Influx of workers in search of rentals

With the snow come scores of people in search of work and a place to live.

With the snow come scores of people in search of work and a place to live.

Snow has started to cover the ski slopes, Mammoth Mountain had planned to open next week, and new employees want to rent a place to live for the season. This year, it seems like more rental activity, according to Mammoth Lakes Housing Director Jennifer Halferty.

As usual, there are not enough rental units to satisfy the growing workforce in Mammoth Lakes. The Housing organization does offer a free listing of rentals on its website. Go to and click on rental vacancies. You can also email or call the Housing office. Property owners can do the same. The phone number is 760-934-4740. Check the website for other contact information.

Director Halferty said that Blizzard Property Management Company in Mammoth also offers rental services. Halferty said she is now receiving more emails than usual and said a lot of people are frustrated because they want a six-month lease or have a pet and can’t find a place that will accept it. And, rental prices remain higher than many want to pay. Right now, there is an influx of people into town looking for jobs or waiting to go to work.

Mammoth Lakes Housing’s own units are full and, as usual, there is a waiting list of 36 people. Halferty said that in the past year the list remains pretty consistent with 30 to 36 people waiting to find a place to live.

As for the wider housing scene, Halferty said that the Town of Mammoth, City of Bishop and Mono County have applied for first time home-buyer funds. If awarded, those funds would provide a down payment for those who qualify. Director Halferty said there are no grant funding applications pending right now to build more rental housing but there may be in the new year.

Right now, she said, Mammoth Lakes Housing is focusing on preserving existing affordable housing in the town.


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32 Responses to Influx of workers in search of rentals

  1. Ken Warner October 31, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    “a lot of people are frustrated because they want a six-month lease or have a pet and can’t find a place that will accept it. And, rental prices remain higher than many want to pay”

    There’s the problem in a nut shell. There’s plenty of For Rent signs all over Mammoth. But the property owners want year leases and obviously, the seasonal employees are only going to be here for a few months.

    And also, people who are desperate enough to want or need to work at Mammoth Mountain and other tourist related businesses clearly don’t have regular jobs somewhere else — so how can they afford rentals that are .priced to make the most possible money for the property owners.

    And this pet thing — that’s just a stupid thing to have if you are an itinerant worker. There is no human tragedy here, just the usual disconnect between fantasy and greed.

    • Ken Warner October 31, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

      Bennet, please delete all my comments in this thread. Clearly I don’t know what I’m talking about.

      • Benett Kessler October 31, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

        People can disagree with civility.

        • Civility is a weakness November 1, 2013 at 5:12 am #

          Some of us simply cannot disagree with a degree of civility.
          Too many years of talk-radio and “I hate liberals” books.

          Civility is viewed as a weakness to some of us.

          But, be kind to them nevertheless.

      • erik simpson October 31, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

        Ken, it often isn’t what you have to say, it’s how it sometimes comes across. When it seems you imply that seasonal workers at Mammoth are desperate, stupid transients and that rental property owners are greedy shylocks, you should expect that there could be those who take offense. Read your stuff over before hitting the ‘Submit’ button. ‘Stupid, desperate, greedy’ are loaded words; use with caution.

        • Ken Warner November 1, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

          Mr. Simpson,

          You imply that I used “shylock” to describe property owners. That is completely untrue. Shylock is your word that you are trying to use to insult and discredit me. Shylock is a disgusting racial epithet that I would never use in any circumstances.

          I demand a complete retraction and an immediate apology.

          • erik simpson November 1, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

            Mr. Warner:

            From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

            Definition of SHYLOCK
            capitalized : the Jewish usurer and antagonist of Antonio in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice
            : loan shark

            I agree that you did not use the word. As you see, it is not a disgusting racial epithet. No apology is necessary or forthcoming, except that I regret any pain or offense due to misunderstanding of the term.

    • Desert Tortoise November 1, 2013 at 9:20 am #

      Mr. Warner, if a rental in in a condo complex, be aware that many HOAs now demand that any properties within the project be leased for a minimum of one year and owners are required to send the HOA management copies of all lease documents. The rationale is that short term renters will become a problem for other residents and will not be motivated to take care of the property. Long term leases tend to produce more stable clients who do not disrupt their neighbors.

      You also apparently have no idea of what it costs to prepare a unit to rent after a previous tenant clears out. You have a deposit of one month’s rent you can withold until you are satisfied the unit has been left clean by the departing tenant, but any damage beyond that will require you to make a claim in small claims court. With transient tenants, good luck finding them afterwards to sue them if they trash your rental. Keep in mind the higher the rent the higher the deposit.

      Another consideration that you know when the seasonal worker moves in your unit will sit empty again in a few months, while your tax bill and mortgage payments still have to be made. If you know the tenant is short term, you have to charge more to cover the vacancy period. This isn’t greed Mr. Warner, it is how you stay in business!

      Try being a land lord sometime. You might take a different view of things.

      • Ken Warner November 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

        Mr. DT,

        Why would a property owner rent his/her property for only 6 months given all the negative issues you’ve listed?

        Please correct me but the only reason I can think of — as I pretend to be a property owner — is the opportunity to make more money in 6 months than I can for a longer term rental or I would rent — my imaginary property — only for long term.

        Your argument is logical and well prepared but incomplete as to the motive of a property owner to rent short term.

        • Desert Tortoise November 1, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

          You would take a shorter term tenant if that is all you can find or their year long lease is up, they have been a good tenant but they do not have their plans finalized.

          I have two such tenants, one in my Bay Areaduplex who was married last month right when his two year lease expired and he indicated his new wife and he are trying to qualify for a home loan. He asked for and I gave then a six month lease, but raised the rent (we negotiated it and understood going in that the rent would rise on his next lease).

          Likewise another lessee just informed me she might take sabbatical next summer but does not know if the college she teaches at will grant it to her. She gets an eight month lease, but I genuinely hope to keep both tenants for the long term and have told them so. I gave then the shorter term leases trying to coax them into staying.

          But to offer an unoccupied unit month to month is an act of desparation I would only engage in if the unit had sat unoccupied for a number of months. My places are pretty nice and I am able to attract high end renters so I haven’t had to go that route yet. Some places are fine renting month to month, but they are not such nice places and their clientele is, how to say this, not the most desirable tenants. But if you have a large number of units available for rent at low prices you can handle the turnover. I have five units available and cannot.

          • Ken Warner November 1, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

            Mr. Tortoise,

            You are treating your tenants well. Good for you and them. But those are different situations than we are discussing. We are talking about someone who just gets into town maybe on Nov. 1; has a job perhaps at MMSA or some where else in town. And has told you that he/she is only going to be renting for 6 months — or less.

            Why would you wait or design your rental strategy to rent to a person with those time lines? It would be great if there were a lot of property owners who would rent under those constraints but unless you’ve got lots of money, not many options

            I remember how difficult it was when I was transient labor, coming up from the beach around Thanksgiving to work until Easter just because work at the beach (surfboard manufacture) was slow to nonexistent. But I always kept some sort of house or place to stay at the beach for end of season.

            But coming here for seasonal employment was always a real hard thing to do because of the difficulty in finding an affordable place. I have walked around in the snow at night wondering where I was going to sleep. Not fun without a lot of money.

          • Shine November 1, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

            Know one owner, and heard of others on East Coast, who have become reverse snowbirds because of reduced income. They now rent out Florida home in wintertime, and New England home in summertime. That way they capitalize on tourist season in both places and live offseason in each house.

            Do know one owner in Mammoth who uses home for summer use only, but can afford to keep house vacant in winter and avoid downsides of short term tenants.

          • Desert Tortoise November 2, 2013 at 10:14 am #

            Large apartment complexes, ones with hundreds of units, can handle a high turnover and offer month to month renting. Larger communities will have such apartment complexes because there will be enough locals seeking cheap digs to keep the place afloat on the off season. But beware, such complexes are not without their own set of problems. A high transient population doesn’t take care of the property, isn’t interested in getting along with the neighbors or anyone else for that matter.

  2. familygal October 31, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    …”Mammoth Mountain had planned to open next week, and new employees want to rent a place to live for the season.”

    I suggest that the MMSA employees look to MMSA and it’s employee housing for help.

    …”a lot of people are frustrated because they want a six-month lease or have a pet and can’t find a place that will accept it. ”

    Most landlords cannot afford to only have a renter for 6 months out of the year – who is going to rent the unit/condo for just the other 6 months during the summer months? Again, MMSA needs to come up with a solution for it’s temporary workforce. I think the article should have included MMSA employee housing information as I am almost certain that there are many choices for the seasonal MMSA employees mountain housing-wise.

    …”Mammoth Lakes Housing’s own units are full and, as usual, there is a waiting list of 36 people. Halferty said that in the past year the list remains pretty consistent with 30 to 36 people waiting to find a place to live”.

    Is this article about a push from the director of Mammoth Lakes Housing for more housing for MLH? I don’t see how part time MMSA employee 6 month rental needs fit with the Director’s need for more MLH and first time home owner’s grants.

    Housing for all is important! But MMSA needs to be an active participant in finding and providing housing for it’s workforce (which I think they do). And MLH needs to keep looking towards it’s mission of helping lower income first time house buyers. I think both of these groups are clearly focused on what they need to be doing.

    But Mr. Warner, in his comments, shouldn’t vilify landlords that are trying to keep their heads above water with his comment of “…rentals that are .priced to make the most possible money for the property owners.” Mr. Warner has obviously no idea what it takes to maintain a rental property and paints landlords as somehow “rich” – that is like assuming all small business owners are rolling in the dough – landlords are small business owners – owning rental property is a business Mr. Warner, why else would someone own rental properties – to break even, to go bankrupt? Please consider the property owner’s side of things too before you make general statements.

    • Ken Warner October 31, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

      Before you vilify me for telling the truth list all the property owners that give discounts to seasonal employees. It doesn’t happen.

      “…rentals that are .priced to make the most possible money for the property owners.”

      And then you go on to say:

      “why else would someone own rental properties – to break even, to go bankrupt?”

      Which is basically what I said but somehow I’m vilifying property owners.

      You’re right — I’m wrong and I don’t care.

      • Desert Tortoise November 1, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

        Again you are wrong Mr. Warner. Rentals are priced at the market price. When buying my units I did a financial study of each, and was surprised at how many triplexes and fourplexes in the San Jose area I viewed did not have a rental income that paid the full cost of the mortgage. The owners could not charge higher rates and accepted this knowing they would make their money on the increase in the value of the property.

        Again, life is not as simple as you seem to think it is.

  3. Dingo October 31, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

    SOME property owners are greedy and SOME renters have no respect for the units they rent and beat the crap out of them.
    I feel very fortunate that I live in a place with a cool landlord that discounts my rent in exchange for manual labor AND not only allows me to have a dog but loves my dog. I take care of him and he takes care of me, I dont know how I got so lucky.
    Its a shame because some dogs behave better than some children and sometimes even their parents.
    I applaud the parents who work more than one job each and pay rediculous rent just to raise their kids in a great place like the eastern sierra. I don’t know how the hell they do it.
    I have a hard time feeding myself.

  4. Trouble October 31, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    Maybe Mammoth Mountain should pay it’s employees a real living wage. Lord knows they get it.

  5. DosBozos October 31, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    My landlord loves dogs too, but the HOA where I rent doesn’t. I hear a lot of HOA’s don’t allow renters to have dogs. MMSA has a ton of employee housing, but who wants to share a 100 square foot room with another person, and a kitchen with 5 others.

    • Mark November 1, 2013 at 7:48 am #

      My kids didn’t work for the ski area. They left town, got an education, and now they go skiing anywhere they want.

      Working for mmsa is a trap for some.. They put up with the low pay because they like the area and like to ski, but hardly have a life or a clue.

      • Ken Warner November 1, 2013 at 10:49 am #

        Mark, I’m glad your kids had smart parents that saw the trap.

        Here’s an article that should interest other parents.

        WASHINGTON — It’s long been known that America’s school kids haven’t measured well compared with international peers. Now, there’s a new twist: Adults don’t either.

        In math, reading and problem-solving using technology – all skills considered critical for global competitiveness and economic strength – American adults scored below the international average on a global test, according to results released Tuesday.

        • Desert Tortoise November 1, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

          No evidence of this here. Nope, none at all. 🙂

        • Jeff Brown November 2, 2013 at 6:55 am #

          You and your Kids are Traitors to your community for moving out 🙂

    • Desert Tortoise November 2, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

      Unfortunately you find in large cities four bedroom homes with a family, a whole family, renting each bedroom. These are not transients either, but full time employed who’s jobs do not pay anything close to a wage that would permit them to rent an apartment on their own. $500 a month for a bedroom with, um, “kitchen privileges” and fighting over two shared bathrooms. A lot of cooking is done on hotplates, crock pots and rice cookers in the shared family bedroom. Parking in neighborhoods with multiple such dwellings is competitive. The homes will look nice from outside but inside it is chaotic.

  6. ferdinand lopez November 1, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

    seasonal employees cant afford high rent,simple as that,when i worked for mmsa.we had 5 people living in a 2 bedroom,just to survive,hows that plan to beautify mainstreet coming?

  7. Small Town Girl November 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    I totally understand why Landlords DO NOT WANT to rent to the transient population. I grew up in Mammoth and i have seen how seasonal employees- first years Mammoth kids- ski snowboard bums live. IT IS GROSS! They trash houses- and then you never see them again.
    Mammoth is expensive. You have to pay to play, You can’t expect to pay low prices here, from rent to food Mammoth Lakes is an EXPENSIVE community.

  8. Nancy Baker November 2, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    My husband and I owned rental units for 13 years, and I’ve worked in property management for other landlords, both here and in the Tahoe area. Having a year-long lease and tenant is a much better deal for the landlord and generally for the tenant as well. However, when circumstances get problematic, many landlords may be forced to accept a seasonal lessee. We did it just once. The renter was a very nice kid. I use the term on purpose, it was his first time away from home. He was from another country and a member of that country’s sponsored snowboarding team. (No details on purpose.) His lease clearly stated no more than 3 occupants, in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath unit. He always had 5 or more guys there. We mutually agreed to another $100.00 a month for those additional persons. Long story short, they were nice kids. And when they moved out, over and above the deposits, there was an additional $1500.00 worth of damage. Thank God I’d Faxed a lease copy to his mom, who signed it. I sent her an itemized bill and had an international money order in one week.
    That’s why most landlords don’t want to rent to seasonal employees.

  9. maureen November 3, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    MMSA should be better stewards of their employee housing situation. I don’t know if people realize that the Chutes costs these guys over 800 a month to share. Prices at MMSA for everything lifts,ski lesson, food all go up. The price of housing for staff continues to go up. Seasonal employees have not gotten a raise in 11 years. Maybe the new Ops VP will have a look at this.

    Housing in Mammoth is very expensive. When you look at the average wage being 46K a year, that person can afford about a 900.00 a month. Where is something for 900 a month?

    People should be allowed to have pets if they are willing to pay a pet fee. If you do find a rental from MLH ( and you wont because why would anyone every move out of a 3 bedroom condo they pay 700.00 a month for), but lets say you did get a rental, you can’t have a dog either.

    Renting is an issue here, it really is and MMSA should provide affordable housing for its underpaid staff. Maureen

    • Shine November 3, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

      Raise wages and eliminate TBID. A living wage, as Trouble suggested, would attract and retain more responsible employees. TOML would end up with more responsible tenants that could afford longer leases and higher security deposits, and landlords could lower their rates if units weren’t trashed and had longer occupancy.

      Eliminate TBID and more wages will be spent locally and circulate to everyone. When town is healthy it attracts more visitors. Mountain subsidizing housing to attract low wage seasonal employees doesn’t help town, and the two are conjoined twins.

      Similar to if Feds had given money directly towards homeowners mortgage payments it would have still benefitted the banks. Maybe we should have just let it all crash and just started from scratch. Maybe that’s what Mammoth needs.

      • Mark November 4, 2013 at 11:24 am #

        You think MMSA can pay career type wages for positions that were never ment to be careers?

        and McDonalds employees want $15 an hour…

        If MMSA or McDonalds actually paid living wages to everyone they’d go out of business by pricing themselves out of their markets.

        You were joking right?

        • Shine November 4, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

          McDonalds still turns a nice profit in Europe and Australia where it pays higher wages.
          In-N-Out has starting wage of $10.50 and benefits for full time employees in So Cal, where McDonalds pays minimum wage of $8. Costco pays good amount more than Walmart. Don’t see them going out of business.

    • Desert Tortoise November 4, 2013 at 10:40 am #

      From the description of seasonal employee housing one would think they are migrant farm workers being housed.


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