Proposed surf park in California desert is rejected by La Quinta City Council

Ian James, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

At least four other new wave pools or lagoons are expected to be built in the valley. The plans drew scorn recently from "Last Week Tonight" comedian John Oliver, who declared that it's "just monumentally stupid."

The developers and their supporters said the resort would boost La Quinta's economy with a world-class wave pool. The developers offered to contribute money for lawn-removal rebates in the city, which they argued would more than make up for the water needed to fill the wave basin.

"I'm so excited about this project. I think it's unique," said Connie Varelli, who owns property nearby. "It's going to enliven and enhance our community."

The wave basin was to be the second in the country to use technology from Kelly Slater Wave Co., producing waves up to 6 feet high. The technology debuted in 2015 at a surf ranch in the Central Valley, where Slater generated a sensation when he showed video of himself surfing flawless barreling waves miles from the ocean.

Some of the project's supporters said they traveled to surf the wave in Lemoore and were hooked. They said they hoped to be able to catch similar waves in the desert.

"It's just a beautiful wave that you can surf for a long minute, and for people like me who have young kids, young families, I think this is going to be a great attraction," said resident Danilo Kawasaki.


Others said they would move to La Quinta to buy a home at the resort. The property is located at the base of Coral Mountain, which towers above the desert floor.

Chuy Reyna, a former professional surfer, said the wave pool in Lemoore is like "Pebble Beach for golfers," and would help put La Quinta on the map as a surf destination.

Some supporters wore T-shirts reading "ON BOARD."

They argued the noise would be minimal, and touted the tax revenues the resort would bring. They noted that the Coachella Valley Water District already endorsed the development's total water use, which would amount to more than 900 acre-feet a year.


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