Plans for a new surf park in Palm Desert are moving forward.
The city’s planning commission approved plans Tuesday evening for “DSRT Surf,” a manmade surfing oasis slated for Desert Willow Golf Resort.
It’s an 18-acre development project that would feature a surf lagoon and wave machine, a surf center that includes retail and restaurant space, two hotels with up to 350 rooms, and 88 for-sale villas. It will be open to the public.
“Surfings great but not everybody can do it; not everybody has access to the coast and so this new manmade technology that’s out there allows you to bring this to places where it doesn’t exist today,” said David Likens, a partner with Desert Wave Ventures.
The project passed the planning commission 3-0, with two of the commissioners recusing themselves due to conflicts.
“Whether or not you’re here to golf, you’re here to do a spa weekend, you’re here to enjoy the outdoor environment, this is just another opportunity for you to enjoy our beautiful valley,” said Eric Ceja, Palm Desert’s principal planner.
Before the planning commission pushed the project forward, homeowners who live near the proposed project location voiced their concerns, which included issues like the 80-foot sports lighting poles and buildings obstructing mountain views, as well as noise and light pollution.
“It will just be a nightmare for us, candidly,” one resident said.
And another concern — water conservation. The massive 5.5-acre wave pool requires 24 million gallons each year.
“We live in the desert; we always have a drought here. If there’s suddenly this much extra water to make this project feasible, I really have to question if this is the wisest use of that water,” said David Middleton at the meeting.
DSRT Surf says the surf pool’s water usage will be “net zero” because of its “Turf for Surf” program. By removing 1 million square feet of surrounding golf course turf not being used for play, the water saved means the surf pool won’t need any additional water.
“What you’re using is net less than what you were using before,” Likens said.
The planning commission found that developers was appropriately addressing the concerns brought up by residents.
The project now heads to city council for approval. It could begin construction mid-next year, with a potential open in 2022.