The Parcel project, proposed ofr the Shady Rest Parcel in Mammoth Lakes and designed to provide workforce housing, is moving forward as planned. Seriously. According to the latest update from Pacific Companies, the development group contracted for the parcel, shovels can hit the dirt as early as May of next year.
At the regular meeting of the Mammoth Lakes Town Council on Wednesday, September 16, the Pacific group gave its presentation to Town Staff.
For anyone that hasn’t kept up with the Parcel project: In late 2017, the Town of Mammoth Lakes (TOML) agreed to purchase the 25-acre Shady Rest Parcel in the middle of town for $6.5 million.
The goal was to provide workforce housing to the TOML. Through a variety of unit types, the Parcel could service workers making under 120% of the area median income (AMI). Some units will be deed restricted for workers at a lower AMI threshold but still providing a mix of units for any worker in the TOML.
Then came public workshops, community engagement and a lot of time defining the scope of the project. In the end, the Parcel will be built in phases (six to be exact), with the end result of up to 450+ units of affordable housing available by completion.
But affordable housing is not necessarily affordable – at least to build. At a Parcel workshop in late 2019, a contracted analyst named, Iman Novin, President of Novin Corporation, gave a development cost estimate of about $450,000 a unit, which the Town did not have the funds for.
The gap has been partly filled. During June of this year, the Pacific group and the TOML got notice that they had received a grant from the California Department of Housing and Community Development. The Infill Infrastructure Grant (IIG) program of 2019 awarded the TOML $20.6 million.
“It is unprecedented for a rural community to get this level of financing, so that was a big step in the right direction and we’re looking forward to leveraging those funds,” said Shellan Rodriguez, Project Manager and CEO of SMR Development, which is assisting Pacific as the project lead.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Council was taked with authorizing any development plans associated with the new IIG money.
Grady Dutton, former Mammoth Public Works Director who has taken on the role of ‘Project Manager’ for the Parcel, started the discussion, “There is nothing in the grant that specifically tells us what to use the money for in terms of ‘pave this street’ or ‘do that parking structure.’”
The Town has not actually received this money yet, and although it was not paramount, the Parcel team was seeking authorization to execute the plan as soon as the money came in.
Council authorized the plans set forth by the consultants and now, the future looks something like this:
October-December: PEDC master plan meetings as well as initial CEQA analysis
January- February 2021: Town Council hearings, CEQA completion, Mono County Financing due
March 2021: submit financing applications for phase 1
May/June 2021: initial construction of Phase 1.
This would put the completion date of phase 1 sometime in 2023, although this is obviously subject to change. The Master Plan, once reviewed by PEDC and the TOML, will be finalized in late February and after the final rounds of funding come through, there might actually be some progress on The Parcel.
Reds Meadow Road
The Red’s Meadow road project, in contrast to The Parcel, is having its initial construction pushed back to 2023.
Haislip Hayes, new Public Works Director for the Town, explained where the project was, “It has been a little over one year since last update. And we are a little over 2 years into a four year process.”
“Reds Meadow [road] has some challenges. Some would say that is failing. The road is narrow, the asphalt is in bad condition,” said Hayes, “[There has been] a lack of funding to maintain that road.”
Reds Meadow road is basically 1.5 lanes for a goodm portion. Vehicle traffic is usually mitigated by the shuttle that runs to Devil’s Postpile (which didn’t run this year due to Covid).
So what will the construction be?
“We characterize it by two componets. The first is from Minaret Vista down to just before Agnew Meadows. This initial 2.5 miles is the wild and windy part of the road. We are looking at a full reconstruction of this section,” said Hayes, “and the lower portion, picking up just after Agnes curve here, and all the way down to Red’s Meadow Resort, about 5.8 miles. That will receive full depth reconstruction.
Hayes then said the construction of the road would mean widening it to two lanes, aligning a number of curves, fixing the slope of the road, providing guard rails, drainage improvements, and a lot of minor tweaks and improvements. The 5.8 mile stretch will require work, “pulverizing the existing pavement, paving a hot mix asphalt concrete surface, drainage improvements, signing, striping and several roadside improvements,” according to the 95% technical memo.
Then Hayes explained the delay. “We are now looking at starting construction in 2023. It was previously 2022. That delay is not because of anything that is happening with the project, it is really related to the timing of the funding … We were anticipating receiving funding in February … But we were told we would not get funding until September.”
By the time it would go out to bid and come back, Hayes said it would be too late to start construction.
The other noteworthy moment came in when Madera County joined the conversation. “We know you are at the 95% design phase. We just feel like there should be a little more collaboration on a project of this nature,” said Madera County CAO Jay Varney, “We would like to see the plans as they move along. It is a little bit disconcerting to find out what is happening in your own County from a local citizen.”
A Madera County Supervisor named Tom Wheeler then explained his gripes with the communication. Apparently Mr. Wheeler had given his card to multiple people associated with the project and had never received any correspondence.
The road actually lies within Maderas County. It would be like someone building a treehouse in your backyard without warning you about it.
Madera has been disappointed with the lack of information coming its way but this wasn’t a contentious issue. Mayor Bill Sauser moved on from the issue by telling Hayes to give them all of the information/updates that they desire.
One the road is reconstructed, the Town of Mammoth Lakes will be responsible for future maintenance.
Mammoth Lakes Recreation
The Town has officially gutted Mammoth Lakes Recreation. The end result was foreshadowed, in June, when TOML did not renew MLR’s contract worth $192,000.
Rather, Mammoth Lakes Council gave MLR $4,000 a month for three months for a small set of deliverables.
MLR had the $192,000 a year from Measure R funds and was asked to fundraise around $1.9 million during the span of its three year contract (running from June 2017 – June 2020). This did not happen.
The new contract reads, “Town shall compensate contractor in the amount of $4,000 per month for the months of July, August and September 2020, for a total of $12,000,” and then after, “As compensation for Contractor’s work hereunder from October 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021, Contractor may use the remaining balance of such funding to provide the scope of services and specified deliverables as provided for in Exhibit A.”
Exhibit A is a shortened list of deliverables similar to previous contracts but smaller in scope.
Executive Director Matt McClain and MLR have parted ways. MLR. The organization has been trimmed down to the bone. And Councilman John Wentworth thinks this is the right step, “I think this is going to be better for all parties involved and I think it absolutely is in the community’s interest. MLR is going to be a key partner for the Town going forward and I think this is structuring and setting them up for success.”
The Town has the option to compensate MLR for extra work if it so chooses. But considering the agenda item lasted barely even five minutes, it seems unlikely.
New Bear Cop
An excerpt from a staff report regarding wildlife management: “The Town has increased its services and response capacity to wildlife, domestic animal and related complaints, and increased police department related enforcement activities with the recent hiring of Code Enforcement Officer Rick Bellis.”
In effect, Becomes the new Steve Searles. That is all. The report assured continuity, “The wildlife program will continue with the same standards and protocols that have been developed and implemented over the past several years. The position is assigned out of the Police Department.”