Salinas Valley Issues & Actions:
Paraiso Hot Springs Spa Resort
The Paraiso Hot Springs Resort Development project proposes an “after the fact” demolition permit, the redevelopment of a resort with 77 timeshare units, 60 airspace condominium units, and the subdivision of 235 acres into 23 lots.
LandWatch Position: Commented on the EIR
Project Status: Settlement Reached, Appeal Withdrawn
The project applicant is Thomas Holdings, LLC.
The project proposal includes an “after the fact” demolition permit, the redevelopment of a resort with 77 timeshare units, 60 airspace condominium units and the subdivision of 235 acres into 23 lots.
The County of Monterey is the lead agency.
The project is governed by the policies of the 1982 Monterey County General Plan and the Central Salinas Valley Area Plan.
- Project appealed (12K PDF file) to the Board of Supervisors for hearing January 28, 2020.
- Planning Commission approved the project October 30, 2019.
- The Planning Commission delayed its decision on the project in March 2019.
- Salinas Planning Commission heard the Paraiso project March 27, 2019.
- Historic Resources Review Board considers mitigation package to offset illegal demolition of nine historic cottages on July 17, 2018.
Historic Resources Review Board voted to approve the proposed resolution, but added language in agreement with LandWatch’s letter and acknowledges that the DEIR analysis is incomplete.
The Draft Environmental Impact Report was completed in July 2013. (16.7M PDF file).
The Notice of Preparation was circulated for 30 days in May and June 2008.
The project application was deemed complete in June 2005.
Project Location Map
The proposed Paraiso Springs project is seven miles west of Greenfield at the end of Paraiso Hot Springs Road.
Full Size Map (283K PDF file)
The proposed Paraiso Springs project includes with 77 timeshare units and 60 airspace condominium units.
Resources At Risk
The development proposal includes the removal of 185 protected oak trees
In some instances this development builds on slopes in excess of 30%.
Cultural Resources are At Risk
The draft EIR fails to provide an adequate analysis of the cultural landscape and does not propose an adequate resolution. The EIR must be revised and recirculated to provide an adequate analysis of the Cultural Landscape with reference to all of the historic periods in which the site was inhabited.
Visual Aids & Graphics
LandWatch has created images that represent aerial views of the property, using Google Earth, showing Paraiso Spring Spa’s relationship to existing environment.
Paraiso Hot Springs as it exists today (August 2013).
An overlay of the proposed project using Google Earth.
LandWatch engages in the public process in a variety of ways. For this project, here is a list of our engagement strategies.
Comments: LandWatch Adds to Public Record (110K PDF file)
As LandWatch has repeatedly advised, Paraiso Hot Springs Resort should be significantly downsized, particularly in light of California's rapidly changing climate. It would seem only prudent to avoid putting more people at risk by building the Paraiso Hot Springs Mega-Resort in a high severity fire zone in a box canyon at the end of a 1.5 mile dead end road that cannot be widened to meet minimum standards and does not comply with County or State regulations for wildfire evacuation and access. (10.28.19)
Letter – LandWatch Comments Again on EIR (593K PDF file)
Inconsistencies with the Fire Management Plan and Second RDEIR were noted such as slope characteristics, responsibility areas, brush clearance, road requirements, and firefighting capabilities. (07.03.19)
Testimony: LandWatch Critiques Project (128K PDF file)
After submitting multiple comment letters, LandWatch testified before the Monterey County Planning Commission to remind them of the dangers of this project and its unlawful project beginnings. (03.27.18)
- Letter: LandWatch Fire Expert Comments on Project Plans (1.6M PDF file)
The focus of this new submission into the record is the risk associated with wildfires, specifically a deficient wildfire protection plan, evacuation routes, response times, road widths, and how the mitigation measures are inadequate. (03.26.19)
Letter: LandWatch Submits Comments on Fires & Evacuation (90K PDF file)
Concerned with public safety and the ability to adequately defend the project site, LandWatch submitted additional comments on the project. Lack of even a preliminary fire protection plan, community evacuation plan, and proper ingress/egress are key concerns. (01.15.19)
Letter: LandWatch Urges Mitigation of Violations (550K PDF file)
LandWatch urges that Monterey County mitigate the unauthorized demolition of nine historic cottages removed from the Paraiso Hot Springs Resort in violation of Monterey County Code by (1) Requiring the developer to downsize the project so that it is no larger than the historic use and avoids any development on the steep hillsides; and, (2) Assessing a sufficient penalty to send a clear message to this and future developers about how the County regards its historic resources and how it responds to illegal activities. (07.30.18)
- Letter: LandWatch Urges Stronger Mitigation Package for Demolition 568K PDF file)
LandWatch urges that Monterey County mitigate the unauthorized demolition of nine historic cottages by requiring the developer to downsize the project so that it is no larger than the historic use and avoids any development on the steep hillsides and sssessing a sufficient penalty to send a clear message to this and future developers about how the County regards its historic resources and how it responds to illegal activities. (07.09.18)
Letter: LandWatch Submits Comments on Recirculated EIR (1MB PDF file)
LandWatch provides substantive comments on the project and focuses on the significant intensification of the site and changes to water, traffic, and other services and resources. (04.25.18)
Letter: Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (500K PDF file)
In this letter, LandWatch outlines its concerns for the project, including: aesthetics, air quality, biological resources, climate change, cultural resources, hazards, cumulative analysis, and alternatives. (10.02.13)
Letter: Comments to the Historic Resources Review Board (93K PDF file)
LandWatch outlines its concern for the project mainly that the Draft Environmental Impact Report fails to analysis the cultural landscape for the project. (10.03.13)
Proposed Projects Add a Risk in Wildfire Areas
Harper Canyon, Paraiso Hot Springs, among others pose a potentially massive risk to firefighters and homeowners if new houses are placed in wildfire prone hills. Sprawling developments in wildfire areas should not move forward. (08.20.20)
Last Hurdle Overcome Through Settlement
A neighbor who sued the project applicant over its proposal to build a massive resort appealed the project’s approval. The night before the Board of Supervisor’s decision the appeal was withdrawn as a settlement—with unknown terms—was reached. (01.30.20)
Paraiso Hot Springs Moves Forward
Just before the Board of Supervisors meeting, the appeal on the Paraiso Hot Springs project was withdrawn—allowing the project to move forward. (01.29.20)
Project Approved by Planning Commission
With assurances from county staff that residents, staff, and guests at the Paraiso Hot Springs Resort would be protected from wildfire, the Planning Commission raved about how this project would be an economic engine for the area and approved it. (11.01.19)
Unanimous Vote on Paraiso Approval
The Planning Commission unanimously approved the proposed Paraiso project, even in light of concerns raised by the California Attorney General. LandWatch opposes this project, but likely won’t appeal it to the Supervisors based on the current board make up. (10.31.19)
Project Heads Back to County Commission
With a new wildfire plan in hand, the proponents of the Paraiso Hot Springs project go back to the County Planning Commission next week. (10.25.19)
AG’s Office Says Project Violates Safety Rules
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra wrote a letter to the Monterey County Planning Commission regarding the safety of the developing a hotel facility off of a narrow road, in a fire prone area. LandWatch successfully engaged the AG’s office due to the critical nature of the project. (07.18.19)
State Attorney General Says Fix EIR (804K PDF file)
In its second letter to the County on the Paraiso Hot Springs project, the State Attorney General outlines inconsistencies with the fire safety measures, road widths, evacuation routes, etc. for the project. (07.09.19)
Paraiso Project Faces Challenges (225K PDF file)
Seeking more tourism dollars may be one reason why the Soledad Mayor supports the Paraiso project, while LandWatch continues to advocate for not building in such a high fire area with limited access. (04.12.19)
Unusual Move by State Attorney General on Project
A strong letter by State Attorney General about the unanalyzed fire impacts within the Paraiso Hot Springs project, prompts the Monterey County Planning Commission to indefinitely postpone its public hearing on the project. (03.29.19)
State Attorney General Pens Opposition Letter
In a first of its kind move in recent years, the State Attorney General sent a letter to the Monterey County Planning Commission in opposition to the Paraiso Hot Springs due to wildfire concerns. The Planning Commission delayed a vote, and instead continued the project to allow more time to review the correspondence. (03.27.19)
Project Heads For a Vote
Twenty years after the project was first proposed, the Paraiso Hot Springs project heads for a vote at the Monterey County Planning Commission. The developer is proposing a new plan for the land that includes a tourist destination and wellness center. LandWatch has raised many concerns about the project. (03.21.19)
Paraiso Project Heads to Planning Commission
The Monterey County Planning Commission will consider an after the fact demolition of nine historic cottages and the mega-resort planned for the site. The new project would consume 18 additional structures and remove 185 oak trees. (03.25.19)
Letter: Attorney General Ask for Wildfire Analysis (5M PDF file)
The California Attorney General recently drew attention to the failure of the Final EIR to adequately address fire risk and asked the County not to approve the project until the risks of wildfire associated with the Project are more fully addressed. (03.20.19)
Hot Springs Project Slowly Moving Forward
A tour is scheduled for the project site on Wednesday to help the Planning Commissioners understand the proposal. The tour is open to the public. The project goes to public hearing in February. (01. 18.19)
Three Cottages Recommended for Reconstruction
The Monterey County Historic Resources Review Board recommended the reconstruction of three of the nine illegally demolished historic cottages on the Paraiso Hot Springs property. This recommendation now goes before the Monterey County Planning Commission. The Board did not take LandWatch’s suggestion to downsize the project. (08.02.18)
Paraiso Demolition Story Revealed
As reported in Monterey County Weekly, “They say it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. But it’s taken almost 15 years since demolishing nine historic cottages without a permit for a Pennsylvania developer to officially ask for forgiveness.” But will the developer be held accountable? (07.02.18)
Paraiso Hot Springs Project Goes to Historic Commission
Three years after the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report and more than 10 years after the illegal demolition of the historic cottages onsite, the project proponents go before the Monterey County Historic Resource Board seeking permission to move the project forward with additional mitigation measures. (08.02.16)
The County is allowing more than 50 days for residents to provide input on the project’s DEIR. Comments on the DEIR are due to the County by Friday, October 4, 2013. LandWatch is reviewing the DEIR and preparing comments. They will be posted online when available. Comments on the DEIR should be mailed to and received no later than Friday, October 4, 2013:
County of Monterey
Resource Management Agency
168 W. Alisal, 2nd Floor
Salinas, CA 93901
Or emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of the review process, the project will have a hearing before the Monterey County Planning Commission. The Commission will make a recommendation about the project to the Board of Supervisors. The recommendation could either be to: approve the project; deny the project; or offer suggestions on how to improve the project. Ultimately, the County Board of Supervisors will be responsible for deciding to approve or deny the Paraiso Hot Springs Resort.