Richard Plaisted was appointed in December to the board of Mammoth Lakes Housing (MLH). He comes from the “dark side.” As General Manager for a company called Vacasa, Plaisted manages roughly 130 short term rentals in Mammoth and June Lake.
In his MLH appointment, he seeks his own redemption.
His conversion came like that of Saint Paul. As Paul sat on his horse on the road to Damascus, Plaisted sat alone on a folding chair at a Chamber of Commerce mixer. An angel bearing his salvation came in the form of Patricia Robertson, Executive Director of Mammoth Lakes Housing. She sat beside him.
Robertson told Plaisted of the opportunity to help build the community Mammoth as a member of MLH.
“So I applied,” Plaisted said.
“I am not pro-short term rental,” he said. “I believe more in the community of Mammoth than the investors,” Plaisted said.
He hopes to aid MLH in the creation of new long-term community housing.
“MLH could be doing a lot more in terms of turning commercial units into residential, and breaking ground on building new community residences as opposed to more short term rental”
Plaisted’s family has been coming to Mammoth since the 1940’s. Plaisted always wanted to live and work here, but, he said, “trying to find a decent place to rent was nearly impossible.”
What excites him about being on the board of MLH is not just converting units from commercial to residential, which has been the bulk of the work so far, but building new developments restricted for community housing.
“I will be on a committee working with existing property owners to build a 40-50 unit project,” he said. A process like this will take time.
Plaisted explained the evil of his old ways.
“This place is driven by TOT and so there is a pressure to have more and more rentals but if it is locking out the average person from living here then that is not good.”
Now is the time to be good.
Agnes Vianzon was appointed to the board of Mammoth Lakes Housing (MLH) in December. She and Plaisted are the two newest members to fill out the board of the non-profit that the town of Mammoth Lakes funds to take care of its community housing needs.
Vianzon is the founder of the Eastern Sierra Conservation Corps, a non-profit that provides opportunities for youth and young adults to experience and better understand wilderness and natural resources by providing a transformational backcountry experience.
She saw an advertisement for the board seat opening on social media. “I had just been thinking in general about contributing to my community the Mammoth Lakes community,” Vianzon said. So she jumped at the opportunity.
Vianzon moved to Mammoth in 2001 to be a seasonal worker for the mountain. She was living in Mammoth in the winters and skiing, and in the summers she worked in the national parks.
She saw then the difficulties that so many in Mammoth have finding housing, what she called the “seasonal scramble.”
“There was no social media then. I would check the paper and post office for somewhere to live every winter.”
In 2010, Vianzon purchased her own condo in “the classic way,” by putting 20% down on a short sale. She says that the housing situation has devolved to the point that she does not think that she could purchase a condo now if she were in the same financial situation.
“I have friends who want this same lifestyle,” Vianzon said. “I see them struggle.”
Vianzon joined the board just before MLH performed its Strategic Planning Session in February. She said that this session helped to initiate her by giving perspective on where the non-profit has been and where it hopes to go.
“There are achievable goals,” Vianzon said. “It has only been three months and there are some really cool projects coming up.”
She said that she is excited about two areas of growth for MLH: fundraising and marketing.
“We are a 501(c)(3). Why don’t we fundraise more?”
On marketing, Vianzon said that she had so little awareness about MLH before she joined the board.
“I didn’t know that I could come to the meetings or see them on tv,” Vianzon said about the groups public meetings. She is telling her friends about it, but hopes that there can be a more concentrated effort at community engagement.
Vianzon just wants to make a positive impact in any way she can.
“I think that there are no easy solutions, but I’m excited about being able to contribute in positive ways for the short term and long term goals of housing.”