Planning Commission debates Splash Mountain

Will the tide come back in for Splash Mountain?

The Redlands Planning Commission voted unanimously to revoke the conditional use permit for Splash Kingdom on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

The amusement park, which hasn’t operated at full capacity in a decade, has had a tumultuous history.

The facility opened in 1994 as an Egyptian-themed water park with bumper boats, go-karts, water slides, pools and a lazy river.

In 2009, the Planning Commission revoked its conditional use permit due to non-compliance and code violations after operating as a center for night-time music and dance events.

In 2012, the commission allowed for the facility to build an indoor trampoline attraction within the main building.

In 2017, the current leaseholders took over management and ownership of the park.

In 2018, the commission again revoked the conditional use permit for multiple code violations and monitored the operator’s progress in addressing outstanding issues.

In 2019, the City Council heard the operator’s appeal and voted in favor, overturning the revocation.

This May, the primary structure sustained an estimated $750,000 in heavy fire and smoke damage.

Chris Boatman, Redlands’ director of facilities and community services, said the city has been trying to work with the owners for years, but no progress has been made.

“We don’t have confidence that this tenet can turn this site,” said Boatman. “When a site gets to this point, it needs an entirely new project proposed on the property. This is beyond rehabilitation for the original purpose.”

Former Planning Commissioner Michael Reiter wrote in favor of revocation in a letter for public comment.

“Nothing has changed,” wrote Reiter. “The operator blames the pandemic and vandals for their troubles, but the real problem is they are blaming others for their shortcomings.”

Daniel Martinez of PS80 Partners, who co-owns the park, said he agreed with everything that had been said about the park’s faults.

“We are a root cause of the problem,” said Martinez. “We need to fix this. Regardless of which way things go, we are committed to addressing security and safety issues. It will take a new plan and proposal, but we don’t think the way to get there is a revocation, but we welcome a ticking clock to address the issues.”

Martinez was not able to convince the commission, however.

“We are in a worse place now than a few years ago,” said Commissioner Julie Rock. “We have gotten nowhere. The site gets worse and worse all the time.”

The meeting was also the first for newly appointed Commissioner Matthew Endsley, a finance officer for a local architectural firm.