The winter holiday season is when more visitors head to Big Bear to enjoy snow sports, but a challenge is housing for seasonal workers there. With many companies allowing their staff to work from home since the pandemic, plus a general affordable housing crunch, temporary workers are struggling to find places to live.
Justin Kanton, who works at Big Bear Mountain Resort, points out the biggest challenge for employers: “Not only does it take a lot of snow to get a ski resort open, it takes a lot of … physical people on the ground.”
He notes that the resort has raised its minimum wage this season to $19/hour for new hires, and has purchased property it plans to develop into worker housing.
Meanwhile, some new faces are showing up to the tourist town, says Kathy Portie, an editor for the weekly newspaper called Big Bear Grizzly. “I have noticed in recent years that more and more people from a variety of backgrounds are taking advantage of what Big Bear has to offer, not only in the winter, but also in the summer.”
Accessibility for people with disabilities has been a focus for the resort too, adds Kanton. “We have guys out there riding in mono skis all the time. We have blind skiers with guides. So we do try to be … inclusive and open to anybody that wants to … enjoy the recreation that we have.”