the mainline, it can cause motorists on the side streets, or those turning left, to have to wait several seconds longer than before.
  • This is the necessary tradeoff in order to provide the green time needed to synchronize the signals in the primary directions.
  • Once drivers turn onto the major street, they should be able to make up the time they waited by enjoying the benefit of not having to stop as often.
  • Typically the maximum wait time does not exceed 120-150 seconds (2-2 ½  minutes), depending on the time of day and when you arrived at the signal.
  • There can be several reasons for delays – pedestrians crossing, signal trying to get back in step with others in the group, or even a malfunction that holds the signal after the cars have all passed.
  • Signal synchronization is not perfect or fail-safe, but in general the timing makes it more likely for drivers to receive a green light on the major thoroughfare.
  • The City of Rancho Mirage has traffic signal technicians on staff and the vast majority of work is performed in-house by staff.  There is a total of 62 signalized intersections either in-whole or in-part within the City limits.  The City shares intersections with the County of Riverside, City of Palm Desert and Cathedral City.  You can tell if the signal is in Rancho Mirage by the color of the traffic signal.  If the signal is light brown, “Weathered Bark”, it is a Rancho Mirage maintained signal.
  • Rancho Mirage is a beautiful City, even the traffic signals add to the character of the City. Rancho Mirage signals can be identified by their light brown color, “Weathered Bark”.
  • The signals are on a seven-year painting schedule, every signal gets repainted within a seven-year period.

Speed Limits

  • For speed limits to be enforced in California, in a typical situation, the speed limit must be set by an Engineering and Traffic Study (E&TS).  Under the majority of circumstances Engineering and Traffic Studies (E&TS) recommend speed limits based on reasonableness.  Reasonable is defined as the maximum speed that 85% of the vehicles drive at or below.  Effectively saying that 15% of drivers are unreasonable and their speeds should not be factored into the speed limit.  An E&TS measures the maximum speed that 85% of the vehicles fall within by using speed measuring instruments in the roadway (those little black tubes that you sometimes see crossing the road).  The roadway tube device or a radar instrument measures the total number of vehicles and the speed of the vehicles; the information is then downloaded to a computer so a report can be produced which identifies the speed at which 85% of the drivers were traveling at or below.  The speed ceiling of the 85% is used as the criteria for setting an enforceable speed limit.
  • Read More
  • Residential areas generate the majority of speeding complaints in the City.  While most of our neighborhoods look like obvious residential areas, many neighborhoods do not meet the state’s definition of a “residence district” where a 25 MPH speed limit can automatically be posted. As established by CVC section 515, a “residence district” must have 13 houses on one side of the street, or 16 houses on both sides of the street, within a quarter mile.  Section 40802 imposes “speed trap” limitations on local streets, such as those in residential areas, requiring them to be 40’ wide or less, and no more than a half mile of uninterrupted length.  These combined standards frequently prevent the use of the 25 MPH prima facie “residence district” speed limit in our neighborhoods and require speed limits to be based on an “engineering and traffic survey” as defined in CVC section 627.  These engineering and traffic surveys must establish the speed limit based, in part, on the actual speed of traffic on that street.
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Stop Signs

  • The United States has a standard manual for traffic control devices, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). California has revised the standard MUTCD with information specific to California, i.e. California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (CAMUTCD). The CAMUTCD creates consistency from city to city and county to county across the state. The CAMUTCD outlines specific criteria that must be met to warrant the installation of a stop sign. The specific criteria includes: 1) Volume of Vehicles 2) Delay of Vehicles 3) Volume of Vehicles and Pedestrians 4) Collision History, etc. If the City believes an intersection may warrant a stop sign the City will request a study of the intersection to determine if the warrant criteria is met.
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