Sandy Hogan stays in the Mammoth fray
“Citizen” is not an idle title.
It represents enfranchisement, the endowment of certain rights, but it also represents an obligation. Citizens are called by virtue of their title to be engaged in the governance of the society to which they belong. A democracy is only as active as its citizens, and few understand this as well as Citizen Sandy Hogan.
Hogan was given the Spirit of Mammoth award by Mayor Shields Richardson in 2017. She is practically a roaming board member for Mammoth Lakes’s non-governmental organizations and town council. She can be seen at most board meetings, asking questions or giving historical perspective during the public comment portion of proceedings.
“Sandy has a wonderful historical knowledge,”
Richardson said. “Our town is better by having active, knowledgable, and civil people like Sandy.”
Hogan sits on the Local Transportation Commission (LTC) of Mono County, the Yosemite Area Regional Transit System (YARTS) Advisory Committee, and the Lands Committee of the Eastern Sierra Land Trust (ESLT).
She is a model civil servant, but it wasn’t always that way.
“I was a Berkeley ’63 who thought I would overthrow the government,” Hogan said.
Her career in public service began when she joined the Forest Service. After being a ski bum in Tahoe for a few years, and working around the world, she went to school for Forestry and became a Forest Ranger in San Bernardino county.
Hogan inherited lawsuits from her predecessor at the Forest Service. The former ranger had, in Hogan’s words, “Not done some good stuff.”
“I probably would have run him out of town on a rail, myself.”
She had to go out into the public and get yelled at a lot for the issues her predecessor left behind, but it taught her the importance of an active public.
“My first public meeting I had three hundred people yelling at me, but those are the kind of things that help us learn, by asking questions together and solving the problems.” Hogan helped to create a land trust after the litigation was settled.
She was brought to Mono County in 1995 to become an Assistant Forest Supervisor. She was in charge of 1.1 million acres from south of Crowley, over Montgomery Pass, and north to Conway Summit. Hogan’s job involved a lot of public outreach. “My job at the time was focused on going to these different communities. I went to the Regional Planning Advisory Committee (RPAC) in Lee Vining, the June Lake Citizen’s Advisory (CAC), the RPAC in Crowley, and the Mammoth Town Council. I really got a feel for how they operated … I got to understand what went on in those 1.1 million acres.”
After five years, the Forest Service was shifting its management model, and Hogan moved laterally into a planning role. She worked on land exchanges like the McFlex Parcel that now houses the Mono County Court.
What does she think is the biggest issue facing Mammoth Lakes?
“Housing, and housing always has been.”
She sees The Parcel as an opportunity for solving the problem, if it is done right.
Currently, Hogan says that the Town of Mammoth Lakes has not been funding Mammoth Lakes Housing (MLH) enough.
“I saw, before this council, an attempt to try to not fund MLH, to keep it at a starvation level,” she said. “The council before this one got it down to two staff people, and then Jennifer [Halfterty]ran for supervisor so it was just Patricia [Robertson]. I literally worry about her health. She’s trying to do a job that needs at least three people.”
Hogan’s motivation for engagement is simple.
“Just to be sure that the questions are asked,” she said. “I learned that it’s easy to make comments, but it’s harder to ask good questions.”
“If you don’t ask the hard questions and make yourself known you can make some big mistakes.”
She has worked on a slew of committees since retiring from the Forest Service: the Mammoth Recreation Commission, Mammoth Lakes Trails Coordinating Committee, Airport Commission, Mobility Commission, among others.
She has scaled back her full-time seats to just the three: LTC, YARTS, and ESLT. She doesn’t want to overbook herself because, she said, “I like to ski in the winter.” It also frees up her time to go to a meeting and follow legislation from a citizen angle.