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More than one hundred articles from the Desert Sun about Canyon Sands from 1971 to 1977 have been archived for historical purposes. Additional photos of the construction of Canyon Sands Villas from 1972 are available on the Palm Springs Historical Society website in the George Aquino Collection.


Originally conceived as Canyon Sands Mobile Country Club by Accent Enterprises, a subsidiary of Amfac, Inc. based in Hawaii, the project was transferred to Amfac Communities, Inc., another subsidiary, in 1972 and was developed and marketed as Canyon Sands Villas. In the later phases of construction, villas was dropped from the name to arrive at the simplified Canyon Sands. Construction began in 1972 and was completed in 1976.


The development was designed by award winning San Francisco architect Richard (Dick) Finnegan, AIBD who developed the "cluster concept" where homes are grouped into units of six, forming a horseshoe-shaped "cluster" or "six-pack." The arrangement of the condo units in "clusters" around a central garage access area ensures that each family's living area is entirely separate. The only common walls between units are one of the garage walls. The outstanding design of the units (for which Finnegan patented a dwelling module [U.S. Patent No. 4,007,565] in the 1970s), is enhanced by a combination of desertscape and generous greenbelt. In fact, several landscape architects have planned the community including Michael Buccino Associates (Phase I) [of Palm Desert] and Dudley Trudgett (Phase II), an internationally known architect who is widely recognized for his designs in the area surrounding India's famed Taj Mahal. Trudgett patterned the landscaping in Canyon Sands after the palace grounds in Rabat, Morocco.

Recreation and leisure activities have been part of the Canyon Sands community since inception. In fact, early in the development of the community, several tennis pros were appointed including Bill Lepper, Ron Wood, Matthew Kohn and R. David Colton. Originally, there was also a small circular putting green located in the middle of the complex.

View an original map of the Canyon Sands community.


Amfac completed two phases of construction with multiple sub-phases or "units." Phase I started with seventy-four two-bedroom units which sold out in sixty days. After a quick sell-out, the second set of seventy-five two-bedroom units were built. They, too, sold out in sixty days. A third set of seventy-eight units were then built beginning on April 20, 1973 which included a combination of two-bedroom layouts and introduced the first three-bedroom layout. Finally, ground broke on Phase II (the final phase of development) on November 2, 1974 with the remaining seventy-eight two- and three-bedroom units being built in sets of twenty-four homes. Phase II "interior floor plans [were] completely revamped to include the best features of Amfac communities throughout the west."

The kitchens were originally (Phase I) equipped with General Electric "Americana eye-level double oven range (master oven continuous cleaning), dishwasher and garbage disposer." Homes were available for purchase completely furnished with Jack Wojack of W & J Sloane decorating interior units in Phase I and The Furniture Center in Rancho Mirage responsible for Phase II interiors. In the mid-to-late 1970's, Amfac also offered potential homeowners the opportunity to finance their purchase through their mortgage lending subsidiary (at rates between 7.9% and 8.5%) or even a lease-to-purchase option.

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Print advertisements in the Desert Sun were instrumental in driving potential owners to the complex on weekend "mini home shows."


Sales slogans used by Amfac's marketing team throughout the various phases included:


  • Privacy of Single Family Living in a Maintenance-Free Recreation-Filled Community

  • Enjoy Single Family Privacy

  • Because you have a Passion for Single-family Privacy . . . no shared walls in living areas at Canyon Sands

  • No Shared Walls in Living Areas

  • Canyon Sands has put interest rates on ice.

  • Condo Clusters. Single-family privacy in a condominium design so unique, we've applied for a patent.

  • The privacy of a home, the ease of a condominium.

  • Canyon Sands: everything rich people take for granted.

  • Close Us Out.

  • Amfac presents its limited edition.

  • From elegant to Elegante!

Notable Former Residents

Notable former Canyon Sands residents include:

  • Arthur Steel, vice-president and general manager of Gene Autry Hotel company including the Ocotillo Lodge and the Melody Ranch [now the Parker Hotel], and his wife, Pamela Britton (actress), were the first homeowners, purchasing their home around December 8, 1972, one week after the complex's Grand Opening.

  • Jim Wiechers, a PGA touring golf player and pro, purchased in 1974.  Wiechers also owned another Amfac property in Napa, CA.

  • Steve Riley, defensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings, purchased in 1975.

  • Dr. George Fischbeck, a television weatherman on Eyewitness News broadcasts for KABC-TV in Los Angeles.

  • Ross Mathews, a television celebrity, purchased in 2018.

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