Vacant lots remain a viable real estate investment and development opportunity.
Because Mammoth’s subdivisions were never built like modern tract home subdivisions, there are vacant lots remaining all over Mammoth. Almost all of them have never been built on. Some are owned for investment and speculation, and many are owned with the dream of building a home at some point in the future.
Up until recently there were no new subdivisions slated for Mammoth. The land was not appropriately zoned. But some of the condominium zoned property along Sierra Star golf course has been re-zoned for residential single-family construction.
Mammoth remains an expensive place to build. Snow load and seismic requirements increase the engineering costs. There is also the cost of bringing materials into this rather remote area. And labor is more expensive. But every year more and more of these vacant lots are built on. And sometimes homes are purchased and torn down to facilitate new construction.
Topography is an Important Feature When Looking at Vacant Lots
Real estate marketing often emphasizes “flat” or slightly downsloping. These are typically the most preferable. Flat lots are easiest to build on and normally provide for flatter driveways which are preferable in snow and ice country.
Upsloping lots are clearly more expensive to build on due to excavation costs and expensive retaining walls. Even worse is they don’t typically provide adequate snow storage.
Lots with steep downslope can also be more expensive to build on but there is enclosed space to gain so they can accommodate larger homes or “bonus” rooms or valuable storage. They naturally have more snow storage.
Snow Storage, Right-of-Way, and Cul-de-sacs
Most vacant lots in Mammoth Lakes actually start (lot corners) approximately 10 feet behind the street pavement. That unpaved portion of the right-of-way is for the Town’s snow storage.
Many of the popular subdivisions from the late 1960’s and early 70’s have cul-de-sacs. The resulting pie shaped lots can be problematic for the Town’s snow removal operators because there is no place to put the snow. The Town’s codes were changed in the 1990’s to no longer allow cul-de-sacs in new subdivisions.
Planning to Purchase and Build?
Owners of vacant lots must provide a survey and topographic map of their lot when applying for a building permit.