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Mammoth's Tourism District Idea Faces Diverse Resistance

Debate continues in Mammoth Lakes surrounding a proposed TBID (Tourism Business Improvement District) that would assess a 2% tax on all of Mammoth Mountain's lift ticket and bike ticket sales, 1% on all lodging, and 1.5% on all restaurants. The assessment, which is an increasingly common phenomenon in California towns, would raise $4.7 million annually and increase the town's marketing budget by 40%, which they argue is desperately needed to bring in more visitors and slowly cure the town's brutal financial woes. Curbed Ski has been covering the struggling Eastern Sierra ski town's troubles, which started when the town lost a $43 million lawsuit surrounding their hasty bungling of a proposed development at the area airport. And not everyone's down for the cause...

The Sheet was on site for a recent town council meeting that sought to solicit feedback on the TBID proposal. Mammoth tourism official fretted about their reception at ski shows in their main Southern California market, such as at the Ski Dazzle LA event pictured above, where the share of the population who calls Mammoth their home mountain has slid from above 50% to 28%. But some attendees expressed concerns about entering a "media arms race" in SoCal, the country's most expensive media market. A local forum has been running a lively local debate on the proposal, with some detractors wondering whether the problem is not the area's notoriety but the cost of visiting it itself, as the five and a half hour drive removes any possibility of day trips, and commits visitors to an already pricey weekend. Others looked to resorts in Colorado and Utah and advocated for less costlier solutions, like offering free same-day lift tickets to those who fly into Mammoth Lakes, much as many Utah resorts do.

Alternatively, a "Don't Tread On Me"-themed citizens group has launched an informal campaign on social media against the proposed assessment, and has even gone as far as launching a boycott of all the stores and restaurants who have supported the TBID. One dissenting business, Crystal Lake Lodge, has even gone as far as to hire an LA-based lawyer, Geoffrey Stover, who helped defeat a similar assessment there focused on an arts district. The lawyer will be looking into the legality of the TBID and may pursue more formal resistance to the proposal based on his findings.

· Mammoth TBID to be challenged [The Sheet]
· Mammoth 3.0 archives [Curbed Ski]