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 #21-8 - Published September 1, 2021
COVID-19 Continues to Impact Big Bear Valley
COVID-19 continues to impact the Big Bear Valley, with a significant increase in cases associated with the Delta variant this summer.

There have been a total of 306 new cases reported in the Big Bear Valley over the past month (August 1 - September 1). This increase has caused concern, and City officials continue to closely monitor conditions in the Big Bear Valley, San Bernardino County, and California. We are hopeful that the Delta surge may be subsiding somewhat, as the number of new cases appears to be decreasing in recent days. There were a total of 52 new cases reported in the Big Bear Valley over the past week (August 25- September 1).

Data collected in all of San Bernardino County indicates that 87.5% of all new cases are among people who have not yet been vaccinated. The City continues to recommend that EVERYONE get vaccinated, as it's the best protection for you, your family, and your community. As of September 1, 73% of residents in the City of Big Bear Lake have been vaccinated. In the unincorporated areas outside the City, only 42% of residents have been vaccinated.

Fortunately, the number of patients hospitalized, both here at Bear Valley Community Hospital and at hospitals throughout San Bernardino County, has remained manageable throughout the Delta surge. Unfortunately, there have been 5 additional deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the Big Bear Valley over the past month (August 1 - September 1). These additional deaths are a stark reminder of the pain and loss caused by COVID-19, and the need for EVERYONE to continue to be vigilant and take appropriate precautions for your personal circumstances.
Special COVID-19 Testing Event - Friday, September 3 at City Hall
The City of Big Bear Lake continues to work closely with San Bernardino County public health officials, and has arranged for a community COVID-19 testing event at City Hall this Friday, September 3 from 10 am - 2 pm. Appointments can be made at this website, and walk-ins are also welcome.
Vaccinations Offered Every Thursday at City Hall
The City continues to recommend that EVERYONE in the Big Bear Valley get vaccinated, and continues to offer free weekly vaccination clinics every Thursday at City Hall.

The next clinic will be held on Thursday, September 2 from 10 am - 2 pm at City Hall, and both the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be offered. Appointments can be made at this website, and walk-ins are also welcome!

The City and County just concluded a week-long vaccination event from August 23 - 27, and 130 new individuals received the COVID-19 vaccine.
US Forest Services Closes San Bernardino National Forest, Other California National Forests Through At Least September 17
Due to current fire threats throughout California, and as a precautionary measure, the US Forest Service has temporarily closed national forests in California, including San Bernardino National Forest. All forest roads, hiking trails, campgrounds, and other amenities in the National Forest surrounding the City are closed at least until September 17, when the need for closures will be re-evaluated. For more information, please visit this website.

Thankfully, there are no current fire threats in the Big Bear Valley. Although the San Bernardino National Forest is closed, the City and the lake remain open for our residents, second home owners, and visitors to enjoy. Enjoy a day boating on the lake, hang out on the lakeshore, walk or bike on the City's Rathbun Creek, Stanfield Marsh, and Knickerbocker trails, enjoy the City's parks (Boulder Bay Park, Veterans Park, Rotary Park, and the Stanfield Cutoff area), stroll The Village, and just enjoy being outdoors in our great natural environment!
Perri Melnick Appointed as New District 4 Council Member
After interviewing and thoughtfully considering five quality candidates, the City Council appointed Perri Melnick to serve as the new District 4 City Council member at a special meeting on July 26. Council Member Melnick replaces David Caretto, who resigned his seat in June due to health concerns, and will serve the remainder of the term that expires in November 2022.

Council Member Melnick has already hit the ground running, getting up to speed on City issues and participating in 3 Council meetings and other regional governing board meetings in August. Council Member Melnick is a practicing health care attorney and previously served on the Bear Valley Community Healthcare District Board of Directors. She resides in the Boulder Bay area with her family. Welcome Council Member Melnick!
New Vacation Rental Ordinance Effective September 16
After more than 10 hours of public testimony, hundreds of pages of email comments, and nearly 6 months of careful and thoughtful consideration of ALL stakeholder concerns, the City Council formally adopted a new vacation rental ordinance at its August 16 meeting. The new ordinance is effective September 15, and can be viewed on the City's vacation rental program website.

The new ordinance builds on the success of the vacation rental urgency ordinance that was adopted on January 11, and includes the following key elements:

  • the new ordinance promotes the original vacation rental model in Big Bear Lake, whereby second homes are offered as a vacation rental simply to offset ownership costs of the unit, rather than solely used as a profit-generating enterprise, with a new provision limiting each individual to only 1 or 2 vacation rental licenses,

  • the new ordinance retains the City's enhanced enforcement approach that was fundamentally changed in January 2021, whereby City personnel are dispatched to all vacation rental complaints to assess the situation, and when warranted, issue citations to offending owners, managers, and/or guests,

  • the new ordinance establishes strict penalties for noise violations (amplified music may not be heard at the property line at any time), parking violations (all vacation rental guests may only park in the driveway or the garage, and not on the street or yard), night-time spa use (not permitted after 10 pm), over-occupancy (occupancy limits vary by size of the rental, and are required to be posted in numerous locations), operating without a license, and other violations, with citations ranging from $500 to $10,000,

  • the new ordinance allows for the easier revocation of vacation rental licenses and imposition of conditions on licenses that have received multiple citations, and also includes a permanent ban on any vacation rental operating without a license,

  • the new ordinance requires greater engagement by vacation rental owners, managers, and guests, with the continued requirement for in-person check-ins, a new requirement for all guests to sign a "Good Neighbor" policy before arrival, a new requirement for all owners and managers to pass a comprehensive certification exam to demonstrate a clear understanding of the City's requirements, and more.

City Council thoughtfully considered the pros and cons of a prescribed limit on the number of vacation rental licenses, and ultimately did not include a limit on the number of vacation rental licenses in the new ordinance. As of August 27, there are currently 2,601 housing units in the City that are licensed for vacation rental use when not occupied by the owner. In addition, there are approximately 2,200 housing units occupied by permanent residents in the City, and approximately 5,100 housing units occupied by part-time residents (not offered as a vacation rental). Overall, there are nearly 10,000 housing units in the City of Big Bear Lake.

City staff continue to work hard to ensure proper vacation rental management by owners and managers, and respectful behavior by our vacation rental guests. Additional program enhancements are currently under development, and will be announced in the coming weeks. For comprehensive information about the City's vacation rental program, please visit our vacation rental program website , where you'll find the new ordinance, a listing of all licensed vacation rentals, the new "Good Neighbor" policy, FAQs, application forms, and more. Beginning September 3, all compliance reports and a detailed listing of all complaints and citations will be posted on the webpage.

For more information, or questions about the vacation rental program, please contact the Tourism Management Department at 909-866-5831 or this email address.
Big Bear Workforce Housing Initiative Seeks to Enhance Supply of Long-Term Rental Housing
At its August 16 meeting, the City Council received a presentation from the Big Bear Workforce Housing Initiative, a new non-profit corporation.

The Big Bear Workforce Housing Initiative was formed by and is governed by several Big Bear businesses, and will offer financial incentives (up to $500 per month) to homeowners to make their home available to long-term tenants. The program will also connect homeowners with potential long-term tenants, and vice versa. The new non-profit is off to a great start, and has already identified several homes that will soon be offered to long-term tenants.

For more information about this beneficial new initiative, and to express interest in participating (both homeowners and long-term tenants), please visit the Big Bear Workforce Housing Initiative website at this link.

The City appreciates the Big Bear Workforce Housing Initiative's efforts, which are consistent with the City's workforce housing goals.
Grocery Outlet Appeal Denied by City Council
After reviewing hundreds of pages of technical reports, testimony from appellants and the applicant, testimony from traffic experts, and significant public input over 4 meetings, the City Council ultimately denied the appeal of the proposed Grocery Outlet store at its August 2 meeting. As such, the Grocery Outlet has received all applicable City land use approvals, and is expected to proceed with construction in the coming months.

The new 18,000 sq. ft. store is planned for a nearly 3-acre site located on the east side of Big Bear Boulevard between Starvation Flats Road and Sandalwood Drive, just northeast of the Lakeview Shopping Center.
City Offering Free Vegetative Debris Chipping and Collection Program to Promote Fire Safety
With fire season now upon us, and in an effort to promote the creation of defensible space, the City continues to offer a free vegetative debris chipping and collection program for our residents and property owners.

The new program allows City residents and property owners to pile the vegetative debris adjacent to their property in an accessible space and request chipping service by visiting this website. Once a request is entered, the City will coordinate the chipping and removal of this debris within 2 - 3 weeks, all at no cost to the resident. This program is available to all residential property owners within the City limits, and is intended to mirror the service previously provided by the Fire Department.

Chipping and collection requests will be accepted through September 17, with all services completed by early October. For more information, please call the Public Works Division at (909) 866-7521.
City Council to Review Enhanced Public Transit Service at September 20 Meeting
The City has been working closely with Mountain Transit and other regional partners to offer enhanced public transit service in the Big Bear Valley, and the City Council will review the proposal at its September 20 meeting. The enhanced service is aimed at reducing traffic congestion, making it easier for local employees to get to and from work, and providing non-vehicle alternatives for our residents, second home owners, and visitors.

The proposed service would operate approximately 15 hours per day, every day, and would include stops every 30 minutes at numerous locations around the City and the rest of the Big Bear Valley. The service would be provided with trolley buses (in the City), and would be FREE for all passengers to ride. The City Council will consider a $100,000 annual contribution to Mountain Transit for the new service, which would also rely on Federal funding, SBCTA funding, and contributions from other partners in the Big Bear Valley. The new service would be offered as a pilot project for the first 2 years, after which it would be re-evaluated. If approved by the City Council and other partners, the enhanced service could be operational as soon as October 31.
City Council Decides Not to Pursue Retail Cannabis
The City Council discussed recent requests to allow retail cannabis sales in Big Bear Lake at is August 16 meeting, and ultimately decided to maintain the current prohibition on all cannabis businesses in the City. The City Council cited the need for Council and staff to focus on higher City priorities in the coming months.
New Planning Commissioners Appointed, DWP Commissioners Re-Appointed
City Council interviewed 9 candidates for 3 vacancies on the Planning Commission at a special meeting on August 9. Current Planning Commissioner Paul Senft was reappointed for a new 4-year term, with Michael LoGrande and Sara Schacht also appointed for new 4-year terms.

City Council also interviewed 5 candidates for 2 vacancies on the Department of Water & Power Board of Commissioners, and reappointed Craig Hjorth and James Smith to new 4-year terms.
City Recruiting For Public Information Officer, Counter Technician, Public Works Positions
The City is currently recruiting talented and dedicated individuals to fill several key positions in the City organization!

The City is currently recruiting for a new Public Information Officer to take the City's communications and public engagement efforts to the next level, with increased usage of digital, print, video, and audio platforms in the future.

The new Counter Technician will provide helpful customer service to our residents and contractors engaged in new construction activities in the City, as we seek to ensure consistency with development requirements in the most efficient and helpful manner.

The City has several opportunities in the Public Works Division for hard-working, dedicated individuals interested in helping the City improve the function and aesthetic quality of City parks and facilities. The City is making a greater investment in these important quality of life amenities for our residents and visitors.

To learn more, and to download a City employment application, please visit our City Employment website.
Planning Underway for Halloween, Christmas Events in The Village
At this time, the annual Halloween in The Village and Christmas in The Village events are still on, and we are hopeful that COVID-19 won't derail these wonderful community events again in 2021. We look forward to again bringing our community together after having to cancel these events in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns.

City staff are hard at work planning for both events, with Halloween in The Village planned for Sunday, October 31. City staff are still evaluating the best date for the Christmas in The Village celebration, and will be discussing potential dates with City Council in the coming weeks.
Did You Know?
Between June 2020 and June 2021, approximately 50% of all vacation rentals in Big Bear Lake were vacant for 270 or more days. Approximately 25% of all vacation rentals were vacant for 180 or more days.
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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