Image by 
Phil Konstantin
Image by Phil Konstantin

The New York Timesreports that the Salton Sea—California's largest lake, whose shores have seen developers' dreams dashed like so many ships wrecked on the shoals—has once again drawn the eye of big dreamers. Despite its abject failure as a hub for development, and even as a decent body of water, the Salton Sea will see another big push by government officials to lure residents:

Government officials have approved plans for a town that would eventually grow to nearly 40,000 people, with enough businesses and jobs to support the residents. Supporters of the project say it is the most sustainable development being planned in the state, but the town, known as Travertine Point, would be more than 20 miles from any existing town.

In many ways, the project is a sign of the state’s insatiable appetite for new development, even in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles, which has struggled through the building bust and foreclosure crisis. This might be among the most unlikely places in the county to contemplate a superdevelopment, but officials are unabashed in their enthusiasm and say the optimism is firmly grounded in reality.

The Los Angeles Timeshad the story the last time officials tried to make Salton City a thing. No one involved in this new effort can say that no one warned them if the effort fails. One Riverside County official tells The New York Times, "Recreational bodies of water don’t stay unoccupied forever”—which is like believing that the shimmering patch of sand and light in the distance must surely reveal an oasis at some point.

As the story makes clear, the pursuit of the oasis under the present circumstances reveals a kind of delerium. A state-approved water-transfer agreement will see water flowing away from the Salton Sea as soon as 2018. The lake could disappear altogether before development is complete, or even underway.