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December 14, 2012

 

The Mammoth town government has wasted a lot of time over the years, approving projects that don’t get built, adopting town plans that still reside on dusty bookshelves, and so on.

We’re not alone in this. Actually, we figure that instead of counting sheep as a sleeping strategy, we could starting counting inconsequential reports and proposals in, say, Sacramento, for the rest of our lives, but then we’d never wake up again.

But sometimes the town government right here does something that goes beyond the pale, and that brings us to the issue of single-family home rentals in our neighborhoods.

At issue is whether Mammoth should allow neighborhood homes to be rented to the high-end Yahoos and low-end Heydudes, particularly during the winter season.

The dirty little secret is that we already do that, and we’ve done it ever since Mammoth came into being as a ski town, albeit on the hush-hush and the QT. Practically every neighborhood, from the Knolls to the Trails, has a homeowner or two who illegally rents out a three- to four-bedroom home for weekends or longer.

It’s a scam because these (mostly) second homeowners skirt transient occupancy taxes, have no real policies for noise mitigation, don’t provide enough on-street parking and don’t have a garbage disposal plan, among other sins.

That’s why homeowners associations exist. Most of them are quite clear about keeping transient renters inside the so-called “resort corridors” around the ski hill portals, and they have been creative over the years in enforcing their own rules to keep them out of the neighborhoods.

But that’s not why we have a beef with the town.

Our beef is that the town government seems willing to take on the issue, then shove it right back to the citizens who sit on the homeowners associations.

Last Wednesday at the town’s Planning Commission meeting, one of our residents rose and asked, “Why are we even talking about this?”

As usual, we’re talking about it because it involves the smell of M-O-N-E-Y.

Some of our people have the can’t-waits to get the fat-cat skiers in here—the Aspen/Vail/Telluride crowd for whom ski-in, ski-out trophy homes are the only thing they’d consider for a ski vacation.

Supporters of opening the neighborhoods have TOT stars in their eyes, as if opening a neighborhood for rentals will help solve Mammoth’s ongoing budget crisis in one fell swoop.

We have a hunch something else is going on, though. It might be that some of the second homeowners are looking for some, um, extra padding, so to speak, to help them with mortgages that are deep under water. Or it might be coming from the quick-buck contingent. Or it might be something else, undefined at the moment.

Thus the esteemed members of the Planning Commission did exactly the wrong thing. They kicked it on up to the Town Council, asking the council to, in turn, ask the staff for an analysis, so that it, in turn, can go back to the Planning Commission at some point, when it will kick it right back into the lap of the council. Got that?

What’s more, the town’s citizen planners asked the Council not to touch it until next spring at the earliest, to which we say:

Wow.

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