Talking Points

Legalizing and regulating single-family vacation home rentals would:

1. CREATE SIGNIFICANT NEW REVENUE for the Town of Mammoth Lakes to the tune of $1.5-5 million per year (by way of example, according to one news source, ”Big Bear brought in $1.2 million from the tax on private home rentals during its fiscal year 2010-11 and $913,548 from commercial lodging (hotels and motels)”);

2. KEEP MAMMOTH COMPETITIVE by taking advantage of a nationwide boom in the online accommodations-sharing market and providing an important visitor amenity found at many competing resorts — Squaw Valley, Tahoe City, South Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Aspen, Vail, Avon (CO), Estes Park (CO), Winter Park (CO), Grand Lake (CO), Silverthorne (CO), Basalt (CO), Glenwood Springs (CO), Steamboat Springs, Telluride, Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Park City, Sun Valley (ID), Big Sky (MT), Taos (NM), Whistler, Napa, St. Helena, Wawona (Yosemite), Yosemite West, Kirkwood, Big Bear, etc. — an amenity that supplements but does not compete with existing commercial rentals. A significant percentage of ski resort customers want and expect vacation home rentals and will go elsewhere if they can’t get them here;

3. CREATE AND SUSTAIN LOCAL JOBS (property managers, contractors, handymen, plumbers, painters, landscapers, cleaning crews, snow plow drivers, taxi drivers, rental agencies, food delivery, ski rental, restaurants, retail, etc.)

4. HELP TAXPAYERS by allowing homeowners hit hard by current economy to pay their mortgages and keep their homes, thereby sparing neighborhoods from toxic REO sales and the spreading of diminished property values (and by extension widespread reductions in property tax revenues that otherwise help finance our local schools, fire & rescue services, etc.);

5. INCREASE PROPERTY VALUES for current homeowners and new buyers by adding cash-flow component and incentive to renovate and refurbish older properties;

6. IMPROVE ENFORCEMENT with above-board regulation of noise/parking/safety/customer service issues;

7. KEEP NEIGHBORHOODS SAFE AND VIBRANT, where many of Mammoth’s resort-adjacent zones are near-vacant for all but a few weeks a year, and are therefore targets for crime and neglect;

8. IMPROVE MAMMOTH’S PUBLIC IMAGE: Mammoth (and its government) should be seen as taking bold and innovative steps toward digging itself out of the financial hole it has created for itself, proving its commitment to a sustainable local economy and showing smart leadership on an issue that is now being hashed out in resort communities and cities all across the country;

9. LIMIT THE TOWN’S EXPOSURE TO FURTHER LITIGATION on the grounds of unfair practices and unconstitutionality of ordinance.

10 thoughts on “Talking Points

  1. Your points are thoughtful and courageous. I believe you represent the silent majority of Mammoth Lakes single family homeowners who have been afraid to voice their opinions, until now. thank you for the battle cry!

  2. We should add the benefit of reducing the carbon footprint on a more actively used home as opposed to one that sits vacant on average 46 weeks out of the 52 in a year.

  3. The town commissioned a survey in the Fall of 2011 by Economics and Planning Systems. The biggest factor in the survey was that THE TOWN HAS LIMITED LAND FOR ADDITIONAL DEVELOPMENT! If the town has existing physical resources in the form of homes that can be rented and generate TOT- isn’t that better than ignoring the resource in a time of financial crisis? This resource is a vital asset for the town which can generate taxes and visitor stays and should be developed, not eliminated

  4. I have known several home owners who have tried to pay the TOT and were told they could not collect it because their properties were not in zones that allowed them to rent. Rent they did anyway. That this is an issue that demonstrates an ignorant arrogance, albeit innocent, on the part of our regulators whose position is unenforceable.

    • I am a native Oregonian, who has lived in Salem and on the Oregon coast my enitre life. I have watched and participated in property ownership and investment since 1971. I have also been a licensed realtor in the state of Oregon for over 25 years, now retired. I developed Hidden Cove Bed and Breakfast and long term rentals, a barrier-free property on Devil’s Lake.I am a widow, rowing my own boat in a very difficult economy. Most of my personal assets are invested in my property on the lake. I came here to retire; produce income to add to my social security income; and age in place in a beautiful place on the planet.This was my retirement dream. I achieved it .only to have my livelihood threatend by a city council that does not understand basic economics.I want to see us preserve the individual property rights we are entitled to in this state. With the average price of housing in our city .. between $250,000- $300,000, the purchaser of a home needs 10-20% down and an income of a minimum of $3,000-$3,500 per month. If this home in Lincoln City is a second home, then double that income per month (due to the fact owner’s also have to afford a primary house payment in their city of primary residence). So now we are looking at a total income of $72,000 $84,000 per year! How many Oregonians have incomes of $72,000- $84,000 per year? Doesn’t it stand to reason people are buying properties jointly and renting their second homes to afford the payments and the property taxes??? Just look at the behavior of the market and you will find the truth. Last quarter, TRT taxes increased 7%. We are bringing more business to Lincoln City. That is a good thing!The new VRD ordinance is restricting our right to rent our second home investments. Yes, second homes are also investments! This ordinance will eventually cause the demise of property values in Lincoln City over time. Only high-income families will be able to own second homes here. The average Oregon family cannot even dream of owning a piece of the Oregon coast. Entreprenurial incentive is being controlled by short-sighted government intervention.We need to be heard! Our interests need representation! Those of us who own VRD’s and rental properties have a voice. There are only twenty-two of us (VRD owners) in the city who can even vote! We are paying property taxes that support this community and TRT taxes that few communities have the luxury of enjoying. Maybe we should encourage some re-zoning. It does not make sense to me to have waterfront properties zoned R-1. I think a higher and better use for waterfront property is vacation rental in a resort community, don’t you? Let’s take a look at Lincoln City’s zoning. Maybe it is due for an overhaul! If you move to Lincoln City to retire; live here full time; and buy a first row, second row, or third row home on the west side of Highway 101 or a lakefront, riverfront, or bay front property; you are deluding yourself if you think your neighborhood will be full of single-family owners!Check out the budget and educate yourself to where the TRT money goes. Look at the VCB and where they spend money .. Let us hold Lincoln City council members and our mayor accountable! Only one third of all properties owned in Lincon City is owned by people living and voting here! All property owners in Lincoln County who do not reside here have a voice that needs to be heard. Maybe we need to organize and refuse to pay our property taxes! If we did that in mass do you think the city council would figure it out? It is time to stand up for our property rights!I realize I am taking a risk to verbalize my opinion when I live here as a full-time resident. I cannot be silent any longer. My financial well being may be in the hands of people who do not understand basic economic principles! Yikes!!!!!

  5. Pending bankruptcy, high property taxes to educate the children of permanent residents, and now they want us to join the fight against LADWP with a letter writing campaign. What gives with this town? Restore our property rights to occasional vacation rentals of single family homes and I’ll gladly collect and pay TOT taxes. Why can’t the Town Council vote now to restore fairness and increase revenues that are obviously sorely needed?

  6. Lake Tahoe gets it! In 2011 they passed a similar ordinance to allow single family homes and multiple family detached units to rent nightly. One of the many fiscal reasons they did this was due to the fact that tourism had decreased dramatically after 2008 which resulted in visitor spending decreasing by more than 5%, taxable rooms sales decreasing by more than 11% and finally transient occupancy tax receipts decreasing by nearly 12%. After the ordinance passed to allow for single family home rentals (which was enacted in July 2011) sales increased by 8.9% to $788.3 million, taxable room sales increased by 6.3% and transient occupancy tax receipts increased by 7.7%. Clearly the changes to the ordinance made a big impact on tourism for Lake Tahoe as it offered new housing options for visitors. Mammoth Town Council needs to get its head out of the sand and let this community become the great resort area it can be! We have air traffic now that allows for large family gatherings to occur in Mammoth by bringing people in from a variety of areas… but no where for them to stay together together under one roof? This is crazy!
    Resort area vacations create traditions for families, traditions create repeat customers, repeat customers create revenue streams for the town and its residents running businesses! Mammoth needs to improve the availability of accomodations for clientelle such as family gatherings and professional friends vacationing together…. not only for the financial benefits of the TOT to the town, but to be considered among the big boys as a real resort destination!

  7. If this idea is to work, then more people must come to Mammoth. Shifting the TOT from the resort cooridor to SFH does not raise more money, it just shifts where it is coming from. Show me that the NET town TOT increases by $2-$5 M, not just SFH TOT

  8. Mark: In fact, at least at the beginning, we would not need to see any increase in regular visitation numbers. The very short term goal would be simply to capture lost TOT revenue on single family rentals that are already happening and will happen again over this coming holiday.

    There is evidence from town enforcement efforts, from a private survey of VRBO in December 2011 (after the first enforcement letters went out), and other sources, that there are currently 150-200 single family properties that have been operating for decades as illegal rentals during peak visitation times, at which times all other properties across town are operating at 100% occupancy.

    Having spent $250,000 on enforcement efforts in the last year, the town has only been able to collect 20-30 cents on the dollar of a vague estimation of what it should have been owed in TOT on only a handful of these properties–simply because there is no mechanism for these renters to get licenses and legally pay taxes, nor for the town to track real revenues.

    If indeed these properties represent competition with other properties in the town’s inventory (and there is no evidence that they do–4-5 bedroom homes are a very different “product” than existing motel/hotel rooms or 2-3 bedroom condominium properties) such competition has already been in effect for decades.

    If the town were to allow just 200 of these single-family properties to get business licenses and pay taxes by December of this year, without adding any real new inventory to the town’s overall rental pool, the town could collect, conservatively:

    200 x 14 days x $800 (conservative average high season rate based on informal survey of actual home renters) = $2.24 million x 13% TOT = $291,200 just for the two weeks over the upcoming Christmas holidays. Which is twice what is needed to keep Whitmore Pool open. And approximately the same amount as is required for the annual air service subsidy (recently paid for by funds borrowed from Measure U). And that’s not counting business license fees.

    Add another 7 days for President’s Week and another 7 for spring break and we get another $291,200 for a total, by April 2013, of $582,400.

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