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Customers versus residents

June 5, 2013

At town meetings, we are beginning to hear more and more references to the term “customers” and less and less of the term “residents.” 

Like other small, rural communities in California, Mammoth Lakes faces issues pertaining to a tourist-based economy that involves striking a yin-yang balance between competing economic forces and cultural opportunities that include quality of life for its residents.

Unfortunately, the only qualifications, experience and abilities our elected officials (who wield all the power) require, is that they receive the most votes.

Two of them now sitting before us in the power-positions ran unopposed thus needing zero votes.

You wonder if those dilapidated buildings and the other many eyesores in town are invisible to those “customers” and the town councilmen who want to attract and cater to them?

It is becoming clear that the culture of rolling out the red carpet to those “customers” can now be likened to that of a Disneyland. Only in our “amusement park,” administrators and policemen are being fired, community pools are in danger of being closed, quality infrastructure in general, becoming compromised, and our much-loved amenities of art and culture in this pleasantly arts-savvy town are being almost completely ignored via the obliteration/transformation of what is called “Measure U.” 

Visionaries in other tourist-based small towns in California, who recognize the balance that must be found between growth and development and the art and cultural values and other necessities of its residents, are doing their duty and wisely rising to the occasion.

Although the rigid business code and war cry of “More-lift-tickets-must-be-sold!” will probably always be the prominent catch-all phrase in Mammoth Lakes, it is doubtful the residents of this idyllic mountain community want to experience anything like the town of Amity in the classic film “Jaws” where the town leaders callously did their business-as-usual thing, while maintaining their personal quality of life, as the marauding shark in the bay (or 800-lb. gorilla, if you prefer) was ignored, wreaking havoc on the lives of its good citizens.

Meanwhile “Springtime in Paris” dance recital last weekend sold out, the recent play “August: Osage County” played to packed houses, and the plethora of our town’s world-renowned art, music and cultural events are just warming up.

Dennis Kostecki

Mammoth Lakes

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