"We have a housing crisis, not a recreation crisis"
Opinion: Indian Cove residents respond to resort developer Yonder's PR blitz
On November 29, Yonder, "a boutique resort developer and hospitality manager,” ran a 1/2 page ad in the Hi-Desert Star and Desert Trail touting “Facts related to Yonder 29 Palms Resort.” In the ad, Yonder states that "your input and feedback are critical to this community project."
Here’s a few facts not mentioned by Yonder:
This is NOT a “community project” as described in their ad. It’s a commercial resort developed by a national corporation whose projects are being fought in other small communities like Townsend, Tennessee.
Yonder representative Luke Searcy refused to answer our group questions at the November 1 meeting. Instead, he actually used the words ‘divide and conquer” to explain why questions were refused.
The ad’s project rendering gives the illusion of an unpopulated area. However, this 130-cabin development, with two lodges and other structures, a cafe, two pools and an outdoor movie screen, is located in the middle of the Indian Cove neighborhood. The parcel is residentially zoned and resorts are not allowed without a conditional use permit from City Council.
Many of the 50-60 jobs touted in the ad are seasonal, and much of the housing provided is for seasonal employees.
The ad projects “off-site” spending of $4,000,000 annually. In the November 1 presentation, this figure was based on spending of $209 per day per occupied cabin, which seems unlikely. Reaching this figure requires 70% occupancy for an average of three days per week.
Additionally, Yonder plans on competing with local restaurants and retail. Their presentation included a “2000 sq. ft. food and beverage concept” and their website includes an image of a retail shop. Again, a restaurant and a retail shop, both open to the public, in addition to 130 cabins in the middle of our rural living neighborhood.
The development will be serviced by a private septic treatment package system. This is essentially a big septic tank with some treatment and a leech field. There would be a small visible package treatment plant and possibly odor. This is similar to the package plants at the Desert Knoll and Turtle Rock housing tracts which have been failing, potentially harming our aquifer.
Yonder has yet to complete a project of this scale and their projections are based on little actual data. The only completed project, Yonder Escalente, is 1/3 of the size of what’s proposed in Indian Cove. Their Townsend project, which is the same scale as what’s proposed here, did not pass the Planning Commission and is being scaled back. Their Yosemite project is not yet built.
The 151-acre parcel that’s in escrow is zoned RS-E for 2.5 acre residential lots. That’s space for 50 homes. The Yonder project is tripling that density for these commercial uses adjacent to the Joshua Tree National Park buffer zone, just 1/2 mile from the Park border, in an essential wildlife corridor populated by threatened species.
Yonder is attempting to “divide and conquer” Twentynine Palms by pitting the City against our Indian Cove neighborhood through running large and expensive ads in our only local newspaper. Resorts belong in commercial zoning—not in residential neighborhoods.
We have a housing crisis not a recreation crisis.
Signed by Indian Cove residents:
B & L Bowman
Tori and Brian Gecha
Chuck and Heidi Heard
Lisa M. Mason
Kat and John Talley-Jones
Edward and Susan Tapia
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