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La Quinta city council denies proposed surf park project

On Wednesday night, the La Quinta city council unanimously nixed the controversial Coral Mountain Resort project.

What has been nearly a two-year battle to get the La Quinta Surf Park approved finally came to an end.

Public comments on the plan didn't wrap up until midnight. Some spoke in favor of the development, but many were opposed.

The proposed surf park has been at the center of hours of public debate and concern from the community.

Hundreds of the project's would-be neighbors have loudly objected to the resort because of concerns about traffic, noise, lighting, and perhaps most importantly: water.

City Council had given the developers since July to better address residential concerns.

Upon its return, the city council was presented with a revised plan that included changes to the general plan and zoning.

However, city council was not too pleased with the changes to the general plan.

"I'm not going to sit up here and design the project for the developer. The burden is on them to push the weight above their own head. It's not the job of a council member to do that for them," said Councilmember Robert Radi during the meeting. "I listened to over 400 pages of public comment. I don't see sufficient basis there to say yes to the change of the general plan."

Councilmember Steve Sanchez also explained further his concerns about changing the general plan.

"It's a completely different project and I'm not opposed to general plan amendments in general, but the threshold has to be extremely high to convince me to do a general plan amendment because people rely on that. As somebody said it's the constitution of our city," he explained."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQVsFOYmlY8

Water concerns

Tuesday Gamlin said revisions to plans would reduce the size of the 18-million-gallon wave basin.

"It went from 18.6 acres to 12 acres, so we've effectively reduced the water surface area by 50 percent," he said.

Gamlin added the billion-dollar surf project will match to water district turf reduction rebate funds, offering $3 per square foot to offset demand from the wave pool.

Gamlin said, "bolstered by the success of public conservation efforts being conducted by the Coachella Valley Water District and others, we are actually launching a program where we are going to contribute to matching funds to match the turf reduction rebates of the water district is giving at a rate of $3 per square foot. We've calculated what the annual evaporation rate of the wave basin is, and we're going to offset that by more than 100 percent in conservation in the community... It's over $3 million of a commitment."

Gamlin tells News Channel 3 they've opened conversations with city leaders and Coachella Valley Water District but the exact plans are not yet set. He says whether an agreement could be with the city or "with the water district or there’s some other conservation-oriented third party, that’s to be worked out."

A Coachella Valley Water District spokesperson, Lorraine Garcia, tells News Channel 3 in an email that "CVWD is solely seeking rebate partnerships with cities and applying for state and federal grants. Any agreement to accept external funding would be presented to the CVWD Board during a public meeting." Garcia said there is "no agreement for the project to provide CVWD with funds for turf replacement rebates."

Lighting Concerns

Neighbors from nearby private golf communities are also worried about the proposed 80-foot light poles.

A demonstration last November tested the impact of special dark skies compliant lights.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftTDuQoPFLY

Gamlin said the project will now cut the pole height in half. "It's 40 feet. It's half what was proposed, and it's below the line of sight," he said.

Additional concerns

Other changes include:

  • Reducing the height of buildings from 45 feet to 40 feet
  • Deferring special events for two years
  • Donating 1,000 surf hours per year for non-profit fundraising and surf camps for residents
  • Committing funding for east valley social programs.

"There are some people who, no matter what we do, they're not going to be satisfied with the project here, and we understand that," Gamlin said. "I think, beyond a doubt, we've addressed the objections people have to the project."

In a statement to News Channel 3, a representative from La Quinta Residents for Responsible Development (LQRRD) wrote: "LQRRD respectfully will decline to comment until we have seen in writing the formal revision proposal and have had a chance to review with our legal counsel. We continue to object to other aspects of this Plan that include detrimental changes to the City’s General Plan."

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Samantha Lomibao

Samantha joined KESQ News Channel 3 in May 2021. Learn more about Samantha here here.

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Crystal Jimenez

Crystal Jimenez is a news reporter who joined the KESQ News Channel 3 team in June 2021. Learn more about Crystal here.

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