GUEST COLUMN: It’s time to court college students | TahoeDailyTribune.com

GUEST COLUMN: It’s time to court college students

This city has spent a considerable amount of time and money courting a variety of tourists. The weekender, staycation, timeshare, vacation rental, high-end and geo tourists have all been wooed over the years only to have them all abandon us in droves. I say we seek a different and more permanent solution to our tourist deficiencies.

We need to make the City of South Lake Tahoe a Univeristy of California or California State University four-year college town featuring a one of a kind linear campus. This can happen two ways – either Lake Tahoe Community College can step up to the next level or the city council can the offer town as “build to suit,” featuring their new redevelopment zone.

The LTCC Board of Trustees is in a unique position to progress our town into the future. By choosing a new president familiar with UC or CSU accreditation, the board can convert our two-year eternal customers into four-year eternal customers. If joining the UC/CSU system is not a direction the board wants to take the school then that’s OK – many towns support both a junior college and a UC/CSU college.

The city could help develop a unique campus on existing vacant lots and city owned properties. Here is a tour of my proposed campus. We start at the airport, which the city sells to the college for the dollar that they paid for it. Adjacent to the airport, on the stable land, goes the building housing the College of Aeronautics. The lot next to Whiskey Dick’s will be the main campus building housing administration and other functions. The city lot on the corner of Ski Run Boulevard will hold the School of Fresh Water Environmental Studies with the laboratory building on the lot next to IHOP. Graduates from this school will be on the front line protecting the world’s fresh water supply from both invasive species and environmental disasters. The old triangle project at Pioneer Trail and Highway 50 would house the College of International Environmental Studies.

As you can see I think my plan can bring four-year eternal customers to save our town with building only on our vacant lots. If we used the new redevelopment zone to build auxiliary campus buildings the revitalization can infect the whole town. Rundown hotels could be torn down and rebuilt as fraternity houses. The city can collect and bank the tourist accomodation units for future use since a dorm would be considered a permanent residence. Main buildings placed at the entrance of the major neighborhoods should invigorate the permanent rental market. Students will generally rent houses in the neighborhood where their building is located and walk to school.

This town is at a cross roads and I say we go forward with our eternal customers hand in hand. A UC/CSU college would bring new people here every year for four years. Most will go, but some will stay and in the mean time they will be here as everyday residents helping bring our city back from the brink of extinction.

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Stephen Reinhard is a South Lake Tahoe resident.