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 #20-5 - Published October 23, 2020
Sign Up for Elevation 6752' -
The Official Newsletter of the City of Big Bear Lake!
Thank you for checking out the fifth 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!

In addition to the new Elevation 6752' newsletter, you can also get the latest information from the City of Big Bear Lake via the following digital platforms:

  • "Like" us on Facebook - City of Big Bear Lake

  • Follow us on Twitter - @CityofBBL

  • Follow us on Instagram - @citybigbearlake

Please help us spread the word, and share this new City newsletter with your friends, family, other residents, property owners, frequent visitors, or anyone else who is interested in Big Bear Lake!
Big Bear Valley Remains Fortunate to Experience Relatively Low Incidence of COVID-19
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 October 23, the County reports a total of 12 active cases in the Big Bear Valley, and the number of active cases has remained relatively constant in recent weeks. There have been a total of 144 cases reported in the Big Bear Valley since the beginning of the COVID-19 event in March, and 132 of these individuals have recovered.

Overall, approximately 1 in every 1,833 residents in the Big Bear Valley is currently afflicted with COVID-19. Since March, approximately 1 in every 153 residents has contracted the virus.

Thankfully, there have been no deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the Big Bear Valley.
City, County Continue to Seek Designation of Sub-Regions in San Bernardino County for State Tier System
With colder temperatures arriving, the City is increasingly concerned about the impact of the State's color-coded tier system ("Blueprint for a Safer Economy") on our local businesses. Because the Big Bear Valley is located in San Bernardino County - the largest county in the United States - our businesses remain in the "Purple Tier", the most restrictive tier that prevents restaurants from operating indoors and limits other business activities.

San Bernardino County, the City of Big Bear Lake, and other cities within San Bernardino County have all submitted requests to Governor Newsom seeking the designation of sub-regions within our county. San Bernardino County is nearly twice as large as the next largest county in California, many times larger than all other California counties, and represents approximately 12% of the total land area in the State of California. San Bernardino County encompasses an area roughly equivalent to 20 counties in central California, all of which have individual tier designations.

Under the State's data criteria for reopening, if the Big Bear Valley was its own county we would likely qualify for designation in the "Orange Tier", which allows restaurants to operate indoors at 50% capacity.
New Bicycle Trail Segment Completed Along Rathbun Creek
City crews recently completed the construction of a new ~ 1.200 linear foot bicycle trail extension along Rathbun Creek. The new trail connects to an existing ~ 1,800 linear foot segment, and creates a continuous path from Elm Street to Big Bear Boulevard along the creek. Enjoy a nice bicycle ride, run, or stroll along the creek in this wooded area!

Future plans include the extension of this bicycle trail further southeast toward the new zoo facility, and to the northwest toward the lake. The City hopes to make these additional trail segments a reality in the next few years!
Work Continues on New Stanfield Cutoff Bicycle Trail
The City's contractor continues work on the new bicycle trail across Stanfield Cutoff, and is expected to complete the installation of decorative railings and other park amenities in November. Once complete, the new trail will provide a safe, direct connection from the City limits to the Alpine Pedal Path on the North Shore.

The City expects to construct another new bicycle trail from Stanfield Cutoff to Rathbun Creek at Sandalwood Drive in spring 2021, as it seeks to further expand the bicycle trail system throughout the City.
Draft of New Vacation Rental Ordinance To Be Presented in November
City staff have been working diligently to craft a new ordinance governing vacation rentals in Big Bear Lake, and will present a draft to the City Council at the November 9 meeting. City staff have considered numerous concerns and helpful suggestions from our residents, vacation rental owners, and vacation rental managers over the past several weeks, and will present an ordinance aimed at establishing and maintaining an appropriate balance between residential quality of life, visitor accommodations, and property rights.

The draft ordinance will be specifically tailored to prevent, resolve, and punish noise and parking violations, which represent nearly all vacation rental complaints received by the City. The new ordinance will also shift primary responsibility for enforcement from vacation rental managers to City enforcement officers, and will include other provisions designed to discourage the proliferation of vacation rentals in the future.

The draft ordinance will be presented to City Council on November 9, and a copy of the draft will be available for public review no later than November 6. A special joint City Council / Planning Commission meeting will be held later in November, and will include a special public input session. Additional public input sessions will be scheduled as necessary, and City Council is expected to formally consider the first reading of the new ordinance at its December 14 meeting.

As a result of COVID-19, Big Bear Lake and nearly every other popular outdoor tourist destination have experienced a significant increase in visitors of all types - day trippers, traditional lodging guests, vacation rental guests, and, notably, second home owners utilizing their homes more often. The City has been working hard to address the impacts associated with the increase in visitation, and is committed to establishing and maintaining an appropriate balance in the future. We look forward to ensuring that everyone - our permanent residents, second home owners, investors, business, and visitors - can enjoy Big Bear Lake - as long as they do so in a respectful manner.
City Staff Exploring Ideas for New Lakefront Park
City staff are currently exploring alternatives for the potential development of a new lakefront park in Big Bear Lake, ideally in the vicinity of The Village. Discussions with lakefront landowners are ongoing, and the City is considering applying for a significant Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program (SPP) grant in December. Nearly $400 million is expected to be awarded by the State for new and expanded park projects in 2021.

The SPP program provides funding of up to $8.5 million for qualifying and awarded projects, and the City expects to submit one or more competitive grant applications. Multiple public input sessions are being scheduled for November and December in preparation for potential grant applications, and City Council will review potential applications at its December 14 meeting. A potential new lakefront park could include several park features, potentially including a public swimming beach, walking trails, sitting areas, open space, kayak access, and other park amenities - depending on the public input received.

The potential new lakefront park is aimed at providing additional recreational amenities for our residents and visitors, expanding The Village area to include the lakefront, promoting quality new and redevelopment in this area of the City, and reducing the pressure on heavily-visited Boulder Bay Park and the Stanfield Cutoff area.
City Investigating Potential Gondola Public Transportation System
In an effort to reduce traffic congestion, City staff have begun preliminary work to determine the feasibility of a new gondola public transportation system in Big Bear Lake. The initial conceptual plan includes an aerial system to transport residents and visitors along the main corridors in Big Bear Lake, and connect The Village, the main commercial corridor along Big Bear Boulevard, the two ski areas, and shopping areas near Fox Farm Road.

The intent of this initiative is to identify a cost-effective, attractive, and convenient system to move people around in Big Bear Lake, so that once visitors are here they can simply leave their car parked. City officials continue to explore this idea with other State and local transportation officials, and if it comes to fruition it will be necessary to secure significant Federal, State, and County transportation funding. This initiative is in very early stages, and additional information will be presented to the community if / when the project evolves further.
Visit Big Bear Seeking Renewal of Tourism Business Improvement District
Visit Big Bear has formally requested City Council approval to renew the existing tourism business improvement district (TBID) serving the City since 2016. The TBID currently levies a special 3% assessment on overnight accommodations and a 2% assessment on ski ticket and pass sales in the City limits, and these rates would remain the same if the TBID is renewed. The existing TBID expires in March 2021, and Visit Big Bear is seeking a new 10-year term through 2031.

The existing TBID generated nearly $3.5 million in FY 2019-20, and these funds are used to fund marketing efforts and assist special events, with a particular emphasis on expanding midweek and off-season visitation. Importantly, the proposed TBID renewal also includes the establishment of a new Tourism Impact Mitigation Fund designed to assist the City in more effectively managing visitor impacts in the future. The proposal anticipates the allocation of approximately $150,000 or more annually to mitigate visitor impacts in the future. The proposed TBID renewal also includes greater cooperation between the City and Visit Big Bear, greater oversight by the City, and the shifting of certain City tourism-related expenses to Visit Big Bear in the future.

Visit Big Bear expects to begin a petition drive to secure approval TBID assessment collectors in November, and the City Council will consider the first formal action in a 3-step approval process at its December 14 meeting. If ultimately approved, the TBID renewal will be effective in April 2021.

The City recently created a new Tourism Management Department specifically focused on maintaining an appropriate balance between residential quality of life and tourism impacts, and this new City department will work closely with Visit Big Bear to ensure that their initiatives are consistent with our community's values in the future. The City and Visit Big Bear enjoy a productive partnership, and the proposed TBID renewal seeks to build on that partnership, and continue to improve Big Bear Lake for everyone to enjoy!
Drainage Improvement Projects Underway
The City's Public Services Department is currently overseeing two contracts to address chronic drainage issues in two locations. A new subsurface storm water drainage line is being installed on Lakeview Drive near Glen Road and on East Landing, with concurrent resurfacing of City streets in this areas. A separate contract will improve drainage along Bonanza Drive in The Village. Both projects will prevent storm water from City streets from harming private property in the future.
City Manager and City Attorney Explain Legal and Practical Issues Involved in Restricting Access, Evacuation Orders
With both COVID-19 and the El Dorado Fire impacting Big Bear Lake in recent months, there have been numerous questions about the City's ability to restrict access and/or order evacuations. These issues are not as simple as one might initially perceive, with a host of public safety, legal, jurisdictional, and practical considerations that must be considered in making these significant decisions.

At the October 12 City Council meeting, the City Manager and City Attorney briefed the City Council and the public on these issues, and a copy of this report is available here. In short, the City of Big Bear Lake only has authority over the ~ 6.5 square miles included in the City limits, and may only take actions to restrict access or order an evacuation from areas inside the City limits. The City does not have the authority to close State highways leading to and from the Big Bear Valley, and those decisions would be made by State, County, and/or regional officials in the incident command structure. Most importantly, any actions to restrict access or order an evacuation must be warranted by a substantive and immediate threat to life and property in Big Bear Lake. It is also important to note that any City actions must generally apply equally to all individuals, whether they are permanent residents, second home owners, or visitors (including others who live in the Big Bear Valley but not in the City limits). It is very difficult to justify allowing access to certain individuals while restricting others, and any decision to limit access to the City would apply to our permanent residents returning home from off the mountain, to residents of Big Bear City or Fawnskin and other communities, and vacationers.

Fortunately, the circumstances of both the COVID-19 event and the El Dorado Fire did not rise to the level that warranted restricting access or ordering evacuations. We remain fortunate to experience a relatively low incidence of COVID-19 that continues to be manageable, and are fortunate that firefighters were able to suppress the El Dorado Fire before it became an immediate threat to Big Bear Lake.
City Council Approves New Regulations Allowing Projecting Signs in The Village
City Council recently approved new regulations that allow projecting signs to be installed by businesses in The Village. The new regulations permit such signs to encroach over City sidewalks, provided they are between 8 ft. and 15 ft. above the ground. Signs are limited to either 3, 6, or 9 square feet, depending on the number of businesses in the building and other signs present, and must include materials consistent with The Village design standards.

The new regulations were developed with significant input from The Village business owners and the Planning Commission, and will bring many existing projecting signs into conformance and allow for additional, attractive projecting signs in The Village.
SHOP LOCAL This Holiday Season!
The holidays are fast approaching, and everyone is encouraged to SHOP LOCAL this year! Now more than ever, our local businesses need your support, and you can promote the continued success of your friends and neighbors right here in Big Bear Lake!
VOTE on November 3!
The 2020 election is now just 11 days from being over, and it's important for all of us to do our part and VOTE!

The Big Bear Lake City Hall will again serve as a local polling place for Federal, State, regional, and City elections, and will be open from 7 am to 8 pm on Tuesday, November 3. You can also vote at City Hall on Saturday, October 31, Sunday, November 1, and Monday, November 2 from 10 am until 6 pm. Additionally, a County ballot box is located right outside the front door of City Hall, and ballots may be deposited in the box at your convenience.

In addition to the Presidential election, numerous State and local elections are on the ballot, including two seats on the Big Bear Lake City Council.
Did You Know?
As of October 22, there are a total of 2,195 vacation rentals permitted to operate in the City of Big Bear Lake.

This number has remained relatively constant over the course of 2020. There were a total of 2,182 permitted vacation rentals in March 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 event.

Overall, there are nearly 10,000 housing units in the City of Big Bear Lake, with vacation rentals representing approximately 22% of the total housing units in the City.
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