Mammoth Lakes Mayor Matthew Lehman opened Wednesday’s Town Council regular meeting by saying he’d hoped to have something to tell the public about the airport litigation settlement. Alas, Lehman says there are Is and Ts left to be dotted and crossed, and thus there would be no announcement. (Editor’s Note: Since this meeting, an announcement about the settlement has been made, which you can read by clicking here.)
The announcement of a lack of an announcement didn’t sit well with second homeowner Peter Dach, who drove up five hours from Los Angeles to comment before Council. Dach had a letter read into the record beforehand, taking issue with the Town’s decision to settle and not pursue Chapter 9 Municipal Bankruptcy as an option.
During Public Comment, Dach charged that the community has a right to know what Council and Town Staff are doing, and asked them to come forward with more information. “If [the settlement] isn’t an astounding deal for the community, it’s a bad deal,” he told Council and those in Suite Z. Lehman and Town Attorney Andrew Morris explained that the terms can’t be disclosed and that the Town is bound by a court-ordered mediation process and confidentiality agreements with MLLA. “It’s a very complex situation,” Lehman said.
When Dach asked about how any settlement would be funded, Morris advised against answering that as well. “It’s not possible to explain where the money comes from without divulging some of the terms,” Morris said.
“You’ve already spent millions and I’m concerned that the deal is not as good as it could be,” he said, saying he thinks the Town would be better off “taking its chances in front of a bankruptcy judge.”
R, U process update
Whether or not the Town taps Measures R & U (voter-approved special tax measures supporting parks, trails, recreation, and arts and culture events) to pay off the judgment still remains a big question mark.
Council and the Recreation Commission met to review the application and awards processes for both measures. Synching them up to run on parallel timelines apparently is on hold, as is a Measure U feasibility study. Lehman, who also serves on the town’s multi-jurisdictional Economic Stimulus Council, said the study needs refinement. “It became too big and ran away with itself, and kind of overwhelmed the consultant,” he explained.
Measure U will not have a fall awards cycle, in that a $325,000 air service subsidy loan taken out against remaining and projected funding has left a negative $264,000 balance.
Council directed staff to convene the Measure U Application Committee to draft a new timeline for a spring award, and determine an award amount (cap) for appropriation. The timeline is expected to go back to Council in November.
“There is still some room to move on U,” Recreation Commissioner Bill Sauser said, noting that some items, such as $20,000 for maintenance of the Whitmore Track project, which is still under Phase 1 construction, probably won’t be needed this year.
And Council granted the Alits development in the Bridges Switchback above Lake Mary Road a District Zoning Amendment, Vesting Tentative Tract Map and Variance, the first ones approved this year, to allow single-family homes to be built, in addition to the four existing townhomes and duplexes. Speaking for Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, the developer, Jim Smith said Altis already has interest in five lots for single-family homes. Councilmember Jo Bacon supported the variance, calling it a “creative solution” to the problem of how to make the project more saleable, while keeping it within the project’s established density.