Coral Mountain scales back to appease neighbors

Big changes to the design at Coral Mountain were announced this week as developers try to appease neighbors in the adjacent golf resorts.

The private resort and residential community plans to include 150 hotel rooms, 600 vacation rentals and additional exclusive residences and recreational facilities. Coral Mountain is intended to be built on 400 acres of undeveloped land that was recently rezoned from low-density residential to commercial/tourism.

At the heart of the project is a Kelly Slater plow-system wave pool that covers 18 acres, which has now been cut drastically down in size. The development is expected to provide up to $2.2 million in revenue for the city every year, but residents are concerned it will affect their quality of life.

“Through the public process, we’ve listened, we’ve heard from the public,” said John Gamlin, president of CM Wave Development. “(Wave pool size) went from 18.6 acres to 12 acres, so we’ve effectively reduced the water surface area by 50 percent.”

Gamlin added that the project will also match turf reduction rebate funds at $3 per square foot to offset demand from the wave pool.

“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,” said Gamlin. “It’s over $3 million of a commitment.”

Coachella Valley Water District spokesperson, Lorraine Garcia, told local News Channel 3 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 added that there is no agreement for the project to provide CVWD with funds for turf replacement rebates.


The main area of concern are the seventeen lights on eighty foot pools set to illuminate the wave basin. Specifically, possible light spill onto surrounding areas.

The Environmental Impact Report for the project shows results of tests from the Lemoore pool (aka Kelly’s Wave) and is measured in units of Candela (with one Candela or cd being approximately the brightness of a burning candle. A 25 W compact fluorescent light build emits around 135 cd. But if you focus that same light into a 20 degree beam the same bulb will have an intensity of 18,000 within said beam. So the focussing of the light beam and shielding/shade around the bulb are critical to avoid unwanted light spillage.

During an earlier council meeting regarding lighting, several residents mentioned how light pollution would affect views of the night sky.

Local resident Sandra Stratton provided photos of lights on sixty-foot poles where light spillage was visible from six miles away. However, Councillor John Pena pointed out that the lights in these photos featured regular, nonshielded, stadium field bulbs which weren’t approved by the council.

A demonstration last November tested the impact of special dark skies compliant lights. Gamlin said the Coral Mountain project will now cut the pole height in half. From 80 feet to 40 feet.

Coral Mountain has also agreed to Other reduce the height of buildings from 45 feet to 40 feet, hold off on hosting special events, and donate to area social programs, much in the way the Thermal project has committed to doing. In addition, Gamlin said they will donate 1,000 surf hours per year for non-profit fundraising and surf camps for residents.

“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.”

The next update for the project will happen on September 21 when the La Quinta city council meets to specifically discuss Coral Mountain.

Editor’s Note: We have been following this story with interest as unfolds. You can read more at the below links.