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 #21-1 - Published January 22, 2021
COVID-19 Continues to Impact Big Bear Lake, But Conditions Gradually Improving
COVID-19 continues to impact the Big Bear Valley, with a total of 263 new cases reported over the past month - of which as many as 59 are currently active. There have been a cumulative total of 862 cases reported in the Big Bear Valley since the beginning of the pandemic in mid-March 2020, affecting approximately 4.55% of the total population. The percentage of the Big Bear population that has contracted COVID-19 continues to be significantly lower than most other areas in California.

Although COVID-19 remains a serious concern, recent trends suggest that conditions in San Bernardino County are gradually improving. The number of new cases, the number of deaths, the number of patients hospitalized, and the test positivity rate have all decreased significantly over the past month, suggesting that the expected post-holiday surge may finally be heading toward an end. EVERYONE is again reminded to take all appropriate precautions to keep yourself, your family, and your community safe - wear a mask, maintain your distance, don't mix with other households, and exercise good personal hygiene!
Vaccination Efforts Continue, But Demand Far Exceeds Supply
San Bernardino County officials continue to work hard to distribute COVID-19 vaccine to priority groups in our county as supplies become available. To date, approximately 100,000 first doses have been administered or allocated in San Bernardino County. The total population of San Bernardino County is approximately 2.2 million, so there's still a long ways to go, and everyone's patience is greatly appreciated. At this time, demand simply far exceeds available supply.

The County's vaccine website includes helpful information, including current vaccination sites. There are currently no available appointments at the County's already established vaccination sites through the end of January, however, individuals age 65 and over may visit this website to sign up for notifications about new vaccination opportunities as they are announced.

San Bernardino County will open a daily vaccination site at Big Bear Lake City Hall as soon as supplies become available, and additional information will be communicated through the City's COVID-19 updates and social media channels.
City Council Adopts Vacation Rental Urgency Ordinance
At its January 11 regular meeting, the City Council adopted a new vacation rental ordinance that significantly enhances the City's enforcement capabilities, increases penalties for violations, places greater emphasis on the most common violations, and is simpler and easier to understand, explain, and enforce. This new ordinance is effective now, and will remain in place throughout the winter and spring while the City Council solicits public input and considers additional provisions and/or adjustments.

A copy of the new ordinance, along with helpful summary information, is available on the City's website by clicking here. The key provisions of the new ordinance are as follows:

  • City staff will now respond to all complaints (rather than relying on vacation rental managers and owners to provide an initial response, as was the practice under the old ordinance), and will issue citations for all confirmed violations,

  • the use of radios, stereos, or other devices playing music or sound is permitted inside of a vacation rental only, and should not be audible at the property line,

  • all vehicles associated with the vacation rental must be parked in the driveway or garage, and are not permitted to park on the street at any time (including any temporary daytime guests),

  • spa use is prohibited between 10 pm and 7 am,

  • depending on the violation, penalties range from $500 to $10,000, and may be levied against the guest, manager, and/or owner, and

  • individuals operating without a valid vacation rental license will be permanently banned from operating a vacation rental in Big Bear Lake, and the property will be banned for at least one year (assuming it is sold to a new, responsible owner).

The City has hired additional staff to perform proactive patrols and provide timely, effective enforcement of the new ordinance, and is committed to achieving and maintaining the appropriate balance between residential quality of life and vacation rentals. The City seeks to ensure peaceful residential neighborhoods, promote an enjoyable visitor experience by guests who respect our community, and promote a vibrant local economy. These goals are not mutually exclusive, and the City will continue to work hard on these issues.

It is important to note that the new vacation rental ordinance is in addition to the current COVID-19 restrictions currently in effect that a) limit vacation rentals to members of the same household only, and b) limit all vacation rentals to two vehicles only. City staff continue to aggressively enforce these COVID-19 restrictions, issue citations, and evict violators as warranted.
City Staff Now Answering Vacation Rental Complaint Calls
The City previously contracted with a 3rd party answering service for complaints associated with vacation rentals, and terminated that arrangement on January 11 due to ongoing customer service deficiencies.

Calls to the 866-CODE number are now answered by City staff, who have a deeper knowledge of and a stronger commitment to our community. Thus far, the new system is working reasonably well, however, we ask for your patience if you experience any problems during our transition. Please email Larry Vaupel, Director of Tourism Management, to report any concerns with the new call answering system.
City Council Begins Discussion of Vision for the Future
The City Council recently held a special workshop meeting that included initial discussion about their vision for the City of Big Bear Lake in the future. The Council engaged in thoughtful discussion centered around the following questions:

  • What do we (all of us in the City) “want to be when we grow up?” Stated another way, what do we aspire to be as a community?

  • How important is tourism (or not) to our community, and to what degree should we embrace, reduce, or grow tourism?

  • With regard to residents and visitors, to what degree do we want to be an exclusive (i.e., more upscale) or inclusive community?

  • Should the City focus solely on the residents within the City limits, or should we try to serve the entire Big Bear Valley?

  • What is the best tourism/retirement destination that you have visited yourself, and what about it made it special? To what degree should Big Bear Lake strive for that impression or experience?

The City Council and City Manager have more work to do to further refine the City's vision for the future, however, this initial discussion included an expression of the following values:

  • defining Big Bear Lake as a place where respectful visitors are welcome, rather than as a tourist destination,

  • maintaining our "small-town" atmosphere and community feel,

  • recognition and promotion of Big Bear Lake as an attractive outdoor recreation destination in a pristine natural environment,

  • the need to promote and maintain a clean and attractive built environment throughout the entire community,

  • fostering a community that is welcoming to respectful visitors who share and develop the same appreciation of Big Bear Lake as our residents,

  • ensuring a high residential quality of life for our residents while also promoting a vibrant visitor economy

  • further diversification of our local economy,

  • ensuring an adequate supply of long-term housing for those working in our community,

  • providing an opportunity for respectful visitors of all economic means to enjoy this special place,

  • creating a strong "sense of place" that defines Big Bear Lake, and

  • fostering a strong "sense of community" among all who value Big Bear Lake.

Additional Council discussion is expected to occur in the coming months, and the City Council's collective vision will be further developed and refined - and ultimately set the direction for all future City initiatives.

This initial discussion was also a precursor to the City's upcoming budget process for FY 2021-22, and will be followed by a more detailed budget planning workshop meeting on February 22 where City Council will conduct a preliminary review of initiatives and projects aimed at achieving Council's collective vision and goals. Ultimately, the Council is expected to adopt a FY 2021-22 budget that specifically includes sufficient resources to advance the Council's collective vision and goals next year and beyond.

There is much more work to be done, and please share your thoughts and ideas with us along the way! Stay tuned!
City and Others Working Hard to Address Visitor Impacts
Big Bear Lake continues to experience a significant increase in visitors due to COVID-19, and our experience is similar to nearly all other resort communities located in an exceptional natural environment. Many comparable resort communities have experienced many of the same congestion, trash, and poor behavior issues as Big Bear Lake.

The City has been working hard, with great assistance from Visit Big Bear and others, to address the issues associated with the unprecedented visitation over the past 7 months+. In particular, recent snowfall events (with more expected in the next week) have resulted in a significant influx of day visitors, and recent efforts have included the following:

  • the placement of more than 80 portable toilets in high visitation areas in the City and along the North Shore, including at businesses located along Big Bear Boulevard,

  • the placement of numerous additional dumpsters in high visitation areas,

  • the deployment of City staff to address trash concerns in the City and along the North Shore,

  • Visit Big Bear's hiring of a local contractor to complete regular litter sweeps in the City and along the North Shore, and

  • the doubling of Sheriff staffing in the City limits on weekends to address parking and trespassing concerns in high visitation areas.

The City will continue all of these efforts for as long as necessary in order to mitigate these impacts, and simply requests that all visitors RESPECT our community.
City Businesses Encouraged to Keep Restrooms Open for Customers
The City continues to encourage all of our local businesses to PLEASE keep your restrooms open for public use to minimize undesirable activities in our business districts and neighborhoods. We appreciate your cooperation!
Tourism Business Improvement District Renewal Process Continues
At its January 11 meeting, the City Council approved a formal resolution of intent to renew the current Tourism Business Improvement Business District (TBID) established by the City in 2016. The approval of this resolution is the first step in a 3-step process that will continue with a public meeting on February 8 and a public hearing on March 8. The City Council is expected to formally consider the renewal of the TBID at the March 8 regular meeting.

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. It is important to note that the 3% assessment on all overnight accommodations is in addition to the current 8% transient occupancy tax collected by the City to support City services and beneficial new capital projects. The 8% transient occupancy tax generates approximately $6 - $7 million annually for City services and projects.

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 receive additional public input on February 8 and March 8, and may consider adjustments to the TBID proposal at each of these meetings before formally considering the TBID renewal on March 8.
Two New NO PARKING ZONES Established South of The Village
In an effort to alleviate congestion, enhance vehicle and pedestrian safety, and allow sufficient space for emergency vehicles in areas just south of The Village, the City Council recently approved the establishment of two new NO PARKING ZONES on Pine Knot Avenue and Cameron Drive.

New NO PARKING signs will soon be installed along the east side of Pine Knot Avenue between Village Drive and Maryland Road, and also along the north side of Cameron Drive between Pine Knot Avenue and Ironwood Drive. On-street parking will continue to be permitted on the opposite side of each street in these areas.
New Fixed Electronic Message Signs Planned for The Village
The City is planning to install two new fixed electronic message signs in The Village later this spring in an effort to provide additional public information about COVID-19 and other City events in the future. The two new signs are funded by Federal Community Development Block Grant funds.

The new signs will be similar in design to the existing fixed electronic message sign at City Hall and two additional new signs that will soon be installed at the eastern and western entrances to the City.
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Planned
City staff continue efforts to install the first public electric vehicle charging stations in Big Bear Lake.

City staff are currently considering two new stations that would be located in one of the City's public parking lots in The Village, and we hope to make these new stations a reality later this spring or summer. The City is specifically seeking quick-charging stations that can accommodate all makes of electric vehicles.
City Staff Currently Reviewing Proposed Grocery Outlet Store
City staff continue to work with the developers of a proposed new Grocery Outlet store that would be constructed on the south side of Big Bear Boulevard between Sandalwood Drive and Starvation Flats Road. Staff review is ongoing, and the Planning Commission is expected to review the proposed design in late winter or early spring.
Did You Know?
Snow removal is a core City service, and is provided by a combination of dedicated City staff, local contractors, and Big Bear Mountain Resorts staff to clear our streets as quickly as possible during and after a snowfall event. The City is divided into 11 different zones, with City staff focused on neighborhoods in the western part of the City, local contractors focused on the eastern part of the City, and Big Bear Mountain Resorts responsible for the area near Snow Summit.
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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