It’s clear that Mammoth Councilmember Sarah Rea is not a “Barbie Girl.”
On Wednesday at Mammoth Town Council’s regular meeting, Rea pushed fellow Councilmembers to enact a single-use ban on water bottles less than one gallon in size.
The ban was one of six policy decisions relating to plastic and packaging placed before Council.
Alas, a power outage ended discussion during item #3, but not before Councilmembers gave some indication as to how they are leaning on the issue.
Rea invited Laura Patton of Keep Tahoe Blue to Zoom in and offer insights from her experience in Tahoe.
Item #2 for example, consideration of a ban on styrofoam products, that happened in Tahoe in 2018.
As Rea observed, “This [change in how we package products] is all coming. It’s not revolutionary. We’d simply be early adopters.”
On styrofoam, Council was in general agreement.
On water bottles, there was some dissension.
Councilman Bill Sauser said it should be a state mandate versus something a local municipality initiates. He wondered what impact it would have on purveyors.
He also thought that whatever initiative we passed would represent a “drop in the bucket” when it comes to changing the world. He said this without irony or realization he’d made a pun.
No one groaned.
Mayor John Wentworth said hydration is a huge issue in mountain regions and he wouldn’t want to do anything to discourage that.
Councilmember Rice thought that if you banned water bottles, people would simply turn to sugary drinks. She thought banning bottles under 16 oz. would be a fair compromise.
Rea had little patience for compromise. “It’s not about what the stores are willing to do,” she said. “It’s about what we tell them.”
Her message: If there’s money to be made, they’ll sell it in whatever form we tell ‘em to sell it in.
The power went out soon thereafter. Approximately 8:15 p.m. By that time, the meeting was in its fifth hour. And the remainder of the plastics item and a following item regarding the Mammoth Lakes Tourism contract review had yet to be heard.
The meeting will resume on Monday, May 8 at 5 p.m.
Prior to the meeting’s inauspicious end, Council received a Parcel update as well as an MLPD department review from Interim Chief Dan Casabian.
According to Darrel Chopic of the Pacific Companies, the Parcel developer, there were 40 people working full-time on the project this winter.
Part of that work included snow removal. Pacific’s Shellan Rodriguez said that was a tidy $750,000 expense.
Chopic expects the project to be completed in November and should gain a certificate of occupancy before the year is out.
Phase one encompasses 81 units.
Phase two, which will have 148 units, has not acquired complete funding as yet. “We need to find someone with $12 million,” said Rodriguez, who said it’s pretty standard for a project to make several applications before it’s showered with grant largesse.
As for Casabian, the most comforting thing he said during his 30-minute presentation is that “resort policing is different” and he’s been around long enough to know it often requires a delicate balance.
The thirty minutes was about 27 minutes longer than former Chief Al Davis ever spent talking about the department.
In response to a question posed by Sauser regarding crime trends, Casabian said theft is up, and that assault is trending higher this year, including sexual assault.
The number of department arrests has trended fairly consistently over the past four years, but will tick higher, to about 175 for 2022-2023.
As opposed to the 133 in 2021-2022.
One change Casabian would like to pursue: an increase in fines for parking violations.
Most violations are still on the books for $45 – so cheap, said Casabian, that a lot of visitors treat it as the cost of doing business to park all day. But often, these folks are blocking access to fire hydrants and fire lanes. So Casabian wants to increase $45 fines to $110, $75 fines to $150.
And $330 fines for parking in a handicapped zone to be increased to $500.
Davis wouldn’t have liked that one bit. From our May 27, 2017 issue, Al’s town-issued vehicle parked at Snowcreek Athletic Club.