Connecticut shooting response
Dear Fellow Citizens:
Like all of you, we are shocked and saddened by the horrific school shootings that occurred in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, Dec. 14. One can only wonder what pushes a person to take such violent action on innocent people and in this case, teachers and kindergarten students. We share in the grief that all our community has for the victims, their families, and the people of Newtown.
This gives us pause and time to reflect on our need to review our own school safety practices. Mammoth is a small, close-knit community with open campuses in which we could never fathom an incident similar to this occurring in our own small town. And yet, the same could be said about Newtown before Friday. Preliminary reports indicate that the school had sophisticated security and the coordinated response from first responders was rapid.
This tells us that we all must remain vigilant for the signs of any troubled youth that live in our community. Our teachers, administrators and school staff pride themselves on building strong working relationships with our students. We know all of our students by name. When there are signs of distress in a student’s life we have a number of steps that we can take to provide additional support to that student and their family.
The officers of the Mammoth Lakes Police Department also know many of the students and their families. They are a resource, not only for the schools, but also for families dealing with troubled youth or simply problems associated with raising children in these times.
Last weekend, the principals, local law enforcement and mental health services continued to discuss the events that occurred this past Friday, and we are prepared to offer counseling services to our students and their families. Law enforcement and the schools will revisit their school security and response plans during the coming days.
The Mono County Mental Health team is available to provide support for students and families and can be reached at 760.924.1740.
Let’s keep the families of the lost children and teachers in our thoughts and prayers during the holiday season.
Mammoth Lakes Police Chief
Boyd on mend
My wife and I would like to thank the community for the out pouring of well wishes, hugs and prayers – they have certainly helped over the past weeks. My doctors have determined that my event was caused by a low grade brain tumor. A plan of treatment from my doctors at University of California San Francisco is in place and I will be starting radiation and chemotherapy in Carson City soon. I’m feeling good and I’m working to regain my strength. I’m expecting a full recovery and I plan to return to work as soon as possible.
Thank you for supporting by family and me.
Mammoth Hospital CEO
SFR rental debate continues
I have been reading, with great interest, the raging debate about whether or not to allow people to rent single family homes in Mammoth Lakes. I have read all the opinions, and, at the risk of boring you all, I thought it would be worth while providing yet one more perspective. Mine is a bit different than most; however, as I have 3 restaurants, that, I think, are some of the newer places in Mammoth Lakes, and a hotel that is just completing a multi-million dollar renovation that will, some say, make it one of the most luxurious hotels in Mammoth Lakes history (heated bathroom floors, heated toilet seats, room service from three restaurants etc.). Also, I have 150 team members that work with me and their success is paramount to my own success.
First, why is this topic coming up? Well, clearly the town is broke and if it is broke, it needs some fixing! But, is this the right strategy at the right time? While this may put a Band-Aid on the gaping self-inflicted budget issues that Mammoth has, it will not, in my opinion, solve the fundamental problems our community has had for decades. Namely, awareness, accessibility and amenities which are the biggest challenges facing our community. In fact, I believe, allowing single family home rentals will have the opposite effect. It will stifle the very long term investment and improvements we are looking for. Why should anyone invest in improving the many old hotels and other older properties that exist all over Mammoth Lakes if these owners will suddenly be facing new competition from hundreds perhaps even thousands of homes? Homes which were, generally, bought by owners that never expected to rent them. In addition all the condo and hotel owners, who did purchase condos and hotels to rent, will be hurt financially. Their income will naturally drop. Is this the way we should treat the people that put their implicit faith in Mammoth Lakes?
So, while we might see a small pop in town income, we will not see the long term investments Mammoth Lakes so desperately needs. I and other hotel owners would not be improving our properties and you certainly will not get any new hotels built with all this new competition. Can you imagine a hotel owner or developer telling a bank that, not only will their property compete with all existing hotels, like a normal community, but also you must now compete with the single family homes in the community? Because of all the new competition, rental income per room will drop leading to an increase of worn out properties. Is this what you want? More of the same? I think we all expect and hope for more in Mammoth Lakes and its leadership. Propagating the same old discombobulated way of doing business is not what this town is about.
WE need to take Mammoth to the next level. WE need to provide more jobs and WE need to provide better jobs for our citizens and nicer properties and amenities in our community which will bring guests that pay more to visit our fine town. The more visitors pay, the more our service oriented employees make.
Let’s be clear and realistic. Renting single family homes will NOT solve the long term challenges of Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Mountain. I feel it is much more important, at this time, to address what our real problem is … awareness, accessibility and amenities. I am normally against tax increases as I think we all pay enough taxes for the services we receive.
But, the number one issue I hear from the guests who want to visit Mammoth Lakes and Mountain is that they are not aware of what Mammoth offers. From the natural beauty of the many areas around Mammoth to all the other amenities like nice restaurants, the village, et. al. Therefore, I am completely for getting a resort or community tax on lift tickets, restaurants, retail, and hotels that will pay for an excellent and comprehensive public relations and marketing initiative that works WITH Mammoth Mountain. Together, with the ski mountain we can generate a large enough marketing program to really put Mammoth on the map. I have suggested to Rusty Gregory, the CEO of Mammoth Mountain, (and I know he agrees) that we need to go to market together, not apart. The future of the town is linked with the mountain and the mountain’s future is linked to the town’s. Let me be clear, the mountain cannot afford to build all the amenities it needs to be competitive versus its peers. It needs the town to take its amenities to the next level. That way the mountain can focus on making its guests have the best experience possible on the mountain and we focus on making sure, once our guests get off the mountain, that they have plenty to do in town.
Finally, the town can solve its accessibility by having an airport that is functional and can service all the flights it needs. The town, with all three of these items, awareness though PR and marketing; accessibility through the improvement and expansion of the airport; and the development of amenities in town, through the support of its business owners and citizens, will make the breakthrough it deserves and grow so that it can support the towns obligations.
You have heard me, for many years now, say that the difficulties facing Mammoth Lakes will exist for many years. And so far that has been true. It will be so for at least 4 more years. The good news is that there are many other solutions to the town’s fiscal challenge. Creating a whole new group of rental homes will make the problem worse in the long haul, not better.
The easiest way to fix its current financial crisis is one all businesses have implemented in times of difficulty. That is, to change the salaries, long term benefits, and retirement packages of its employees. If what I hear is true, namely that Mammoth Lakes is ranked number 43 of 480 towns and municipalities in California in what it pays its employees, we must ask ourselves, is this affordable and fair to the people that pay for these salaries, retirement packages, and benefits?
Should we be paying the same benefits that Beverly Hills pays? Are we at the top 9% of all towns and cities? Do our citizens have all the amenities and municipal offerings of the top 9% of towns and cities? I think we know the answer to that. Instead of letting all the great police officers go, how about everyone takes a reduction in salaries, labor costs, and benefits. How about paying them what the industry norm says we should pay them? I am sure this will not be popular with all the people who keep their jobs, but it will be popular and right for our citizens and all the people that get to keep their jobs. We can always increase compensation when times are less tough.
Well, enough said. I hope this strategy can prove helpful to those that are making the difficult decisions. Good luck. We are all counting on you.
Owner, Sierra Nevada Lodge, Rafters, Red Lantern, Jimmy’s
Another perspective on SFRs
A great deal of emotion has clouded the consideration of rentals of SingleFamily Residences overnight.
1. Mammoth has 9,240 homes, of which full-time residents occupy only 3,140. With only 4,599 TOT permits in town, there are 1506 homes that could be used for short-term rentals.
The town struggles to create new investment in hotels or condos while ignoring a $500 million existing asset base that can generate millions of dollars of revenue annually with no new investment.
2. The town budget needs to raise at least $2 million of revenue annually, and our [Weinhuff and his daughter submitted a research paper to the Town] well–researched TOT revenue estimates indicate that this amount is a conservative estimate of potential TOT revenue for SFR’s. Town Staff estimates are a minimum of $500,000 annually.
3. Proposals under consideration by the town to legalize rentals DO NOT ELIMINATE EXISTING CC&R’s. So the families in the Trails or Knolls will not be impacted by rental activities.
4. The numbers estimated are real. A single homeowner wrote to Town Councilmembers that over the last 12 months she has reported receiving 547 inquiries to rent her 4-bedroom single family home for an average of $900 per day–this is $317,000 in lost TOT revenue alone, and does not consider local service providers and visitor spending.
*Editor’s note: Multiplying 900 by 365 gets you $328,500 if the house rents every day of the year. At a 13% tax rate, the actual tax revenue for the home would be $42,705 assuming 100% occupancy. If the home rented at the Town’s normal 35% occupancy, you’d get approx. $14,950.
5. The town’s budget to cut expenses has gutted policing, recreation, and many of the other attributes that make Mammoth a safe, enjoyable Resort Town to live in. This hurts our ability to attract both residents and visitors
6. In our extensive survey of other ski towns, 95% of Western Ski towns allow short–term rentals of homes and use SFR properties to attract larger groups of visitors. Visitor groups are estimated to be more than double what condos attract.
7. Local lodging operators claim that visitors will simply use their properties. This simply hasn’t happened, as the homeowner who provided date in #3 above saw her historic bookings going to Park City, Tahoe and elsewhere for this reason.
A study of finance directors at 7 major ski towns found no evidence that single–family homes were competitive, existing as a completely separate class of lodging.
Finally, why should one class of citizens (lodging operators) receive preferred treatment over other taxpayers?
8. Enforcement is simple — require appropriate licenses and require that the numbers be shown on Internet and other advertising. Homeowners will leap at the chance to legally rent their homes.
9. The effort is a simple adjustment of zoning, and does not require voter approval.
10. Time is of the essence — the 2013 ski season is off to a great snow start, and the town is turning away visitors. The council should act immediately to stabilize its revenue sources and prevent the drain of visitors to other resorts.