Mammoth Lakes Town Council may be leaning towards a “do-over” regarding STR (short-term rental) policy.
On Wednesday at its regular meeting in Suite Z, Council opted not to act on several recommendations made by its own STR committee, opting instead for further study by Town staff and its Planning and Economic Development Commission.
Councilmembers Rice and Rea felt that the STR Committee glossed over an 80-page consultant’s report which could not be properly digested because it was received a day before the Committee voted on its final recommendations.
They also felt Committee members had been “doxxed” by having their home addresses published, thereby intimidating them into not speaking freely.
Rea said a cap on STRs as well as a one-year waiting period between purchase and subsequent nightly rental of a unit should be studied.
Rice said the process felt “rushed” and that overall, she needed to “stand up for people who can’t be in Suite Z at 4 p.m. on a Wednesday.”
Though this statement was actually made at 5:50 p.m.
The stance of Rice and Rea appeared to take fellow Councilmember Wentworth by surprise. He believes this to be a “progressive” and “incremental” process and felt the committee recommendations were a good first step.
What Council did approve Wednesday was a “Certified Properties” program which will increase the fee for an STR permit from $25 to $250 and implement regular inspections on four-year intervals.
In terms of raising money to support housing initiatives (which was discussed before the whole agenda went sideways), STR Committee Chair John Morris and Councilman Wentworth both advocated for a 2% TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax) rate hike.
Fire Chief Ales Tomaier responded during public comment that he hopes a Town tax measure for housing doesn’t occur in November, as that would coincide with a ballot measure in support of the Fire Department. Tax measures don’t tend to perform well when they have two compete against each other, he said.
Consultant Aaron Noussaine did speak at one point, essentially advocating for a “balanced strategy.”
It could have a significant economic impact if you really tighten STR inventory, he said.
But he also said that caps can be effective in assuaging the hotel industry to invest in new development. And it also assures existing STR owners that limited supply will guarantee demand.
During public comment, Mono Supervisor Jennifer Kreitz advocated funneling guests to resort properties like the Limelight so it would open up housing stock for locals.
Mayor Sauser was absent for the meeting.
In other Council news, Inyo National Forest Supervisor Fred Wong casually dropped a bomb during his brief report.
He said the USFS Snow Pit which the Town has historically relied upon for snow storage will be closed indefinitely because “high levels of hydrocarbons” were found on-site.
“We probably can’t remediate this for a number of years,” he said.
“Could the hydrocarbons be from past Forest Service use?” asked Councilman John Wentworth. “This puts the community in a difficult spot.”
Wong also spoke about Red’s Meadow and said he is trying to work with the USFS concessionaire to have the campgrounds open on the weekends.
But that wouldn’t be enough work for the employees, so Wong says he’s working with the Town to see if there could be some fill-in work the rest of the week.
Which sure sounded like a half-ass, cover-ass effort.
He said this after a blistering public comment from Bobby Tanner, owner of Red’s Meadow Pack Station, which urged the Town to intervene and facilitate discussion on Red’s because he’s currently bleeding customers who can’t get wilderness permits and are booking elsewhere.
On Wednesday, HMC Architects also presented its vision for the Town Offices.
The proposed building will be approximately 19,000-square feet.
Outgoing Town Manager Dan Holler said the estimated price tag is approximately $24 million, or more than $1,250/foot.
So it’s like the Limelight, only located on Sierra Park Rd. kitty corner from Starbucks and adjacent to the Mono County Civic Center, and housing taxeaters versus multi-millionaires.
Mayor Pro-Tem Chris Bubser, sensitive to the price tag, asked that a comparison of the Town’s current rent situation at Minaret Mall be analyzed to give the public an idea of the trade-off between renting versus building.
Bubser also asked Public Works Director Haislip Hayes if the building had the flexibility to accommodate future expansion.
Hayes said yes, there are identified spaces for potential expansion.
*Though perhaps in a future discussion, an analysis of work-from-home and the possibility of a reduction in footprint should also be analyzed given steep building cost.
Odds and Ends
MLPD Sgt. Jason Heilman announced that the Town had received a $40,000 grant to promote e-bike safety.
Nolan Bobroff was announced as the Town’s new Community Development Director. This comes during the same week in which he celebrated his ten-year work anniversary with the Town.
Another meditation on Lazy
And from Hartley’s desk … The final game: Chiefs vs. Niners. Niners laying 2.5 points. O/U 47.5. I think this comes down to two things. The Chiefs have Mahomes and a great defense. Meanwhile, the Niners have not played well for quite awhile. They weren’t good against the Packers or Lions and if not for some fortuitous stupidity by Lion coach Dan “Meathead” Campbell, they would be watching this game from home and complaining about something else. I am taking the Chiefs to straight up win 26-22. I know the Chiefs haven’t scored much and didn’t against the Ravens but the Ravens defense is much better than the Niners.
If the Niners are in the same front they had against the Lions, Andy Reid should give it to Chief RB Isiah Pacheco 100 times. If I were Reid, his feet would be bandaged postgame and the stadium turf would have Pacheco holes stomped in it from all the carries he would get. The Niners can’t stop the run and if they crowd the line and creep those safeties and LBs up to the hole, the Chiefs will punish them with Kelce and Scantling deep.
But mainly, the difference in then game is that Mahomes is an Alien and Niner QB Brock Purdy’s doppelganger is Lee Harvey Oswald.
As I sat at work recently, down I don’t know how many people due to call outs, I had to wonder if folks wanna work now.
You know what we might need? Another pandemic to scare the lazy folks that really don’t wanna work back to their little caves at home, covered in dog and cat hair.
There is a significant portion of the workforce that really doesn’t wanna work but feels like they are underpaid at the same time. It’s wild. Everyone needing EMOTIONAL WELLNESS DAYS OFF or “not able to work because they are not 100%.” It’s insane. Who is 100% every day? If you gotta be 100% you don’t need emotional wellness you need some emotional toughness.
Whatever crap they are reading on Reddit and other sites is breaking their brain and fracturing any intellectual connection to reality and common sense. Another good pandemic will eliminate some of them from the workforce. I ain’t saying anyone should die – just strip the workforce of the lazy, uninspired folks contaminating every industry. Enough is enough. We need some of these folks to go around licking doorknobs again so they can pick up something. We can call the new virus the WR Flu. The Workforce Reduction flu. I wish they had a serum you could inject some of these lazy folks with to kick it off.