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Because of us

June 26, 2013

We agree with Supervisor Tim Alpers and Mammoth Mountain Ski Area CEO Rusty Gregory that the time has come to begin thinking of Mammoth Lakes, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, and the June Lake area as a unified whole.

Alpers envisions it as an “all-inclusive, premier, year-around recreation corridor” which is marketed and branded as an integrated whole.

It’s kind of a drumbeat around most successful resorts these days, this idea of regionalization.

It’s what Vail is doing. It’s what Aspen is doing—and there’s good reason for that.

It works.

It’s called the economies of scale theory; the idea that by combining resources and increasing production, the cost of a unit of the goods produced goes down.

This is why we also support the land trade bill that Gregory has been trying to get through Congress for nigh on a decade now.

The land trade will take seriously degraded land, right at the base of the Main Lodge, and put it into Mammoth Mountain Ski Area ownership for redevelopment—redevelopment that is in dire need.

In trade, pristine lands near Mono Lake and other environmentally sensitive lands in the region and state will be put into federal ownership for permanent protection.

In return, Mammoth Mountain will be able to modernize the Mammoth Mountain Inn and develop real estate close by; a move Gregory says is critical to any growth at all on Mammoth Mountain and critical to competing for an increasingly sophisticated clientele.

We are beginning to believe him.

Why don’t we have a Hyatt Hotel? What happened to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel that was supposed to be built in town?

Developers don’t want to invest in Mammoth Lakes because of us—because public officials don’t stand up on hard issues, and when they do, they back out on them (ahem, MMLA lawsuit).

It’s because business owners compete with one another, complain about one another, and blow the whistle when a banner sign is displayed for more than the allotted time (really?).

And it’s because most residents have a bad case of a “not-in-my-backyard” attitude.

Our buildings are empty and the ones standing are ugly and dilapidated.

It’s embarrassing.

Gregory is not perfect. But in the past few months, he has made public promises to re-open June Mountain this winter.

There are ground crews at work now to make that happen.

The reason he said he had to shut June Mountain down has been independently verified by a U.S. Forest Service audit as true, according to the Inyo National Forest’s Jon Reggelbrugge.

He has promised to radically change how Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain ski areas are run from now on—and as of this week, he has backed that promise up with a massive restructuring of both (see story on P. 8)

Another bad winter could devastate the ski industry and the local economy once again.

The restructuring might not work.

But the concepts of regionalization have been proven.

They bring in financial strength, stability, and resiliency—something we haven’t seen in years.

We hope the land trade goes through so some much needed updates can be implemented to attract more visitors.

We need more visitors.

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