Elevation 6752'
The Official Newsletter of the City of Big Bear Lake, CA
Elevation 6752', composed monthly by City Manager Frank A. Rush, Jr., is presented to keep our residents, property owners, investors, businesses, and visitors well-informed about the City of Big Bear Lake's issues, projects, and initiatives!
Issue #20-4 - Published September 22, 2020
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The Official Newsletter of the City of Big Bear Lake!
Thank you for checking out the fourth issue of Elevation 6752', the official newsletter of the City of Big Bear Lake, CA! This newsletter is presented to keep you well-informed about the City's issues, projects, and initiatives, and will be complemented by other public communications strategies in the future. The City Council, Planning Commission, City staff, and numerous others are all working hard to provide the highest quality City services, in a helpful and professional manner, and promote new public and private investment in our community - in order to enhance the quality of life and visitor experience - and we want to make sure you are well-informed about our efforts on your behalf!

The easiest way to stay-informed about the City of Big Bear Lake is to sign up for this new email newsletter. It's easy to sign up - simply visit https://www.citybigbearlake.com/ and click on "Text & Email Notifications" in the top center of the homepage. Simply click on the link, enter your name and email address, and you're all set. Signing up will ensure you receive the new Elevation 6752' newsletter each month, and also any special communications from the City of Big Bear Lake for emergency situations, special events, and more!

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Recent Increase in COVID-19 Cases in the Big Bear Valley,
But Currently Only 5 Active Cases
The City continues to closely monitor the incidence of COVID-19 in the Big Bear Valley, and continues to receive additional data from San Bernardino County contact tracers.

As of September 21, the County reports a total of 5 active cases in the Big Bear Valley, and the number of active cases has remained relatively constant in recent weeks.

Over the past week, there have been 9 new cases reported in the Big Bear Valley. Since mid-March, there have been a total of 113 confirmed cases in the Big Bear Valley, and the County indicates that 108 of these cases have now recovered. Thankfully, there have been no deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the Big Bear Valley.

El Dorado Fire Threat Appears to Be Decreasing
Fire personnel continue to battle the El Dorado Fire, and thus far have been successful in keeping the fire south of SR 38. Thanks to their efforts, the fire is not an imminent threat to Big Bear Lake at this time, but there is still some lingering concern about the fire. Fire crews continue the hard work of building containment lines and putting out spot fires that occasionally jump SR 38. The City is so appreciative of their hard work to keep Big Bear Lake safe!

The El Dorado Fire continues to burn near the previous Lake Fire burn scar, which is helping to decrease the intensity and spread of the fire. City officials remain in close contact with Fire officials, and, if things continue to progress well we expect the Fire advisory to be lifted this week.

Residents are advised to remain vigilant, and continue to monitor the City's public communications and those of State and local Fire officials.

View Looking South from Snow Summit - 7 am 9/22/20

City Staff Currently Reviewing Vacation Rental Ordinance, Recommendations to Be Presented to City Council Later This Year
The City has experienced significant visitation for the past 3 - 4 months as people seek to travel to safe, desirable, and convenient outdoor destinations. Big Bear Lake is not alone, and this phenomena is happening all over the United States in beach, mountain, and other popular tourism destinations like Big Bear Lake. Even in a pandemic, people will always be seeking to recreate, enjoy new experiences in new places, spend quality time with family and friends, and make new memories. We are fortunate that Big Bear Lake is a place that others enjoy visiting - for the same reasons we are all fortunate to live here!

The increased visitation in Big Bear Lake has come in all forms - second home owners spending more time at their property, a significant increase in day trippers, more traditional lodging guests, and more vacation rental guests. This additional visitation has been welcomed by our small businesses struggling to survive as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but has strained local infrastructure at times and has generated tension among some members of our community. The City recognizes these concerns, and is actively working to maintain a healthy balance between residential quality of life and tourism impacts.

There are 5 main customer groups in Big Bear Lake: permanent residents, second home owners, investors, businesses, and visitors. The reality is that all 5 groups are equally important to the success of our community, and the City strives to meet each group's needs in a balanced manner. If you take away just one of these 5 groups, Big Bear Lake is not the same place, does not have the same resources to provide basic services and community improvements, and can't support all of the amenities that permanent residents enjoy all year-round. We need all 5 of these groups to make Big Bear Lake the great place that it is!

Recent concerns have been expressed about poor behavior by some vacation rental guests. The City's vacation rental ordinance has worked well over the years, but has not had a comprehensive update in more than 10 years. City staff are currently reviewing the vacation rental ordinance, and will be presenting recommendations to the community, stakeholders, the Planning Commission, and City Council later this year. Special emphasis will be placed on promoting respectful behavior by vacation rental guests, as nearly all complaints about vacation rentals pertain to 2 issues - excessive noise and too many vehicles at the property. City staff's recommendations will be squarely focused on solving these 2 concerns, among other proposed changes to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the vacation rental program.

It is important to recognize that there are approximately 9,800 housing units in Big Bear Lake, and only slightly more than 2,100 of these housing units are used as vacation rentals. The vast majority of the housing units in Big Bear Lake are used exclusively as second homes - more than 5,300 units, while permanent residents occupy approximately 2,200 housing units in Big Bear Lake. All ~ 9,800 of these housing units pay the same property taxes and fees, and all help to support the overall success of our community. It is also important to note that the vast majority of vacation rental units are occupied by decent, respectful guests. During the month of July, there were zero complaints lodged against 93% of our vacation rental units, while the other 7% received at least one complaint. In most cases, the complaints were easily resolved after a courtesy visit, however, there are always a few "bad apples". The City's current comprehensive review of the vacation rental ordinance is squarely focused on eliminating these "bad apples" in the future.

It is also important to note that Big Bear Lake was built on tourism, and is at its core a tourism-based community. We are fortunate to be a place that others find desirable, and most of the time we reap significant community benefits thanks to our visitors. Without the tax revenues generated by our visitors, it is likely there would be no new bicycle and pedestrian trails in Big Bear lake, no future improvements to the Moonridge Corridor, no new park amenities, fewer fire and law enforcement personnel, and fewer services overall - all of these things that our visitors are fortunate to enjoy for a few days, but that all of us who live here are fortunate to enjoy all year long. We are all incredibly blessed to enjoy Big Bear Lake!

The City's ongoing efforts are aimed at establishing and maintaining the proper BALANCE on all of these issues, and we are all working very hard on these issues. If you have suggestions on ways to improve the City's vacation rental program and/or promote the proper balance between residential quality of life and tourism impacts, please email City Manager Frank Rush or Director of Tourism Management Larry Vaupel. We value any and all constructive suggestions!

Construction of Next Phase of Rathbun Creek Trail Set to Begin
The City continues to expand the Rathbun Creek bicycle and pedestrian trail, and is set to pave an additional ~ 1,100 linear ft. segment of the trail in the coming weeks. The newest trail segment will extend an existing ~1,800 linear ft. segment that runs along Rathbun Creek (from Elm Street to the Best Western) all the way to the Sizzler Restaurant on Big Bear Boulevard. Once complete, bicyclists and pedestrians will be able to travel on a dedicated asphalt path all the way from the Moonridge commercial area to Big Bear Boulevard.

The City is committed to expanding our bicycle and pedestrian trail network, with future plans to extend the Rathbun Creek trail north past Kmart and behind CVS and Interlaken Shopping Center. Future plans also include the extension of the Rathbun Creek trail south to the new Big Bear Alpine Zoo.

Eventually, the Rathbun Creek trail will connect with another new trail along Sandalwood Drive and Big Bear Boulevard (between Sandalwood and Stanfield Cutoff) that will be constructed in spring 2021, a new bicycle and pedestrian trail along Stanfield Cutoff that is currently under construction and will be complete in the coming weeks, and the existing Alpine Pedal Path on the North Shore.

New Stanfield Cutoff Trail Nearing Completion
Construction of a new, dedicated bicycle and pedestrian trail along the west side of Stanfield Cutoff is ongoing, and is expected to be complete in October or November.

The project converts the existing west shoulder of Stanfield Cutoff to a segregated trail, providing a safe connection from Big Bear Boulevard to the North Shore. Thus far, Stanfield Cutoff has been completely resurfaced, a new protective guardrail has been installed, and new pavement markings have been installed. The City's contractor has also paved new public parking areas near the intersection of Stanfield Cutoff and Big Bear Boulevard, and will soon add decorative railings to delineate the new bicycle and pedestrian trail, along with additional park amenities.

The City's goals for this project are to create a safe connection from the City limits to the Alpine Pedal Path, make it more convenient for City residents to access this wonderful amenity in our community, promote a more active lifestyle for our residents, and enhance public access to the lake.

The total project budget is approximately $1.3 million, and is funded by State grants and dedicated Measure Y (transient occupancy tax) funding. S. Porter, Inc., a local contractor, is constructing the project on behalf of the City.

City Council Approves MOU for Future New Stanfield Cutoff Roundabout
The City Council recently approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with San Bernardino County for the future construction of a new roundabout at the intersection of Stanfield Cutoff and SR 38 on the North Shore. The new roundabout will be constructed and funded by San Bernardino County, however, the City is cooperating with the County and others to bring the project to fruition.

The project is aimed at eliminating existing STOP signs at this somewhat confusing intersection, and will promote safer and more efficient traffic flow in the future. The project is expected to cost approximately $1.6 million, with $800,000 of State and local funding already identified for the project. According to the recently approved MOU, the project is tentatively scheduled for construction in summer 2023.

The City will continue to assist the County with this project, and the MOU will also allow the City to install signage and attractive landscaping in the center of the new roundabout at this key gateway into Big Bear Lake.

New Zoo Nearing Completion
After many years of hard work by many committed community members and San Bernardino County, the new Big Bear Alpine Zoo will soon be a reality. The beautiful new facility is nearing completion at the intersection of Moonridge Road and Club View Drive, with County crews putting the finishing touches on the new buildings and exhibits, and animals expected to be relocated to their new home in October.

The new facility is tentatively scheduled to open in early November, and will be a wonderful new addition to Big Bear Lake!

Please Complete the 2020 Census Questionnaire Online!
The 2020 Census is now underway, and the City of Big Bear Lake needs your help to make sure all of us in Big Bear Lake are counted! An accurate census count makes a huge difference in the amount of Federal and State funding distributed to California, San Bernardino County, and Big Bear Lake, and also determines how much representation we have in Sacramento and Washington, DC!

This year, it's SIMPLE to make sure you are counted - all you need to do is visit https://2020census.gov/ and complete the short questionnaire. We're only looking for about 10 minutes of your time, and you can even complete it on your smartphone - it's that easy! If you are a permanent resident of Big Bear Lake OR if you are a second homeowner in Big Bear Lake who spends more than 6 months and 1 day per year at your home in Big Bear Lake, PLEASE take the time to complete the questionnaire.

As of September 21, the response rate in the City of Big Bear Lake is at 17.4%. Considering our large number of second homes, that's not too bad, but we really need to get the rate up into the 22% or greater range! Please do your part, complete the short online questionnaire today, and help us maximize the funding allocated to our community and maximize our representation - so that we can do the best possible job serving you!

City Developing Plans for COVID-Responsible Halloween, Christmas, and Fireworks Events
As COVID-19 continues to impact all of us, the City has been and continues to work hard to identify strategies to allow the City's most enjoyable signature events to proceed this fall. Efforts are underway to produce the annual Halloween in The Village, Christmas Tree Lighting, and rescheduled July 4 Fireworks in a manner that is safe and responsible in the COVID-19 era, and recommendations will be presented to City Council on October 12 and November 9.

City officials are exploring several potential strategies for Halloween in The Village, including expanded hours and assigned time slots for different age groups, and/or drive-thru options, along with traditional trick-or-treating in City neighborhoods. The City is seeking to create an enjoyable atmosphere for children and adults, while maintaining safe distancing and promoting mask wearing (with many costumes already including masks!).

The City is also working to adjust the popular Christmas tree lighting ceremony, normally held on the Friday following Thanksgiving, to maintain this enjoyable annual tradition in a COVID-responsible manner. The Christmas event is more challenging, but the City continues to explore various options.

Finally, the City continues to work with our partners to reschedule the postponed July 4 Fireworks display. The most likely makeup date is Wednesday, November 11, with multiple goals - to celebrate the founding of the greatest country on Earth, celebrate our dedicated military veterans who have worked so hard to preserve our freedoms, and to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the City of Big Bear Lake's incorporation (November 28). The rescheduled July 4 fireworks display is also aimed at presenting a high-quality, enjoyable show primarily for our residents and second home owners to enjoy after a very challenging 2020, and is specifically targeted for a mid-week date for this reason.

Despite all of the uncertainty, fear, and challenges that have dominated all of our lives over the past several months, it's important for all of us to celebrate our relative good fortune and enjoy these wonderful special events that help make Big Bear Lake such a special place!

City Council Adopts New Ordinance Governing Accessory Dwelling Units
At its September 14 meeting, the City Council finalized a new ordinance governing accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs). The new ordinance brings the City into compliance with State law, and allows the development of ADUs and JADUs on existing developed residential lots.

The new ordinance includes various provisions aimed at preserving residential neighborhood character, promoting affordable housing unit development, and complying with State law mandating that cities accommodate these uses. The new ordinance includes size, height, and setback requirements, and also prohibits ADUs, JADUs, and the primary residential unit from being used as a vacation rental.

Are You Interested in Serving Your Community? City Seeking Applicants for DWP Board
Due to the relocation of an existing Board member, the City is currently soliciting applicants to serve on the Department of Water & Power (DWP) Board of Commissioners. Applications are due by Friday, October 16, and more information and an application is available at the City's website.

The selected individual will serve the remainder of a term that will expire on June 30, 2021, and will be eligible for potential reappointment to a new 4-year term next spring.

Two New Department Directors Join City Staff
The City welcomes two new members to its leadership team this week and next week.

Larry Vaupel began work on September 21 as the City's new Director of Tourism Management, and will assist the City Manager and City Council in effectively managing visitor impacts, establishing and maintaining the proper balance between residential quality of life and tourism, and managing the City's vacation rental program. Larry brings a wealth of experience to the City, having most recently served as Development Services Director for the City of Redding, CA, along with significant previous experience in economic development, real estate, planning, and code enforcement. Larry possesses a Bachelor's Degree in Government from Liberty University (Virginia), a Master of Public Administration degree from Northern Illinois University, and a Doctor of Philosophy (Political Science and Public Administration) from Northern Illinois University. We are pleased to welcome Larry to the City of Big Bear Lake!

Susan O'Strander begins work on September 28 as the City's new Director of Planning and Inspections, and will be tasked with guiding future development in Big Bear Lake, ensuring compliance with applicable development standards, supporting the Planning Commission, assisting the City Manager and City Council is establishing long-range plans for the future growth and evolution of Big Bear Lake, and more. Susan also brings a wealth of experience to Big Bear Lake, having most recently served as Deputy Director of the Community Development Department in Gilroy, CA, after a long tenure as Planning Manager for the City of Oxnard, CA. Susan is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), and is a graduate of the University of California - Irvine. Susan will make a great addition to our team in Big Bear Lake, and we look forward to her arrival next week!

Both of these individuals are serving in new leadership positions that replace previous vacant leadership positions in the City organization. In April 2020, the City Council approved the City Manager's reorganization plan that resulted in approximately $600,000 of annual savings for the City, and, more importantly, specifically directs City resources and promotes a greater focus on the City's most important issues moving forward - ensuring the proper balance between residential quality of life and tourism impacts, and charting a course for future development and growth in Big Bear Lake that reflects the community's and City Council's goals and values.

Big Bear Chamber of Commerce Hosting Virtual Candidates Forum on September 28

Did You Know?
Elevation 6752', the City's email newsletter, now has nearly 6,400 subscribers, and this number is growing every day!

Elevation 6752', along with special emergency updates (i.e, COVID-19, the El Dorado Fire), is the best way for our residents, second homeowners, investors, businesses, and visitors to stay informed about the City's issues, projects, and initiatives, and you can sign up by clicking here.

Keeping you well-informed is among the City's highest priorities, and if you haven't already done so, please sign up today. If you have already signed up, please forward this email to a friend or neighbor and encourage them to sign up!
City of Big Bear Lake
39707 Big Bear Blvd. PO Box 10000, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Phone: (909) 866-5831 | Fax: (909) 866-5491