So I’m sitting in Planning Commission Wednesday as Town staff gives an update on the progress made by the PAOT (Persons at One Time) committee. For those visitors who don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, here’s the short version. Mammoth Lakes is very concerned about becoming too dense and crowded and unlivable during peak visitation periods, so the Town (through its General Plan) has articulated this concern by seeking to place a cap on PAOT of 52,000.
Which means identifying the number of units which can be potentially built and then assigning a random number of how many people we think will occupy the average unit.
Currently, that number has been calculated at 3.47 persons per unit. At an anticipated maximum buildout of 16,970 units, that equals 58,886 people.
But is 3.47 the right number? Is it even close? Former Community Development Director Bill Taylor, who sat on the committee, said the 3.47 number was derived from a rough calculation made in 2003-2004.
Taylor said census data, lift ticket sales, employer data, traffic data and sewer flows were used to determine that approximately 34,000 were in town during peak periods. After backing out the permanent occupants, the remainder was divided among the other units in town to achieve the 3.47 number. “We assumed two people per hotel room … and four people per condo [and homes] larger than one bedroom.”
“It [PAOT] wasn’t supposed to be nose-counting,” he said. “It wasn’t supposed to be a scorecard, but that’s what it’s turned out to be.”
Taylor considers PAOT “a distraction from real planning … it shouldn’t be about taller and shorter to accomodate people. It should be about physical forms and land-use planning.” Right now, Taylor says that the way PAOT is being used, it’s a little bit of the tail wagging the dog.
The issue I had Wednesday morning was with the multiplier number, and Taylor admitted Thursday that the number (3.47) in all likelihood fluctuates depending upon the year. In big years, it will be higher. In lighter years, it will be less. So in essence, “as an analytical tool, if we use it, we’ll argue forever [about it].”
For example, if we recalculated the number for 2008-2009, it might come in closer to 3.0 than 3.5. Anecdotally, I can tell you that every group of friends I’ve had visit this year has arrived either singly or in pairs and has left the kids (when applicable) at home with the grandparents.
By this measure, should we or would we calculate PAOT at 8,500 less (16,970 times .5)? And if we did so, wouldn’t this literally have a sea change effect on current community development efforts?
I know this is probably overkill, as we’ve had ample coverage of the performing arts this week, but it is time for the Town to figure out how to keep the fledgling Mammoth Lakes Arts Center alive and sustainable.
A few years ago, I said the arts had to wait its turn; that trails were the first priority. Now that Measure R’s passed, the performing arts, in my mind, has moved to the head of the line.
Arts Center Director Shira Dubrovner has proven her worth, and she’s suffered enough (Seems a prerequisite in this town. No one takes you seriously until you’ve had a few Promethean years of punishment). While directing her latest show, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” Dubrovner’s moonlighted as a waitress at Little Eagle Lodge. A production postcard and a sales pitch with every lunch bill.
To refresh your memories, Zeus commanded that Prometheus be chained for eternity in the Caucasus. There, an eagle would eat his liver, and each day the liver would be renewed, so the punishment was endless.
Funny that should come to mind, as most liver damage in this Town is performed voluntarily.
But back to my point. If the Town refuses to support Dubrovner and allows her to fail, I can guarantee you it will be decades before the next Dubrovner (as well as significant other, sidekick, set builder, Seymour, Dracula – Tim Casey) comes along.
Right now, the only developer on the horizon with a chance in hell of building within the next few years is Chadmar’s Chuck Lande. The initial “community benefits” package Lande’s put forward as development mitigation for the Snowcreek VIII property included a great deal of recreational programming, including a proposal for an “outfitter’s cabin.”
It would appear (to me anyway) that such recreational programming could be provided in due time by the Town using Measure R funds.
So, let’s ask Lande for something else (fully recognizing that with the economy the way it is, it may be years before anyone writes another DIF check). Ask him for something the Town could not otherwise afford or provide. There are a myriad of options. If the price was right, perhaps Lande could buy the Arts Center and lease it back to the Town for a dollar a year. In conjunction, perhaps the Town could find at least $100,000/year in annual operational subsidy, and as you well know, I am always supportive of eliminating a staff position to find the money.
If Eastman and McCarroll could work a deal to save the Athletic Club, why can’t they work similar magic here?
I spoke with Jackson Hole’s Rich Anderson this week. Anderson is Marketing Director for Jackson’s Center for the Arts. The Center is owned jointly by the Town and County, which donated the land. The Town and County also provide a small amount of funding/services for the Center each year. Sitting on the land is a new $35 million building funded by private donations. Said Anderson, “Private donors came forward once they saw there was a stability and a commitment [from the Town and County].”
We’re not talking anywhere near $35 million here. We are talking about a place that has already become a home to some, and a fixture to many. Every night I see Mike Dostrow at the theater with his daughter Trinity (who moved up to Mammoth a few months ago to live with her father), it makes me think that every hour and every dollar spent on “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” has been worth it.
Sue Ebersold at the Breakfast Club is featuring a new “Lunch” special this week. Velveeta, bacon and tomato on toasted white bread with a side of deficit (red) jello. I am absolutely serious about this, and encourage readers to support this new culinary sensation.
Just wait. By the time we’re through, Wendy Sugimura’s gonna have a promotional deal with Kraft.