Will Town of Mammoth Lakes and Mono County Go “Rogue” on state Covid-19 Public Health Orders?

A recent posting on social media from a local newsletter, MP Mono County Weekly, there were startling revelations made under the headline: Mammoth Lodging and Restaurants Propose Reopening Plans Despite State Health Orders.  The implications as reported by the local journalist, Monica Prelle, are that Town Manager Dan Holler and Mayor Bill Sauser are working with local businesses on an unwritten agreement, or “handshake” deal for non-enforcement of state mandates.

If the report is true (and it appears that it is), there may be serious issues of legal jeopardy involved, including negligence, and possibly civil liability for both business owners and the Town of Mammoth, and Mono County should any serious illnesses or deaths result without some protection from the state. And there are also serious implications for all the counties and communities surrounding Mono County, especially Inyo County, which does not appear to have been consulted and does not appear supportive of the idea.

Sierra Wave News sent a message to the town manager and council members in Mammoth Lakes. One county official said that the description of what happened in “the reporting is solid” and went on to say that “This is an extremely difficult situation, no good options The Town has been very supportive of public health efforts to control pandemic virus transmission to date, but the leaders are finding it increasingly difficult to withstand pressure from furious business owners.”

Sierra Wave did hear back from Town Manager Dan Holler. He sent us two attachments:  A copy of the letter to the governor to change the Stay at Home Order’s regional status of Mono County and another separate letter on TOML and Mono County’s request for modification of the current restrictions imposed under the Order for businesses. It is a respectful and well-written letter.

Many local TOML and Mono County business owners feel that they cannot take it anymore and are on the verge of losing their businesses. They are angry and scared. There’s also some resentment that Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort is allowed to open, and according to several local residents, not exactly following all the rules. Another irritation is that  businesses considered “essential services” that have been allowed to stay open such as hardware stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, and so on, are not necessarily any more capable than the smaller businesses to enforce health orders.

Local politicians are caught between a rock and a hard place. They have to balance the needs of many against the needs of a few…a few that just happen to hold a lot of clout when it comes to political support.

The timing of making the recent request for relief from the state could not be worse. California is under a state-wide siege from the pandemic. Record numbers of COVID-19 cases and increasing deaths are being broken daily, including locally.

Again, it does not appear that Mono County has consultation with Inyo County (or other surrounding counties) on what they have proposed to Gov. Newsom. Any experiment, with or without the rules being changed for Mono County, will have a seriously negative impact on Inyo County and other surrounding counties. Inyo County just reported an increase of 65 positive COVID-19 cases just last Friday. Mono County’s numbers have been regularly increasing as well.


15 Responses to Will Town of Mammoth Lakes and Mono County Go “Rogue” on state Covid-19 Public Health Orders?

  1. Bishop Plaza January 23, 2021 at 2:17 pm #

    Outdoor dining saves lives. When the gov closes outdoor dining people get together indoors and spread Covid19…. Keep our businesses open!!!

    • Oldtimer January 23, 2021 at 5:34 pm #

      Or….folks could learn to cook….
      And if they are that socially dependent all cook the same thing and watch each other eat via zoom

  2. Stewart January 15, 2021 at 8:41 am #

    Open your restaurants, kill your residents. A person dies yes dies of covid every 6 minutes in LA county. You want to open up lodging and restaurants with that type of spread going on with your biggest fan base?? The mayor and any one else included in this rogue move will be held legally liable if anyone dies let alone gets sick. I understand that southerners are coming up anyway despite the travel ban and jimmy and Bobby are renting their condos illegally. Good luck mammoth you’re gonna need it.

  3. sugarmags January 12, 2021 at 8:56 pm #

    other states are providing pie charts showing ‘potential infection locations’ by type of establishment. Why don’t we have that here in California? Let’s keep places closed that have high transmission rates, based on factual data, and open others. Where is this inforamation? Why isn’t it being shared??? We know they have this info. I don’t agree with censorship. Transparency is the answer.

  4. Noam January 12, 2021 at 12:33 pm #

    It’s simple. The state needs to pay businesses who are losing money because they are forced to stay closed or operate in a limited fashion. It won’t be cheap but it will save both lives and our locally-owned, small businesses.

    • David Dennison January 12, 2021 at 3:29 pm #

      My opinion on your above statement,maybe in some cases,but not all.
      I know if it came down to “saving my life”,as you put it,or living on the street,with the money I do have I’d take a trip to Home Depot and buy myself a lawnmower,a weed-wacker and a rake….and some big plastic trash bags and make some money that way.
      There’s always a demand for lawn and yard maintenance,even though it’s usually not the big bucks,but better than nothing and losing everything and going under.
      In the way olden’ days,if you lose a job or business,for whatever reason,you did what you had to do to keep food on the table and a roof over your head for yourself and your family.
      But,sadly, I guess the ways of the olden’ days are LONG gone..

  5. HellForSure January 12, 2021 at 10:22 am #

    H*ll no!! So now we just give in to screaming business whose whole survival is based on travel from over 300 miles? All season long, you made your money and now for one winter, you can’t adapt or see the writing on the wall. Meanwhile So Cal is spiraling out of control with cases and deaths. You want to open to cater to them? How about adapt like the rest of the businesses? How about offer more support to businesses and create local programs for the local kids and community?

    Plenty of us who follow the rules that took a hit in our business but still making it work somehow. We are not compromising our community and the safety of the eastern sierra for the mighty tourism dollar. International tourism dollars is what I miss, not disrespectful rule breaking entitled so cal people who think it’s “their right to come up here”. We have a people problem. Stand up locals, aren’t you tired of being trampled on all season? Aren’t you not tired of the cases and the deaths locally because we cannot get it under control? The eastern sierra was built on people who cared and loved the land, lets act like it. Stand up!! Don’t let Mono go rogue because Inyo has a bunch of losers elected who don’t give a d*mn!

    Mono it is not okay what you are doing. Bad example, it is not okay to break rules and the law if it has enough impact to your bank account. If you choose to break these rules, then how can you choose what rules to enforce. This is bad people, speak up!!

  6. Pam Mitchell January 12, 2021 at 5:14 am #

    The suggestions in the responses to this article – and the “handshake deal” for non-enforcement of state mandates. between the Mammoth Lakes Town Manager, the Mayor, and local businesses – guarantees more spread of covid – locally in Mammoth and Bishop, and in southern California.
    Since summer, tourists and locals have been violating mandates structured to reduce the spread…. with their travel back-and-forth, get togethers and gatherings, and eating/drinking/talking with people from outside their households – whether in restaurants, bars, homes etc. Hence the rising numbers of illnesses and deaths.
    Right now local politicians aren’t between a rock-and-a-hard spot….they are in the position of choosing to either follow laws and mandates – designed to encourage public safety – or ignoring their local public safety officials. In truly listening to the wails of the business owners, they could step up into their positions of leadership and authority – and put strict health and safety practices into place – and enforce them.
    Such an action by officials will reduce the spread of covid and businesses could open – safely and legally.
    By working together – with commitment and enforcement of the mandates structured to reduce the spread
    – we will reduce the spread of covid, and get beyond this cycle of opening/closing….with the probability of staying open. And if we continue to work together in that commitment, we will stay open.
    Btw, of the 65 new covid cases in Bishop last Friday, Jan. 8th, 30 of those were from December 15 – 22, 2020, which had not been reported then – so they were added into Friday’s cases.

  7. Tinner January 11, 2021 at 7:33 pm #

    I was thinking of how we can safely open small businesses in Mammoth and Mono County and the song “Let It Flow” written by Run-D.M.C. (covered by Beastie Boys) came to mind.

    “Let it flow, let yourself go
    Slow and low, that is the tempo
    Let it flow, let yourself go
    Slow and low, that is the tempo”

    • David Dennison January 12, 2021 at 7:59 am #

      Problem with that is,many people lack the common sense to “let it flow”.
      And it seems especially the crowds of visitors that come up from the south
      And that is where the vast majority of COVID cases in the whole Country are being recorded.
      So let’s hope they don’t come up here and “let it flow” in the Sierra like it’s “flowing” down there in L.A.County.

      • Tinner January 12, 2021 at 5:53 pm #

        David, let business FLOW, give business owners the credit they deserve to run their business safely. I hope you’re not referring to business owners of not having common sense.
        Let the fear GO, the only thing a business owner fears more than spreading this virus is losing their business, laying off their employees, closing forever and having to file bankruptcy.
        Keep the number of people in any one business SLOW and LOW and make that the TEMPO.
        Visitors don’t have the common sense, fair enough, but the business owners not only have the common sense but the incentive to run their business safely.
        A lot of people are dying from this virus and that’s tragic but there are a thousands and millions more (nationwide) dying a much slower death.

        • David Dennison January 12, 2021 at 8:18 pm #

          As a matter of fact,I am talking of some business owners lacking common sense,as well as making “political statements” and ignoring safety for those going into their establishments or business..
          In my town,I can think of two,not mentioning names,that not only allow customers to enter and do business without masks,but openly state how they refuse to tell people they have to or should..
          And what about the pizza restaurant in Big Pine,the owners defying the orders early on in the Springtime,refusing to close their doors to business when just about all other restaurants in the Owens Valley were offering take-out and delivery only.
          Money first
          Safety for others,second.

          • Tinner January 13, 2021 at 6:41 am #

            David, not sure what town you live in but I haven’t see anyone inside any business without a mask in Bishop or Mammoth in roughly 9 or 10 months.
            Also unsure of how many pizza joints there are in Big Pine but well aware of how big Big Pine is. It’s interesting that you’re willing to name the pizza restaurant in Big Pine but unwilling to name restaurants that don’t require patrons to wear masks.

  8. Mono Person January 11, 2021 at 8:52 am #

    They finally grew a pair!!! Doing the same thing for 9 months and not changing the dial at all!! Let’s try it!

  9. Paul January 11, 2021 at 8:51 am #

    Shutting down business in Los Angeles clearly isn’t stopping the spread. Bureaucrats are in the ear of politicians. It’s easy for people to say “shut it down!” when you are not on the brink. These financial repercussions will affect people for the rest of their lives. Bankruptcy and ruined credit. Now good luck affording a home in California as the rich get richer. Mental illness from losing business and paycheck will/can lead to substance abuse, damaged relationships, and potentially suicide. More homelessness which people deep down in CA think “isn’t my problem”.
    I live in Orange County and visited Mammoth Lakes last weekend. I masked up, maintained my distance from others, and felt safe. Doing so I supported local businesses and those who wish and many who NEED to work to support themselves. If lived with compromised health, stay home, be safe, and wait for your turn to have the vaccine. There is extreme selfishness on both sides of the spectrum here. Thank you and have a nice week.


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