The effect of cutting officers
I am gravely concerned about the proposed elimination of positions within the Mammoth Lakes Police Department.
From both a law enforcement perspective as well as a community perspective based on our being a tourist destination, I see nothing but negative consequences resulting from this proposal. I know the Town Council has to juggle many issues but unlike Council, I as your Distrioct Attorney have only one top priority and that is to protect the community in which we live by giving victims a voice and serving justice for our community.
The impacts on my office and the justice system will be consequential if additional positions are eliminated. When officers are unable to immediately respond to crimes that are committed because of manpower [shortages[ two things occur. First, immediate law enforcement attention cannot be given to a victim and second, because officers cannot immediately respond to a scene, crucial evidence will not be collected and otherwise lost. Quick response to a crime scene is paramount to any successful prosecution. Almost 100% of crimes get solved, prosecuted and result in convictions when there is a quick law enforcement response. Less than 50% of cases result in convictions when a case is investigated days or weeks after an incident.
Investigating a crime days or weeks after its occurrence takes a tremendous amount of time, money and man hours to gather necessary information needed for a successful prosecution. A gutted police department will not have these resources, and victims (a large percentage who are tourists) will never see justice or be made whole again. The justice system will have failed them and they will walk away dissatisfied with the system and dissatisfied with Mammoth Lakes. Anyone who’s been a victim of a serious crime knows what I’m talking about. This is not the image for Mammoth Lakes that we want people to walk away with. The lack of safety is one of the primary reasons why cities, towns and neighborhoods decline. If a neighborhood is unsafe, people don’t buy there. If your business is located in an unsafe area, your business will fail. If our town is unsafe, people will not come here.
My office already assists the police department as much as we possibly can on case investigations and will continue to do so because the safety of Mammoth Lakes is a top priority. Elimination of positions will task my office with a tremendous increase in case investigations and the difficulty of piecing cases together.
At this time, I do not see my office hiring additional investigators to help. We will do the best we can [with what we have]. One factor that will never change is that crime will always exist. The question is how does the town handle it? Eliminating positions and reducing your police force is not the answer.
Mono County District Attorney
In support of MLH
I am writing in support of Mammoth Lakes Housing, whose work is crucial to our Town, and whose existence is in jeopardy. As the entity responsible for implementing Mammoth Lakes’ inclusionary housing policy, and the recipient of state and federal grants for affordable housing, Mammoth Lakes Housing’s work is the sole means by which affordable housing is developed in our community.
It is time to stop viewing affordable housing like charity and regard it as what it truly is: a boon to our local economy.
Just like other economic programs, affordable housing should be a priority. This is especially true in resort towns, such as ours. Like so many mountain towns that rely on tourism, there is a big gap betweeen the market rate cost of housing and the cost that is affordable to people who work in the town. It is not secret that many service industry jobs in Mammoth Lakes pay low wages. And those low wages are exacerbated by the seasonal nature of the town’s businesses. Many workers don’t work year round, and it is not always certain that employees will find work five days a week.
When there is a lack of affordable housing, and a prevalence of low wage jobs, employers find it difficult to maintain a dependable workforce. This is why other resort mountain towns, such as Aspen, Colo. and Jackson, Wyo., have employed aggressive affordable housing programs. These towns recognize that making housing affordable for all income groups ensures that there will be enough qualified employees in different trades to meet employers’ needs.
Without sufficient affordable housing, workers unable to live in town are forced to commute great distances. In addition to impacting environmental and traffic conditions, such lengthy commutes erode business productivity and competitiveness.
Finally, affordable housing supplies patrons for our local merchants. Because a significant portion of homes in Mammoth Lakes are second homes, it is important that permanent employees be able to remain in the area to support our local businesses year round. It is also important to remember that the less a household spends on housing, the more the household will spend on other goods and services, such as healthcare and entertainment closer to home, thereby benefitting local merchants.
Sufficient affordable housing is essential to the recruitment of qualified personnel and to the support of our local businesses, the keys to the economic vitality of our community. Mammoth Lakes Housing has a proven track record in promoting and producing affordable housing in our town. And with only two full-time employees, it is a very cost-efficient organization.
We must continue to fund Mammoth Lakes Housing. It is essential to our economy that its work continues.
Polly V. Marshall
English without exceptions
My mother imigrated from Poland, learned to read, write and speak English as a requirement for citizenship. Why would any taxpayer want to vote for a school system that educates the children of people who are here illegally and only wants to hire teachers that can speak Spanish?
It is my understanding that 70% of the school attendees are Hispanic and I have been told that when the INS makes a raid in Bishop the “jungle telegraph” relays the message to Mammoth and the parents keep their kids home out of fear of being discovered they are here unlawfully, leaving the school erily empty until the coast is clear. This issue is concerned with the rule of law and not race.
I am not sure this is accurate information, but given the choice, we would be better served with a private system that has the right to restrict educational opportunities to those who can speak English without exceptions.
I know it sounds like sour grapes, but why do we have to obey the law and be forced to educate the children of others who don’t?
A case against SFR rentals
TOT (room tax) is the Town of Mammoth Lakes largest revenue source. That source is a result of the investment and work of the present lodging community.
This last year was brutal on everyone, but that source of income (TOT) never waivered in its payments to the town.
Following probably the worst winter ever and a town in bankruptcy it is the business and lodging community of Mammoth that banded together and with their combined efforts, with professional marketing agencies from the town to work on “The Best Summer Ever” campaign. Even when funds were tight, it is the business and lodging communities that remained optimistic in their promotional expenditures.
This was a great campaign designed and implemented by Mammoth Lakes Tourism Executive Director John Urdi and others which apparently produced record numbers for the summer’s TOT collections and in fact were a substantial increase over the previous record.
Who paid the TOT for this record amount? The existing invested, legal rental community.
Single family home rentals do not promote “Mammoth” Economics
Lodging owners in Mammoth have been struggling. Opening the door to single family home rentals will do more harm than good. The market is difficult and home rentals, by expanding the bed base will cause hardship.
1. Employment – Hotels and motels collectively are responsible for a large contingency of employees to; staff front desks, clean rooms, launder linens, landscape maintenance, snow removal, repairs and capital projects. Single family rentals will reduce these jobs in an already, very delicate pay and employment area.
2. Guests to Mammoth staying in the town’s already designated resort nodes “go out on the town” for meals, events and shopping. They spend their money and promote the town and its prosperity. Prosperity leads to jobs and job creation. Guests staying outside of the towns resort centers will be more inclined to eat in and watch videos.
3. Future development – Due to a lower annual rental per unit as a result of more units being available it creates a situation that further postpones the economic viability of new development. New development starts with construction jobs, development impact fees and also produces long term full-time and part-time jobs. New units also produce higher TOT.
4. On a personal note – if faced with this eventuality several years ago, we would not have completed a major renovation of our Property. Considerable time and expenditures were also made to obtain entitlements for a 124-unit condo/hotel which I feel, with enough patience, may be be built some time in the future. This proposal will permanently shelve these plans and any future investment I may have considered for Mammoth.
Division in the Community
Trust in the Town of Mammoth Lakes will be undermined. Dependable consistency from the Town of Mammoth Lakes is a requirement for trust. Trust in the system, trust in council and trust in the General Plan which took so many years and great efforts by many to produce. It is all our responsibility to preserve the ideals and principles with which the General Plan was written and ratified.
What happened to “Feet First?” to the resort and entertainment nodes in the general plan? This idea of home rentals flies in the face of that and angers me greatly. The divisive nature of this toward what I think was a real coming together of the community in agreement of this General Plan is astounding in its contemplation.
This will divide us as lodging owners and associated interests with the Town of Mammoth Lakes and leave a bitter feeling every time a TOT check is written.
Preservation of the Mammoth Experience
The quality of the vacation experience will be diminished as will Professional Standards of Accommodation A key box accessed, usually in late evening for L.A. travelers, will take over from live check-in. Finding and checking into a single family residence after five hours of driving is not often pleasant as a “welcome to Mammoth” experience. In most cases the front desk personnel are trained, not only to greet and welcome but also to suggest activities and their locations and to provide a brand of Mammoth hospitality.
Making an already difficult situation worse for lodging owners
With less revenue, personal service and hospitality standards will be diminished. Budgets to service ongoing levels for repairs and maintenance will diminish and properties will become “run-down.” Public safety will be compromised. Existing stock of condos who rely on rentals and were bought as such will face more foreclosures as a result.
1. It has been a difficult time for all businesses and residents in Mammoth. Businesses that have been around for years providing employment and housing, paying TOT and spending on marketing and promotion are not being recognized for all they have done for the community.
2. The majority of single family home owners who will be putting their homes into a rental pool are not residents or business owners in the Town of Mammoth Lakes.
3. Houses have been built to a different code for development and had impact fees far lower than that of rental product. So here we would have rental product (single family homes) built on cheaper property, with cheaper fees and built to a lower standard for fire codes etc., competing with lodging owners.
4. There goes the neighborhood – In most cases, single family homes were built to be just that…. to be oriented to a family and neighborhood experience. Allowing renters into residential neighborhoods creates late-night noise violations and parking problems, etc.
5. Condo owners who bought and depend on rental income will be squeezed and may not be able to continue to support their shortfalls and may walk away continuing the downward slide of real estate values, prolonging what has already been a tough road.
In conversation with several people who should know at present, the largest number of TOT cheats are legal rental condos. I think we in the lodging community need to see a continuing concentrated effort towards collection with even stiffer penalties, rather than going the easy and unfair route through the issuance of new non-compliance rental stock.
Cost of Collection
The town will have to spend a significant amount on code officers hired to enforce codes for fire, snow removal, parking etc. Start-up code implementation will also be a further drag on town resources The new cost of annual or bi-annual inspections. Monitoring code repairs. New crop of TOT cheats to deal with … a costly proposition.
Lastly, where is the bang for the buck? Compared to present TOT income this is a very expensive proposition and is negative to so many who live work and invest here.
Who would this change really help? Absentee second homeowners who bought with the full knowledge that there was no possibility of rentals? A group with no hospitality or operational experience who have not been held to the same standard.