An artist's rendering of the proposed wave park at the Coral Mountain Resort. Courtesy of Meriwether Companies

After the April 26 meeting of the La Quinta Planning Commission, the group La Quinta Residents for Responsible Development (LQRRD) demanded that Kevin McCune, one of the commissioners, immediately resign.

At that meeting, the commission voted to recommend approval of the controversial Coral Mountain Resort. The proposed 386-acre private resort would include a half-mile-long wave pool, containing 18 million gallons of water, along with 600 homes; a 150-room hotel; hiking and biking trails; spa and wellness facilities; adventure-sports facilities; and a restaurant and market. The commission voted 4-3 to recommend a zoning change from low-density residential to tourist commercial, and 5-2 to certify the environmental impact report.

The matter now moves to the La Quinta City Council for a final decision. As of May 11, the vote had not yet been scheduled, according to city spokesperson Marcie Graham.

The resignation demand came in the form of a letter filed at a public meeting on May 3. At issue is that McCune is recorded as having said at the April 26 meeting, while allegedly pounding the table, “If a private owner wants to develop a gated, walled community by his own money, who am I to say no?”

Alena Callimanis, spokesperson for LARRD, said the quote shows that McCune believes he should rubber-stamp all developer applications.

“Commissioner McCune mocked residents who are opposed to the water surf park,” Callimanis said. “He abused his position, which severed our confidence in him as a planning commissioner. McCune’s comments violated La Quinta’s rules (on) decorum and order, which state, ‘Council members shall accord the utmost courtesy to each other, to city employees, and to the public appearing before the council and shall refrain at all times from rude and derogatory remarks, reflections as to integrity, abusive comments and statements as to motives and personalities.’”

Callimanis said her group also objected to McCune’s comment that “people who are for the project are very quiet, because they have to live in the same communities as those that don’t support the project, so you never hear from them.”

Said Callimanis: “There were many presentations from supporters as well as the opposition during public testimony on March 22, April 12 and April 26.”

McCune declined to talk to the Independent regarding the resignation demand. City Attorney Bill Ihrke has said he believes that McCune acted in a professional manner.

La Quinta Mayor Linda Evans defended McCune, saying that his comments were generalizations and were not directed at members of LQRRD.

“He is an experienced commissioner who has participated in a variety of projects over the years,” Evans said. “Our commissioners read, study, listen and ask good questions. They do their due diligence and take their role seriously. I appreciate that.”

Evans said she agreed with McCune’s comments about mostly hearing from the opposition on controversial projects.

“I have experienced the same on some projects while serving as mayor,” said Evans, who has held the office since 2014. “We welcome all comments. … Applicants submit a project, and the process begins—staff application review, environmental reports if needed, study sessions, commission meetings, public hearings, City Council meetings and hearings, and then a decision. Several steps occur before a final decision is made. To think that there is an automatic response with a yes or no is naïve—and with this project, it’s still undergoing the process. The beauty of the process is getting feedback, both support and opposition, before a final (decision).”

LQRRD claims to have more than 1,500 residents’ signatures on a petition opposing the project, and has mailed postcards explaining their opposition to all city residents.

Ramon Baez, another member of LQRRD, said the group is concerned, among other things, about the amount of water the Coral Mountain Resort will use—especially the wave pool—at a time of record-breaking drought and water-use restrictions.

“Water is the most precious resource in the Coachella Valley, and when we bring up the wave project to the (Coachella Valley Water District) leaders, their response is that they are not responsible for approving this project; the City Council is,” Baez said. “When we bring it up to the Planning Commission and City Council, their response is that they trust CVWD, so they can approve this project. They will approve a frivolous surf wave project when people can surf in the Pacific Ocean less than 2 1/2 hours away.

“Who will take accountability for this bad decision? It is mind-boggling.”

Catherine Makino is a multimedia journalist who was based in Tokyo for 22 years. She wrote for media sources including Thomson Reuters, the San Francisco Chronicle, Inter Press Service, the Los Angeles...

21 replies on “Coral Mountain Controversy: After the La Quinta Planning Commission OKs the Proposed Development, Opponents Demand a Commissioner Resign”

  1. La Quinta is rapidly going down the Palm Springs toilet. Appointees who are sycophants, and an elected city council that emulates the so called Palm Springs model: unlimited vacation rentals and honky tonk development. They’ve thrown us residents under the proverbial bus. They need to be replaced by people who respect zoning and who care about our iconic neighborhoods, not about absentee investors trying to squeeze profits from our residential areas.

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more about Palm Springs. When it comes to anything where residents’ interests conflict with the tourism industry, the tourism industry usually wins. The only alternative for residents is to move.

  2. Any potential valley homebuyer with half a brain would probably choose Palm Desert,Rancho Mirage, IW or even Cathedral City over La Quinta if a water park and 600 more short term rentals are approved by our todie city council. Even our Village Idiot knows this development degrades our neighborhoods and conflicts with our upscale vibe. It’s the beginning and not the end of becoming a honky tonk, crime ridden and roudy tourist trap. The valley already has one of those. Who needs two?

  3. The proposed surf park is the dumbest idea ever. Thousands of gallons of fresh water evaporating ever day. If this drought continues it will end up being a mini version of the Salton Sea. Bad timing.

  4. What a travesty that will permanently ruin the iconic and peaceful city. These officials are irresponsible and arrogant. All to make developers rich.

  5. People are harping about the water but this uses FAR less water than any golf course that the opponents live at. It’s basically creating a reservoir and any water lost through percolation will serve to rehydrate the aquifer. The only thing that concerns me is continued access to archeological areas along the mountain.

    1. Water won’t perc through a gunite pool. Its not abiut the water. It’s about degrading our city image so investors can make money. It’s about turning a nice city into a honky tonk tourist trap for surfers, 600 unsupervised vacation rentals where the zoning currently requires residential housing. And oh yeah, four gigantic festivals each year. Your singular concern about access is short sighted.

      1. True about the percolation but it’s about the water and the degradation. The water will evaporate and have to be replenished. Something that makes no sense during the drought

    2. Golf courses use, or have the ability to use, reclaimed water. By law, surf parks must use fresh water.

  6. A sophisticated, gorgeous city with a clueless, city council. Couldn’t even find the guts to permanently ban vacation rentals, like our neighboring towns, so the angry residents are doing that for them. And now this stupid surf park so teenagers can pool their cash and crash ea. weekend in the 600 short term rentals. Who would live or retire here? We deserve better from council . Lets clean house.

  7. The water is fresh not reclaimed as used on golf courses. Only one way in and out for residents in the quarry the lights and noise at night will destroy our quietnights out side under the stars what about the animals we bought back here for the quiet and low traffic all will be destroyed

  8. This is indicative of a backwards looking city council. Disrespectful of residents, environment and our own r1 zoning. Progressive cities in valley are limiting short term rentals and ours is increasing it by 600 with this thoughtless rezoning to allow for mini Coachella’s four times per year. Ridiculous.

  9. I am still trying to understand percolation. We are talking about evaporation. With our massive heat and wind conditions, water will evaporate at a much higher rate. CVWD counts this as a moving lake. And uses evaporation values that haven’t been updated since 2005 when we had 99 days over 100 degrees and much cooler temperatures. We now have 150 days over 100 degrees and much hotter! And six foot waves have their own evaporation issues. They are not a “moving lake”. And forget about wind hitting the waves besides the wind hitting the water when waves are not present. Even more evaporation. Our calculations using wind and hot temperatures yields 7 times as much evaporation as the calculation done by CVWD. As much as many local golf courses. Don’t forget, the water used to irrigate the golf course at least does percolate back to the aquifer. I DO NOT AGREE WITH ANY NEW GOLF COURSES EITHER! We need to start telling golf courses to stop watering the rough and only water the greens and fairway as a start. We have so much to do to save our water so we can continue to live here. I am a full time resident and I really worry about water.

  10. Ridiculous to position an amusement park right next to a retirement community, is this really the way we treat people that have worked hard and saved their entire lives. The fact that the retirement community was established 20 years ago, and that the zoning surrounding was low density residential, means nothing to greedy money hungry developers and our city leaders.
    I am ashamed of the planning commission that voted for this.
    Dennis McLatcher

  11. Well, the city council votes this stuff in or out. No One else has the power to do that. So it’s time to get rid of them and their snotty and condescending attitude toward residents and our iconic neighborhoods. They won’t ban vacation rentals and won’t stop this stupid surf park. What could go wrong with surfers drinkin’, smokin’ and hangin’ with their buds in those new 600 unsupervised vacation rentals down the street from you?

  12. Any retirees who want peace and quiet and a safe street for their grandkids ain’t comin’ to La Quinta. Unlimited numbers of unvetted adults crashing in 600 new unsupervised short term rental properties. No way would a smart homebuyer pick La Quinta over IW, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage,or even Cathedral City…where short term rentals will be permanently Prohibited. A failed experiment which lives on in our poorly managed desert oasis. Thanks, council. For Nothing. Stop trying to become Palm Springs. It is already a mess.

  13. The Valley can’t support the 120+ golf courses that we already have. And NO, the spray watering of golf courses, millions of gallons a day for each course, DOES NOT PERCOLATE back to the aquifer. Most of it evaporates. Wave parks in this Desert have to be the most ludicrous use of water possible. So is the 24 acre “swimmable lagoon” in the Cortino Disney development. This squandering of the aquifer has to stop. Replenishing it with Colorado River water is not sustainable. Eventually, this Valley will have a water problem–then watch tourism and property values plummet. The Palm Springs city councils have destroyed the village that it one was. Don’t let this happen to the other Valley cities.

  14. A city with potential to become a great tourist destination and instead a city council is making it into a third rate honky tonk. Dont we already have one party town down the road? Do we really need a second tawdry tourist destination with high crime, homeless in all the bus shelters and overrun unsupervised vacation rentals and gang shootings?

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