It is hard to say how Mammoth did this summer, but practically all the indicators suggest it was exactly what we needed.
In pure economics, each indicator was up, although the prime indicator—Transient Occupancy Tax Revenue—will not be known for many months.
What we have is a wagonload of anecdotal evidence. For example, we were at a condo homeowners’ meeting over the Labor Day Weekend, when the listings agent said reservations were 30 percent higher than last summer and that the number was not out of line with how other condos fared.
Hotel bookings also were up, according to anecdotal evidence. One of them, part of a chain of hotels, reported a 15 percent increase over last year while the chain overall rose just five to six percent.
In actual numbers, the town’s effort toward enforcement of its TOT ordinances paid off. Since the compliance efforts began, 140 new TOT certificates have been issued; the town has collected more than $220,000 in new TOT revenue; it has opened nearly 200 cases for follow-up regarding illegal rentals, and it has run 22 assessments or audits for back taxes owed.
In the woods, foot traffic was over the top, according to John Wentworth of the Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access outfit. At the Town Council meeting Wednesday evening, he said electronic counters indicate trail use in the Lakes Basin was up a whopping 39 percent over last summer. He said there was a 23 percent leap over last year on the Labor Day weekend.
Whether those are actual people, Wentworth said in a funny aside, is open to question. If they were people, fine. But bears might have tripped those counters, too, or “ghosts.” He said whatever tripped the counters, the numbers were way up over whatever tripped them last year and that’s what we know.
As for the mess that the Dec. 1 blowdown caused in the forest at Reds Valley, crews are to begin moving the logs out next week, with logging trucks, helicopters and sweat. In all, the Forest Service, Park Service, and volunteers found enough money from the state and the feds to cut 3,500 downed trees to help clear the trails. Getting them out of there will reduce the fire danger.
The town’s bankruptcy morass was settled in late August, although no one knew what that meant as of Thursday. What we know about its effects on visitor traffic is totally anecdotal. Our own ears suggest it was a hot-hot-hot topic early in the summer, not so much as the summer wore on, what with the success of the festival season. As details of the settlement come in, we doubt that will have much of an impact on the visitor experience. More likely is that the burden will fall on those of us who live here.
We at the newspaper at not given over to kneejerk, rah-rah boosterism, but we’ll remember Summer 2012 as a good season— maybe, even, a great season.
Take away the bankruptcy proceedings, we’d call it an unqualified success.