What is a Flatlander?

Aug 12, 2023 | Mountain Events

By Phil Simmons – Special to the Alpine Mountaineer

The mountain communities are well-known for being an example of small-town living. The long-term residents have established communities in which individuals care for each other, support local businesses and treat each other with courtesy and respect.

This is evident whenever you watch interactions with local workers or between local residents. It was truly wonderful to see how the mountain residents and businesses came together to help their neighbors during last winter’s snow apocalypse.

However, over the past several years – with the influx of short-term renters and post-COVID transplants – everyone seems to be talking about the invasion of the “Flatlanders.”

In general, Flatlander has always been used pejoratively to describe people who come from “down the hill” – who display the aggressive driving habits, noisiness, messiness and lack of courtesy that compromises our quality of life. But I think it’s important to point out that Flatlander is more of a behavioral designation than a geographical one. Plenty of the folks who come up to relocate or visit behave just as well as the local residents, and some local residents behave just as badly as the worst of the city transplants.

It is certainly true that the majority of local residents display the small-town qualities that have made our mountain such a wonderful place to live for so long. And it’s also true that the majority of Flatlanders who degrade our quality of life are either temporary or recent city transplants. That is understandable, since the crowded, dirty, noisy lifestyle of the urban areas results in urban behaviors that we call Flatlander.

Anyone who has driven in any of the urban areas down the hill, particularly in the Los Angeles area, has experienced the roadway behavior that seems to reflect driving as a competitive sport. Furthermore, the short-term renters and recent urban transplants aren’t as invested in our communities as are the permanent long-term residents.

We should welcome our new neighbors and appreciate those who come to the mountain to become part of our wonderful lifestyle. It’s unfair to characterize anyone as a flatlander until they’ve earned the designation.

Lake Arrowhead resident Phil Simmons has been coming to the mountain since 1984 and became a full-time resident in 2016. The retired Land Use attorney discovered a love of acting and has been seen on the mountain stage a number of times, most notably as Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol.


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