By Kris Krisbaum
A committee of the recently formed Snow Group met with a variety of local business owners at the Idyllwild Library at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23. This was the second of three meetings to address issues that come with the flood of visitors the Hill experiences during the winter.
The business owners reported that there was an increase in business and busyness on the Hill that resulted in high volume sales for some, and parking, trash, and trespassing problems for others.
Committee member and Snow Group founding member Marsha Kennedy presented a PowerPoint that outlined three points: The Scope of the group, The Business Challenges faced by merchants and Possible Solutions. She defined the problem group of tourists as “recreational snow visitors,” meaning persons who come to Idyllwild for only one day to play in the snow. These visitors differ from other tourists by tendency to not utilize local lodging and restaurants.
The group’s first meeting was with property owners and community members. The Snow Group hopes to have a third meeting with law enforcement representatives.
Marge Muir, Marcie and Gary Erb, Sandy and Jim Fulcher, Gary Parton, Captain Patrick Reitz and Brad Rechtfertig discussed both positive and negative outcomes of the recreational snow visitors. Consistent problems cited by committee members and business owners were the lack of bathrooms, parking places, and trash bins for the visitors.
Some solutions had been considered and discarded by the Snow Group Committee, but others are still under consideration. Those under consideration include utilization of law enforcement and social media to dissuade the recreational snow visitors from coming to Idyllwild.
Business owners reiterated that the tourists must be made welcome in Idyllwild to help the business community prosper, but that it is also important to protect private homeowners and members of the community. Of particular concern were the threatening instances that occurred this last winter season, the lack of respect, and the potential to hinder safety vehicles from reaching those in need of assistance.
For now, the Snow Group Committee hopes to continue to gather ideas and information from various segments of the community and take the information to Supervisor Chuck Washington to see if he can aid in eliminating the problems.
The group also plans to investigate tapping into Transient Occupancy Tax money (10 percent on each room) collected by local lodging facilities and use the funds to increase restroom facilities, trash cans, and pay for law enforcement traffic assistance.
Rechtfertig, owner of Grand Idyllwild Lodge, also emphasized that trespassing is a criminal offense, especially if signs are posted regarding private property and trespassing. He encouraged anyone who has issues to call the non-emergency number for the Sherriff’s Department. He used the old adage that “The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease.” If more individuals call the Sherriff with complaints, more law enforcement will likely be deployed to assist with issues here on the Hill. That non-emergency number is (951) 791-3400.