The headline above was the old slogan for Sure deodorant.
A few folks could’ve used some Sure at that opening Parcel workshop. Because there was some stink present.
Last week, Hite reported in his housing story that when prompted by Mammoth Councilmember Cleland Hoff to identify themselves if they weren’t getting paid to be there, about five people raised their hands at the opening Parcel workshop.
Problem is, Hite hasn’t been here long enough to know who’s who.
So he didn’t know enough to call bullshit when Mammoth Mountain Vice-President of Development Tom Hodges disingenously raised his hand. As if Hodges wasn’t paid to be there, ordered to be there by his bosses. And of course Hodges is trying to figure out a way for the company to capitalize as much as it possibly can – satisfying its private need on the public dime.
I don’t blame the guy for being there. He’s supposed to be there. And I don’t blame Mammoth Mountain for trying – I mean, they’ve had great success telling the town what to do over the years. But for godsakes, don’t raise your hand like you’re some earnest citizen altogether devoid of self-interest. Yeah, not getting paid my ass.
Another hand that reportedly went up (Hodges is caught on camera so he can’t deny it) – was that of Mono County Supervisor and former Mammoth Lakes Housing Director Jennifer Kreitz. Newsflash Jennifer: this was a job-related activity. And you were there because you know it’s important to your constituents that you be there.
That’s like someone going to a Chamber mixer and then claiming they weren’t there for business reasons. Nope, they were just there for the cheap wine and the stale crackers.
At least Betsy Truax’s hand was legit – even though a Truax has attended 99% of all public meetings held in Mammoth Lakes over the past five years. The Truaxes are like the Ripkens of Mammoth. They never miss a game.
I made Hite watch the closing presentation on the Parcel workshop which took place last Friday night. So this is the preliminary plan. The first set of phasing, on the northeast corner of the lot, will be comprised of 1.1 acres, mainly three story buildings, and 106-111 housing units serving households with an average AMI (Area Median Income) of roughly 50%.
It’s calculated as a $50 million project.
Wait, what?!? I just called Hite to confirm this crazy number.
The consultant estimated building cost of $364,000 a unit, and with development fees that number jumps to $475,000 a unit.
$475,000 times 106 = $50,350,000.
The town would be expected to come up with 10%, or $5 million, with grants covering the rest.
It sounds like we’d be a lot better off purchasing a fleet of Sprinter Vans and paving a parking lot instead. And as Hite tells me, you can really deck out these vans for about $120,000. The following pitch is from a company called Lake Region RVs based in Minnesota.
“Looking for a go-anywhere RV camper van that lets you get away from it all – and take an abundance of luxury along for the ride? Our Passage 144 custom RV camper van checks all the boxes. Meticulous leather-clad upholstery and polished wood veneers throughout the interior confirm its Midwest Automotive Designs pedigree. A cabin full of artfully installed appliances and intuitive electronics offer the utmost in convenience and luxury. The same state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery power system that’s available on the longer-wheelbase Passage model lets you replace the noise and nuisance of a fuel-gulping generator with one of the safest, most reliable and environmentally friendly sources of AC/DC power. Air conditioning? Check. Suburban tankless water heater? Check. Solid-surface countertops with an induction cook top? Satellite TV, WiFi and premium sound? It’s all there. All wrapped within legendary Mercedes-Benz safety and performance engineering – and a 19-foot platform that allows you to navigate the urban jungle as confidently as you explore the roads less traveled.”
Imagine. You solve people’s transportation and housing needs!
And to encourage the use of public transportation, maybe there’s a mileage charge after a certain base use – say 3,000 miles a year.
The vans sleep two. You charge $1,000/month. It costs you $12.7 million up front for 100 vans plus the cost of paving a 100-stall housing-only parking lot. You charge $1,000/month for the vans (remember, housing plus transport!) and collect $1.3 million per year in rent.
And look, if you don’t want to do it all at once, let’s just use the magic word – we’ll phase the purchases.
I attended Monday’s Bishop City Council meeting just because I was curious about what the vibe would be in the wake of former City Manager David Kelly’s abrupt exit.
Answer: Business as usual. That unmistakable morgue-like vibe was still there. It must be the chair cushions. That or the decor.
The most interesting presentation of the night was the BTID (Bishop Tourism Improvement District) annual report by Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau CEO Tawni Thomson.
In the three full years following the establishment of Bishop’s BTID, Transient Occupancy Tax revenue has increased approximately 41%.
Bishop’s BTID is funded by a 2% lodging assessment.
It has been renewed for 10 years starting in January, 2020.
How it’s affected marketing budgets and revenue is presented below.
Year Budget TOT
2013-14 $211,658 2.0M
2014-15 $226,807 2.1M
2015-16 $480,750 2.2M
2016-17 $566,450 2.6M
2017-18 $631,154 2.8M
2018-19 $634,298 3.1M
The Visit Bishop Facebook page now has 38,000 fans, up 23% year-over-year.
Its Instagram following has increased 57% over last year.
The Chamber/Visitors Bureau attends seven travel shows per year.
It also staffs the Visitor Center.
Room occupancy rates in Bishop are about 70% – that’s up 16% since the BTID’s inception. ADR (Average Daily Rate) for rooms in Bishop has likewise increased 16.4% over the past three fiscal years.
From Thomson: Obviously, our marketing budget grew significantly once BTID was initiated (January 1, 2015). I rounded out the City TOT numbers just because it’s complicated with quarterly payments crossing between fiscal years – hope that is okay. You can see that there has been significant improvement with each dollar invested into the marketing programs.
In addition to the BTID funds, we do get some grant money from City of Bishop and Inyo County – both have decreased significantly over the past several years, but are still important to our overall budget. We also have a little revenue from some events, souvenir sales and membership. It’s important to note that the traditional “chamber” activities like the Christmas parade, mixers, luncheons, seminars, etc. are not included in the visitor bureau budget and no city, county or BTID funds pay for those activities.
Finally, it looks like Bishop will finally get a Tesla charger station. A 12-charger station is planned for the city-owned parking lot on South warren Street across the street (kitty corner) from the back of the old J.C. Penney building.
Mammoth’s chargers on Old Mammoth/Tavern currently draw 965 charges per month. Lone Pine’s charger station draws around 650.