This coming Wednesday marks The Sheet’s 11th anniversary, and as I did last year, I spent a little bit of time walking back through the archives from a decade ago.
I’m so pleased that I’m the only one who maintains these archives, as the paper in that era was, shall we say, uneven in its presentation.
Hilariously, we have a Village parking story this week on page six. Compare the content to the following:
“We’re losing business because people don’t want to have to pay $1 and then cross the street to buy a bagel. They go someplace else.” -Michael Raimondo on the Village parking situation, Jan. 28, 2004
But before we continue down memory lane, let’s talk a little bit about the week that was.
The second forum for Mammoth Lakes Town Council candidates sponsored by the Mammoth Lakes Lions Club was held on Tuesday evening at Mammoth’s Cerro Coso campus.
Lunch’s scoring had Wentworth, Sibert and Pierrel as the leaders, though the entire field was much improved.
However, as Cleland Hoff rattled off acronyms in her introduction, for what purpose I had no clue, I couldn’t help thinking of some acronyms of my own in response, such as:
I did note with some irony that during the forum, Cleland promised that, if elected, Council would be her life and she would spend countless hours attending every public meeting under the sun getting caught up to speed on all the issues.
Then she did not attend the next evening’s Council meeting.
The only candidates who showed were Blomgren, Sibert and Wentworth.
I also noticed, via the bulletin board at the post office, that Blomgren is actually hosting a campaign event directed towards the hispanic community. That’s a first.
Meanwhile, Ken Murray became the second Council candidate to put out a few lawn signs. Wentworth was the first.
At the forum, Sibert was the most aggressive, basically saying that the current Council should postpone the official establishment of Mammoth Lakes Recreation until the seating of the new Council – that if Rick Wood was so adamant about MLR, that he should have run for reelection.
Further, Sibert made the blasphemous suggestion that Measure R should not be entirely broken out and dedicated to an MLR entity. She believes that in the wake of the airport litigation settlement, that the community should have a broader conversation about how and where money is spent.
In other words, while “supplanting” is a dirty word (taking dedicated money for Trails to use for a different purpose), what’s the point of building a sparkly new Trails system if the cops are relegated to operating out of the old Cuppy’s Coffee drive-through?
My favorite milquetoast comment of the evening came from Pierrel, who declared that all of our Town departments are a priority and “none takes precedence over another.” She said that really, it’s just a function of timing, and each will eventually get their turn.
Pierrel also referred to Mammoth as “the best little resort town in America.” I hope she doesn’t get sued by the city of Reno for copyright infringement.
At one point, Paul Rudder turned to me and deadpanned, “If they could stack up some bread next to all these platitudes, they could really have a nice buffet.”
Of course, the great entertainment in reading 10-year old news is in the realization that nothing ever really changes too much around here.
As MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory said in Sept. 2004, “Mammoth is hooked on the heroin of development and construction.”
Only difference now is that we’ve gone way too long without a dealer and we’re getting anxious.
As Base Camp Cafe’s Fran Schilling wrote in a letter to the editor: “Ted: So do you think we can expect kids to be better people when the message from the grown-ups in their own community [in regards to the proposed Skatepark] is ‘We don’t care about you. We care about our property values.’ Sometimes, almost every day, I feel this town is only about real estate.”
As John Walter of the Advocates for Mammoth (remember the Advocates?) said during the General Plan Uodate process: “A nice resort is part of it, but being a good place to live trumped resort in everything we did [in the public workshops] … If they have it their way, we’ll all be run over by backhoes and cement trucks.”
Alas, that didn’t happen. Nor did the maximum visitors-at-one-time numbers projected in various computer models. 61,000, 65,000 …
“Nancy Walter offered a great anecdote from the last general plan workshop which focused on policy choices and how they may affect build-out populations. Walter said she answered ‘no’ to everything because she felt the whole computer model was a set-up. It basically linked affordable housing and resort development, and as her husband John said, ‘made you feel like an upper class jerk if you didn’t agree to choices which inevitably forced higher growth.’
Nancy Walter’s build-out population, according to the model, was 53,000. She said a consultant responsible for analyzing the data commented upon the result. ‘Congratulations, you’re the only one so far that’s made the town go backwards.’”
As some of you may recall, when the General Plan was finally completed in 2007, we’d whittled that number down to 52,000.
Of course, we’d also whittled away many proposed development projects by then. How about this headline from December, 2004:
MMSA Unveils Plans for Little Eagle
The vision included a 40,000-square foot base lodge, private residence club, condo/hotel, day spa and a locker club.
A convenience store for the neighborhood and a year-round restaurant were also under consideration.
Consultant Peter Denniston said the total construction would be about 1/3 the size of the Village.
“Little Eagle is like an engagement ring without a stone. This is the stone. I’m very enthusiastic about the project,” said Denniston.
Or how about the prescient remarks from Intrawest’s Benno Nager in the July 3 issue. He hinted that if Intrawest’s Rodeo Grounds project met with too much resistance in June Lake, that perhaps MMSA would pull the plug on June Mountain Ski Area.
In the same issue, MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory said he hoped the County would commit to encouraging a transient occupancy bed base in order to make the ski resort more viable. “I believe if we have the bed base, June Mountain could become a special Beaver Creek-type enclave, almost like a New England ski area,” said Gregory.
A survey later conducted by the June Lake Advocates stated that 91% of residents did not want to see a project with a maximum height exceeding 35’.
So much for Beaver Creek.
Some choice lines
The good news is that the J1 chair [at June Mountain] keeps it uncrowded up top. The bad news is, it’s still there. –Carl Williams, Aug. 17, 2004
Regarding the news of Intrawest selling an 80% stake of the Village at Mammoth to CNL. “The change should have no effect on businesses that lease the properties.” -CNL’s Byron Carlock
Nationally, the New York Times reports mortgage debt has risen from $4.9 to $6.8 trillion nationally between 2000-2003 and suggests a real estate bubble is forming. Mammoth scoffs. -Lunch, March 20, 2004
I don’t know who this Jimmy Kass is, but there are an awful lot of girls who want to meet him. -Nick Pavlovich, Owner of La Sierra’s, on the graffiti in his girls’ bathroom. Feb. 2004.
The Town needs a business plan. And a general plan is not a business plan. -Benno Nager
And, indicative of the go-go nature of the times, and indicative of my pessimistic nature, here is an excerpt from the June 23, 2004 editorial:
For those of you less than enthralled with your new bedtime reading (Clinton’s My [Too Long] Life), perhaps you should download a copy of the Town’s proposed 2004-2005 budget instead, where the Town tries to explain how, despite a 9% increase in general fund revenue from a year ago, it still projects a $730,000 budget shortfall due to a 12% increase in expenditures.
Most of that increased cost is due to the increased bloating of Town staff. And when it comes to eating taxes, boy does Staff know how to inhale.
Overall, 13 new full-time positions have been created within the Town bureaucracy over the past year, ‘most of which were created and filled within the past six months,’ according to the budget report. *Hmm. Doesn’t this coincide with Charlie Long’s tenure as Town Manager? The report also said four positions were eliminated and 19 positions upgraded. Overall increase in FTE (full-time equivalent) employees is expected to rise from 96.86 to 105.82. Total net staffing cost increase for new and improved staff: $909,654.
But that’s not all.
The report states, ‘The need for a fund balance contribution [from reserves] is the result of the need for expenditures to deal with growth occurring before the revenues associated with their growth are realized.’
Of course, the most important issue of 2004 was published on Oct. 12. That was the day we reported on the letter sent to the Town by FAA District Manager Andrew Richards.
In the lead, I wrote: “Richards said, in effect, either cancel your airport development agreement with Hot Creek Aviation or we will cancel your airport expansion.”
In the Oct. 14 issue, Kathy Cage advised, “Be thankful no residences have been built out there. Moving hangars [back from the runway to meet safety requirements for larger aircraft] is relatively easy. Buy out Ballas. It’ll be the best money he ever made.”