It sure looked like a slam dunk at the outset.
The third phase of the Obsidian development adjacent to Sierra Star Golf Course came before Mammoth’s Planning and Economic Development Commission on Wednesday.
Plans for Obsidian’s Villas III subdivision called for 33-units on approximately four acres located at 100 Callahan Way, behind San Joaquin Villas.
The 33-units is far below the maximum allowable density Obsidian could have proposed (131 units).
The only variance Obsidian asked for Wednesday was for an extra 2.5 feet of height on three single-family structures.
Everything else met Lodestar Master Plan criteria.
So how did it fall apart? One public comment/one emotional appeal at a time.
And one careless remark by the applicant’s architect, Toby Young, didn’t help either.
During public comment, San Joaquin Villas (SJV) residents laid into the lack of notice they’d received about the project, and the impact nightly rentals featuring individual outdoor hot tubs on every duplex deck would have on their quality of life.
And as Eric Taylor, an SJV resident since 2009, explained, the duplexes will tower over the existing neighborhood.
“This is terrible for me and my neighbors,” said Taylor. “There will be 30-plus windows looking down on us… it will turn us into a fishbowl.”
Kimberly Taylor added, “Just because you can [approve a project that meets all requirements] doesn’t mean you should.”
Taylor suggested that Callahan Way be used for egress only and that Villas III residents should have to enter from the existing Obsidian entrance at Meridian Boulevard.
SJV resident Jamie Pollock argued that because the Lodestar Master Plan is more than thirty years old, that requiring a mere addendum to the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) is not sufficient. He recommended the project be tabled.
The careless remark? Architect Young suggested that the project would ease the local housing crunch by “bringing housing where it is needed.”
SJV resident Judith Goddard had fun with that one. “What a joke!” she exclaimed.
As PEDC Commissioner Greg Eckert was disqualified from participating due to conflict, a 3-1 vote was needed for passage.
Each Commissioner assured SJV residents that they felt their pain.
But PEDC Chair Michael Vanderhurst said, “We have to operate based on findings.”
And Villas III wasn’t really asking for any special favors.
But when he asked for a motion to approve? Crickets.
So Vanderhurst made the unusual, move of making the motion himself, and Commissioner Jessica Kennedy seconded.
But the vote to approve failed when Commissioners Paul Chang and Jennifer Burrows voted no.
Chang said he lives full-time in a housing development which allows nightly rentals, and he’s noticed of late t6hat it’s definitely getting noisier and that the Town’s noise ordinance is useless because ity’s toothless; there’s no one available and willing to enforce it.
Burrows said she loved the design of the new development and acknowledged that it stinks when lots get developed right next to you. “We approve things based on rules,” she said, agreeing with Vanderhurst.
But yet, she asked the rhetorical question, “Is this good?” And agreed with Chang that visitors are becoming more disrespectful.
The tie vote doesn’t mean the project is dead. It does mean that staff will go back to the drawing board and meet with both the developer and the public to try and craft a compromise solution.
Expect the project to return to the PEDC for another go in April.
I did want to give a heads-up to readers that there will be a few changes regarding the newspaper’s production and delivery taking effect this week.
The press we had been using in Carson City for the past several years has ceased operation.
This is the fourth press that’s gone out of business since The Sheet began publishing in 2003.
Ridgecrest, Bakersfield, Lancaster, and now Carson City.
This left us with the following press options: Riverside, Ontario, Auburn and Yucca Valley.
The Times and Register’s parent company owns the surviving press in Lancaster but … wasn’t really interested in printing there. Hostage/leverage reasons.
I ultimately selected Yucca Valley/Auburn because both presses are family-owned (same family). the plan is to print in Yucca Valley during the winters and in Auburn during the summers.
What this means is that during the winters, we will be delivering papers as far south as Lone Pine, and NOT delivering papers north of Lee Vining. During the summers, we’ll deliver as far north as Walker and as far south as Big Pine.
One other change: We will be reducing the number of delivery locations. It’s too cumbersome with a small staff. We will not be reducing the number of papers we print (~5,500-6,000 weekly). We’ll build a house ad next week outlining those locations.
Upshot: The national media has been trumpeting this notion of “news deserts,” – that 2,200 local papers (according to the Washington Post) have shut their doors since 2005, creating a dearth of local news coverage that can only be remedied by TikTok.
In my mind, we’re at just as much risk because of ink deserts.
Mammoth to Yucca Valley is 333 miles one-way.
At federal mileage reimbursement rates, we’re at $400/week in transportation before we even bother to deliver a copy in Mammoth.
That’s if I drive and don’t pay myself.
You know what I define as a news desert? Anytime I subject myself to a carefully controlled and scripted public meeting on Zoom. These boards have got to start meeting in person.
It’s funny, at Wednesday’s PEDC meeting, the staff and public were happy to attend in person.
Time for the chickenshit politicians to follow suit and face their constituents.
Now here’s some groundbreaking investigative reporting.
I had fielded some complaints about the restrooms at the Shell stations in Mammoth being closed to the public, particularly from neighboring businesses which kept having people in need asking to use their restrooms.
I first contacted the Town about it and got this reply from Community Development Director Sandra Moberly:
“I checked in with Louis Molina in the health department and he noted the following:
These and similar gas stations are only required to have restrooms for their employees. Because these establishments do not offer on-site seating for food consumption (as a restaurant would), no restroom facilities are required for customers, per Mono County Code and per the California Retail Food Code.”
I then called owner Ken Sample and asked if he intended to open the restrooms up again anytime soon.
Sample said yes, he plans to reopen the restrooms. He also acknowledged that he closed them, in part, out of frustration. That a few bad apples created such a maintenance headache that he just needed a break.
Just this past Saturday, he said, he was out of town when he got a call from an employee at his Bishop location (where the restrooms are open). There was so much blood all over the stall and handles that the employee feared a stabbing had taken place.
Police were summoned to investigate, and determined that it was a health issue. But guess who’s left to clean the mess? As Sample said, “Normally I’d take care of it because I don’t want a street-level employee having to deal with that … I have a hose bib and floor drains in all my restrooms now precisely because of incidents like this.
He does plan to reopen the restrooms soon, adding locks with codes in the hopes that users can be better tracked.
Can I have fries with that?
We’re getting to be like L.A.
On February 5, 2022, at approximately 12:23 PM, a CHP officer from the Mammoth Lakes Resident Post was on patrol near US-395 at the Sherwin Summit when a white Dodge Challenger was observed traveling southbound US-395 at a high rate of speed.
The officer attempted an enforcement stop for the speed violation, but the driver, later identified as Joschka Zawadzki of Hillsboro, Oregon, failed to yield to the emergency vehicle. The CHP officer initiated a short pursuit, but lost sight of the vehicle as it continued traveling southbound.
At approximately 12:39 p.m., a Bishop CHP officer located the white Dodge Challenger parked along the shoulder of Pine Creek Road, just west of US-395. The CHP officer contacted Zawadzki and ordered him out of the vehicle, but he failed to comply with the officer.
Zawadzki fled the scene southbound on US-395 at a high rate of speed in an attempt to avoid capture. Bishop CHP continued to pursue the vehicle to the Bishop City limits, but because of the inherent danger posed to the public, the pursuit was discontinued.
Several minutes later, a Bishop CHP officer spotted the white Dodge Challenger as it pulled into the McDonald’s parking lot in Bishop. Officers from Bishop CHP and Bishop Police Department surrounded the area, where they located Zawadski in the Dodge Challenger.
Zawadzki was taken into custody without further incident. After Zawadzki’s arrest, several illicit drugs were located within the Dodge Challenger. Zawadski was transported to Inyo County Jail where he was booked on violations.