You know, I’ve always looked at that word advice and broke it up. Ad vice. Towards vice. Does anyone really listen to advice anyway? And if they do listen to it, I’m sure it’s simply to buttress whatever it is they wanna do in the first place.
Mammoth Lakes Town Council selected Paul Chang and Dawn Vereuck as new Planning and Economic Development Commissioners on Wednesday.
I attended all four finalist interviews.
If one had voted based on interview alone with no prior knowledge of the candidates and no political agenda, Vereuck and Eckert were the top two by a mile, by five miles, by … a Meb-like separation.
But apparently, “It comes down to thinking about the best diversity and strength for the planning commission moving forward.” -Fernie.
“We have to look at how the fit goes.” -Richardson.
Apparently, if you think independently and show up to your interview all rumpled from a round of golf, you don’t fit. And you really need to have “brand” experience, whatever that means.
A hilarious part of the interviews regarded Council’s praise of the first three candidates for how well-dressed they were. And then, as if on cue, Eckert walks in the room in his shorts and golf shirt and conversation about attire is quickly extinguished. Go Eckert!
As expected, no one on Council asked Chang about the non-payment of tax on resort fees for a period of five months while he oversaw Sierra Nevada Resort’s books last year.
Further, Chang did not demonstrate a knowledge of what rules exist regarding conflict of interest. If I don’t continue with the company [Sierra Nevada Resort], I have no conflict, he said. As a point of order, he has to recuse himself from any issue regarding Sierra Nevada Resort for one year after termination of employment (he’s still with the company – and employment in Tahoe with the company doesn’t free him if he quits his Mammoth responsibilities). His Planning Commission term expires in 11 months.
But you know, Chang is committed to Council’s vision and he’s going to see things through a prism of everything for everybody and that’s the direction.
The only reason Robertson didn’t get the second seat is that she’s so green they just couldn’t bring themselves to do it. Her interview was weak.
Vereuck is a solid choice and deserves it after many years of active participation in town politics.
Town Council approves raise for Town Manager
“I think the relationship between Council and the Town Manager is healthy,” said Councilmember Colin Fernie of Town Manager Dan Holler at the Sept. 2 Town Council meeting. Councilmembers were discussing the approval of an amended employee agreement and pay increase for Holler.
“I appreciate Dan’s honesty about himself [during his evaluation],” added Mayor Pro-Tem Shields Richardson.
On the table was a two year extension of Holler’s employment agreement with the town, from Dec. 31, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2017. Council also considered the potential for as much as a 5 percent merit-based pay increase.
5 percent would bring Holler’s salary to about $168,000.
Raimondo alluded to Holler’s own proposed pay cut during budget discussions when he first took over as Town Manager. “Dan came in at the low end of the pay range,” he said. Holler currently makes just shy of $160,000.
One interesting tidbit from Holler’s First Amended Employee Agreement: “Employee shall attend all Town Council meetings, unless excused by Mayor or directed otherwise by Council. For purposes of this section, Employee’s planned trip to Africa in 2016 (still tentative) shall be deemed authorized and his absences from Town Council meetings during that trip excused.”
“It’s important that the merit reflects our confidence in Dan as a Town Manager,” said Council member Bacon of the suggested 5 percent raise.
“It seems as if a lot of eligible employees have received merit,” opined Council member Fernie.
“[And] you’re suggesting they earned it,” Bacon quipped back.
Councilmembers supported the extension of Holler’s agreement, as well as a 5 percent merit-based pay increase, 5-0.
Mammoth Lakes Tourism Executive Director John Urdi’s flying high. The preliminary July TOT number is $1,309,107. That’s more than 11% over July, 2014. Interestingly, enplanement numbers at the airport are largely flat or down from last year (which was a weak year) so it would be interesting to hear Urdi’s thoughts about the seeming disconnect between total visitation as opposed to air visitation.
Council talks SFR
Town Council broached the subject of Single Family Rentals (SFR) with care at Wednesday night’s regular meeting in Suite Z. Council was considering a staff report on transient rental best practices and options compiled from research papers as well as best practices from other communities.
Those attending the meeting who hoped to hear a definitive answer on whether or not Councilmembers approved an expansion of the Town’s current SFR program were disappointed.
Councilmembers did not comment on their position on that subject, but did agree that the Town’s current SFR practices are not working.
“I think the entire system we have is not working for any of the stakeholder groups,” said Council member Colin Fernie.
But when asked by staff whether Council would consider allowing transient rentals throughout town, regardless of zoning, the answer was also a resounding no.
“You see a lot of quality of life issues if you just open the floodgates,” said Fernie, alluding to a Colorado Association of Ski Towns (CAST) study of the impact of single family rental programs on various communities. “I think that would be completely irresponsible of us.”
Now the trickier question: If transient rentals were allowed within single-family areas, what limiting factors should be considered as part of a possible program?
Council member John Wentworth argued that “the integrity of residential neighborhoods needs to be a fundamental informing value” to any future expansion of the SFR program.
But Mayor Pro-Tem Shields Richardson added that HOAs and CC&Rs should also be respected.
Council member Fernie supported the idea of limiting the number of days a single family property can rent. “That is … an emerging best practice,” he said. “It attempts to limit the idea of people just turning this into a speculative business.”
Council directed staff to come back with an appropriate limit for the number of rental days.
“If we limit the number of days too much, we won’t get the guys coming out from underground onto the road to compliance,” cautioned Richardson.
Council member Jo Bacon requested that any expansion to the SFR program take into account the necessary infrastructure to support it, such as policing, snow removal and road maintenance. She noted that if the Town caps the number of rental days, that will also require enforcement, as will quality of life issues such as trash, parking, and noise.
Council member Fernie suggested earmarking some of the money collected by the Town from SFR for enforcement and code compliance. He noted that Big Bear does just that, staffing two code compliance officers and running a 24-hour hotline for questions and complaints regarding SFR.
Councilmembers also recommended that staff meet with Mammoth Lakes Housing to assess any potential impacts SFR might have on the availability of affordable housing.
Given all of this direction, “Don’t expect a report back quickly,” concluded Town Manager Dan Holler.
SB277 referendum petition
The petition for the SB277 referendum is now available to sign in Inyo and Mono County. The goal of the SB277 referendum is to terminate California’s SB277, the mandatory vaccination law. If opponents gather the signatures in the next couple of months, the referendum will go to a November 2016 vote. This means that all parents will be able to enroll their children in school even if they are in kindergarten or 7th grade in August/September 2016.
If you are interested in signing or volunteering, please contact Athina Kaviris by phone or text at: 760.914.3017 or email at SB277Inyomono@gmail.com, or find her on Facebook by her name or FB page ‘Vax Facts.’
Finally, a late letter …
I don’t attend Town Council meetings much, but I do watch the live streaming video either while the TC meeting is taking place or after the fact.
I applaud Council this week for the Ordinance pertaining to the use of disposable and reusable bags. As a strong supporter of banning the use of plastic bags because of the adverse affects on the environment, this is great news. Thank you very much TOML and TC for the time and effort that went into making this important community decision to move forward rather than waiting to see what the outcome will be when the referendum on the State law goes to the California voters in November, 2016.
This Ordinance will be on the October 7th TC Agenda to be officially adopted, signed and approved and is set to be effective as of March 1, 2016.
Jennifer Langlo Sheldon