By Deb Murphy

Even before WSW Consulting made its Community Housing Action Plan presentation, the Town of Mammoth Lakes added a potential 12 units with a plan to convert a Sierra Manor commercial building.

Add those units to the minimum 172 penciled in at the Shady Rest location and the town has just 426 left to go in the next five to seven years, the majority of which have to come in below market value to meet the needs of employees in a tourist economy.

One of the solutions, said consultant Wendy Sullivan, involves the town committing to hiring what those at the workshop held prior to the Town Council meeting November 15 identified as a Housing Czar. Mayor John Wentworth wasn’t daunted. “Community housing is the world we live in now,” he said. “I have no doubt we can pull resources together to get this done.”

The full Town Council will review and vote on the action plan at its December 6 meeting.

Some of those resources, in the form of proposed Community Development Block Grant applications, were on the agenda for the full Town Council meeting following the housing workshop.

The three grant applications total $4.1 million. In ascending order of funding, the first is a $100,000 Planning and Technical Assistance request to develop a transportation and infrastructure technical implementation plan for the 25-acre Shady Rest parcel. While the current plan indicates a build out of 172 units, the 17 developable acres could handle 16 units per acre and many at the workshop and council meeting thought the more the better. According to Jennifer Halferty, executive director of Mammoth Lakes Housing, a state density bonus of 35-percent could be added as could an additional town density bonus.

Next up, a combo program with $700,000 earmarked for home buyer assistance and $300,000 for housing rehab, meted out in $10,000 increments. Both forms of assistance come as a deferred payment, secondary mortgage and zero interest, deferred payment loan respectively.

The $3 million request will convert 238 Sierra Manor Road to 12 apartments, 11 one-bedroom units and one studio for low-income households. A portion of the funds will also go to refinance the purchase price.

Low-income households are defined as a household of two earning less than 80-percent of the area median–$48,550. Mammoth’s affordable housing issues aren’t unique in the Eastern Sierra where developable land is at a minimum and tourist economy jobs pay in the $12-$15 an hour range.

The Mono County Supervisors will be looking at housing program guidelines at today’s meeting.

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