Whistler’s happy tune

whistlerWhen they recently traveled to Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Town of Mammoth officials learned that Whistler has a big village, highly developed events and incentives for developers. Things to think about in Mammoth Lakes.

Councilmen John Eastman and Matthew Lehman flew to Whistler with Town Manager Dan Holler. Eastman made it clear that Mammoth “won’t be Whistler.” What officials did learn from Whistler is the need to incentivize developers to invest in Mammoth. Eastman said that in Mammoth, planning, Town Council and retail people have stressed the need to be “ready for the next growth spurt.” He said that was a subject for talk during the Whistler visit.

Eastman said the need to offer incentives to developers was the “screaming message at Whistler. We will not see new, major private sector development unless owners are incentivized. That,” said Eastman, “was the screaming message.” He also pointed to resort occupancy as a reason for developers to come to town. He said Whistler Village claims 65% annual occupancy. Mammoth is more like 40%. Said Eastman, “We need to bring up occupancy.”

Eastman named employee housing and marketing as two other key areas at which Whistler has succeeded. He said Whistler officials thought the Mammoth TBID or Business Improvement District assessment was a big advantage. He said they were surprised Mammoth would spend more than $5 million on marketing as a result.

Councilman Lehman said the relationship among Whistler Mountain, the town and community is “very cohesive. They have a definite plan on how to operate and grow.” He said Whistler rakes in a big return on investment for events.

, , , ,

52 Responses to Whistler’s happy tune

  1. ferdinand lopez December 1, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    pave paradise

    • Desert Tortoise December 2, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

      Don’t forget the parking lot!

  2. Norm Olson November 30, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    I actually remember flying into the Bishop airport from the Van Nuys airport on a scheduled flight back in the late sixties. It was trout season, however. Big airport just sitting there between fireworks shows now. What I really don’t understand is when a flight gets all the way up near Mammoth before they decide it is too windy to land and then go all the way back to LA so people can rent a car instead just dropping into Bishop. Can’t the airport/security employees be bussed down Sherwin grade? Just wondering.

    • Ken Warner November 30, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      The Mammoth=Yosemite Airport is not to provide real air service to Mammoth Lakes, it is a point of sale for Starwood to sell condos and second homes. The rap goes something like: And you can just hop on a plane in be here in a hour — ski all day — and be home that evening.

      The airport is a shame — a ruse to sell property nothing more. And our leaders keep pouring money into that hole to please Rusty. This is just one of the more obvious ways our own government is screwing us.

      • Trouble November 30, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

        I would love to hear why Bishops medical flights to Reno cost a hole years wage. Grave Robbers!!

        • Shine November 30, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

          Probably malpractice insurance.

        • John Barton December 1, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

          Trouble- I am not affiliated with the life flight services but it is my understanding that a high percentage of people they fly have no insurance or are Medi-cal patients which doesn’t reimburse very well. This leaves outrageous bills to those who have good insurance or the means to pay. The cost of rebuilding one of those aircraft engines in tremendous–$300,000 each and is required after a certain number of flight hours. The windshield is something like $50,000! I would also imagine their insurance premiums are huge too.

          • Trouble December 1, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

            Thxs John- You make great points and I regret throwing our life flight people under the bus so quickly. I just wish there were better options for local people in need of help.

    • Shine November 30, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

      Bishop not approved by FAA as alternative. Hindsight, (foresight of some), shows Bishop should have been upgraded first and then Mammoth if things worked out. Seems TOML, as Ken points out, was too invested in nearsighted speculation and not the overall health of the region that could have benefitted it more in long run.

      • DESCO December 1, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

        I would rather have a jet landing on Main Street in Mammoth than any where near Bishop.
        Can’t see much benefit and a lot of noise and stink.

        • Desert Tortoise December 1, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

          Not true. Mammoth Lakes Airport has one approved instrument approach procedure, an RNAV-GPS approach to Runway 27. Bishop Eastern Sierra Regional Airport has a VOR/DME located at the airport allowing VOR approaches to any runway using circling minimums. There are RNAV-GPS approaches to all runways.

          BIH in fact has published alternate minimums, as does Mammoth Lakes, so either airport may be entered into your flight plan as an alternate to the other.

          Where some of these stories come from is beyond me. They are not based on any knowledge of aviation.

          Here is where some of these fables might originate. Each instrument approach will have “published minimums”, i.e., the lowest ceiling and visibility you can legally land at for that particular approach, and the lowest altitude you may use without seeing the “runway environment”. The mins take into account terrain, the accuracy of the type of instrument approach used, obstructions at the airport, etc. If you file an IFR flight plan to an airport forecasting weather that will require an instrument approach, you are required to plan for an alternate, meaning allowing enough fuel to shoot the approach at the destination, fly the missed approach procedure (assumes weather was so bad you could not see the runway at the minimum approach altitude at the missed approach point, fly to your alternate, and then shoot an approach there.

          Since it is presumed you would not use the alternate unless your destination airport was completely clagged in, your alternate is required to be predicting better weather than is necessary to an approach there. This means the alternate has to be forecasting a higher ceiling and greater visibility than necessary to shoot and approach there, and this is done to provide some cushion. Remember if you didn’t land at your primary airport and you went to the alternate you will be low on fuel. Higher alternative mins forces pilots to choose an alternate they can make that will have better weather than necessary to legally shoot an approach there. I would wager that given the proximity of Bishop to Mammoth Lakes, days when the weather makes a pilot miss an approach at Mammoth Lakes are so cruddy the pilot could not file Bishop as the alternate. But note if Bishop is forecasting good enough weather, it is a perfectly legal alternate with published alternate minimums.

          Does that make sense?

          • Shine December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

            Thought there was legal restrictions to the size of commercial flights using MMH landing at BIH, barring emergency. So is it a case of the airline just not having the resources needed once landed in BIH, and the necessary security to board there? As a back seat flyer conditions in Bishop often look better than Mammoth

          • Desert Tortoise December 2, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

            The things that would prevent an aircraft from using a particular airport are technical. Is the runway long enough given the weight of the aircraft and the altitude, can the runway handle the load imposed on it by the aircraft and for IFR operations is there an instrument approach compatible with the equipment on the aircraft. Bishop passes muster on all three counts.

            Mammoth has a single instrument approach to runway 27 using GPS. There is no equipment installed at the airport for this approach. Bishop has multiple GPS approaches to it’s several runways as well as having a VOR/DME located on the airport property to facilitate it’s VOR-A approach. Bishop is actually superior to Mammoth in this fashion.

            Runway 9/27 at Mammoth Lakes is 7000 ft long by 100 ft wide and has a weight bearing capacity (PCN or Pavement Classification Number) of 85.0 single wheel and 115.0 double wheel. Runway 12/30 at Bishop Sierra Regional Airport is 7498 ft long by 100 ft wide and has a weight bearing capacity (PCN) of 110.0 single wheel and 200.0 double wheel. Bishop has the longer primary runway and it has a greater load bearing capacity. It is also at a lower altitude, improving aircraft performance (higher altitude equals thinner air, less power from the engines and less lift from the wings or rotors if you fly helos like I did for many years), meaning the same aircraft with the same load needs less runway to operate from Bishop at 4124 feet MSL than it would at Mammoth Lakes at 7135 ft MSL. An aircraft routinely flown from Mammoth safely would feel like it bounced from the runway at Bishop so great is the altitude difference.

            Any aircraft that can operate at Mammoth can operate at Bishop safely.

          • Shine December 3, 2013 at 12:13 am #

            So, Norm’s original question remains, why do MMH commercial flights return to LAX when they can not land, and not use BIH?

  3. Mark November 30, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    The lack of snow has probably aready began to hurt

    • Tony Cumia November 30, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

      Actually the town had more people in it than the last 2 yrs.

  4. I Love To Fish November 29, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    I think we should change the TBID Tax that clearly does not and will not tax tourist as much as us locals, into a big Mammoth Lakes gated resort. We can have two gates (one at 203 and the second at the 395/ML Loop) with 24h 365d security guards at the gate checking IDs, and if your ID is mono/Inyo county you can come to Mammoth for FREE Yeaaa, but if your not a local and you want to come buy gas for your car in Mammoth you have to a $10.00 Tourist Resort Tax at the “Tourist Resort Tax Gate” just to make it inviting for people to come spend money in our community. The security guard can me the first person to say: “Welcome to Mammoth Lakes 10 dollars to enter Please.”

  5. TBone November 29, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    In the last twenty years, Mammoth Lakes has effectively priced themselves out of their market. Delusional and greedy realtors and business owners convinced themselves that Mammoth could become another Vail, and attempted a town-wide makeover that would appeal only to richest, most affluent members of our society. Lift tickets, food, and lodging have become overpriced for the traditional Mammoth visitor, and they’ve since gone elsewhere. In the meantime, a select few made their millions on this wild speculation and have moved on.

    • Sellling Short November 30, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

      Might not be a bad idea to accept that the property you own today will never appreciate every year like in the glory days of the nation’s economy.

  6. mmmMammoth November 29, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    Yep, that’s what we need, more developement. Perfect! How about consentrating on the only locked in clientele we have. The southern californa family. Make it a pleasant affordable experience. Get the occupancy numbers up to a point that there is a NEED for developement.
    I realize that our leaders are probably more educated on this than I am, but whatever happened to that tried and true notion of supply and demand?

    • Real estate councilmen November 30, 2013 at 8:16 am #

      When your elected officials make a living selling real estate, you are going to see attempts at more development. Just like good ol’ Los Angeles.

  7. Mongo The Idiot November 29, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    “Both John Eastman and Myself paid for our trip and all of our own expenses.”
    I applaud these two; in my business this would have been a legitimate deductible expense, yet these two paid for it out of pocket to be sure it wouldn’t offend their constituents.
    To me, their actions speak.
    – They Care
    – They are willing to get out of the desk chair and look around.
    – They are sensitive to the concerns of taxpayers.
    – They are in service and honoring their fiduciary duty to public office.
    – They are pro-active and positive in their approach.

    I say go get em’ and make the system work!
    Thank You and keep it up!

    • Where are the honest officials? November 29, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

      Elected officials (who are also businessmen and lawyers) have umpteen different ways of hiding the money (travel receipts, etc.) than you might ever imagine.
      There are no elected officials who work for their constituents entirely. Some even think nothing of trying to sell their client’s properties to those same constituents.
      Demand they produce receipts for everything.

      We need honest elected officials dedicated to their community – not those businessmen who are out for themselves and their cronies.

      • Shine November 30, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

        While I appreciate people donating towards community, tends to blur the lines of who you represent sometimes. If you are representing TOML it may be better that you are paid by town, or not go at all, to keep it clear who you are accountable to.

  8. I Love To Fish November 28, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    Heard this song before.

    Goodbye Mama and Papa
    Goodbye Jack and Jill
    The grass ain’t greener
    The wine ain’t sweeter
    Either side of the hill.

    Did you say your name was Ramblin Rose?
    Ramble on baby, settle down easy
    Ramble on Rose.

  9. Ken Warner November 27, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    In my opinion, Mammoth will never see the glory days they always think are just around the corner if they just build more condominium fractional ownership hotels. They’ve been chasing the same rabbit with the same old tired dog since the ’80’s. Same rabbit — same dog– same result.

    Now add into the mix, climate change — the depressed and impoverished middle class that is worth less today than 10 years ago — and an obesity epidemic that has turned half the kids into couch potatoes playing video games and gratifying themselves playing with their “smart phones” that are only smart incomparason with their owners.

    When I see idealistic ads showing white toothed, slim, healthy “visitors” looking wistfully back at their linked S turns with their ski-in condo at the ready I go — HUH? These people have never been here. But whatever. The developers will still be able to squeeze blood out of this turnip for a few more years.

    The Main St. redevelopment will give the developers a lump of cash to ship back to their corporate offices in New York or where ever.

    The history that made Mammoth the place where we all wanted to go to is gone along with it’s soul. All that is left is L.A. rising like a shadow at the South end of the Owens Valley.

    • I Love To Fish November 28, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

      Perfectly said.
      I would like to add – if we don’t have a big winter, don’t worry the TBID tax will bring people to mammoth. =)

    • skiJohn November 28, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

      I agree with you Ken on most of your points, however, Main St looks like crap. It really does need to be spruced up a bit, don’t you think? Any decent homeowner keeps their property up to par, so the town should, too!

      • Curious November 29, 2013 at 10:47 am #

        When did the town buy main street?

        The 203 is a state route and should remain so.

        The many eyesores on Main Street are privately owned and not a taxpayer responsibility.

        Enough of this corporate welfare that is sucking Mammoth Lakes dry!

      • Ken Warner November 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

        Absolutely! Main St. could and should be cleaned up. But it doesn’t have to be leveled and rebuilt to do it. Look at Slocums, Footloose, The Outlet Mall., Schats. Even the A-Frame has cleaned up. Clean up the buildings. And it was franchize developers that put Cuppies there on the corner. You want more of that???

        Then clean up the Frontage Road by turning it into a pedestrian mall with better access from Main St. to the parking areas. Stop lights at the Post Office and Laurel Mountain.

        Clean up Center St. and exercise eminent domain on the Shady Rest Tract — which is basically abandoned — and turn it into a Central Park with old growth trees. That will double property values in the area overnight.

        There’s a bunch of things that could be done without “making room for development” like the current draft proposal for Main St. says over and over again.

        I’ve been writing about this for years — nobody listens. And then the “consultants” come to town with all their trite cliche ideas from SoCal and tell us we have to turn our town inside out and throw away all our history, put all the existing businesses out of business and then all the pro-development crowd starts salivating with anticipation of all those dollars that they think they are going to get. But in fact, they will get pennies for turning Mammoth into Norco.

        If you don’t believe in who we are — go somewhere else and believe there.

        • Bemused November 29, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

          Ken…when you’re right, you’re really right. As to the Shady Rest parcel; I have some unique insight…and suffice it to say that it could almost certainly be acquired for what amounts to a song right now. As in perhaps 1/2 the yearly TBID $$ haul.

          Unfortunately, the powers that be are still living for the return of 2005, and seem content to keep over-marketing our existing infrastructure/amenity base along with whatever topping of new hype they are selling themselves that week.

          • Ken Warner November 29, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

            I wish there was some way to break through the bunker mentality of the “leaders” and steakholders.

            Turning Shady Rest Tract into an old growth Central Park would be a unique attraction on the East Side and a real nice thing for people who live here to enjoy.

            But if it aint condos — it aint interesting.

            Thanks for the info though.

  10. MJA November 27, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    All Mammoth really needs is snow! =

  11. Tim November 27, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    I’m pretty sure that incentives won’t make much of a difference.

    Whistler beats Mammoth of several fronts:
    1. Usually more snow and some snow for longer.
    2. Whistler is a fairly short drive from a metro area (Vancouver, Burnaby etc.) of over 2 million people. Mammoth: difficult to get to from the major populations of central California (and Tahoe is along the ways…). 5+ hour drive in good conditions from LA.
    3. Mammoth attempted to use their airport, which can be a pain in the a to fly into, and is very difficult to say the least when it has winter storms busting through. Whistler is near one of the major hubs of flights from asia. I still have never figured out why they tried to use the Mammoth Airport. It screams out “small plane”. In my mind they should have tried to do something with Bishop since there is more room in that area and you don’t have mountains/hills abutting the airport on as many sides and it isnt that far.
    4. Whistler has been supported by a fairly competent group of elected government. I’ll refrain from comment about the management in Mono County and Mammoth Lakes over the years other than saying “they’re just good ol’ boys”.

    Mammoth should stop looking at the big snow resorts as guides, since many factors I list above are what make the big resorts big. They really should look as the midsize guys who promote well. Unless someone finds a pot of gold to make a good all weather airport that can stay open in all but the heaviest snows, Mammoth is unfortunately having to play with the cards it is dealt and not try to be Whistler/Tahoe/Aspen Jr.

    • Shine November 29, 2013 at 12:14 am #

      Whistler pay seems similar, but employee housing about $425-650 US for own room. Shared room starting at 300. Health care for citizen or permanent resident makes difference also.

  12. eric hein November 27, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    Maybe we cold swap town council members straight up.

  13. Curious November 27, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    Don’t you just love it when these nincompoops justify a junket by comparing apples to road apples?

    There was a time when Mammoth was a good value for the dollar vs the customer experience, that is no longer the case. You can spend five million a year on marketing, but until you deliver a valued product as seen through the eyes of your customers, you might as well be passing gas in the gondola .

    These visionaries keep doing the same thing over and over proclaiming, different results this time around. The build it and they will come is a failed business plan for the majority of citizens of Mammoth Lakes. This will not change with a new generation of plutocrat politicians, growth at little or no cost developers, shyster retailers and carpetbaggers. The repackaging of the same old dog and pony show by the profiteers is nothing new. More developer incentives will not help a 40% occupancy statistic quoted.

    Currently the towns business infrastructure can’t provide a quality winter experience during the peak vacation/holiday times in my opinion. The discerning customers satisfaction, perceived value and first impressions can’t be faked or marketed on a sustainable basis . We will continue to come up short, regardless of the amount marketing dollars shifted from private to public tax funding.

    The business community would be better served spending five million dollars a year on improving their products and service for their current customers, instead you are part and parcel to picking their pockets. I’m sure the Whistler officials were amazed that it was so easy for public officials to approve five million dollars in public generated funds to replace the private marketing and air subsidies once funded by private monies. Calling it a business improvement district instead of a public tax that funds a NGO is just another town con. They’ve learned nothing from the MLLA sodomizing.

    Councilmen John Eastman should stick to the screaming message that nepotism sends and leave the carrying of water and raking for elephants to councilman Matthew Lehman, at least he’s good at it!

  14. Shine November 27, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    TOML TBID big advantage for Whistler? Maybe work on “very cohesive” before marketing.

  15. Pinky And The Brain November 27, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    A junket is junket by any other name!

    NOT a stellar beginning for our new town manger Dan Holler.

    If this guy is as smart as I think he is, it’s only going to take him a minute to figure out that

    Eastman is full of himself.

    Mammoth deserves better.

    I’m hoping this new guy won’t be fooled again.

  16. not fooling anyone. November 27, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    Lehman better come up with a better idea to increase the value of his properties he’s trying to sell through Lehman Properties.
    This is total BS.

    • skiJohn November 27, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

      His companies are Matthew Lehman Real Estate and Matthew Lehman Appraisal, not Lehman Properties. What is BS, exactly?

      • Politicians and Conflicts of interest November 27, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

        Lehman, like most elected officials of these times, is in it for himself – not his constituents. Forgot how he tried to railroad the town of Mammoth into buying one of his appraised, real estate properties already?

        Where are the apolitical, honest politicians who have integrity?

        • skiJohn November 27, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

          Railroad the town into buying something we desperately need? An events site. So you’d rather see a casino there, huh? It seems pretty simple to me: He’s been in real estate up here for 22 years. He has a property listed, one the town may want. If they move forward with it, he’ll quit the council. Simple as that. Oh, and he didn’t appraise it. It’s listed for sale. For too much if you ask me. But if the seller is willing to be reasonable and sell it for fair market value, than why not? I’m sure everyone on here has attended one event or another at that site and enjoyed themselves, who don’t want to see it developed, but will complain over every other option. Unbelievable.

          • Shine November 28, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

            Casino? California allows low stake bingo, card rooms, horse race betting. Off reservation tribal casino seems long shot.

            TOML “desperately need” an event site, while depending on volunteer police staff?

          • TBone November 29, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

            Shouldn’t your name be skiMatt?

  17. skiJohn November 27, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

    Lehman paid for the entire trip out of his own pocket because he knew everyone would complain. Bennett, feel free to confirm this with him. Not sure about Eastman…

    • Benett Kessler November 27, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

      OK. Thanks

    • Benett Kessler November 27, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

      You are correct. Councilman Lehman responded when I asked him about this: “Both John Eastman and Myself paid for our trip and all of our own expenses.”

      Benett Kessler

      • Ken Warner November 28, 2013 at 10:02 am #

        That Eastman and Leman paid for their own trip is unexpected and kudos to them for doing so.

        And just buy the darn Wood’s Site. Don’t let it slip away into never, never land like the Shady Rest Tract,. Please do something smart at least once. Maybe you’ll get used to the idea of doing smart things and like it.

  18. Tinner November 27, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Jiminy Christmas, they had go to all the way to Whistler to figure that out? I don’t get it.
    I know there has been dozens or hundreds of developers and contractors in the TOML office doing plenty of screaming that same message…they didn’t have to go to all the way to Whistler, good grief.
    Our tax dollars hard at work.

  19. enoughalready November 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    So how long has it been since the idea of Mammoth’s “Village” or “North Village” was concieved and sketched on a napkin in a bar. 20, 30 or 50 years, 75? Interwest came in, bought the land, broke ground and built the village. Deals were made, hands shook in agreement, people made money and people lost money. The Mountain was in on it, the town was in on it and so were the developers. So what happened? Interwest got upset and left without telling anyone the secret for a successful “Village”?
    Huey and Duey had to fly to Whistler on the peoples dime, to find out how a successful “Village” works? Highly developed events, incentives for developers, parking and low income housing? (I mean employee housing.) Thats it! Sure an airport helps too. Throw in a good customer base with a disposible income and shazzam!
    Its 2013! You just found out that the Whistler Village is more successful than the Mammoth Village. Now what? Its time to bring in some outside consulants to confirm the secrets and the possibilities. If its true, success may follow. Now there is a new concept for the Town of Mammoth Lakes. Success? Unchartered territory. Time to bring in more consultants.

    How is the local goverment in that area? That might have something to do with the success.

  20. Bemused November 27, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    Yawn. All widely known and accepted info/spin…straight out of a can. Absolutely ZERO necessity to actually go there to “learn” this…


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.