Mammoth Lakes Mayor John Wentworth announced at Wednesday’s regular council meeting that the Town had reached a tentative agreement to buy the 25-acre Shady Rest Parcel for $6.5 million.
According to the town’s press release, “Acquisition of the property represents the most significant action currently available to the Town to secure land as part of a series of solutions to address … community housing.”
The property is currently zoned to accommodate 172-workforce housing units.
Town Manager Dan Holler said the Town has enough cash-on-hand to do the deal without touching its REU (Reserve for Economic Uncertainty).
Financing details will be worked through during the 120-day escrow process.
According to Holler, the property owner, an entity called All-California Funding consisting of numerous small investors, says it was into the property for $12 million and is selling at a “significant financial loss.”
However, the purchase price is significantly above the assessed value and appraised value of the property.
Mono County Assessor Barry Beck said the property is currently assessed at $2 million.
Mammoth Lakes Housing (MLH) had the property independently appraised back in December, 2015. That appraisal came back at $1.6 million.
Town Attorney Andrew Morris, however, said the Town “did not feel that the MLH appraisal was accurate.”
The Town can pay what it will for the property provided that it’s for a public purpose.
All-California Funding, a consortium of small investors, had so much into the property on the hope and belief it could strike a deal to alter or waive the property’s affordable housing zoning designation.
There are actually two
properties involved in the sale. The second is a small Center Street lot required for access purposes to the larger parcel. That lot carries a current assessment of $140,000.
Mammoth’s first/former Housing Director, Andrea (Clark) Roope, while acknowledging she is not on the inside when it comes to the details of this deal, told The Sheet she thought the purchase price sounded high.
“That property has almost negative value,” because of the zoning (affordable housing overlay). With that zoning intact, “no one else was going to buy it so there was no incentive to overpay.”
But as Mayor John Wentworth explained, the Town’s desire to acquire the parcel means it was willing to pay a bit of a premium. “Without housing, we cannot be the community we want to be. It’s that simple.”
Wentworth also said control of the parcel is critical to the Town’s continued pursuit of downtown revitalization plans.
In other Council action, Town Recreation Manager Stu Brown gave his end-of-summer report. The highlights: Youth summer camp participation is up 174 percent since 2010; Whitmore Pool attendance was up 24 percent this summer; participation in adult rec programs was down 35 percent, mostly due to the decline in softball numbers.
Brown promised that the rehabilitation of the Town’s six tennis courts on Forest Trail would proceed next spring.
Trails Coordinator Joel Rathje announced that the Town now has 38 data collection points to monitor outdoor recreation use. For example, we now know that an average of 1,000 people per day were using the multi-use path at Horseshoe Lake. About half that number hiked the Horseshoe Lake Loop.
Former Visitor’s Bureau Director Danna Stroud, who had been working for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, has returned to her roots in Paso Robles according to Mayor Wentworth. She has become the Executive Director of the Travel Paso DMO (Destination Marketing Organization).
Councilman (and Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board member) Colin Fernie said Transient Occupancy Tax revenue (through September) was trending about $1.5 million ahead of budget.
Councilman Bill Sauser said the Town is looking into using Red Fir Road as a turnaround for Old Mammoth bus service (at least on a temporary basis) for this winter.