The weather is pretty much the news this week.
And people accuse me of hyperbole. “Bomb cyclone.” Can’t get much more dramatic than that. Best I can come up with is Hot MUF.
Because I can’t wait to skate.
I see I received a press release from Caltrans at 12:13 a.m. Thursday morning announcing that Highway 395 had been closed in Mono County between Mammoth and Bridgeport.
But before the storm hit with full force Wednesday evening, Mammoth Lakes Town Council snuck in a short meeting at Suite Z.
The lone member of the public in attendance also made the most interesting public comment. Zack Gold described himself as a five-year seasonal resident (he works winters at Mammoth Mountain in lift ops). He says he works about 60 hours/week and lives in his van. He said any estimates of how many locals/members of the workforce are living in their vehicles are probably off by a factor of three. He estimates there are 20 people within his department alone who are living in their vehicles.
But he wasn’t at Council to bitch and whine. He says he prefers van life and wouldn’t live in one of the Town’s affordable housing units at The Parcel even if it were made available to him. Van life, he reiterated, is a personal choice and solution for many. However … he urged the Town to acknowledge this new reality and create more accommodating policy. “It would be nice to not be harassed by police,” he said,
Mayor John Wentworth assured Gold his concerns would not be ignored. “We are in the policy creation business, not the look-the-other-way business,” he said.
One interesting sidelight of the meeting had to do with allusion to income eligibility requirements for workforce housing.
The requirements are based upon state metrics. Problem is, wages and cost-of-living in a place like Mammoth skew higher.
Where it gets complicated is when Mammoth takes state grants to build housing with a promise to maintain so many units for workers making 80% of AMI (Area Median Income).
Inflation has wreaked havoc with the state’s metrics. As Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce Director Ken Brengle explained, 80% AMI is equivalent to $22/hour.
So unless a waiver or some exception is granted, most Mammoth workers will not qualify for the new Parcel housing because they make too much by state standards.
So here’s the strategy. Go to your employer and demand that he/she give you a pay cut to $21.75 – at least until after the workhouse housing lottery for Phase 1 has been conducted.
As Mayor Wentworth told The Sheet post-meeting, housing is just “wrinkle after wrinkle” – shifting sands of rules and regulation and policy. He thinks the more we control our own destiny in this regard, the better. He would like to revisit the idea of establishing an EIFD (Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District) to raise revenue for housing and fuels reduction.
Finally, Council divvied out committee assignments for the next year. Which is why MLT Executive Director John Urdi was in the audience – to figure out which councilmember would be assigned to his board. He was pleased that Bill Sauser was reappointed.
Another notable assignment was Amanda Rice to the Mammoth Lakes Housing board.
Mayor Wentworth will continue to serve as one of the Town’s representatives on ESCOG (Eastern Sierra Council of Governments) along with Chris Bubser.
Sarah Rea was assigned to serve as Liaison to the Local Pickleball Association …
I jest. But her committee assignments were, outside of Mammoth Lakes Recreation, innocuous. She also landed the Airport Land Use Commission, the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) and the California Joint Powers Authority Board.
I also tuned into the Inyo County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday. Slow start to the year as only one member of the public chose to pray for the board during public comment.
Scott Marcellin and Trina Orrill were formally sworn in as Supervisors in a ceremony which took place on the courthouse steps.
But not before they were introduced to a good old fashioned deep sea dive into bureaucratic minutiae, led by CAO Nate Greenberg.
*I should take this moment to recognize Mono County Planning Director Wendy Sugimura, whom I once tagged as “Mayor Velveeta” because she was the Queen of Process.
Alas, her crown has been usurped by the Kraft Single himself – King Nate.
Who gave a presentation on “Data Informed Leadership.”
I guess he’s spent the past several months putting together a comprehensive database of 370 county “projects,” 125 of which he classified as “active.” And then he assigned prioritizations and rankings and cross-classified them in all sorts of ways that would make Arlo Guthrie proud.
After he was done, new Board Chair Jen Roeser diplomatically referenced her farming background and said you know, we do it one of two ways on the farm. There’s either a plan … or the shotgun approach.
She appreciated Greenberg’s efforts, but she’s a shotgun gal. That’s what I like best about her.
Supervisor Matt Kingsley delicately parsed it this way. “We’re lucky that this is something you like to do.”
Lord knows what Jeff Griffiths thought – he was probably distracting himself by running Google searches for frontal lobotomies during the presentation.
But the new Supervisors Marcellin and Orrill were enthralled.
Marcellin described Greenberg’s efforts as a “major plus” for the county.
Orrill added, “Thank you for your hard work on this … your vision is spot-on.”
Please turn to page five to view two of the graphics I took screenshots of during the presentation … I just love the fact that in government, virtually nothing is a “low” priority.
And I wonder what the other Supes are gonna think when they realize more than 75% of project money is apparently spent in District 3.