Proposed surf park in California desert is rejected by La Quinta City Council
In early November, the La Quinta California Resort & Spa voted unanimously to kill an 18-acre plan for a surf park in the La Quinta desert by the city of La Quinta. The public hearing to go along with the vote was an emergency meeting to accommodate issues arising from Hurricane Sandy. However, a week later, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the surf park, with few dissenting voices. (The California Resort & Spa did not return phone calls for this article to ask the reason for the approval.) Some of the members of the Council who opposed the project were former city council members Bill Horsley, Tom Boccieri, and Jeff A. Brown. In his dissent, Horsley wrote about the potential “unfavorable environmental effects of the planned development near the La Quinta Aquifer.”
On December 9, the Public Planning Commission approved the project with some modifications. The commission voted unanimously in favor of the project, with no recommendations. The council members who voted against the development had been the most vocal about the potential for adverse environmental impact of the project. In addition, Councilman Andy Huggins, who had been the main proponent of the project, said that he was only present at the meeting because the developer was giving him a hard time.
According to the public notice, the project will involve 12 new structures — four single family homes, four condominiums, and four rental units — and will include public spaces, a four-story-high wave pool, an amphitheater with views of the La Quinta and Colorado River, three miles of bike trails, and an adjacent golf course; this will be the “largest privately developed private use of environmentally sensitive land” in the United States.
The developer had been trying to buy the land in the desert and develop it for a private development. Because it was a public land, it needed to be used for a public use. The city rejected the project because the developer wanted to develop it themselves.
Byrne, who was not involved in the approval process, said that “a lot of people would have liked [the project] better if there was a group of people that wanted to develop it. Not everybody wants to