Comment split over TBID in Mammoth

mltc6_5For many, Rusty Gregory’s bombshell announcement at the Mammoth Town Council meeting that he would soon no longer run Mammoth Mountain Ski Area eclipsed the discussion that followed on the proposed Tourism Business Improvement District.

Gregory called it the only growth strategy for the future. He asked the Town Council to look at the BID very carefully. The people who commented were about evenly split. The TBID would assess lodging 1%, retail and restaurants 1.5%, and lift tickets and ski school, 2%. The assessment would raise $4.7 million with $2.5 million to marketing, $300,000 to PR, $150,000 to research and $50,000 to training. Around $2 million would go to air service subsidies.

Glenn Taylor objected to taxing guests.

Glenn Taylor objected to taxing guests.

Small business owners said the BID was a tax that would put them out of business. Derek Johnson of Crystal Crag and Glenn Taylor of Perry’s Italian Cafe said customers can’t afford the 1.5% assessment. Taylor said passing this tax onto guests would reach a bad tipping point.

Julie Fontaine, a non-business owner, said citizens will have to pay the tax. She asked that it go to a vote of the people.

Mall owner, Paul Rudder, said merchants need more money before they can afford improvements.

Mall owner, Paul Rudder, said merchants need more money before they can afford improvements.

Brian Ellison of Brian’s Bicycles opposed it. Sports store owner Steve Hertzog supported it. Michael Ledsman, co-owner of Gomez’s said it would improve mid-week and shoulder season business. Rhonda Duggan said the TBID would protect the Town’s marketing dollars. She said, “It markets the whole community.” Kurt Schaubmyer of Petra’s said yes and so did Teri Stehlik who praised the Town marketing organization.

Long-time business owner, Paul Rudder apparently supports the BID. He said if it gives businesses one more day per week

during shoulder season, merchants will do better.

The Town Council will deal with this issue again at their July 3rd meeting where there will likely be deliberation and a vote.


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50 Responses to Comment split over TBID in Mammoth

  1. Mark June 7, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    “Gregory called it the only growth strategy for the future. ”

    I highly doubt that. It’s just the only one on the table.

  2. Radical concept? Maybe June 7, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    In the popular book “The Art of Japanese Management” (a must read for every American leader) the tendency for most American companies is to focus only on business quarter-to-quarter). If the division leader reports a “good” quarter, all is fine and dandy with the board of directors. However, what often gets overlooked is the ultimate future of that business.

    I personally agree with Robert Redford who once said, “The last thing you want to do is be in the ski resort business.”

    Perhaps it may be time to seriously consider returning the Mammoth Mountain property to the U.S. Forest Service and in time, allow that land to return to its natural state.

    • Sean June 9, 2013 at 10:32 am #

      Where can I buy some of what you are smoking?

      • And now, the end (maybe) near June 9, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

        I am a cock-eyed realist.

        Sean – if I were you, I’d prepare for the worst. Such as an icy-cold business decision from the CEO’s that run the mountain (from afar), that if it is no longer profitable for them to run the mountain, they’ll divest and/or close the mountain in a heartbeat.

        Face it, in spite of air travel, advertising, etc. those with the dough are skiing and investing elsewhere.

        • Sean June 9, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

          Bad things can happen anywhere, to anyone, and to any industry. You can’t run your life or a business from a position and strategy of fear. Maybe the volcano might come active and blow up the area. Should we all move because of the 1 in 10,000 chance of it happening? Should we start building bomb shelters after that?

          Not trying to attack you but if you know anything about Japan you know they are not an example we want to follow. Stagnation, an aging popular, lack of innovation, no immigration going there, and a 200% GPD to nation debt ratio. They can keep their opinions on how to run things.

          Unless you have seen the financials for Mammoth Mountain you really can’t be screaming about the sky falling and the mountain closing down. You are guessing and you don’t have any facts. Even If you knew the financials for the mountain you still could not say what would happen in the coming years.

          You could move to LA and get a job at any company only to have that company lose business and you lose your job. NOthing special about Mammoth is this regard.

          The only constant is change. So in the case of Mammoth things could move in many interesting directions. Some good and some bad.

          Embrace the excitement of uncertainty.

          I think a Trader Joe’s coming to town would fix everything personally.

          • Tends and Reality June 10, 2013 at 9:56 am #

            Yes Sean, everything is change. What was true for today may be different for tomorrow. Especially in today’s dog-eat-dog business climate where at one time the USA ruled. Not so today. Why not also accept that fact as a reality?

            Meantime, the trend in skiing at Mammoth has changed drastically. The Mountain does not have the luxury (as a Deer Valley does) to prohibit snowboarding and the culture that accompanies that sport.

            Those with the real money today,(the middle class is rapidly disappearing) although accustomed to trekking up the Mammoth (like the good ol’ days) are, simply put, are finding their wishes, wants and needs elsewhere. There will always be those who will continue to drive up from the South, but the trend is definitely towards more glossy destinations.

            Why not accept that reality?

          • and the hate continues all these years June 11, 2013 at 6:22 am #

            Another “I hate Japan!” comment.
            And I thought the nuking was 70 years ago.
            Such and angry hate-filled point of view.
            They must have just finished listening to Limbaugh or something.
            They haven’t noticed that there are more Japanese tourists that come here than the other way around. They can afford it.

          • Big AL June 11, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

            The hate continues as long as people like you Dr. facts … keeps it going by telling us how much we all hate or the assumption that we all hate.

    • Desert Tortoise June 10, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

      “Japanese management” has brought Japan very nearly two decades of zero to negative economic growth along with deflation. They have among the lowest levels of office automation in the industrial world, and a supremely inefficient agricultural industry. Everything is about saving face and as a consequence they are utterly incapable of introspection. Spare me the lectures on the supposed superiority of “Japanese management”.

      • Keeping an open mind June 11, 2013 at 5:44 am #

        Chill Tortoise –
        This is not about sparing YOU anything. And this “lecture” that drives you batty is more of keeping an open mind in today’s rapidly-changing world.

        It’s a matter of the Seven S’s.

        Western companies have tended to favor these three S’s: Strategy, Structure and Systems.

        When an American manager wants to make changes, the odds are that he’ll reorganize structure, introduce a new strategic direction and impose a new control system.

        Our emphasis on the first three S’s produces an arid world in which nothing is alive. An organization is often given its life through the soft S’s: Staff, Skills, Style and Superordinate Goals.

        The tremendous success of many Japanese companies comes through meticulous attention to the soft S’s, which act as a lubricant in the organization machine to keep the hard S’s from grinding one another away.

        Why not try letting go of the “We did it before (nuked civilians in Japan) – and we can do it again!” BS and work towards total harmony in the world?

      • Buy American? June 11, 2013 at 8:47 am #

        Methinks Desert Tortoise has been out in the desert sun a wee bit too long.
        That tiny country has been doing just fine, thank you, since WWII. They have long moved on post WWII – (some Americans have not).
        We see Japanese tourists all year round in Mammoth. And I remember not that long ago, when Americans laughed at the Japanese entry into the automobile market, believing the Japanese will never produce a quality product.

        • Desert Tortoise June 11, 2013 at 11:20 am #

          I am a practicing economist and east Asian economies and their growth is one of my specialties. I think if you examine the economic and demographic statistics for Japan for the last two decades you will see a gradually failing economy. They suffered a major recession towards the middle of the 1990’s from which their economy has never fully recovered.

          My critique about saving face is true to greater or lesser degrees of all Asian societies. A classic example is TEPCO during and after the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear generating station or how Toyota handled it’s unintended acceleration problem. Japanese management is not the gold standard. It has many flaws. That idea of emulating Japanese management was a very 1990’s point of view, but has been overtaken by events.

          • Karma and Japan June 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

            Desert Tortoise foolishly sees tiny Japan’s performance over the last decades as an unmitigated failure and has typically too narrow a conception of economic success. Along many dimensions — greater income equality, longer life expectancy, lower unemployment, greater investments in children’s education and health, and even greater productivity relative to the size of the labor force — Japan has done better than the United States. It may have quite a lot to teach us. Brutally nuking their civilians made Japan stronger, more resourceful and clearly more resilient.

            It’s a karma thing.

        • Mark June 11, 2013 at 11:42 am #

          I think we use to make TV’s in this Country too. Now we don’t make anything and it has a lot to do wth not being able to mine the resources needed to manfacture a competitive product.

          We’re screwed.

          • J-Frog June 12, 2013 at 10:01 am #

            You don’t cease to amaze me MARK, not being able to mine is not the reason why we don’t make products here. We don’t make products here because capitalism makes it legal to exploit other “poor” countries for a huge profit for very few, and those same very few love it when people like you and me vote for their taxes to not be raised! Trickle down mark, trickle down.
            How long do you think generations can drill for resources to suit human needs? Serious question! Throw your cards on table so we can weigh the debate.

  3. Steve June 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    Money from increased taxation will be used for marketing, research and air which will result in “Tourism Business Improvement” as the Town claims. Currently the Town is already spending money on marketing and air travel (now in its 5th year and still needing subsidies). Can the reason the current expenditures are not working because there was just not enough money spent? Now with this new tax/spending plan I know this time it will work, after all throwing more money at the problem has always been a successful solution.

    Rusty has stated; “the only growth strategy for the future.” I believe this is his “only strategy” and given his successful tenure as CEO of Mammoth Mountain everyone should take his advice.

    Now that we consider taxing and spending to be pro-growth, why just have a small tax, let’s increase the amount to 5%, but not 10% as this just overheat the economy. The people will pay for the extra tax because everyone is so loyal to Mammoth they would never find another city to stay and spend their money there. I don’t know any nation/society that taxed and spent it way to prosperity, but I just know this time will be different.

    • Bret June 7, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

      That is just too funny, if that didn’t sound the big dong sound in everyone head then I don’t know what would.

    • Sean June 9, 2013 at 10:34 am #

      You are hundred percent correct. Trying to tax your way to prosperity is like trying to lift a bucket that you are standing in.

    • Trouble, Trouble, Trouble June 9, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

      Gregory is merely doing his CEO thing. The obvious hint into what is really going on is comment that he is stepping into the shadows in his corporate workings.
      Translation: Trouble in River City with a capital “T”.

      I know the real estate people, the developers, and construction people, etc. do want to accept this – but the smart realists are bailing.

    • Desert Tortoise June 10, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

      Any nation that wants to grow it’s economy has to raise taxes and spend money on education, infrastructure and health care. These are the pre-requisites for economic growth. No amount of “low taxes” will grow an economy if you do not provide investors with an educated workforce able to do the work they wish to do, provide the infrastructure business requires to support their operations and provide a means for citizens to obtain health care so businesses have healthy workers who show up on time and are not so disabled or sick that productivity suffers.
      So, you are wrong that no nation ever taxed it’s way to prosperity when in fact every nation that succeeds taxes and spends. The question becomes what taxes you raise and what you spend this tax money on. But, I guarantee you that if you fail to collect taxes and spend them on what is necessary to grow your economy, then nothing else you do matters. Businesses won’t do it for you.

      • Mark June 11, 2013 at 6:23 am #

        oh good grief, I completely disagree.

        • Desert Tortoise June 11, 2013 at 11:42 am #

          Read what Robert J. Barro and Javier Sala-i-Martin co-wrote and later wrote independently on convergence and economic growth among nations.

        • J-Frog June 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

          Why is that Mark? Is it because the current political platform has drilled it in your head taxes are a bad thing and should never go up? Especially on those organizations and individuals that can afford it? Taxes is such a terrible subject to debate since the whole right wing platform made the right wing voters believe they were gonna cut YOUR taxes rather then their own taxes, and don’t give me this Obama this Obama that , because if you haven’t noticed he is a right winger also, he just says one thing and does another.
          Trickle down Mark! Trickle down? remember that load they were feeding us, You didn’t eat it up did you??

          • Mark June 12, 2013 at 7:20 am #

            It’s much simpler then all that J-Frog.

            Because of all the waste and corruption I am unhappy with the value I am getting from my tax dollars.

            Stop the waste and corruption and my view might change.

          • J-Frog June 12, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

            I hear that loud and clear.
            It does take taxes to give those services that most of us can agree upon (firefighters, helping less fortunate).
            Subsidies and loopholes are what we all should be mad about also, They use OUR tax dollars to protect THEIR money.
            So I have to say “I agree 100% with your last comment”
            Corruption =
            I will never give that link reference a rest, I firmly believe it is the best effort to give “We The People” our Democracy/Republic back from this corporate/big money take over.
            Your right it is much simpler then that, our gov’t has the wrong incentive structures due to the corruptive influence of money..

  4. ferdinand lopez June 7, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    make skiing affordable again and they will come,and they will spend money.its not brain surgery

    • Cost Comparison Chris June 8, 2013 at 11:44 am #

      Affordable skiing?
      Any idea how expensive it is to operate a ski business?
      Perhaps you would be better served at June.

      • Ken Warner June 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

        Real expensive if you use that ski area as a launch pad and selling point for property development.

        Real expensive if you have to support an airport and a marketing division that tells everybody in SoCal about Mammoth Mountain — like they never heard of it.

        Real expensive if the ski area is owned by big hedge funds and property developers that build high price condominium hotels to sell and try to milk the ski area for profits.

        MMSA hasn’t been just a ski area for a long, long time. With over a million skier days a year, one should be able to come up with a management plan that works and makes a reasonable — although small — profit. That keeps people in the town employed for reasonable salaries. It used to be so….

        • Mammoth needs work June 9, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

          That million skiers a year thing is dropping fast Ken.
          Be honest. If you had the money, would you want to hang out in a town that needs so much work?
          From the moment you enter the town, you notice a trailer park, boring strip-malls, dilapidated buildings, an old run-down, motel at Meridian and Minaret
          … not exactly the ambiance the Richie-rich seek out for their vacations.

          • Ken Warner June 10, 2013 at 8:41 am #

            You know what? To Hell with rich people. All our troubles started when we tried to become something we are not. We are not a World Class Destination Resort. We were just a ski town with modest goals. A quiet peaceful existence for people who wanted to live here year round. No expectations of mega-bucks for selling trinkets and sporting goods.

            People just wanted a nice quiet life with access to the high country and skiing on a pretty good ski hill with pretty nice weather most of the time.

            Then people like you started this “Grow or Die” B.S. And then the big developers were welcomed into town as if they were the second coming and now look what we’ve got.

            A lot of unhappy people trying to live beyond their means and a city government sucking the life and economic health out of the community to chase empty promises of prosperity all at the urging of the developers and fools like you who don’t know a good thing when you have it.

            If you want wealth and prosperity, move to Reno or Carson City or San Diego. It that’s the lifestyle you want, go get it and leave us alone.

            You are in paradise and you don’t even know it.

          • Mark June 11, 2013 at 9:04 am #

            Real skiers don’t care about trailer parks, boring stripmalls, or dilapidated building. They come to ski nothing more nothing less. It’s the richie-rich that like fancy settings and they’re not real skiiers.

      • Trouble June 8, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

        I enjoy June Mountain much more than Mammoth. I also hope Rusty gets fired or laid off. He should know how to deal with it.

    • Really ? June 8, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

      Bravo Ferdinand, a very Simple solution to a big greedy mess.

    • SierraFan June 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm #


      Not attacking you here but listen to what you and other’s are asking! Affordable skiing? Do we send a memo to all the ski gear companies as well with “please reduce your costs for your over priced gear”? The lift tickets are just a part of this industry, the lodging is another, food and entertainment, the gear and the gas to get here from 300+ miles away. All are pretty expensive when combined so let’s not beat up on Rusty and the mountain over this. Heck, a family of 4 will spend a few hundred dollars a day in food alone. lol…….

      Our love for the area is just that! We need to pull our heads out of the sand and stop complaining (Rusty this, Rusty that, The Mountain this and The Mountain that” about the high cost of this stuff and earn enough money to where it doesn’t bother us…. me included.

      • Time to face the music June 11, 2013 at 8:57 am #

        Why not face up to the reality of the situation?

        Skiing has become a rich man’s sport. And I’m not talking about the young snowboarders who have taken over Mammoth Mountain (they don’t have any money).
        Like during Great Depression I, when the going gets tough (economically) the rich become richer and want a total vacation experience complete with all the trappings the rich insist on having: finest lodging, gourmet food, massage parlors, finest this, finest that … And Mammoth cannot compete with that sort of thing.

  5. ferdinand lopez June 7, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

    make skiing affordable again,and they will come.and they will spend mony.its not brain surgery

  6. ferdinand lopez June 7, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    it was so important i had to say it twice and spell it right

    • Maybe conservatives are right June 9, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

      Ya get what ya pay for.
      The lower the lift tickets – the more you’ll see the riff-raff, the stoner snowboarders, and everything that goes along with bargain basement ski experiences.
      Maybe the conservatives are right. Everything should be based upon the rich and what they want and to hell with the rest. Let ’em pick themselves up by their own bootstraps.

      • MARK June 10, 2013 at 8:29 am #

        There’s a little truth to that..

        I kinda think the popularity of skiing is falling a bit too.

      • Mark June 11, 2013 at 9:58 am #

        I remember Rusty’s free opening day a few years back.

        I have never seen so much pot smoking in a lift line.

    • SierraFan June 10, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      Now that’s funny FL.

  7. MMMMammoth June 8, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Do the opposite of whatever Mr Gregory proposes should be the mantra. I ilke the odds of that plan being succesful.

  8. Mark June 9, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    The majority of skiers/vistors have no idea about this mess.

    If it snows, they will come

    • MARK June 10, 2013 at 8:30 am #

      thumbs down all you want. Just spent the weekend in SoCal with a bunch of skiers many who are pass holders an nobody knew about the bid and once they did nobody cared.

      They are looking forward to skiing Mammoth Mountain and dining at Wiskey Creek.

      simple as that.

      • SierraFan June 10, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

        It’s funny Mark,
        All this talk about the BID and what does it really amount to? Maybe $20 to $30 bucks on a grand or more spent as far as I can tell and that’s nothing to those spending that kind of money.

    • SierraFan June 10, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      They will for sure!!

  9. Bill June 11, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    Yep, I agree. Mammoth is constantly selling itself short especially if you start believing and listening to the same few dissatisfied, unhappy, complaining locals who frequent the comment board on Sierra Wave. Thousands of people (still) enjoy coming to Mammoth and we would all be better served if we had a better outlook and a bit more optimism – even if you have to fake it.

    This town is plagued by several things: Poor leadership, negative self image, and lazy locals who would rather bitch and complain than better themselves and their community.

    When it snows – the town and mountain do well. Despite the ski industry remaining in a flat growth trend, MMSA is still a profitable business. The mountain remains the most important amenity and contributer of visitors to our town. As for the other 6 months? Mammoth needs to continue to market and sell up its natural surroundings and why people come visit in the first place.

    The Tourism Dept has done a great job despite overwhelming challenges and uncertainty. The world is starkly different today than a few decades ago. Like it or not, we live in an information craving, consumer based, marketing driven society. Media techniques and strategies influence everything from politics to lifestyles to sales. If we fail to continually reach out and promote our region and excite and inspire people to seek out Mammoth Lakes then we’ll be unable to compete and attract visitors from the resorts and tourism towns that “get it”. I should be clear that it isn’t only shopping malls, real estate, and consumerism that should fuel our economy – no, we simply need to look outside and sell what we have: clean air, clean water, big mountains, incredible recreation diversity, unspoiled wilderness.

    • SierraPigs June 11, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

      More expertise from the new breed of Mammoth charlatan’s!

      Trying to sell something that’s not theirs.(pathetic) Same old song and dance that will never amount to a hill of beans. They’ll extract millions in tax dollars, that will disappear into thin clean fresh air.

      Like all the other marketing scams prior to this one, the results will be the same. In good snow year, business will boom, during droughts the money dries up, nobody can change that equation .Anyone who says they can cure the shoulder season drought is just another FlimFlam man.

      Suckering customers has never worked for very long, you get one maybe two shots to earn a customer. Faking it has got us the same old returning Mammoth marketing customer who brings a change of shorts and twenty and changes neither.

      Spending any marketing money for the “faking it experience” is the oldest trick in the book. Reaching people isn’t the problem, delivering the goods is the problem. You can’t give the customer service and experience with ” lazy locals ” working two or three jobs for poverty wages.

      The smart money comes and go’s without falling for the Three Card Monte business model Bill and friends promote.

  10. Bill June 13, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    SierraPigs: “Like all the other marketing scams prior to this one, the results will be the same. In good snow year, business will boom, during droughts the money dries up, nobody can change that equation .Anyone who says they can cure the shoulder season drought is just another FlimFlam man.”

    If we are to better our community and strengthen our local economy the equation you mentioned above is precisely the problem we need to solve. Drought conditions are most likely to continue and may even be more common than the boom years, and shoulder seasons need to be improved… in the scope of this comment section I’m afraid neither you or I cannot offer any immediate solutions.

    My point was to simply highlight that locals in our community need to realize that complaining our way around is not helping matters. We need to pull ourselves from the the cycle we’ve been in since the 1990’s. Status quo, and relying on average to poor service while relying on “more heads in beds” to compensate for the lack of quality service is insane.

    I own a successful business in town. It’s small, but profitable. I’m able to subcontract work to other locals totaling about half of my own work volume. Along the way, I’ve noticed others in my trade simply coast, never striving to achieve the next level in service or be innovative in gaining new customers. My competition in town relies on serving the next dummy that comes along, rather than retain a high number of regular visitors. Our competition in other resorts are improving their services. They are also spending money to increase exposure of their product. So when I say we need to spend money on marketing – we also need to improve the average level of our service.

  11. SierraPigs June 13, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    I concur Bill, the price point, taxes, and tips for the guest experience is insane. Marketing for marketing sake without fixing the value part of the equation is a complete waste of time and money. The TBID is only driving this point home, charging more while providing less than the competition is never going to cut it.

    The mentality of many third world countries I’ve visited is when customers are fewer, raise prices, cut service, in order to maintain an income level. Compounding our problems while solving nothing is not in anyones best interest. People with resources can recreate anywhere, they’ll will vote with their feet along with their dollars, that’s the reason visits and spending have declined in Mammoth.

    Mammoth isn’t running out of customers, they’re attracting the repeat customer who’s expectations matches the service level they provide. Attempting to market a “fake” guest experience that doesn’t exist just to justify the higher costs is foolish at best. We risk alienating our loyal customers that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Trying to poach the competitions clients without meeting their expectations simply doesn’t work in the long run . The very reason many are choosing not to come, visit less or go else where is simply the bang for the buck.

    The reason I’m complaining is the Mammoth power brokers are back at the trough, when the need to be going on diets like everyone else!


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