Letters to the Editor
Great Zombie Jesus!
“Elizabeth Tenney needs a new project.”
Stop spending money we can’t afford on knickknacks. This is nuts.
“Tenney expects that it would be a tourist attraction.”
Oh, geez … as in, “Ethel pack your bags, we’re going to Mammoth! They put up a statue of a mammoth at the entrance to town.” This is beyond ludicrous.
Elizabeth, if you need a project, how about getting SHARP (Sherwins Area Recreation Plan) rolling? How about a real municipal natatorium? How about turning the south frontage road into a pedestrian mall? How about just a general cleanup of the town? How about turning part of the Minaret Mall into a public square with grass, trees and the best view of the mountain in the whole town? How about working on acquiring the Shady Rest Tract and turning it into a world class Central Park? How about revitalizing Center Street?
There are a million things that could be done to make Mammoth a better place to live in for the residents. And when a town is a better place to live for its residents, the residents are happier and that happiness is sensed by our visitors and that makes them want to come back and stay longer.
What’s a frigging statue of a mammoth got to do with anything? I feel like I’m talking to a third-grader who is enchanted with her coloring book. Great Zombie Jesus! My veins in my forehead are about to burst!
The wheels on the bus …
I’ve been a driver for the Mammoth Area Shuttle (white buses) for 12 winters since the late ‘80s, and have been very proud — as have countless other drivers past and present, as well as our management — to provide the safest, most reliable and helpful, i.e. best, service possible for visitors and residents alike. A critical part of our service is ease of use — clear, coordinated information, good signage, safe, recognizable bus stops — a system that encourages and not discourages use.
Mammoth’s visitors and newcomers are largely unfamiliar with using public transit, something drivers see manifested daily, and so it is imperative for it to be user-friendly. We have been operating the system for decades now, and through extensive and ongoing fine tuning have developed methods that have worked wonderfully, tailoring the operation to the community’s particularities and safety issues as they pertain to demographics and climate.
This year we have seen considerable confusion and frustration with those new to Mammoth, due unfortunately to the Town’s decision to reinvent a functional wheel.
First, their choice to place only blue signs at stops regardless of the route (as most know, the routes are color-named, a system that works beautifully, simple and clear to understand on maps and placards, especially for those new who don’t know our place-names; again think user-friendly, something that operators of successful public transit across the country and world understand well) has led to MUCH confusion/frustration as we who drive can speak to firsthand; even if only in winters when M.A.S. is running, colored signs should be added.
Second, posted maps at the stops are typically too small and/or opaque or dirty to be legible, something commented frequently upon, and often too poorly lit.
Third, having ALL stops well-lit, and ideally sheltered considering our winter weather is crucial. People are less inclined to wait for a bus if the weather is nasty, and more inclined to drive, increasing risk and traffic hassles for everyone; women and kids, especially, are at risk using dark stops at night.
Finally, maintaining stops well and promptly, including plowing out expediently during snowy spells, will keep them MUCH safer for both riders and drivers — less stopping in lanes and standing on streets.
We have a system that is an important, well-used and well-recognized “selling point” for living in and visiting Mammoth; all concerned need to keep in mind that exquisite public and customer service can’t be afterthoughts for a community based on tourism and lifestyle.
I’d also like to remind residents to keep up the thoughtfulness and courtesy while driving around the town and ski area. We are very well-trained (as commercial drivers need to be, relative to the general public, due to large vehicle considerations) and do our best to exercise both patience and manners while operating our buses; we ask the same from you. We’re driving long, wide and heavy vehicles that take longer to stop, need more time and space to move in/into traffic, don’t “bend”, and, not least, carry many thousands of riders each year, including many of you at times. We are entrusted equally with the well-being of our riders, other drivers (and their passengers) and pedestrians. We drivers aren’t always perfect, but as a unit, which includes our very capable management, indeed focus very hard CONSTANTLY on safety and customer/community service, which includes conservative and mannerly driving; If we don’t, faith and respect in us are lost. Over the years I’ve consistently seen other local drivers’ patience wane as the long winter season progresses, cutting off, not allowing us in, tailgating, etc. We can’t do much about out-of-town drivers (national driving habits are a topic for sociologists and philosophers), but we can talk to you, our neighbours. Please allow us all courtesies to make a challenging, at times stressful and hazardous– but necessary– job in difficult conditions that much easier and safer. We benefit you more than some of you may realize or be aware of, including keeping Mammoth’s roads and streets safer and less congested.
Thank you for reading and considering the points I’ve brought up. I hope we can keep this transit system as highly functional and beneficial as possible, and as it has been.
Pool and spa regulations
Here we go again! Uncle Sam is bending you over for another mandated regulation on your pool and spa. This time it’s coming from the Department of Justice, and it’s going to cost your facilities more than the drain grates and suction release systems that were required last time.
All of us are aware of the blue handicap spaces in parking lots, ramps and special fixtures in bathrooms. Well this is now going to encompass your pool and spa. No you are not going to be required to have a designated blue handicap seat in the spa or a ramp into your pool. The DOJ has mandated that you WILL have a handicap lift available if needed.
Will you need a lift for the pool and the spa? No, one will suffice per each complex, but it must be available for both bodies of water. This means that the deck anchor or unit you purchase must be compatible at all of your pools or spas.
So you say that you are grandfathered in and your old sling hoist will suffice. Not a chance; not only are the new regulations explicit, but California’s are even tighter. The requirements are tough, stipulating how much of a load the lift must carry, how tall it must be at deck level, how far it must reach out into the pool or spa and how deep it must deposit someone in the water. California’s requirements further mandate that the lift have a foot and armrest as well. All of these lifts have to have controls that are able to be operated by the handicap person while in the lift, and of course they all have to be certified.
The pool industry has been aware of this new regulation for several years and many manufacturers have been building their stockpile in anticipation. Personally I have been educating managers and HOAs of this for several years. Their retort has not been very cordial to say the least. On one particular job at a condo facility I was blindsided by the town inspector for ADA compliance. This was after I had a signed contract and paid for the permits! Needless to say I had to come up with something to appease everyone. I now buy pants with no pockets.
So what’s your deadline? March 15, 2012. So you have a year to argue with your HOA.
Who’s going to enforce this? It’s not going to be the County Health Department or the Town of Mammoth Lakes responsibility. This one is on the DOJ and they more than likely will not respond unless there is a complaint. Whew, you say, we’re off the hook, we can easily blow this off. Who’s going to call the DOJ? Hmm, how about someone who has a handicap and wants to use the spa? How about those eager lawyers looking for an easy lawsuit? There are others as well that are looking for a facility that is not in compliance. The following is direct from the ADA website.
“The Department of Justice may file lawsuits in federal court to enforce the ADA, and courts may order compensatory damages and back pay to remedy discrimination if the Department prevails. Under title III, the Department of Justice may also obtain civil penalties of up to $55,000 for the first violation and $110,000 for any subsequent violation.”
The BIG question that you have all been asking is what’s the cost? I guarantee you that it’s not as costly as getting nabbed by a lawyer or the Feds. From what I have researched it appears that anything from $3,999 and up. The better quality lifts seem to be in the range of $4,999 to $8,000. Of course there is always the assembly and installation that follows. Some of these lifts have wheels and are portable, meaning there is no deck anchor to install. Still the others do require a deck anchor, and installation is extra. All of the units are moveable and can be stored. The units with wheels that do not require deck anchors are roughly $1,000 more than the ones requiring anchors. The ones that require anchors usually have a cart available to make handling easier.
To sugar coat all this bad news our dearest Uncle is going to give you a TAX break!! Yes siree Bob, you may be eligible to qualify for a tax credit. Jump through that hoop there Bob, fetch that stick, jump over that fence play dead, comply or be spanked. Ohhh, that feels so good.
Much like the Virginia Graeme Baker act requiring drains and anti-suction features, I predict that everyone is going to wait as long as possible to comply. At the last minute there will be a rush and the prices will likely rise. Given the predictability of our economy I would venture to bet that shipping costs from now until next year will double due to fuel.
Installing a sleeve in the deck is not as easy as drilling a hole and popping it in. Since the sleeve and lifts are metal they must be bonded to the pool or spa. Also they should be tied into the bond beam with rebar and enough of a cement counterweight to compensate for the leverage of the lift arm. I compare this to installing a diving board. The installer assumes a lot of liability, and it’s why diving boards have all but disappeared from residential pools.
The following story is true. It is not meant to make fun of handicap people, quite the contrary, it is meant to bring attention to the frustrations and absurdities that handicap people as well as public and semi public entities face when it comes to complying with ADA regulations.
I was contracted to remodel a pool and spa at a condo complex here in town. Like many others, it’s not very handicap friendly. Not because they do not want to comply, but because the location makes it damn near impossible to conform. The complex sits on the side of a hill and it has several levels. The driveways are a bit steep between these levels. The pool and spa sit between these levels and as a result there are many stairs. A person in good physical condition can have difficulty traversing them. I do not know how a handicap person could find a way to get up or down to the pool and spa. One of the requirements that the Town mandated as a condition of the permit was to satisfy a percentage of the contract price toward ADA compliance. I did this by installing deck sleeves for the installation of a lift at a later date. The absurdity in this is that there is little to no way that anyone who is handicap will be able to use the lift.
Discussions with the manager and HOA board about future compliance brought out many suggestions on how they MIGHT be able to do this. One tongue in cheek suggestion was to paint a handicap lane on their driveway with wheel chair insignias. Because the driveway is extremely steep, this would allow for a safe passage for a disabled person. To further enhance this experience for the disabled it was suggested that there be an out of control sand trap much like they use for truckers. After all, you wouldn’t want the handicap to get hurt any more than they already are.
Seriously, we as a resort destination face a multitude of problems that we must conform to. Having Uncle Sam or any agency mandate what we must do brings out the absurd. I am sure that as time passes the ADA compliance for access will get tougher and more expensive. For the complex above, I believe the only way they can offer access is to install an elevator. This would solve one problem but what about access to the units? Does the HOA now have to pay for multiple elevators?
While I give the handicap much credit for being able to coexist with us fortunate, I believe that just sometimes the rules need to have a bit of wiggle room. People really need to be understanding and rational on all sides.
MVP holders “very annoyed”
How we long for the Dave McCoy days, when we could ski something besides Chair 8 on powder days, when we got hot chocolate and cookies while waiting for the bus, and could buy lunch on the mountain for less than $50/person. Cost centers and corporate ho-hah have turned Mammoth into something other than McCoy’s vision.
And now we are told in a very lengthy, self-serving email by Mr. Gregory that Mammoth is not making enough money (this stated between the lines, of course) and must open up MVP passes to the general public (again).
This has been a phenomenal snow season, but many days the mountain is not open, even with clear skies and minimal wind. The rumor is liftees are laid off, or something. Beware Mr. Gregory. Your business is not “Black Pass Holders,” but us, the loyal MVP passholders since 1999 — and we are getting very annoyed.
MVP pass holders from Vegas … yes there are a lot of us.