May as well clean this up now. Steve Searles was not rehired by the Town of Mammoth Lakes, as written in The Sheet last week. That was an April Fool’s joke, perhaps made with too much subtlety. I figured this line attributed to Police Chief Al Davis would be enough to give it away – “Bear harassment of the public over the past few years has tended to obscure our department’s own harassment of the public, and frankly, I’m jealous,” – but … I suppose people don’t have time for much more than a skim these days. People aren’t quite engaged. Maybe it’s sensory overload.
It’s like that scene in Wayne’s World 2 where Wayne and Garth go on the radio to promote Waynestock. The radio DJ “Handsome Dan,” played by Harry Shearer, is completely distracted as he conducts the interview, nodding and saying mmm-hmm.
Wayne: You’re not really listening to me, are you? I mean, I could say anything right now, like, you’re a complete tool.
Garth: But you wouldn’t hear it, because you’re a freak with a microphone.
Wayne: It’s not even challenging anymore. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Isn’t that true sphincter boy?
Similiarly, people bought the April Fool’s joke that Supervisor Roeser is advocating for a homeless parking site at the Yuhubi Nobi gas station.
Roeser texted me about it on Sunday night. She was livid. And clearly hadn’t read it:
“What is your source for the news piece you printed yesterday? It has just came [sic] to my attention and is beyond appalling. You need to answer for this. I am receiving death threats – you need to do something about this now. I will be calling the sheriff in the morning if you have not taken action.”
So for this one, let’s just print the joke from last week in its entirety.
Roeser unveils parking plan
Many months after a plan to establish an overnight safe parking zone for those living in their cars was defeated by Inyo County Supervisors, Supervisor Jennifer Roeser has come up with what she believes is a viable alternative plan.
Roeser says the logical spot for a homeless parking site is … the Yuhubi Nobi Gas Station located on Line Street.
While the Yuhubi Nobi station is located on Bishop Paiute land and not within County jurisdiction, Roeser was positive the Tribe wouldn’t object.
“I mean, they’ve got plenty of beautiful new asphalt over there that just sits empty, and as I see it, if you’ve got a bunch of homeless people sleeping there overnight, you’ll sell a whole lot of Slim Jims and Coors Light.”
As Roeser said in conclusion, “Homeless white people have been squatting on Native land for more than 150 years. To me, this literally qualifies as historical use.”
Now I’m not sure why this would elicit death threats, but I dutifully told Ms. Roeser I was sorry and would make amends by taping a segment on KIBS with Ken Harrison alerting the public to the fact that even though it sure sounded like Jen Roeser, it wasn’t Jen Roeser. The author of the piece (moi) was identified as April U. Fool.
So I tape the segment. And then Harrison calls the next day to say the segment was killed by station management and wouldn’t air – apparently they weren’t convinced Ms. Roeser was in imminent danger. And bruised egos are not life-threatening.
No big themes from Wednesday’s short Mammoth Lakes Town Council meeting (where three Councilmembers were in attendance and an under-the-weather Lynda Salcido appeared via Zoom) but a few eye-openers.
In a department head report, Community Development Director Sandra Moberly casually mentioned that the contentious Villas III subdivision project (neighbors at San Joaquin Villas are concerned about the proximity and impact of nightly rentals) would be postponed and not heard at the upcoming Planning and Economic Development Commission (PEDC) meeting on April 13.
This was “breaking news” to SJV resident Eric Taylor, who had written a letter to the editor about the issue (see page four). He asked me why the item was pulled. Moberly said Thursday that the item was pulled so as to allow the applicant more time to respond to public comment. The agenda item has been rescheduled for the May 11 PEDC meeting,
Mammoth Lakes Tourism sent Emily Bryant to give an MLT update during staff reports.
She said several things which should have garnered a response.
First, she began her winter air service recap by gushing about how “very” successful it was. A minute later, she acknowledged that the United commercial service was about 20% down from pre-pandemic 2019 numbers. And remember, the 2019 numbers had hemorrhaged about one-third from the 2011 high-water mark.
She then mentioned that a new “sustainability” campaign is set to roll out in … October. Hmm. Glad we’ll have our shit together in six months so we can really make an impact on those post-summer hordes.
Speaking of summer, Bryant says MLT is aggressively marketing to draw Spanish and Italian tourists this year.
I guess Barcelona must’ve been on somebody’s bucket list.
Council also awarded a $2.42 million Design-Build contract to MMI Consulting LLC based out of Simi Valley for the construction of four for-sale units on a 1/4-acre lot located at 60 Joaquin Street.
The Town purchased the lot for $200,000.
So all-in, it looks like $2.66 million for four units, to be sold to households with incomes from 120-150% of AMI (Area Median Income).
Town Manager Dan Holler anticipates each unit will require a $125,000-$175,000 subsidy.
To qualify, owners, according to Holler, must live there full time as a primary residence, and have a household member working in the region – (defined as Mono – Inyo Counties).
Future sales will be tied to the same income limit cap, with price increase tied to the AMI.
And the four-unit project will have an HOA.
The expected completion date is July, 2023.
But my favorite part of the meeting was MMSA CEO Ron Cohen’s utter evisceration of the Town’s “Final Draft Mobility Hub Study and Program.”
In the staff report summary, it states, “Over the past two years the Town has worked with two consultants to develop baseline data … and prepare a mobility hub study and program.”
Cohen said the “data” came from 50 survey responses, half of which were apparently filled out by visiting Bluesapalooze attendees whose sobriety when filling out the surveys could be called into question.
Further, the study was done pre-Covid and a lot of the results may not even be applicable, as there’s been a lot of changeover in residency and a lot more people working from home. “I’m not sure if some of the conclusions are correct,” said Cohen, who would like the Town to look at some of the micro-transit strategies which have been explored in Tahoe.
The agenda item said Council wouldconsider “acceptance” of the study and program, and Cohen pressed as to what that actually meant. He suggested more study be undertaken.
Councilman Bill Sauser suggested Council simply “receive” the report, as any serious undertaking would require CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) analysis, et. al. to move forward.
So this two-consultant-aided effort, becomes, as Sauser is wont to say, another report on a shelf gathering dust.
The Sheet learned Wednesday that Mono County Public Works Director Tony Dublino has resigned. His official quit date is June 10.
This comes on the heels of last month’s early retirement by Facilities Director Joe Blanchard, and a defection by Pam Smitheman, a Project Manager for Mono County P.W. who was introduced as a new Assistant Engineer for the Town of Mammoth Lakes on Wednesday evening.
Garrett Higerd left the County Public Works Dept. last year for the Mammoth Community Water District.
The Sheet spoke to Dublino Wednesday night to ask why he’s leaving.
Dublino said he’s ready for the next chapter, adding that the day-to-day work is not the reason he’s leaving so much as the cumulative commitment/responsibility/pressure inherent to the position.
“I want to ease that pressure on my mind, body and spirit,” he said.
He understands that the position is high-profile and people will speculate as to what happened, but he said he’s been planning this departure for a year, and leaves in good stead. In fact, he probably stayed longer than he anticipated because of other vacancies, but says “we have good candidates for both [Blanchard and Smitheman] positions.”
Mono County Adminstrative Officer Bob Lawton issued the following statement on Thursday morning:
Tony Dublino has served Mono County as our Director of Public Works since October of 2018, following eleven years supporting the County in other positions. During his 14 year career here, Tony has been Assistant Planner and Associate Planner in Community Development, as the Solid Waste Superintendent in Public Works, and as Assistant County Administrative Officer.
Tony’s contribution to Mono County and to public service has been extensive and is deeply appreciated.
During Tony’s tenure, Mono County built the new Civic Center, planned the operational and fiscal transition of the Solid Waste System away from Benton Crossing Landfill, took steps toward a cleaner and more efficient fleet of equipment and vehicles, implemented projects to maintain County services during power outages, and modernized administrative functions of the Public Works Department.