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 #21-5 - Published May 28, 2021
Memorial Day Service Monday Morning
Please join our community in honoring our military service members who gave their lives in service to our country at our annual Memorial Day remembrance this Monday morning.

The ceremony will begin at 10 am at Veterans Park, with remarks by Mayor Caretto, representatives from various branches of the United States military, the American Legion, a vocal performance by Big Bear High School students, and other traditional ceremonies to remember the fallen and honor their sacrifice for our freedom. We are eternally grateful.
Memorial Day Fireworks This Monday Night
The City, Visit Big Bear, and the Rotary Club are pleased to present a special Memorial Day fireworks display on Monday night beginning at approximately 9 pm. Fireworks will be displayed over the lake, with many excellent viewing locations all around the lake.

The Memorial Day fireworks display is actually the rescheduled July 4, 2020 fireworks that were postponed due to COVID-19. We look forward to a great show on Monday night - ENJOY!
City Continues to Work Extremely Hard to Resolve Vacation Rental Issues
The City continues to work extremely hard on vacation rental issues, and these efforts have made a significant difference in our community over the past 6 months. The City continues to place the highest priority on these issues, and is committed to ensuring responsible and respectful visitor behavior while fostering a vibrant tourism economy in Big Bear Lake. Our community needs both!

There has been a great deal of hard work by many, including the City Council, the Planning Commission, City staff, Visit Big Bear, vacation rental owners, vacation rental managers, concerned residents, and many others on these issues, and all of these efforts have contributed to the City's progress. Over the past 6 months, the City has:

  • adopted a new vacation rental urgency ordinance that fundamentally changed the City's enforcement approach, with City staff now dispatched immediately to all vacation rental complaints,

  • reduced the total occupancy of most vacation rental units by limiting the number of adults permitted in the vacation rental unit, and also to promote more family visitors,

  • implemented a strict and simple policy that prohibits amplified music and sound that is audible beyond the vacation rental property line,

  • required all vacation rental guests to park only in the garage or driveway of the vacation rental unit, and has prohibited vacation rental guests from parking on City streets,

  • prohibited all parties, weddings, and other large gatherings at vacation rental units,

  • prohibited hot-tub / spa usage at vacation rental units after 10 pm,

  • doubled the number of vacation rental enforcement staff, responding to every single complaint to determine the nature of the violation first-hand, issue appropriate citations, and take additional corrective actions,

  • significantly increased fines for vacation rental violations, with fines now ranging from $500 to $10,000,

  • enacted provisions that enable easier suspension and revocation of vacation rental licenses in the future,

  • issued nearly 200 citations representing nearly $250,000 in fines,

  • experienced an 83% decrease in the number of weekly vacation rental complaints between January 2021 and May 2021,

  • implemented a new telephone answering system for vacation rental complaints, and implemented a new "Report a Concern" app to make it easier for our residents to file complaints,

  • with the help of powerful new software, identified all currently illegal vacation rentals and either brought them into compliance with the City's requirements, issued fines of $5,000 or more, permanently banned the owners from securing a vacation rental license in Big Bear Lake, and/or are in the process of banning the owners,

  • worked directly with AirBnB to remove non-compliant vacation rental units from their online platform altogether,

  • built more effective relationships with vacation rental management companies, vacation rental owners, hosting platforms, and a new association of self-managed vacation rental owners in an effort to better educate owners, managers, and guests, and to secure vital commitments to resolve vacation rental issues,

  • completed necessary steps to increase the vacation rental license fee to cover 100% of vacation rental program costs, with the fee expected to be increased from $235 - $279 annually to $550 annually in June,

  • implemented new complaint and enforcement response protocols to improve communications with vacation rental owners, managers, and neighbors filing complaints, and

  • solicited and received input and suggestions from hundreds of residents, vacation rental owners, and managers in an effort to further improve the vacation rental urgency ordinance, and held 3 lengthy public input meetings for the City Council, Planning Commission, and City staff to better understand concerns and identify helpful strategies.

It is worth noting that more than 80% of all vacation rental complaints pertain to noise and parking, and the City's urgency ordinance and enforcement protocols are clearly focused on these issues in particular. All of our residents, second home owners, and other visitors are entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of their home or vacation rental unit, and the City's efforts are squarely aimed at promoting responsible and respectful behavior by all vacation rental guests.

City staff are committed to ensuring that vacation rental owners and managers take responsibility for their visitors, and that they effectively partner with the City to ensure proper and respectful behavior by all visitors. The reality is that more than 90% of the City's approximately 2,500 vacation rental units routinely meet our expectations, and the City is working hard with all parties concerned to bring that number as close to 100% as possible! The reality is also that our community benefits significantly from responsible and respectful vacation rentals. Overall, vacation rentals are capable of hosting nearly 20,000 visitors to our community who enjoy and appreciate our community, and contribute significantly to the local economy - at the ski slopes, at the marinas, in the restaurants, in the gift shops, at the grocery stores, at the gas stations, at the repair shops, and at every other business operating in Big Bear Lake. Additionally, City tax revenues derived from vacation rentals alone were more than $6.9 million in 2020, and are routinely in excess of $4 million annually. These revenues are vital to the City's ability to provide all local government services, including law enforcement, public works, infrastructure improvements, parks and trails, and more.

Following hundreds of suggestions, and many hours of thoughtful discussion by the City Council and Planning Commission, City staff are currently drafting additional improvements to the vacation rental urgency ordinance. A new, draft permanent ordinance will be presented to the Planning Commission on June 16, and will likely be presented to the City Council on July 19. We are confident that these additional improvements, combined with continued diligent enforcement, will enable the City to ensure responsible and respectful visitor behavior while fostering a vibrant tourism economy in Big Bear Lake.
City Council Set to Approve FY 21-22 Budget, New 5-Year Capital Plan
The City Council conducted another special budget workshop meeting on May 24, and will formally consider adopting the FY 21-22 budget and a new 5-year capital plan at its June 7 regular meeting.

The City's total recommended budget across all funds is approximately $39.7 million, with the General Fund representing approximately $17.8 million of this total. The Sanitation Fund (wastewater collection and disposal) represents approximately $6.5 million, and the Refuse Fund (solid waste collection and disposal) represents approximately $3.6 million. The remainder of the budget primarily represents new capital investment in our community, including the planned Moonridge corridor improvements and additional park development (dependent on pending grants).

The FY 21-22 recommended budget is intentionally focused on addressing our community's most critical issues to enhance the quality of life for our residents, second home owners, and visitors. Targeted investments are included to improve law enforcement patrol and response, ensure timely and effective response to vacation rental complaints, provide better park maintenance, expand litter collection efforts, address blighted properties, more than double our typical street rehabilitation efforts, and invest in major capital improvements in the Moonridge corridor.

All of these investments are ultimately aimed at enhancing the quality of life for our residents and second home owners, promoting a vibrant local tourism economy, and providing a quality visitor experience. We are proud to serve all of our customer groups, and believe the FY 21-22 budget will enable us to do a better job in the future - for you!
Grocery Outlet Appeal To Be Considered on June 7
At its June 7 meeting, the City Council will consider two formal appeals of a recent Planning Commission approval of plans for a new Grocery Outlet store on Big Bear Boulevard just west of Starvation Flats.

The proposed grocery store is consistent with the City's General Plan and is a permitted use in the City's development code. The proposed store is approximately 18,000 square feet on an approximately 3 acre site that is zoned C-2 (Commercial-General). The C-2 zone allows a wide variety of commercial activities, including grocery stores, and many other uses including retail establishments, hotels, restaurants, equipment sales and rentals, professional services, personal services, and many more.

The site plan includes a total of 89 parking spaces and utilizes two existing driveway locations on the existing site. The project also includes additional mitigation measures that limit left turns from the proposed eastern driveway and require the removal of potential sight obstructions near the driveway.

Two appellants have cited environmental, traffic safety, housing, and other concerns in their formal appeals (Appeal 1 and Appeal 2).

The June 7 City Council meeting will be held in City Hall beginning at 6 pm.
Council to Consider Construction Contract Award for Moonridge Corridor Improvements
The City received a total of 4 construction bids for the Moonridge Corridor Improvements project, with Granite Construction, Indio, CA, presenting the lowest responsive bid at $8.38 million. City staff continue to review the project bids, and expect to present a contract recommendation to the City Council for consideration on June 21. The contract is within the City's established budget for the project, and, if awarded, construction is expected to begin as soon as possible after June 21.

The project would be constructed in two phases, with all sub-surface drainage and utility work planned for summer and fall 2021, and all roadway, pedestrian, and streetscape features constructed in spring, summer, and fall 2022. Dedicated City staff will be coordinating closely with businesses and residents in the project area, and will be working to minimize any construction disruptions to the maximum extent practical.

The City looks forward to completing the planned improvements in the Moonridge Corridor, and looks forward to a safer, more aesthetically pleasing environment for all to enjoy. The project includes numerous features aimed at enhancing the existing built environment, promoting additional economic development, and creating a vibrant commercial destination in Big Bear Lake!
Proposed Increase in Village Maintenance Assessments
As part of the FY 21-22 budget, the City proposes to increase the annual assessments on business parcels in The Village. The proposed increase is aimed at continuing the high quality City services provided in that area in the future, and also addresses a recurring annual deficit in the fund that accounts for maintenance activities.

Under the proposal, the Village maintenance assessment charged to business parcels on Village Drive and Pine Knot Avenue would increase from $18.01 per linear foot of street frontage to $23.00 per linear foot in FY 21-22. (For example, a parcel with 100 feet of street frontage currently pays $1801 per year, and this assessment would increase to $2300 per year.) Additional $5 per linear foot increases would also occur annually over the following 4 years, and would enable the City to eliminate the annual deficit by that time.

The current assessment ($18.01 per linear foot) generates approximately $93,000 annually, and the City's current policy calls for Village businesses to provide approximately $202,000 annually toward maintenance expenses - thus a potential $109,000 shortfall in FY 21-22. The proposed FY 21-22 increase (to $23.00) will generate approximately $118,000, and each additional $5 increase will generate approximately $25,000 of additional revenue annually - and should fully eliminate the deficit by FY 25-26.

Village business owners and parcel owners are encouraged to email Sean Sullivan, Public Services Director or Frank Rush, City Manager, or call 909-866-5831 with any questions or concerns. A final decision on this matter is expected to occur at the June 21 City Council meeting.
New Bicycle Trail Construction Set To Begin
The City has finalized necessary easement agreements with the Eagles Knoll Estates neighborhood, and the City's contractor is now expected to begin construction any day now on a new, dedicated bicycle and pedestrian trail from Stanfield Cutoff, along Big Bear Boulevard and Sandalwood Drive, to Rathbun Creek. The new trail will provide a safe and enjoyable route from the City limits to Stanfield Cutoff and the Alpine Pedal Path on the North Shore, and should be complete this fall.

The City is excited to bring this beneficial project to fruition, and looks forward to additional trail extensions along Rathbun Creek in the next few years. Additional planned improvements in the next few years will ultimately provide a safe bicycle and pedestrian trail route all the way from the Big Bear Alpine Zoo to the Solar Observatory by FY 25-26.
New Hotel Proposed for Big Bear Boulevard
City staff have been working closely with the developers of a new Home 2 / Hampton Inn hotel project for more than a year, and formal plans will be reviewed by the Planning Commission at its meeting on June 16.

The proposed new hotel would be located on the north side of Big Bear Boulevard, just west of Summit Boulevard, on a vacant ~ 2.7 acre parcel. The project site is zoned C-2 (Commercial-General), and a hotel is a permitted use in this zone. Vehicle access is proposed from Park Avenue, located at the north end of the property.
City Exploring Potential Solid Waste Service Enhancements
City staff continue to explore potential solid waste service enhancements, with a goal to implement desired service changes by July 1, 2022 when a new solid waste franchise agreement will become effective.

City staff are considering a wide range of customer needs and issues, and will soon be assisted by a Mayor-appointed committee to closely review and consider these issues, and ultimately make recommendations to the City Council later this year.

Potential service changes currently being considered by City staff include the following:

  • the implementation of curbside collection for all single-family residential units in the City, potentially with mandatory "backyard" collection at vacation rental units and second homes,

  • the addition of dedicated staffing, a new user fee, and/or different hours of operations at Clean Bear sites in order to prevent non-City residents from utilizing the sites without paying for these services,

  • a requirement for vacation rentals to privately arrange for special solid waste collection services,

  • the relocation of existing Clean Bear sites and/or the construction of new / additional sites,

  • the implementation of additional temporary "pop-up" trash sites at various locations in the City to reduce crowding at the City's existing Clean Bear sites during peak periods, and

  • and any other helpful ideas that ensure a clean community, reduce traffic congestion near Clean Bear site, and provide services in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.

The new committee is expected to be appointed in June, and City staff hope to present recommendations to the City Council later this fall or early winter.

City residents currently pay an annual fee of $383.41, or $31.95 per month, for all solid waste services provided by Big Bear Disposal and City staff.
COVID-19 Update
The Big Bear Valley continues to see a decrease in new COVID-19 cases, with only 17 new cases reported over the past month. As of May 28, there have now been a total of 1,084 cases reported in the entire Big Bear Valley since the COVID-19 pandemic first affected the United States in March 2020. The total number of deaths in the Big Bear Valley attributed to COVID-19 remains at 19.

Through May 28, 57.8% of the City's adult population (age 16 and older) is at least partially vaccinated, with 47.0% fully vaccinated. Residents of the unincorporated communities outside the City limits, however, appear more reluctant to get vaccinated. Only 35.9% of Big Bear City residents are at least partially vaccinated, with 29.6% fully vaccinated. Only 30.2% of Sugarloaf residents are at least partially vaccinated, with 24.7% fully vaccinated. In Fawnskin, 49.8% are at least partially vaccinated, with 40.9% fully vaccinated. The City continues to encourage everyone to get vaccinated, with numerous vaccination opportunities available throughout San Bernardino County (please click here for sites).

As the threat from COVID-19 continues to decrease significantly, all of California is poised to essentially return to "normal" by June 15. With the exception of certain "mega-events" (none of which are likely to be held in Big Bear Lake anyway), all business and social activities are expected to be permitted to operate at full capacity, without masks, and without distancing requirements.
Did You Know?
The City contracts with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department for law enforcement services, and the SBC Sheriff is, in fact, the "Big Bear Lake Police Department". Although the Big Bear Station serves the entire Big Bear Valley, the City contracts for a higher level of service, with dedicated law enforcement personnel and additional services available to City residents and businesses. For FY 21-22, the City's budget for law enforcement services is nearly $5.4 million.
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The Official Newsletter of the City of Big Bear Lake!
Thank you for checking out this 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!

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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