Mayor Wendy Sugimura and PAOT both rejoined the Town Council at last nights special workshop. Sugimura after the birth of her first child and PAOT, or People at One Time, after a 14 month hibernation period following the approval of the General Plan in July 2007.
A policy issue on how to deal with developments asking for extra density and how that would affect PAOT was suppose to be created shortly after the General Plans approval but was discussed for the first time at the October 28 workshop.
While community members expressed their distress that it took so long to come to the table, they also applauded Council for bringing it forward and encouraged them to make the tough decisions and come up with a clear, concise policy that could be looked at each time a development project is brought forward.
The problem facing the town is that if extra density is awarded to developments in an uncoordinated fashion, then the PAOT number will exceed the 60,700 that the General Plans CEQA documents were based on in no time, and there will be no chance of keeping it at the 52,000 that the community said they preferred.
Community members, including Mammoth Mountain Ski Area CEO Rusty Gregory, called on the Council to be the leaders they were elected to be.
You need to take this complex issue that everyone has been avoiding like the plague, and make it simply enough to be actionable, Gregory stated.
The Council, to the surprise of many community members, began to do just that. At the end of the evening Council came up with several directional items for staff, which Sugimura diligently recorded for the public to see. These items were meant to allow staff to begin to craft a PAOT policy.
The first, and what seemed to be most important to Council, was to start a running calculation of PAOT based on the base density already present. By determining where the town is now, density-wise, Council felt like they would be able to then create benchmarks that development projects could be judged on.
Council also agreed, at the suggestion of local lawyer Tim Sanford, to have part of the policy specifically state that density bonuses are disfavored in the Town of Mammoth.
Let developers know they will be fighting an uphill battle if they choose to pursue one density bonuses, said Councilman John Eastman.
Council also determined that they will need to identify areas in town where the most density is appropriate; they will need to use existing bodies of information for each project that comes forward but also have in depth discussions about each one; and that they need to define sustainability.
A second workshop is scheduled for Monday, November 3 at 6 p.m. for the Council to discuss incentive zoning, another integral piece of the policy puzzle. The meeting is tentatively scheduled to be held at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area where it is expected to be televised.