Surf Ranch 2.0 May Bite The Southern California Dust - Stab Mag
We probably won't be seeing this in Riverside County anytime soon. Photo: WSL

Surf Ranch 2.0 May Bite The Southern California Dust

Developers proposed a wave park and resort in the drought-stricken desert.

elsewhere // Sep 23, 2022
Words by August Howell
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Wavepools may be fun, but they are damn hard to build. Especially in a state as dry as California. 

That was the takeaway from La Quinta’s town hall meeting this week when the city council denied a zoning change that would have allowed the CM Wave Development to build a sprawling 600-home complex and hotel complete with a wavepool bristling with Kelly Slater Wave Co. tech, according to the LA Times. 

The developers behind the proposed $200 million project covering 386-cares near Coral Mountain requested a zoning change to alter the project from the residential housing and golf course proposal. All five La Quinta City Council members on Wednesday unanimously denied the zoning change. Mayor Linda Evans said she liked the surf park concept but thought it needed to be built elsewhere in La Quinta, according to the LA Times. 

“I think this is a cool project,” Evans said. “But I don’t think it’s in the right location. And maybe the timing isn’t great because of the drought.”

Following the six-hour meeting, Garrett Simon of Meriwether Cos., a partner with CM Wave Development, told the LA Times it would “evaluate our options.” Supporters of the project lauded the increased tax revenue the park would bring to the city, while critics pointed to the drastic statewide drought and questioned the practicality of building a 12-acre basin to store 18 million gallons of water. 

Interestingly, the Coachella Valley Water District already endorsed the development’s annual water use, 900 acre-feet a year. John Gamlin, president of CM Wave Development LLC said the wave basin would use about 26 million gallons a year. That’s far less than the inland desert’s myriad of golf courses, which use as much as 1 million gallons a day.

Coachella Valley’s cities, farms and the slew of golf courses rely on hydration on the Colorado River and groundwater. Some of the state’s largest rivers and reservoirs are at historically low levels thanks to a 23-year megadrought that’s only gotten worse due to global warming, according to one study. Many SoCal water districts are facing increasing pressure from the feds to reduce water use.

KSWC is also planning to bring its tech to the N-land Surf Park in Austin, Texas. Kelly’s company bought the property for an undisclosed sum in 2019, but there’s no timetable on when we’ll see another Surf Ranch in the capital of Texas.

With Surf Ranch 2.0 on hold, Coachella Valley surfers will have to look for other freshwater lineups. The Thermal Beach Club, described as a 20-acre surf lagoon, has been approved by Riverside County supervisors. There are two other wavepools are in the works, DSRT Surf in Palm Desert (Wavegarden tech) and the Palm Springs Surf Club. The former hasn’t been approved and PSSC is still under construction and should be open in the near future (though that hasn’t stopped Mason and Coco Ho).

For a comprehensive guide to all open and planned wavepools around the globe, visit


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