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Valley locals weigh in on President Obama's third visit

By Natalie Brunell, KESQ News Channel 3 & CBS Local 2 Reporter, Natalie.Brunell@kesq.com
Published On: Jun 07 2014 12:25:40 AM CDT

Valley locals weigh in on President Obama's third visit. Natalie Brunell reports.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -

President Barack Obama set to make his third visit to the valley in about a year.

The President and, for the first time, First Lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to travel to Palm Springs next Friday, June 13.

He's set to speak at the UC Irvine commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 14, but will return to Palm Springs right after that.

His visit is sparking conversation and thrusting the valley back in the national spotlight.

"I guess he enjoys the golfing, the experience, the people here," said Daniel Palmerin of Indio.

The president's first visit was in June 2013 to meet with Chinese president Xi Jinping.  He then returned Valentine's day weekend for a summit with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

These visits spurred a wave of interest from foreign tourists curious about the "Playground to the Presidents."

"There was a huge surge in awareness, we were being asked about Sunnylands several times after that," said Mary Jo Ginther, Director of Tourism at the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism. "People have a natural interest in seeing the places where their president has been."

Each time he comes it's a spectacle.  One that some people enjoy:

"It's a wow to the desert, it stuns the whole desert," said Jonathan Figueroa of Cathedral City.

"I think it's nice, it's a great opportunity for us," Palmerin said.

Others are not looking forward to the repeat visit.

"I'm not interested in it. Because he doesn't do or follow up with anything he says," said Floyd Pedersen of Palm Desert.

But everyone seems to agree for drivers it can be a headache.

"It's the first time you see traffic. People don't know how to deal with it and people get really mad because they all want see it but they don't want to deal with the traffic," Figueroa said.

As expected there's always a lot of mystery surrounding these presidential visits. In February President Obama stayed at the famed Sunnylands Estate in Rancho Mirage.

But the spokeswoman for the property says she's not heard anything from the White House yet.

"The fact that Sunnylands has set up a venue, a retreat for these high level dignitaries to meet on the West Coast means a lot," Ginther said.