Mammoth Town Council: Tourists in the neighborhood?

mltc4-3Should the Town of Mammoth Lakes spend up to $50,000 on a study about tourist rentals of single family homes? The Council voted unanimously to put off the issue until budget talks.

Before that vote, a number of people offered their views. John Morris, head of the Mammoth Lakes Lodging Association, said he thinks factual evidence from a study would be a benefit and that any study should be done by “an impartial third party with no stake in the community.” Morris named some of the concerns in this emotionally-charged issue – possible price wars between homeowners and lodging, a drop in revenue, impacts on employees, numbers of homeowners that want to rent, impacts in other resort towns.

Said Morris, “We need to change emotion to factual data. Is it a net positive or not?” Morris said it’s time to come together on this and put the issue to bed. He said, “There’s too much neighbor against neighbor.”

Cheryl Witherill, manager of the 1849 Condos said the biggest unknowns are inventory and occupancy of legal homes rented. She was in favor of getting some questions answered within current efforts. John Vereuck opposed paying for a study.

Lizzy Lippman said she and her husband live next to Lodestar. She described “dude weekends with all night parties.” She said, “It takes a big toll on people who live in the area.” Tom Grant said he could not envision having tourists next door with “noise, trash and no accountability.” Steve Lavender said, “What do you want to accomplish? Infringing on my peace and quiet?” Teri Stehlik pointed to the guest experience and the need for work force housing.

While some councilmembers want the issue resolved, others pointed to the money the Town doesn’t have to spend. They deferred the issue to fiscal year 2013-2014 budget talks.

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9 Responses to Mammoth Town Council: Tourists in the neighborhood?

  1. Desert Tortoise April 9, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    Legally a municipality cannot add new restrictions on the uses of properties that are already owned. You can change zoning to affect new property owners, but existing owners are grandfathered in by law and cities that have tried to enforce new zoning ordnances on existing property owners have been resolutely rebuffed by the courts. If existing owners wish to rent their homes, that is their right under the law.

    • Bemused April 10, 2013 at 9:43 am #

      D.T.: You’re correct in concept, except you have it backwards as it relates to Mammoth Lakes. SFR rentals are already prohibited here…

  2. EK April 9, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    I think a bigger issue may be:
    Does the town and citizens want the rental money that could be gained more than they want the peace and quiet?


    If the town thinks they can tax the illegal Single Family rentals for a huge windfall , they need to realize this is going to be a one time deal and a costly one at best.

    Look at the recent example . The Cosens. They got an assessment of almost 100k . Did they just roll over and pay. Of course not. They got it down to 15k . That ain’t chump change by no means. However how many will learn from this. Most. This windfall cannot be counted on.

  3. Johnny April 8, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    Seems like the people that would support this concept would be the ones that are trying to turn homes into investments. We’ve seen where that can take us.

    The problem with a study is that it is going to be tough to quantify the negative impact that this can have on neighborhoods. Through out most of the county you can already see how the deck is stacked against families choosing to live here. Do we want to add another one?

    After any “impartial” study, council is still going to have to make a choice. If we could govern thru studies we wouldn’t need a council. That’s why a council has to look at the fundamental values that are important to it and make its decision.

    • Changing Times April 9, 2013 at 6:45 am #

      If you haven’t noticed by now, owning homes for investment is a thing of the past.
      Only the mega-wealthy can afford the expensive real estate and they live in Beverly Hills.
      And to top it off, too many people believe the wealthy should pay no taxes.

      • Desert Tortoise April 9, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

        Eh, I do not agree. Until the last few months real estate was a bargain and you could buy nice three bedroom condos in the Antelope Valley for $75-$85K. An investor with a quarter million in cash could buy up three decent condos and rent these out for $1200 per month each. After paying the condo association and a professional rental manager you are taking home $800 plus per unit. Knock another $1600 for taxes and $300-$400 for insurance for the year and the income potential for the small time investor is very real and substantial. It is not a rich man’s game at all.

  4. J. Ritter April 7, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    With so many Mammoth residents talking about the quality of life problems associated with legal and illegal nightly home rentals, why in the world the council would want to continue pursuing this matter in the budget talks is beyond me.

    We have one of the strongest communities of any mountain town. If you bring “dude weekends with all night parties” into single family neighborhoods, you are going to see the residents move out, and the neighborhoods are going to be left looking like South Lake Tahoe. I’ve stayed in rental homes there, and I can attest there is very little charm and no community.

    Some of the councilmembers seem interested in moving forward with a study of this issue despite the opposition. However, what those councilmembers are failing to understand is that even if a study showed a financial benefit to allowing nightly rentals (which would be a dubious conclusion) the cost to our community in unavoidable quality of life problems resulting from nightly home rentals (like noise, garbage, cars and crowds) should end the debate.

    There is no need to go further than the question– will nightly rentals in single family homes substantially undermine the quality of life for residents and second homeowners? Based on all the complaints I’ve read and heard regarding the currently existing impacts from legal and illegal home rentals, it is clear the answer is yes, it will seriously hurt their quality of life. Once you undermine the quality of life with nuisances like noise, garbage, cars and crowds, you undermine the reason a lot of people live and visit here.

    • Benett Kessler April 7, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

      I will add that Council woman Jo Bacon said, “If you mix finances with quality of life, quality of life will lose.”

      • EK April 8, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

        I hear ya


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