Meriwether has taken a thoughtful approach to selecting a location and designing the Coral Mountain resort. While the initial direction for approvals was to update previous environmental documents, the City of La Quinta determined a full Environmental Impact Report was warranted. This decision, along with the impacts of the pandemic, caused a delay since our initial schedule shared during community meetings in Spring 2020. Meriwether continues its commitment to transparency while being a great neighbor with long-term ownership plans and embraces the public involvement that accompanies the approval process.
To view a past community meeting, please click here.
Up to 600 homes with an expected average value over $2.2 million.
Luxury wellness, private club, and spa amenities
Kelly Slater Wave Co. surf basin and a host of other sports activities
Boutique hotel with up to 150 keys with a publicly accessible restaurant
Retail market and public gathering spaces at Madison Street/ Avenue 58
A robust green energy program is planned to reduce carbon emissions
Centrally managed short term vacation rental program
Landscaping and public improvements along Avenues 58 and 60 and Madison Street will be completed within the early phases of the project
Meriwether Companies’ experience includes development of private club offerings, real estate communities, signature food and beverage establishments and groundbreaking sports and wellness resorts with a focus in the western United States. Along with Coral Mountain, the company is actively planning the Aspen Club in Aspen, Colorado and has recently completed Transfer Telluride in Telluride, Colorado and The Shores in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Meriwether has taken a methodical approach to selecting a location and designing Coral Mountain resort. While the initial direction for approvals was to update previous environmental documents, the City of La Quinta determined a full Environmental Impact Report was necessary. This decision, along with the impacts of the pandemic, caused a delay since our initial schedule shared during community meetings in Spring 2020. Meriwether continues to embrace its commitment to transparency while being a great neighbor with long-term ownership plans and is excited for the public approval process. To view one of our community meetings, please visit here.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Has Coral Mountain’s water use been vetted by the public water agency and included in the sustainability submittal as required under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act?
Yes. CVWD has a State-approved Groundwater Management Plan under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which requires water agencies to show that groundwater aquifers are sustainable over a 20 year-plus “planning horizon.” CVWD presented this information to the City Council in October 2021. CVWD recently updated its SGMA compliance for the Indio Subbasin in which Coral Mountain is located. In addition, Coral Mountain has a 20-year Water Supply Assessment and Water Supply Verification approved by CVWD and included in the sustainability analysis submitted to the State. The project is included in CVWD’s sustainability planning and therefore can be deemed sustainable.
The Wave Basin, which comprises only 13% of the total project water use, is directly connected to public/economic benefit. Compare this to uses of water in the Coachella Valley that could be considered “gratuitous,” where turf is strictly ornamental in nature, with no public benefit or economic activity that generates General Fund revenue for the city. Examples of “public benefit” are parks and playing fields, while “economic activity” correlates to the generation of Transient Occupancy Tax or local sales taxes from hotels, short-term vacation rentals, and special events such as art festivals, car shows, concerts. etc.
How does the Wave Basin compare to the traditional 18-hole golf course that is currently approved on the property with respect to water use?
The Wave Basin will use about 78 acre-feet of water per year, compared to golf course use of about 1,000 acre-feet per year. (One acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons, or enough water to cover an acre of land, about the size of a football field, one foot deep.) Therefore, the Wave Basin will use approximately 8% of the water used annually by a typical golf course.
Unlike a golf course, the Wave Basin holds water and is primarily affected by evaporation.
The Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) used its established evaporation factors to calculate the evaporation rate for the Wave Basin, as explained in detail in the Final Environmental Impact Report. While water use of the project has been deemed sustainable, Coral Mountain has taken added steps to recognize the importance of water conservation. This includes a decrease in size of the Wave Basin by 33%, elimination of ornamental water features, and commitment to a La Quinta-wide turf reduction program, as explained above.
No! The Wave Basin does not use drinking water as its water source. It will use non-drinking water sources that are filtered and treated onsite to meet all regulatory health standards for recreational purposes. This will save drinking water for household use. After treatment, the water quality is comparable to that of a swimming pool.
Coachella Valley Water District has no current plans to distribute recycled water (a blend of treated sewage effluent and Colorado River Canal water) to the area of the Valley in which the project is located. Regardless, Coral Mountain has committed to using recycled water should it become available. This contingency is being planned as part of the infrastructure program.
As a side note of interest, currently less than 20 of over 120 golf courses in the Valley use Recycled Water.
Yes. The light fixture manufacturer has received certification of the lights as dark skies compliant. The lights will not spill light into the sky like parks that use technology from the 1970s to the 1990s. In response to neighbor concerns, Coral Mountain has reduced the height of all poles and fixtures from 80 feet to 40 feet, keeping the tops of the light fixtures below the line of sight at the project perimeter and eliminating a major concern expressed during the public hearings. Further, the project has a commitment to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to not allow any light spillage onto the Coral Mountain. In fact, reduction in height of the light poles has resulted in a corresponding reduction in the “light footprint.” The fixtures will continue to meet “dark skies” standards.
No. The proposed lighting specifications were computer modeled for the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). In late September 2021, the City requested that two of the actual light fixtures be set up on site to assess the results of the modeling in the EIR. This test was completed in November. Light measurements taken during the test confirmed that the lighting “cut-offs” are very precise, and there is no light overspill. This data is presented in the Final Environmental Impact Report, both in the Topical Issues and the Appendix. As noted above, lights will not illuminate the Coral Mountain at night. In fact, there is explicit agreement with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that this will not occur. With the reduction of the height of the light poles from 80 to 40 feet, all of the photometrics were recalculated, and evidence a reduction in impact, both in terms of brightness and the light footprint (“cut-offs”).
Noise generated by the project is below significant levels per the City’s General Plan standards and Municipal Code noise regulations.
Noise is one of the “topical issues” studied in the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Technical Appendices. Noise studies are performed according to established industry protocols with specifications for measurement and interpretation.
Actual noise data was collected specifically for the EIR from operations at the Kelly Slater Wave Company Surf Ranch facility in Lemoore, California. The technology there is similar to what will be used at Coral Mountain, but is considered conservative in some respects because advancements in design are planned for Coral Mountain.
The collected Lemoore data was entered into an accredited computer model that considers local site conditions, including landform composition (rock, earth, landscaped, etc.) and topography.
During preparation of the Final EIR, updated noise measurements were taken at Lemoore to gauge the results of upgrades and improvements in the equipment used to generate the Wave. Noise levels were reduced as a result of these improvements, although operational noise levels were already within acceptable levels under the City’s noise criteria.
Noise is mitigated below thresholds of significance per the noise criteria. And notably, there is no reverberation or reflection of noise from the Wave Basin off the Coral Mountain topographic features, per the noise analysis.
The existing Wave Basin operation in Lemoore, California, utilizes a speaker system to make periodic safety announcements and this function was included in the noise analysis for the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Noise was below thresholds of significance with all operating considerations. Regardless, Coral Mountain continues to explore means of improving the operating characteristics, which could include limiting or avoiding use of public safety announcements. This is to the benefit of all parties, including our residents and guests. Speakers will NOT be used to project music across the Wave Basin.
We anticipate that one jet ski will be operated by staff in the basin to reposition surfers and for safety purposes, as is the case at the existing facility in Lemoore, California. Other recreational uses of personal watercraft will not be allowed. This was an operational consideration that was included in the City noise study. As promising electric technologies emerge for personal watercraft, Coral Mountain is committed to evaluating its suitability as part of its ongoing quest to refine and improve the Wave Basin’s operating characteristics.
No. The Circulation Element of the City’s General Plan requires new projects to conduct traffic studies according to established standards. As part of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a thorough traffic study was performed.
The traffic study examines street and intersection capacities, starting with existing background conditions. It adds the proposed project, other approved projects, and buildout of vacant land within City limits per General Plan and zoning land use densities. This permits a comprehensive, data-based view of existing and future traffic volumes to be attained and analyzed.
This data informs where traffic improvements such as widening, additional turn lanes, and traffic signals are needed to ensure traffic flow stays above acceptable thresholds.
All operational aspects of Coral Mountain were considered in the traffic analyses performed, including daily community traffic and the limited number of proposed special events.
The recommendations of the traffic studies are incorporated into the mitigation measures of the Final EIR and project conditions of approval. The timing of any required improvements become precursors to permits.
No. The project is conditioned to pay its fair share of any improvement costs, for all infrastructure, not just traffic-related items. This will be accomplished by either the developer physically making the improvements or through existing fees that the developer pays as part of the permit process. Examples are the City’s Development Impact Fees or Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fees (TUMF), which are collected by the City. The TUMF is managed by the Coachella Valley Association of Governments, which provides oversight to inter-city and county transportation planning matters.
Yes, special events were included, and each event will require approval of a temporary use permit by the City. A discussion of the mitigation measures and conditions applied to special events is contained in the Environmental Impact Report. Special events require a Traffic Management Plan. The decision, on a case-by case basis, to approve or deny a temporary use permit is at the sole discretion of the City and is not an automatic entitlement. Coral Mountain has agreed to refrain from holding four of the proposed annual events (limited to 2,500 attendees from outside the community) for two years, to allow actual operating data to be collected and presented that supports the EIR findings. Coral Mountain has proposed to defer special events for two years from the commencement of Wave Basin operations to allow the collection of data that will be provided to the City as part of the Temporary Use Permit application.
The development of the Coral Mountain Wave site will change aesthetics in the area. What measures are being taken to mitigate impacts on views?
Just as the development of the Trilogy and Andalusia communities altered aesthetics in the area, development of the last parcel within the historic Specific Plan area (Coral Mountain) will similarly result in an alteration of the local aesthetic context. This is unavoidable with the conversion of vacant land to development. This impact is not particular to development of the Coral Mountain concept with respect to views. It would be identical to impacts created by any project constructed on the site as all would feature masonry walls along the perimeter adjacent to public street rights-of-way.
Coral Mountain has introduced several mitigation measures into the Final Environmental Impact Report to mitigate these impacts. These measures include a height restriction of 22 feet within 150 feet from the edge of Madison Street and Avenue 58, as well as enhanced setbacks to the perimeter walls and homes. In addition, the maximum height of any structure on the property, whether buildings or the Wave Basin lighting, has been reduced to 40 feet.
Perimeter landscaping on our property along Madison Street and Avenue 58 will be installed in the early phases of project development. This area is the “front door” to our community, making early completion of these improvements in our best interest to ensure the project’s attractiveness to guests and home buyers. This is ensured in the City’s project conditions.
The Specific Plan contains development standards that limit structure heights appropriately to the scale of the property. Current plans are for the hotel to be up to two stories, while most of the casitas are single story. The line-of-sight analysis and visual simulations included in the Environmental Impact Report demonstrate that a structure of that height in the tourist-commercial area will not be readily visible from the perimeter roadways or adjacent properties. In response to neighbor requests, Coral Mountain has reduced building heights in the tourist commercial zone from 45 feet to 40 feet.
The Wave Basin itself is pushed down into the site and occurs below the existing native grade. The distance of any taller structures from the perimeter roadways, as well as intervening walls, landscaping, and low-density residential neighborhoods, will ensure that the Coral Mountain project remains consistent with the neighboring developments.
Yes. Coral Mountain will provide homeowners the option, but not the obligation, to put their homes in a rental pool when not in use. We do not expect that all homeowners will opt to participate, consistent with rates of participation in other La Quinta neighborhoods, Homes placed in the rental system when not in use by the owner will generate Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) for the City. This is especially meaningful because the City does not currently receive any property tax revenue to pay for basic safety and governmental services within the historic Coral Mountain Specific Plan area (which also includes Andalusia and Trilogy). All property tax proceeds are retained by the County of Riverside for the retirement of debt from the County Thermal Airport Redevelopment Area. This has been the case since annexation in 2002-2003 and is expected to remain so for the next 11 years.
How will short-term vacation rentals be structured to avoid the issues that arose in the broader City-wide program?
The rapid proliferation of short-term rentals in neighborhoods not well-designed for this type of activity created challenges. The strength of Coral Mountain as a venue for short-term vacation rentals (STVRs) is that it can be designed for this use from the beginning. All STVRs will be regulated through the Development Agreement and City’s Municipal Code, as applicable.
Proper administration of a short-term vacation rental program begins early in the planning process. The pillars of a successful program are:
- City regulatory structure. Determining the terms and conditions of allowing short-term vacation rentals before development occurs. The units will be subject to a Development Agreement and City ordinances as stipulated in the Municipal Code.
- Suitable residential architectural design. Homes that encourage rental by physical design suited to short-term use.
- DRE registration documents. Addressing short-term rentals in the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions for the community that are reviewed and approved by the State of California Department of Real Estate and the City of La Quinta.
- Sales disclosures. Providing disclosures that must be agreed to by all homebuyers, acknowledging that the community allows short-term rentals.
- Management. Intensive onsite management of the STVR program, streamlining the reservation system, transient occupancy tax (TOT) collection, and enforcement of rules.
Have the concerns expressed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife about the project been resolved?
Yes, all concerns within the agency’s letter have been addressed. Upon receipt of the comment letter, Coral Mountain took immediate steps to initiate an agency consultation. With regard to the Peninsular bighorn sheep, a qualified biologist was retained to engage with the agency about its concerns and make appropriate modifications to design features in the Specific Plan and mitigation measures in the Environmental Impact Report. As a result, any potential project impacts have been addressed. The developer looks forward to working with the City and the agency to implement these measures.
How are pre-historic Native artifacts and an old adobe structure onsite being treated with respect to the property’s development?
The federally recognized Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians responded to consult on this matter. The recommendations of the Tribe’s cultural resource team have been incorporated into the Specific Plan and Final Environmental Impact Report. Worthy of note, the developer agreed to address concerns raised by the Tribe concerning the remnants of an old adobe structure on site, even though the Tribe acknowledged that the adobe has no apparent tribal significance.
Some of the most interesting cultural resources are ancient rock art panels located along the base of the Coral Mountain. Unfortunately, because of unrestricted public access to the site and trespassing over the several decades, some of these 2000-year-old features have sadly been vandalized.
The Coral Mountain plan proposes to stabilize and preserve these sensitive resources. The developer has been working with the Desert Recreation District on a trail connection through the project site, near the base of the Coral Mountain, which would allow the public to continue to enjoy limited access to the site and better protect the resources.
Additionally, tribal monitors and archaeologists will observe all earth moving activity to ensure any resources that are encountered are properly recovered, catalogued, and curated.
The project has exceeded requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act in its commitment to preserve and curate the authentic pre-historic and historic resources onsite and they will be interpreted as part of the site experience for future visitors and residents.
The Coral Mountain community is private but will have some limited public accessibility.
- The surf Wave will be accessible to guests at the on-site hotel or through the rental of a home owned by a member, should the owner elect to allocate some of their monthly Wave access.
- The Village will feature a restaurant that can be accessed by making reservations to dine.
- A neighborhood commercial market will be built at Avenue 58 and Madison Street. This “farm-based” market concept will include locally grown produce, including some grown on site.
- The developer is working with the Desert Recreation District to establish a public trail connection through Coral Mountain that connects to other trails and recreational amenities planned by the District off site.
- Coral Mountain has committed to Wave access by qualified non-profit organizations and the City for fundraising and recreational programs.
Coral Mountain will have significant local economic benefits for the City of La Quinta in the areas of job creation and General Fund revenue through tax sources.
- The project will create both temporary and permanent jobs.
- The value of construction is estimated to be $1.2 billion, which will create good-paying jobs for vendors and tradesmen over five to seven years for the first phase alone.
- Operations of the amenities, hotel, and community maintenance and management will create more than 200 permanent jobs.
General Fund revenue for the City will be created from several sources:
- Millions of dollars in development impact and building permit fees for construction will be generated.
- Sales tax from commercial development on the site, including The Corner neighborhood commercial site at Avenue 58 and Madison Street, as well as onsite Wave Basin operations, food and beverage, and hotel retail and services.
- Transient Occupancy Taxes. The hotel rooms and carefully programmed and managed short-term vacation rentals will create significant TOT income for the City.
The Coral Mountain Specific Plan area (including the proposed Wave property, Andalusia, and Trilogy) is within the boundary of the former County Thermal Airport Redevelopment Area (RDA). As such, the County of Riverside retains all property taxes paid for the retirement of outstanding bond debt until at least the mid-2030s.
This means that none of the existing development in the former RDA boundary are paying for City emergency and general services. The cost of these services, estimated at $2,125 per home annually, generates an estimated city budget deficit of approximately $3.7 million. The City currently must make up this deficit from other General Fund revenue sources.
When the Specific Plan area was annexed in the early 2000s, the City studied the fiscal impacts and considered imposing a supplemental tax assessment on all homes. However, it deferred and opted not to take this step.
Now, with Coral Mountain coming forward, it is important that it not exacerbate any existing undesirable conditions and build in land uses that ensure it pays its own way for the cost of City services. The current plan achieves this objective, as studied by the City in a Fiscal Impact Analysis. The study indicates that Coral Mountain’s tax generation exceeds the cost of services and excess proceeds can be applied to budget shortfalls associated with the other Specific Plan area neighborhoods.
Yes. This type of development featuring hospitality and recreational uses in close proximity to, and surrounded by residential communities is common in the Coachella Valley and in La Quinta itself. The La Quinta Resort, at over 1,000 hotel rooms and associated commercial uses, is a prime example.
The Coachella Valley’s economy as a travel destination and magnet for discretionary real estate purchases (second homes), is due to the successful integration of mixed-use development. The Valley is a patchwork of land use patterns characterized by a mix of recreational amenities, commercial, and residential uses, which co-exist nicely by design. In the past, the traditional approach to tourism and discretionary real estate development was typified by constructing golf courses as a core amenity and creator of value.
Times have changed with shifting travel preferences and population demographics. To remain relevant as an economy, the Coachella Valley – including La Quinta – must adapt.
The Wave Basin is simply a substitution of the traditional golf course core amenity platform with a generationally relevant, non-traditional recreational platform, and other amenities and activities. The community’s focus is on active and healthy living.
Coral Mountain is situated on almost 400 acres. The project is a private community with 600 homes. Residents and guests of the two-story hotel and casitas (maximum 150 units) would have access to the signature Wave Basin, water amenities and other recreational features. The public will enjoy access to the restaurant and bar on a reservation basis along with the commercial development at the southwest corner of Avenue 58 and Madison Street. By committing to a private community, we have reduced traffic impacts of the project in the local area, as studied in the Environmental Impact Report.
Like other exclusive communities in La Quinta, our homesites are large, with most ranging in size from 12,000 to 40,000 square feet. Prices for large estate lots will begin at more than $2 million and finished homes in the village core will range from $2 million to more than $5 million.
The developer is committed to benefiting the city and region in numerous ways. Coral Mountain will donate at least 1,000 surfer hours per year for use by non-profits for fundraising activities and/or an annual surf camp program, as noted above. In the interest of addressing community needs and recognizing underserved communities, the Coral Mountain Surf Foundation will contribute annually to support health and social programs in La Quinta and the East Valley with a real estate transfer fee on the re-sale of homes.
Is Coral Mountain doing anything to address the lack of power capacity that jeopardizes system reliability for existing users and threatens continued economic development in the City?
Yes. Coral Mountain has agreed to front the cost of certain substation improvements at the electricity provider’s Avenue 58 substation, resulting in excess capacity that exceeds Coral Mountain’s own power needs by 75%. Coral Mountain would be paid back over time as other new users connect to the system, and existing customers would benefit from increased system reliability.