Council moves development project closer to starting
In a local economy where development of condo-hotel projects is all but stalled, the Mammoth View project, a 54-room hotel and townhome/condominium and cabin complex slated for the Alpine Circle and Mountain Boulevard area off of Main Street is still moving forward.
During its Wednesday night meeting, Council approved three new items, edging the project a few steps closer to realization.
First, discussions can now begin with Caltrans regarding relinquishment to the Town of Mammoth Lakes for reconstruction and maintenance of Viewpoint Road. Originally reconstructed as part of the Main Street widening, the road is currently in the Caltrans right-of-way, and has been “poorly maintained” since, according to Town staff. Mammoth View has requested the Town take ownership of the road, which would be maintained as part of a standard maintenance district.
Caltrans has already expressed interest in transferring ownership to the Town.
Next, Council approved locating the project’s utilities underground, which is desirable on several levels. The Town likes the idea for safety and logistic concerns, especially during heavy weather, and under fire, earthquake and wind conditions. Southern California Edison also likes them for visual characteristics, and easier maintenance.
Available funds are part of the California Public Utilities Commission’s Rule 20 and, since the Town doesn’t have sufficient funding to cover all the project’s underground requirements within its boundaries, Mammoth View will cover the shortfalls for the estimated $1 million it will cost to bury the high-voltage lines.
How much SCE Rule 20 money is available to cover the undergrounding will be determined at a forthcoming meeting between SCE and the Town. Peter Bernasconi, Town Civil Engineer, said undergrounding could be slated to coincide with new sidewalk construction, if a grant that’s pending is approved.
Mammoth View spokesman Hector Caldera told Council that the boundaries for the undergrounding will be driven by the location of SCE equipment, and might include a small portion of a nearby gas station.
Lastly, approval was granted to form a Mello Roos/Community Facilities District, to fund improvements to Viewpoint Road, off-site improvements, the unfunded portion of undergrounding, and other public improvements relative to the project. Consulting agreements, hiring of engineers and other aspects of the financing mechanisms will all be paid for by the project, including costs of any Town staff time incurred.
A “correspondence” section has been added to Town Council meeting agendas and packets, which will replicate comments, suggestions, letters, e-mails and other communication between citizens and the Council not directly related to an agenda item. Those correspondence documents will be included with their respective agenda items. Mayor Matthew Lehman called the addition “another level of transparency.”
Community Development Director Mark Wardlaw held a meeting with partners in the town’s lodging business establishment this week. Numerous single-family homes have been cited for nightly rentals, which are not permitted for houses, 12 assessments have been issued for other Transient Occupancy Tax violations, and another 70 are in process. On the bright side, he said 131 new applications for TOT permits have been filed with the Town, and $209,000 in back TOT or fines have been collected so far.
Wardlaw said that a database of partners and other associated records is being moved onto an automated computer platform, with an online payment portal for ease of TOT remittance scheduled to follow soon.
Town Public Works Director Ray Jarvis said that during excavation of the Whitmore Track Project grounds, several old automobiles were dug up, buried about 15 feet down below the surface. Jarvis said the cars date back to roughly the 1950s. Who owns the cars and how they ended up buried there is as yet unknown. Otherwise, the excavation is progressing well, he said.
And Deputy Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez said Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Oregon has been appointed mediator for both the Mammoth Lakes and Stockton Chapter 9 Municipal Bankruptcy cases. A status conference is scheduled with Judge Thomas Holman on Aug. 29, at which point an eligibility hearing date will be set. She also said that Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition attorneys have served the Town and some of its creditors and other related agencies with subpoenas for documents.