Nightly Rentals of Homes in Mammoth
Currently, the town of Mammoth Lakes has a zoning ordinance as can be found in the following Town website page, which prohibits nightly rentals of homes in Mammoth. The neighborhoods, which are zoned “resort”, which would allow for nightly rentals are: Crooked Pines on Lodestar Drive, Starwood, Snowcreek Ranch, Juniper Ridge, and areas surrounding the Sierra Star golf course. Out of these, only the homes on Lodestar Drive in the Crooked Pines neighborhood, Juniper Ridge, and Graystone at Sierra Star allow for nightly rentals. Although Starwood and Snowcreek Ranch are zoned “resort”, the CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions) of the HOA do not allow for nightly rentals. If the homeowners wanted to vote on changing the nightly rentals restriction, it could be done.
For many years, the topic of changing the town’s zoning ordinance to allow for nightly rentals of homes in Mammoth has been under discussion. The areas that are zoned Residential Single Family represent the majority of residential neighborhoods in Mammoth Lakes. Many of these homeowners have been opposed to changing the zoning ordinance to allow for nightly rentals in order to avoid the increased traffic and disruption that transient rentals may bring to otherwise peaceful and quiet areas.
In an effort to increase the Town’s much needed revenues, the council members are now seriously considering changing the zoning ordinance to allow for nightly rentals for all single-family homes in Mammoth. This change would allow the Town to greatly expand their transient occupancy tax (TOT), which is the 13% “bed tax” generated on the gross nightly rental amount.
Although this Town ordinance has been in place, over the past several years many 2nd homeowners in Mammoth have been secretly renting out their homes on a nightly rental basis to generate income. Most of these homeowners advertised their properties for rent on VRBO.com and Homeaway.com (or similar sites), which was a lucrative advertising method to capture renters looking for homes in Mammoth. However, in an effort to crack down on illegal nightly rentals, the Town began to monitor these websites and impose fines. Along with the Town’s diligence, neighbors were also reporting illegal nightly rentals.
The increased risk of surveillance and penalties against illegal nightly rentals of single family homes has begun to limit the number of properties that can be found on the Internet for short term rentals. As a result, the decision to buy a condo vs a home in Mammoth Lakes has weighed heavily on this zoning ordinance, as most people need to generate income on their second home to offset costs of ownership. If the Town is successful in changing this ordinance, the demand and sales for single family homes in Mammoth could substantially increase.
The demand for single-family homes, which can generate legal nightly rental income, is apparent with how quickly the Graystone Residences at Sierra Star golf course have sold (for example). This group of seven new construction higher-end Craftsman-style homes next to the Solstice condos development on the 16th fairway, sold quickly because of their ability to generate legal nightly rental income. All seven have sold. As a result, the builder of the Graystone development plans to build another twelve homes on the other side of Minaret backing to the Sierra Star golf course also zoned for nightly rentals.
This possible zoning change has been controversial for many years. The full-time resident/home owner has been mostly opposed, while the absentee second homeowner has been in favor of the opportunity to generate income for short term rentals. Homes for rent have been in huge demand, especially during the holidays when families like to travel together and rent large accommodations, which condos and townhomes are limited in size. The rental options available for the Mammoth visitor could be greatly improved. This could ultimately boost the value of single family homes in general, as well as increase revenues for the cash-strapped Town of Mammoth Lakes.
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Verena Robinson, Broker
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Mammoth Lakes Resort Realty
Tel. (760) 924-8521