The local Town Council candidates are getting decent exposure and I would have to say that we have a solid slate of candidates. I think they would all do a good job. Thankfully, there are no “whackos” like we’ve had sometimes in the past. There is a mix of experience and eager newcomers to the community.
With the Ice Rink/MUF put on the back shelf for now (or maybe for a long time), the focus is on developing the Shady Rest affordable housing project. The Town closed the escrow during the period. So this will be the major challenge for new Council. The first item of order appears to be re-naming the project. The name Shady Rest is too confusing with our large park of the same name (which for those unfamiliar, is hidden away in the forest off of Main St.).
But now the entire structure and personnel of Mammoth Lakes Housing is coming under major scrutiny. This will obviously be the next step for the new Council; reviewing the organizational structure, funding, personnel, opportunities, etc.. I think I will be voting for the Council candidates that appear to have plenty of free time on their hands, this will be a time consuming task….And there are those that are questioning, after the Ice Rink/MUF fiasco, whether the Town can adequately handle this potential development process. It will be interesting to see where we are in five years.
Ironically, I was doing some spring cleaning and came across a February 2, 2008 issue of The Sheet. A front page article was about the Town Council pondering different tax increases in order to fund recreation — all in light of the Town’s estimated $6.5 million budget shortfall for fiscal year 2006-07. How soon we forget the lessons of the past. Four years later the Town was filing for bankruptcy to try to evade the Airport/Hot Creek settlement.
But today the Town is flush because of new taxes and wants to behave like the proverbial “drunken sailors.” The new recreation taxes that were approved shortly after this 2008 article include Measure R and Measure U. Measure R added .5% sales tax in Mammoth. Measure U added a utility tax that is most easily found on your SCE bill (second homeowners and local residents alike have one of those.) And then came the TBID which is an additional sales tax on just about everything in Mammoth. And certainly, the past two years of banner tourism has put bed tax collections into dream land.
So now the Town has millions to spend on marketing, wants to fund TWO airports, wants vanity recreation and cultural facilities, wants to develop hundreds of workforce housing units, and on and on. And yet, the police force remains underfunded and the landscape on Main St. and Old Mammoth Road is an abomination (where is the Town on the “revitalization”?). And the present bond initiatives are evidence that the schools are in dire need of financial help and the fire department too.
The Town has taxed its way to prosperity but hasn’t proved they can be good stewards of the windfall, almost like the infamous lottery winners ultimately filing for bankruptcy. Let’s hope the new Town Council can get a clear grasp on priorities.
Meanwhile, the Ski Area is starting the prep work for the new zip line from the top of the mountain. It should be ready by late summer. The Canyon Lodge improvements are quiet; no sign of plans or activity.
On the real estate front, visible condominium construction always helps real estate sales of all sorts. It sure did in the 2000 to 2006 era here in Mammoth. This summer there will be major and quite visible ongoing construction along Hillside Drive in the heart of the Village, on the lot across from Canyon Lodge, and along Old Mammoth Road at Creekhouse (Snowcreek Phase VII). And there will be seven more new luxury homes under construction in GreyBear phase 3. Also look for final sidewalk construction on the upper end of Main St.