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 #20-7 - Published December 21, 2020
Caretto To Serve as Mayor, Herrick as Mayor Pro-Tem in 2021
New City Council members Alan Lee and Bynette Mote were officially sworn-in on December 14, and joined existing Council members David Caretto, Rick Herrick, and Randall Putz on the 5-member City Council.

The new City Council's first order of business was the selection of Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem for 2021. David Caretto was selected as Mayor for 2021, and Rick Herrick was selected as Mayor Pro-Tem. Both will serve in these leadership roles until December 2021.
Mayor Caretto Outlines Goals for 2021
New Mayor David Caretto looks forward to serving our community, and shares his thoughts for the City in 2021:

"It was my honor last Monday night to be selected once again to serve as Mayor of the City of Big Bear Lake. This will be my last term on the City Council after 3 terms, and I am very happy to be able to lead and collaborate with my colleagues this year, especially because we have just installed two energetic new members of the City Council and we have a relatively new, but very experienced, City Manager. I very much appreciate the well wishes I have already received from friends here in the valley and elsewhere. I also know that there are some who will not be as pleased. That is fine too. To everyone, though, I pledge that I will do the very best I can to serve the residents and businesses, not only of my District 4, but also of the entire community. This last nine months have been extraordinarily difficult for just about everyone, and my friend, Council member Rick Herrick, has done a fine job serving the City as Mayor during this time. I am pleased that he will be serving as Mayor Pro Tem this next year. I would also be remiss if I did not thank our two outgoing Council members, Bob Jackowski and Bill Jahn for their many years of dedicated service to the community. Their mentorship, assistance and unique perspectives have been very helpful.

I have three principal goals this year as Mayor.  First and foremost, I hope to help lead this community through and then out of this historic pandemic.  I know full well that many in our City and our valley have suffered greatly due to the shutdowns and restrictions placed on businesses and employees. Lives and businesses have been devastated, with only a glimmer of hope now in sight. The City staff and Council have heard a great diversity of opinions about what we should or should not do with respect to the Governor’s orders, some of which, I believe, may be well meaning but seem arbitrary and lacking common sense. Last Monday evening, after hearing from the City Attorney that the City is under no legal obligation to enforce the Governor’s orders, the City Council reached consensus that the City staff should continue to engage, educate and seek the cooperation of businesses, but that they would not punitively enforce the orders as long as all businesses, including lodging and private home rentals, operate in a safe manner which recognizes the importance of wearing masks, social distancing, limiting gatherings of unrelated individuals, and sanitizing and washing hands as appropriate, among other precautions. The City is not suggesting that anyone disregard the orders of the Governor, but if an individual or business believes that they need to do so to survive, then so be it. Egregious violations reported to the City will still be investigated and action will be taken, including evictions from rentals where necessary. It is my hope that this limited sort of compromise will help us all get through the rest of this pandemic and still retain the wonderful community that we all love. The City Council and staff will continue to monitor the situation closely and may modify our position, if appropriate, at some time in the future.

Secondly, if the last nine months have told us anything, it is that we need to build and adopt a better and more successful vacation rental ordinance. I believe the revised ordinance should place more of the burden of best behavior on the owners, rental agencies, and most importantly on the visitors who use these services. This should help relieve residents of the burden of policing and enforcement. We have had extraordinary visitation in Big Bear Lake from folks trying to escape the large urban areas. Some of these visitors have come here for the first time, and their actions have not always been respectful and kind. Graffiti, trash and excess noise are examples of less than desirable behavior. I am hopeful that we can begin a thorough review of the draft ordinance that the staff has presented very soon, with essential input from all those affected. We will take as much time as necessary to come up with an ordinance that best suits our community. ZOOM meetings have met the need during this pandemic, but the sooner we get back to in person meetings and can take valuable citizen and stakeholder input the better.

Finally, I also believe strongly that we need to seriously address the issue of preservation and development of affordable work force rental and for sale housing so that people we desperately need to work in retail, restaurants, services, schools, hospital, fire department, the ski resorts, and elsewhere have a decent place to live here in the community. I don’t think we want to become one of those elitist mountain communities where working people can no longer afford to live. That would be devastating to our economy and to our entire community. I know that long term rentals are very much in short supply already, and we must get to work to solve this problem.

I know that my colleagues will have other valuable ideas for this community to pursue, and I look forward to the coming year as one of renewal and rebirth for our beautiful City of Big Bear Lake. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone; may the new year be much better for everyone. Please stay safe out there for yourselves and your neighbors. We will get through this together. Big Bear Strong!"
COVID-19 Continues To Be City's Main Focus
The City continues to devote most of its attention to COVID-19, working to keep our community safe and also balancing a myriad of other personal freedom, personal responsibility, intergovernmental, economic, practical, and legal concerns. With cases continuing to increase, decreasing hospital capacity, and significant new restrictions imposed by the Governor, COVID-19 continues to be a challenging and divisive issue in our community - and everywhere.

Rightfully so, many other important City issues have been placed on the back burner, and the City hopes to emerge safely from COVID-19 later this spring and poised for future success. Your patience and understanding is appreciated as we navigate the remaining months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The City also encourages everyone to be patient and understanding with each other. Everyone is negatively impacted by COVID-19 in some way, and everyone is simply trying to survive and get back to normal. With vaccine distribution already under way, and significant vaccination possible by spring, we are nearing the finish line of this grueling race.

The City continues to publish regular COVID-19 updates every Tuesday, and more often as necessary, and will continue these efforts until it's no longer necessary. The next City COVID-19 update will be published on December 22.
City Maintains Solid Financial Position
City Council reviewed the City's new Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) at the December 14 regular meeting. The CAFR presents the City's financial position as of June 30, 2020.

Despite the challenges associated with COVID-19 over the past 9 months, the City is fortunate to maintain a solid financial position. Highlights include the following:

  • the City received an unmodified opinion from our auditors, indicating that the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the City,

  • the City has received the Government Finance Officers Association's highest award, the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, for the past two years,

  • the City's total net position, across all activities and inclusive of all assets, is approximately $111 million, and increased by more than $6.2 million over the last fiscal year,

  • the City maintains total General Fund reserves of approximately $5.68 million, which enables the City to meet cash-flow needs, be prepared for unforeseen emergencies, and seize unexpected opportunities to improve the City,

  • the City maintains total Sanitation Fund reserves of approximately $4.83 million, which enables the City to adequately maintain and improve our wastewater collection and conveyance infrastructure,

  • the City has accumulated nearly $3.2 million of Measure Y reserve funds, derived from transient occupancy taxes, that have and will continue to fund beneficial capital improvements in our community,
  • each of the City's primary operating funds generated a slight surplus over the past fiscal year,

  • total General Fund (the City's primary operating fund) revenues and transfers in were approximately $17.30 million, with $16.85 million of expenditures and transfers out,

  • property taxes, sales taxes, and transient occupancy taxes are the City's three most significant revenue sources, comprising approximately 77% of all General Fund revenues, with a combined total of approximately $13.36 million collected last fiscal year,

  • law enforcement services (provided under contract with the San Bernardino County Sheriff) were the City's largest General Fund expense at $4.74 million, or 28% of General Fund expenditures,

  • street maintenance and snow removal services were the City's second largest General Fund expense at $1.99 million, or nearly 12% of General Fund expenditures, and

  • the City is fortunate to have no outstanding General Fund debt, thereby providing future financial flexibility for the City.
Important City Council Meetings To Be Rescheduled After Holidays
The City had originally scheduled two important meetings for November and December, but these meetings were postponed due to COVID-19 issues.

The City Council had planned to engage in significant discussion about its vision for the future of Big Bear Lake on both November 16 and December 3, and this meeting will now likely be rescheduled for mid or late January 2021 - COVID-19 permitting. The City Council will provide important high level direction to the City Manager and City staff at this meeting as we begin planning City service adjustments and significant capital initiatives for the next 5 years.

The City Council had also planned to conduct a special joint meeting with the Planning Commission to begin to solicit public input on proposed changes to the City's vacation rental ordinance on November 18. This meeting will be rescheduled as soon as it's possible to host a larger audience in a safe manner, likely in late January or February - again, COVID-19 permitting. City staff have previously presented a very detailed new draft vacation rental ordinance to the City Council, and now intend to also present a much simpler draft ordinance for consideration.
Renewal of Tourism Business Improvement District to Be Considered in Early 2021
The current Tourism Business Improvement Business District (TBID), established by the City in 2016, is set to expire in March 2021, and the City Council will consider the renewal of the district in early 2021.

The TBID levies a special 3% assessment on all overnight accommodations in the City (hotels, traditional lodging facilities, and vacation rentals) and a 2% assessment on all ski lift tickets and annual passes, and these assessments generate approximately $3.5 million annually for marketing, special events, and the mitigation of tourism impacts in our community. These funds are managed by Visit Big Bear for the benefit of our entire community.

Visit Big Bear is seeking a new 10-year term, at the same assessment rates, with several new provisions aimed at enhancing City oversight and mitigating tourism impacts. The proposal includes a continued focus on shoulder-season visitation, continued support for significant special events, new City representation on the Visit Big Bear Board of Directors, improved communications and coordination with the City, the assumption of various City expenses by Visit Big Bear, and the establishment of a new Tourism Impact Mitigation Fund that will provide approximately $150,000 - $200,000 annually for mitigation initiatives.

City Council will consider the proposed renewal over the course of 3 meetings in early 2021.
Stanfield Cutoff Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail Essentially Complete
The new bicycle and pedestrian trail along the west side of Stanfield Cutoff is essentially complete, with only minor work left to be completed in spring 2021 after the weather breaks. The new trail connects the City limits with the popular Alpine Pedal Path on the North Shore, and includes a wide, safe, and dedicated path for bicyclists and pedestrians. The new trail includes improved parking areas, an attractive fencing scheme with cutouts for lake access, and other amenities.

A separate new bicycle and pedestrian trail will be constructed along Big Bear Boulevard from Stanfield Cutoff to Sandalwood Drive in spring 2021, providing a safer and more convenient connection from the middle of the City for our residents and visitors.
City Seeking Quality Replacement for KMart
KMart, located at the corner of Fox Farm Road and Big Bear Boulevard, has announced its intent to permanently close the store as of February 28, 2021. City officials will be working in the coming weeks and months to assist the owner of the building in identifying a new, quality tenant to replace KMart.

If you are interested in exploring this location for a new business venture, or have connections with business entities looking to expand in Big Bear Lake, please contact Susan O'Strander, Director of Planning and Inspections to learn more about the City's development goals.
City Evaluating Solid Waste System Improvements
The City's existing franchise agreement with Big Bear Disposal expires in June 2021, and the City has begun exploring potential service improvements with Big Bear Disposal. Improvements under consideration include the implementation of City-wide curbside trash collection, with secure and standardized containers distributed to all residents (and second home owners and vacation rentals), potential staffing improvements at the City's Clean Bear site(s), the potential closure of the Clean Bear site near City Hall, and the potential addition of one or more new Clean Bear sites.

The City's primary goals for improving the service are to improve service efficiency, provide more convenient service for our residents (and second home owners and vacation rentals), reduce the amount of litter in our community, improve the aesthetic appearance of the City as one enters along SR 18 from the west, eliminate traffic backups at the current Clean Bear sites, and ensure that all users of these services pay their fair share for these services. City staff continue discussions with Big Bear Disposal, and expect to present service improvement ideas to the City Council in spring 2021.
New City Website Under Development
City staff are nearing completion of several improvements to the City's website , and plan to unveil the new website in January 2021. The new website will include a cleaner look, more intuitive user interface, and will be gradually expanded to include more current information about City services, projects, and initiatives in the future. The website improvements are just one element of the City's ongoing efforts to improve public communications and transparency, with additional efforts planned over the next year.
Housing Element Update Underway, City Focused on Preserving and Expanding Workforce Housing
City staff and consultants are hard at work updating the City's Housing Element, a written plan for the development of new housing units in the City of Big Bear Lake over the next 8 years. According to the State's Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), the City will need to add a total of 212 new housing units to meet projected demand, with 82, or nearly 39% of the new units targeted for low or very-low income individuals.

As part of the Housing Element update, the City will be focused on new strategies to promote the preservation and development of affordable work force housing in Big Bear Lake. Potential strategies that will be explored include the identification of specific parcels for the development of new multi-family housing units, the potential removal of abandoned and/or deteriorated structures for replacement with new work force housing units (with incentives for targeted investment in these areas), and potential development code amendments specifically aimed at enticing new private development for work force housing in our community, among others.

The preservation and development of new housing for our local work force is expected to be a high priority for the City in the coming months and years, and the City welcomes any and all suggestions from our residents and property owners on how best to achieve these goals. The City also welcomes interest from specific property owners interested in developing affordable, work force housing on your property in the future. Please contact Susan O'Strander, Planning and Inspections Director or Frank Rush, City Manager, to explore ideas.
Want to Get Involved and Make a Difference? Vacancy on City Planning Commission
There is currently one vacancy on the Planning Commission, for the remainder of a term that expires in June 2023. If you are interested in serving on this important commission that helps craft development regulations and reviews proposed new development projects, please click here for more information and to download an application. The application deadline is January15, 2021.
Help Wanted! City Recruiting New Director of Public Services
The City is currently recruiting for a new Director of Public Services to oversee the City's public infrastructure maintenance and development activities. Service areas under this position include streets, drainage, parks, wastewater collection, solid waste, and more. The Director of Public Services is a key member of the City's leadership team, and advises the City Manager and City Council on these issues. To learn more, please view the recruitment brochure by clicking here.
Happy Holidays!
The City wishes everyone in Big Bear Lake a very happy holiday season, and reminds everyone to be thankful for the blessings in your lives. Although 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us, we still have much to be thankful for in Big Bear Lake!

We all look forward to putting 2020 behind us, and the promise of new experiences and opportunities in 2021! Happy New Year!
Did You Know?
The total taxable property value in the City of Big Bear Lake is approximately $3.82 billion, and increased by approximately $142 million over the past year as a result of ownership transfers, new construction, the 2% adjustment, and more.

The four City taxpayers with the highest taxable values are Big Bear Mountain Resorts, the Worldmark Big Bear Lake, the Lodge at Big Bear Lake, and Bluegreen Vacations' The Club at Big Bear Village. Combined, these four properties have a combined taxable value in excess of $87 million, and comprise nearly 2.3% of the total taxable value of the City.
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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