Spare the taxpayer
On May 18, Mammoth’s Town Council agreed to pay to develop new parking in and around The Village at Mammoth with taxpayer money. Council was not interested at all in having a discussion about mechanisms to have the commercial interests in The Village repay the Town for fronting the cost of putting in parking for their benefit. Astonishingly enough, both Mayor Michael Raimondo and Mayor Pro-Tem Shields Richardson, who own restaurants in The Village, participated in and voted in favor of that action, despite their obvious financial conflicts of interests.
Intrawest developed The Village with no parking allocated for the commercial space. The hope at that time was that our transportation system would develop to be the kind that both visitors and locals would use to access the shops and restaurants, much like they do at Whistler. The developers agreed with this approach and took the risk with their eyes wide open. They liked it because it saved them money on their development up front.
In case the transportation strategy didn’t eventually work, the Hillside lot next to The Village was deeded to the Town when we granted Intrawest a Development Agreement with the understanding that it would be used for parking should it be needed. This was a subject of abundant public discussion at the time.
What wasn’t specifically fixed at the time was how that would happen. We talked about many different kinds of funding mechanisms. All of the options discussed included ways for the developed commercial core to participate in payment after the fact. Remember, that space never had to pay for the full cost of developing parking as part of its development cost to begin with. That was a benefit no other commercial development in this town had ever been given before. And it was a risk.
As a member of the Town Council who voted to grant Intrawest that DA and who accepted that Hillside lot in exchange for the benefit of the commercial space not having to pay to develop its own parking, I strongly object to the Town now stepping in and paying to develop parking for them. It’s not right. We the taxpayers shouldn’t be paying to correct a problem a private development created for itself. Yes, it happened with our regulatory concurrence, but the decision to proceed with that development risk was theirs; as is all private development.
The parking problem at The Village is one of a for-profit private property owner. The solution shouldn’t be paid for by the local government. The financial burden to correct the parking problem for The Village commercial core should rest on the owners of that commercial property, not the Town government. Especially not a small, financially-strapped local government. We are not a redevelopment agency.
The private property owners in North Village are playing some kind of game of financial chicken and our Town Council flinched first. Shame on them.
Former Mayor & Councilmember