Surfing in the California desert? Developer’s plan sparks outrage over water use, drought fears
The planned development on the site, along with its impact on the desert environment, has come under fire from environmentalists and elected officials.
The $100 million mixed-use proposal will include residential, commercial, industrial, and retail uses along with a state park and trails.
The developer behind the new development, which is part of the Inland Empire’s biggest project to date, aims to bring in 250 construction jobs for a population of 6,000 to 7,000, and it will have to meet a range of environmental requirements to stay on the project, according to its developer, developer Thomas Kjellberg.
It’s an attempt to move into the “gift-shop” business that has turned into a $4 billion industry in Southern California.
“We are always looking for opportunity to provide our customers with unique retail offerings and a unique shopping experience.” said Steve Dobbins, president of the Dobbins Group who is overseeing the Inland Empire redevelopment project for his company.
“We have a vision to create a distinctive retail setting on the land that will include specialty boutiques, galleries, restaurants, bars and cafes.”
He said they’ve chosen to develop about 25 percent of the site at the southwest corner of Pacific Coast Highway and the San Bernardino Freeway, east of a defunct Ford Assembly plant.
In the mid-1970s land developers paid $800 for the site and it has remained vacant since until now.
The land is located in an area designated as “severely compromised” by the state, according to the Inland Empire Regional Planning Commission, the Inland Empire Environmental Coalition, and the Sierra Club.
In the mid-1970s land developers paid $800 for the site and it has remained vacant since.
Environmentalists are concerned that the new development will bring in too many visitors and drive down the already low desirability of the desert.
A water conservation effort at the site has been discussed for months, but it has not been determined yet.
In an interview with KPCC, Tom Kjellberg said the development will have to follow strict guidelines that are designed to protect the environment.
“They’ve asked us if we need an environmental permit, and that’s part of the process. I think it’s something we’ve been waiting for,” Kjellberg said