Cook balks at MMSA land trade
Dear Members of the Committee for a Viable June Mountain:
I am writing this letter to inform you that I will not be moving forward with H.R. 1241 until your concerns have been addressed.
I introduced this bill to facilitate a land exchange on Mammoth Mountain but did not fully understand the linkage between Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain. After learning of your concerns, I asked the House Committee on Natural Resources to hold H.R. 1241 and not allow it to move forward.
I look forward to continuing to work with you on this issue.
Member of Congress
The following letter from Meryl Martino, addressed to Mammoth’s Town Council and sent to area media outlets, came in Thursday afternoon:
Dear Town Council Members and community members in Mammoth Lakes,
I understand that there is a revisitation of the nightly rentals of single family homes in Mammoth. I do hope this isn’t a “done deal” and that there is truly room for more input.
I hope to examine the issue without harboring illusions, and with minds and hearts open to the likelihood of events that may occur from instituting rentals of single family homes on a nightly basis.
The first issue is the one with the very real possibility of inviting more transients into neighborhoods, allowing for more crime to occur, (i.e. burglaries and car thefts). Dovetailing on that issue, is the very real probability that renting a big house, with multiple people, provokes the issue of more “parties” and possibly more trash left in and around the properties and more automobiles driven to residential tracts. Hence, it allows for the very real chance of a deterioration of our lifestyle in our uniquely quiet and relatively secure mountain neighborhoods. (Many of the homeowners and even the second homeowners have purchased these properties based on the quiet and tranquility they would be afforded by a mountain home.)
Secondly, it would be a real shame, almost a tragedy, if the “judgment error” was compounded by another error and we failed to collect the requisite income to pay down this debt because we only provided a shaky means to do so. After all, it is most likely that most homeowners who may now have “permission” to rent on a nightly basis, may not want to go to the time and trouble of registering and paying the for the business license and/or calculate and provide the TOT monthly or quarterly tax returns, when they might be able to get away with more income, (approximately 14%; that is a relatively large number), without being accountable to the Town. To do the Town’s bidding, (and the government’s) requires that there would be record-keeping and either an accountant or a person that has the computer software capability to calculate the tax owed and to pay it. Is it really likely that homeowners doing nightly rentals will comply with these regulations without policing??? And if the collection of the TOT and the business license fee, involve “policing,” or someone or someones checking on them, making sure they turn in their rental receipts, etc. does that not require more personnel from the Town, and thus, more money expended, from the Town, rather than acquired?
I know that it would be far harder having the Town Council admit, “We made a mistake, or even, “We got some bad advice,” and now we are in this predicament and need the town to rally behind us and agree to vote on a set tax dedicated solely to paying off the judgment. If we all pay our fair share, it may not be so burdensome.
It is interesting that the Town businesses felt comfortable accepting a 2% tax on goods to give to the Mountain for 40% more advertising, yet the Town does not feel comfortable asking for a tax assessment to pay down our judgment, and may, instead, adopt a measure which is uncertain in its yield. With this nightly rental approach, the Town may very likely be in the same predicament next year, scrambling to find money to pay off the judgment. They may have to cut more services to accomplish this. (e.g. Less police, less fire personnel, less safety). They may have to ask for a tax at this juncture. But it will be too late for the neighborhoods that have already been changed, (and not in a good way), and the condominiums that may be vacant and struggling to stay viable or worse yet, be out of business.
I understand this concept may have “worked” in other areas, (Vail or ?), but the history may not be the same. The demographics may not be the same. The travel to the destination may not be the same (e.g. If most people arrive at the resort by plane, then perhaps increased auto emissions, traffic and parking caused by guests staying at single family residences on a constant basis), may not be as much of an issue. The town’s restrictions on the guest policy may be different and perhaps, the towns that have implemented this were simply supplementing their income, not trying to pay down a huge judgment. Let’s be sure we are, therefore, comparing, apples to apples and oranges to oranges. And let’s really get the locals’ perspective on any changes or impacts that have occurred since these programs have been implemented. Perhaps, even if nightly rentals provided a steady income stream for the Town, the price, in terms of negative changes in the communities may be extremely high.
If this is a “done deal, “ I hope it works, but remain extremely dubious that it will, without enforcement, tracking and money expended. In the meanwhile, the single family nightly rentals may leave us with a marginal amount of increased income, if that, and shadows of noisy neighborhoods.
Please think this through and reject “pie in the sky” scenarios, (like the very issues that caught us up in the airport debacle and judgment; plans that weren’t thought through; magical thinking that most succumbed to, believing it would be okay). Please consider seriously the uncomfortable conversation that no one likes to have or do, (voting to tax the community members and to dedicate that tax soley to paying off the judgment), so that our beautiful community can remain solvent and strong.