Kelly Slater Wave Co.: the company's first commercial wave pool will be built in La Quinta, California | Photo: WSL

I'm writing in response to the comments submitted by a homeowner in one of the private, gated golf course country club communities neighboring the proposed Coral Mountain residential and wave basin project in La Quinta, CA.

I am the President of Coral Mountain Wave Development, LLC, the developer.

My comments reflect both the developer's perspective and my personal viewpoints as a long-time resident of La Quinta.

The Coral Mountain team has been unconditionally supportive of the city's environmental process.

We believe the process will result in a better project.

No stone has been left unturned, and the process has yielded a thorough vetting of all environmental impacts.

The submittal to SurferToday was a disjointed assemblage of unsubstantiated statements and opinions, not facts.

They are reminiscent of similar comments made during the public comment period of the Draft Environmental Impact Report this past Spring.

Without exception, all are addressed in the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), which the city will publish later this month.

Therefore, I will refer interested readers to the city's website, where the FEIR will be linked.

We are confident in the FEIR's conclusions regarding environmental impacts associated with the development of Coral Mountain being mitigated below thresholds of significance.

I've segregated the writer's comments into the following categories and can offer brief, cogent responses - environmental impacts, sustainability, project impacts and public service costs, and zoning and land use.

La Quinta, California: the 400 acre, $250 million real estate project will 18 million gallon wave pool | Photo: Coral Mountain

1. Environmental Impacts

The elegance of an EIR is that impact assessments are largely quantifiable.

Data is collected, analyzed, and modeled. It is black and white.

Noise measurements, traffic studies, modeling of light and glare - all performed according to accepted standards and practices.

In summation, unless contrarian studies prepared by qualified parties ultimately contradict the technical studies prepared for the EIR, then the EIR's conclusions are found to be defensible.

We understand the sensitivity to topics like water use, and there is a deep discussion of this within the pending Final EIR.

Suffice it to say, long-term planning for the groundwater basin by the local municipal water provider, which includes the demands of our project and approved by the State of California, finds the groundwater basin to be sustainable.

It seems somewhat ironic to see criticisms about water use coming from parties residing in golf course communities that exhibit water consumption characteristics that are tenfold of what our wave basin will use.

The neighboring golf country clubs, including the community the author lives in, are said to have pumped an estimated 800 million gallons of groundwater from the aquifer last year.

The wave basin contemplates the use of the same water sources used by the neighbors, which are not suitable for drinking without treatment and, as such, meet the definition of non-potable.

To my knowledge, this is the case with all the other proposed surf projects in the Coachella Valley.

Coral Mountain: the surf resort expects to contribute greatly to the quality of life in the City of La Quinta | Photo: Coral Mountain

2. Sustainability

An aspect of Coral Mountain that we have not yet brought into the public realm is its significant commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.

A sustainability consultant, Mazzetti, was hired as an integral part of the project design team.

We will be presenting information at the upcoming public hearings that evidence meaningful progress through a combination of architectural design features and deployment of advanced technologies in microgrids, renewables, and battery storage.

To my knowledge, this is a first in the Coachella Valley.

3. Project impacts and Public Service Costs

Contrary to what has been stated, the project pays its own way for the improvements and the cost of ongoing governmental services.

All infrastructure required to serve Coral Mountain will be paid for by Coral Mountain.

We either build these improvements ourselves as a condition of development or pay impact fees to governmental agencies, which will be in the millions of dollars.

None of this responsibility is borne by other residents or taxpayers in the city, and it is a bold misstatement of fact to say so.

Regarding the ongoing cost of governmental services like police, EMT, fire, and general services, the writer inferred that Coral Mountain would create the need for additional city services for which it will not pay.

Coral Mountain has been studied by the city in a Fiscal Impact Analysis and is "revenue positive" to the city in all phases of development.

So, this is an unequivocally false statement and another point of irony.

Our Coral Mountain neighbors do not currently pay for any city services, as the County of Riverside keeps the property tax revenue from those communities.

Thus, their service costs are red ink every year on the city's budget.

In an ideal world where everyone is expected to pay their fair share, there would probably be a supplemental property tax assessment levied by the city to cover these service costs.

Fortunately, Coral Mountain will generate surplus tax revenue to fund not only its own city service costs but will help offset city budget deficits attributable to providing these services to our neighbors.

4. Zoning and Land Use

Finally, there is the topic regarding whether the surf project is appropriate within the context of existing development patterns.

The primary difference between our project and the neighbors is the shift to a different core amenity than the "traditional" thinking of the past.

Coral Mountain merely displaces the golf course mantra with a recreation amenity that is much more water-efficient/responsible and has a smaller land footprint in contrast to the positive economic activity it creates.

Scrutiny of Google Earth quickly reveals that destination resort area land use patterns in the Coachella Valley are a patchwork of hotels, country clubs, second-home communities, and residential neighborhoods.

These zoning classifications are compatible with one another, and there are numerous examples where they co-exist nicely by design, including within the City of La Quinta.

Thus, it has been for a hundred years.

In summary, Coral Mountain has attracted a lot of unwarranted attention and misperceptions due to the uniqueness of the Kelly Slater Wave Systems technology as the primary community amenity.

Our community is broad in its amenity focus and will include a host of additional amenities focused on socializing, wellbeing, and adventure sports.

While highly differentiated in our approach, we are confident future residents of Coral Mountain will contribute greatly to the quality of life in the City of La Quinta, be good neighbors, and credit the Coachella Valley at large as a lifestyle choice and destination.

Our steadfast approach to the environmental process is proof of our commitment to delivering a sustainable community.

Words by John Gamlin | President of Coral Mountain Wave Development, LLC

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