Kelly’s wave in La Quinta defeated

Editor’s Note: Pick almost any town and you’ll find “that one building that somehow got through code.” It’s big. It’s ugly. Maybe it makes noise at night in the form of a nightclub or sports bar. But does a wave pool fall into this category? I don’t know. I don’t live in La Quinta, so it’s hard to judge how much a wave pool would disrupt the quality of life in the adjacent golf resorts. But one thing’s for sure, we’ll never find out.

We’ve been following this story closely, presenting both sides to the development issue. Why? It’s a huge moment for surf park projects. Have surf parks fallen out of favor? And will neighborhood groups – even those living in water-thirsty golf resorts – be able to tank the next proposal that comes along? Dave Hilts of the Coachella Valley Surf Club was hoping to have access to the Coral Mountain development for his program that teaches desert kids to surf. He attended several meetings and filed the following report.

The La Quinta City Council was at one time in favor of the Coral Mountain development.

The proposed Coral Mountain housing development that would have featured the KS Wave technology as its center piece went down in defeat with a unanimous decision from the La Quinta City council last night. The Meriweather Development Company and KS Wave Development LLC tried for a third time to convince the public and the council that this would be a great addition to La Quinta and the Coachella Valley by providing a year-round attraction that would draw a younger demographic to the valley, increase housing values and tourism. But Meriweather had an uphill battle as it would have required the city to amend the existing plan for the land and zoning changes to allow higher density short term rentals and the KS wave pool.

From the start, the communities surrounding the proposed development (which sits under Coral Mountain in the middle of several gated golf course developments) were adamantly opposed to the idea of a wave pool in their neighborhood. And these opponents, mostly retired seniors were well financed and organized.

The timing could not have been worse as California is in the middle of a drought and all residents of California are being asked to reduce water use as much as possible. Also, the evaporation rate that was presented was questioned and opponents believed the water consumption number was underestimated. One of the other issues that had been discussed in past meetings was lighting. This was addressed by lowering the height of the lighting polls from 80 feet to 40 feet. Opponents stated that this would flood into the surrounding communities and disrupt wildlife.

The development would have been wedged between the mountains and the verdant golf resorts.

Noise from the equipment and long hours of operation from 8am to 10 pm with added traffic and congestion to local surrounding streets were also a major issue. The noise concern from bull horns announcing start and ending of sessions was addressed by having a moratorium on any events for two years.

Also, Meriweather proposed a Coral Mountain Surf Foundation that would have distributed .25% of totals sales of homes to support health and social programs in La Quinta and East Valley for low-income communities. Additionally, they would be donating 1000 hours of pool time to local students and non-profit recreation programs entities for the community’s benefit.

Surfers from the Coachella Valley who are disappointed that this project will not go forward should take heart, we will still have three wave pools coming to Coachella Valley. Palm Springs Surf Club is to open soon and DSRTsurf in Palm Desert and the Thermal Beach Club are planned and moving along.