A town’s General Plan sets forth the goals, policies and direction a town will take in the future. The General Plan is the citizens’ “blueprint” for development; the guide to achieving its vision.
Mammoth Lakes’ General Plan establishes “standards, guidelines and priorities that define the community now and for the future … The Community Vision for Mammoth Lakes embodies important values and principles that recognize the uniqueness of our natural surroundings and our character as a village in the trees.”
On Wednesday, July 20, Hart Howerton, a design and planning firm that specializes in resort communities, unveiled its vision of what the town should become if it ever expects to be a “Premiere Destination Community.”
During the introduction, it was noted that obstacles such as droughts, economic downturns, and a lack of community consensus and Town Council leadership have thwarted Mammoth from becoming a “Premiere” resort.
The presentation concluded with implementation strategies or commitments:
The Mountain: On-mountain improvements, base facilities and real estate.
The Town: Implementation strategy and funding for parking, streetscape, pedestrian bridges, narrowing Main Street, and location of the ice rink at the Shady Rest tract (behind Center Street).
The presentation also recommended moving the post office closer to Shady Rest tract and relocating the RV Park to the North side of State Route 203 to create an open space entrance to town.
What was not presented were the financial tools, the public/private partnerships, and political will to scrap parts of the town’s General Plan and zoning to implement the Hart Howerton vision, a vision that focuses on the five Mountain portals or nodes that have direct or indirect access to the Mountain, as well as the Main Street/Hwy. 203 entrance to town.
For the Village to be successful in attracting a hotel developer, the consultant identified two needs: a conference facility and a parking structure. A conference facility could be located at Canyon, a short four-minute gondola ride from the Village. A two-story parking structure could be located on the town’s property north of the Village [the old town hall west of the tennis courts]. This would reduce the hotel developer’s cost of providing a conference facility and underground parking in the Village and raise the questions: Who builds and maintains the parking structure? How will the public/private partnership be structured? Who is responsible for the pedestrian bridge in the Village?
Developers will argue that the new Transient Occupancy Tax [TOT] and sales tax revenues will more than pay for a parking structure, so the town should provide the structure gratis. Previous Town Councils argued that the addition of hotel rooms does not always translate to new customers and an increase in TOT/sales revenue. There is also the cost of increased service levels that come with new development.
At a minimum, the Town should also coordinate with the homeowners in Mammoth Knolls and establish a Village Parking Assessment District to share in the care and feeding of the Village parking.