La Quinta Coral Mountain Surf Resort OKd 4-3 by Planning Commission

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A proposed La Quinta resort with a hotel, homes and a wave pool — which has drawn vocal opposition from people who say it’s poor water use during a drought — narrowly won planning commission approval on Tuesday and will now enter the city council moving in final consideration.

The vote for the Coral Mountain project came in two motions: the first was for certification of the Environmental Impact Report, which passed 5-2 with Vice Chair Loretta Currie and Commissioner Michael Proctor voting no.

The second application was for the general approval of the project, including the change to the general plan that adds “tourist business” to the zoning to allow for the hotel, wave pool and other resort facilities. That motion passed 4-3, with Currie and Proctor voting no, along with Commissioner Dale Tyerman.

Tyerman was not protesting the zoning, but all 600 homes within the development, which along with the 104 hotel villas qualify as short-term vacation rentals. His objection followed petitions from several nearby residents who opposed 600 short-term rentals in an area of ​​La Quinta where there are currently few to no such rentals. Local residents said they believed the short-term rentals would bring more traffic and other problems to the area.

Commissioner Mary Caldwell also wanted only a percentage of homes to be eligible for short-term rental permits, but others, including Chair Stephen Nieto, said the STRs are a critical component to the success of a master-crafted resort.

Instead, the commissioners agreed that city officials should ask council members to consider approving a percentage of single-family homes for short-term rentals.

It was not immediately known when the project would be presented to the city council, but possibly at the May 17 meeting.

The planning commission’s votes came at the end of a five-hour session on Tuesday that included about two hours of public comment and more than two hours of discussion by the commissioners. Each commented on the key concerns of water usage, lighting and general change of plans, as well as short term holiday rentals and other issues.

More than two dozen members of the public spoke during the public hearing, most of them in opposition. Among their concerns was the use of water by the wave pool when California is in a drought.

“We’re in a new era with climate change,” said resident Tracy Bartlett, founding member of the Cactus to Cloud Institute, a local nonprofit dedicated to water and wildlife conservation and protection.

Community residents are being asked to save more by watering landscaping less, while restaurants can only serve water on request, Bartlett noted.

“The surf pool is an irresponsible use of water that doesn’t benefit La Quinta or the Coachella Valley,” she said.

Tyerman said he was also concerned about the need to conserve water.

However, the wave pool alone would consume about 12.6% of the water for development. The remaining 87% would be consumed by the hotel, residential development and other elements, he said.

“I don’t think water use makes sense as a reason for not approving this,” Tyerman said.

A $200 million project

Coral Mountain Resort is a $200 million development proposed by CM Wave Development LLC for 386 acres at the southwest corner of 58 Avenue and Madison Street.

The proposal includes a private 16.6-acre wave pool with technology developed by professional surfer Kelly Slater.

The land was part of Andalusia development until 2019 when Meriwether and Big Sky Wave – now CM Wave Development – bought it from Andalusia’s owner Sunrise Co.

A 750 house community with 18 hole golf course was previously approved for the property.

On Tuesday, the commissioners met for the third time on the project. The first meeting, on March 22, continued after the commissioners spent seven hours listening to reports from CM Wave Development staff and representatives and public comments. The commissioners requested additional information on lighting and options for the wave pool if it was built but not successful enough to keep it open. They asked for a development timeline to be presented to them at their April 12 meeting.

As one member was absent on April 12, the commissioners decided to postpone a decision by two weeks, but received the additional information requested and asked more questions. After hearing more public comments, they decided to postpone a vote until everyone was present.

During both meetings, the commissioners also heard comments from dozens of local residents, most of whom opposed the project – not only because of water use, but also concerns about increased noise, traffic and lighting.

Consulting planner Nicole Sauviat Criste said the Coral Mountain Resort is the largest and most complex project the city has seen in a while.

Proposed general zoning plan for Coral Mountain Resort with wave pools planned for the southwest corner of 58 Avenue and Madison Street, La Quinta.

City officials have estimated that Coral Mountain Resort La Quinta could generate $1.4 million to $2.83 million annually in temporary occupancy taxes as it expands, depending on the number of short-term rentals permitted.

About Coral Mountain Resort

CM Wave Development proposes a master planned resort and hotel with a maximum of 150 rooms and up to 600 residential units – 496 in a low-density area and 104 in a tourist commercial area. In addition to the wave pool, the proposal includes other indoor and outdoor wellness and recreational facilities, including high ropes courses, swimming pools, and passive and protected open spaces for private use only by homeowners’ club members and resort guests.

The development would also include a park and trail at Coral Mountain that would be open to the public and managed by the Desert Recreation District.

A maximum of four special events are also planned in the wave pool each year, each of which should attract up to 2,500 people. The events would each require a special permit from the city in order to take place.

CM Wave Development has said it is trying to bring something unique to La Quinta and the Coachella Valley that has a tourism-driven economy.

“We’re talking about a high-end, upscale private club here,” unlike any other in the Coachella Valley, said project manager John Gamlin.

It’s designed to be family-friendly with something for everyone, which Gamlin says is important to keep the La Quinta and Coachella Valley tourism market attractive to consumers.

A timeline that is part of the development agreement indicates that the development of the Coral Mountain Resort would be phased and would take up to 23 years. The wave pool and part of the resort would not be built for three to five years after the project was approved by the city council.

This is an evolving story; check again for updates.

Desert Sun reporter Sherry Barkas covers the cities of La Quinta, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert. She can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @TDSsherryBarkas

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