Mortgage Rates And Gas Prices Drop And Mammoth Tourism Rises!
Market Summary – July 17 to July 31
Single-Family Home Inventory
Market Updates and News
Favorite New Listing for the Period
Other Real Estate News
The last few months potential buyers and others have recurring questions and interest in certain things. So let’s cover some of the interesting yet lesser known aspects of Mammoth real estate.
First, I have often reiterated the importance of Mammoth’s long standing zoning pertaining to STR and transient usage. Most of it pre-dates the Town of Mammoth Lakes’ incorporation in 1984. As communities around the nation struggle with STR in their local neighborhoods – like many beach communities in SoCal – Mammoth’s regulations for STR are well established. And enforced. This is invaluable to buyers and property owners who do, or don’t, want involvement with STR.
But one question that keeps coming up is the rentability of homes in the Sierra Valley Sites subdivisions (aka The Ghetto). There is some specific history here. This is an area of four parallel streets, Manzanita, Mono, Lupin and Joaquin (east to west) located between Main St. and Meridian Blvd.. This is a historic neighborhood dating back to the 1940s that is now filled with variety of older, small homes and duplexes, apartment buildings, Town workforce housing and Ski Area employee housing. This was all originally zoned R-2 and R-3 (north to south). There was/is a history of STR in these neighborhoods. But in the 1990s the Town decided this area should be preserved for non-STR use or workforce housing (it was rather prescient in hindsight).
These neighborhoods were subsequently zoned RMF-1 and RMF-2. The RMF-1 zoning now encompasses the majority of the subdivisions and doesn’t allow for STR. The balance of older existing condominium projects in the area are zoned RMF-2 and do allow for STR and are clustered close to Meridian Blvd.. The ultimate answer is “no” you can’t buy a small home in this neighborhood and do nightly rentals.
Another repeated question is; Do the condo hotel properties have usage covenants? The answer is no. This is common in places like Whistler/Blackcomb where owners are subject to Covenant 1 and 2 restrictions which limit owner usage to maximize rentability. But Intrawest quickly discovered in 1996 that the California Department of Real Estate would not allow such covenant restrictions and weren’t likely to budge on the topic. Today’s end result is that condo hotel owners in Mammoth Lakes can use their units however they like, whenever they like, and can rent or not, and can rent anyway or with anyone they like. All of that to the consternation of the front desk operators.
I also get the comment “There’s so much land around Mammoth to develop”. This answer is another NO. Mammoth is a true island in a sea of government owned land. Just ask Tom Dempsey or Rusty Gregory about how hard it is to get any of that land away from the government. Very few have the time, money or incentive. The Snowcreek “back 10” land took 25 years and the land is clearly deeded for golf course usage only. The Ski Area Main Lodge exchange took 15 years and there were highly-coveted environmentally sensitive lands traded for the already urbanized property at the Main Lodge.
Mammoth Lakes is less that four square miles of privately owned land. Mono County is 96% government or quasi-government owned land. There is actually more land reverting back to public ownership in the County than being privatized. And there are a variety of Land Trusts proactively continuing this trend. The concept of “Small Town, Big Playground” isn’t going to change. Oh, and by-the-way, that beautiful parcel to the south-west of the Meridian/Minaret intersection is owned by the Town of Mammoth Lakes. It is supposed to remain open space, but I’m sure some future Town Council will want to do something ridiculous there….
The history of The Bluffs is interesting. It is one of the oldest subdivisions in town but you wouldn’t know it by driving through it (some of the new homes are spectacular!!). It was laid to paper and individual lots were sold in the early 1920s. But over time, one owner maintained a 70% ownership of the individual lots. The subdivision wasn’t actually constructed until the late 1990s after significant lot line adjustments and road realignments. And if it wasn’t for an amiable and likable rancher from Temecula who acquired the 70% ownership at a sheriff’s sale it might still be sitting up there undeveloped. A classic Mammoth story for sure….. And we still really don’t know if any remnants of the pioneer cemetery are up there or not.
And finally, Mammoth’s use of electric heat is bound to be in a resurgence phase. Amerigas’ performance and reputation certainly isn’t helping. The multitude of condos built in the 1965-85 relied primarily on electric heat. The wood burning fireplaces were all for show. But with increased electric costs, the introduction of more efficient wood burning, and eventually propane being more commonplace, electric heat today is used only by necessity. New innovations and efficiencies are changing this. How quickly all of this gets adopted but is anybody’s guess. But there are property owners all around town beginning to push the envelope. It will be an interesting evolution. Now if we could just tap into the massive geothermal power plant down the road. Too bad we weren’t more prescient about that.