Residents decry loitering
About 20 cars lined Gardner Street next to South Tahoe High School Wednesday, but that will be ending shortly.
The city will put up “no parking” signs to prevent students from parking on the street during school hours and on school days.
Temporary signs are now in place, but after the snow melts in the spring six permanent signs will be installed.
The decision was based on meetings with neighbors, the city and Lake Tahoe Unified School District.
The “no parking” signs are supposed to be a solution to residents’ concerns about students’ behavior.
“There have been some complaints over time that there are a lot of kids who tend to loiter, and it is bothering the neighborhood,” said Wendy David, school district board president.
High school students say the parking for the school is inadequate and leaves them no options.
Residents, who live in the Gardner Mountain neighborhood next to the school, have complained that before school and during lunch students litter and play loud music.
Bill Yale, a 10-year resident of Shady Lane, said he has found used condoms, needles and other garbage. He said the students drive too fast and have been rude to his mother.
Becky Klitsch, an 11-year resident of Gardner Street, agrees.
“They have no respect,” she said.
She said the students play their stereos at excessive volumes as early at 7 a.m., and she won’t let her three children play outside when the high school kids are around.
“We’re hoping that we’ll move students off the street and onto the campus, and we will have to monitor that and watch what happens,” said Jack Stafford, associate principal.
Wednesday afternoon a couple of groups of students congregated on the street, some smoking cigarettes, some listening to headphones or just having a leisurely chat with friends.
“If we stand here, we get cited for loitering,” said Alexis Ward, a senior who was hanging out with her friends at the corner of Shady Lane and Gardner Street.
“It’s kind of ridiculous,” said senior David Martinez. “They know how many students we have, and people live far away.” Martinez does not have a parking permit, but plans to buy one Friday, which has become a recent option. But for Martinez, a senior who said he has applied to Ivy League schools, purchasing a permit will be easier than for most.
The opportunity to purchase a permit is based on several factors including seniority, only seniors and juniors are eligible, and on grade point average. The students must also produce proof of insurance, registration and a driver’s license, Stafford said. The school has 266 parking spots and 1,500 students.
“I’m frustrated, because (the high school) has expanded for years and not provided additional parking,” said Councilwoman Brooke Laine. “They created the beast.”
Laine said the school has the means to solve the problem, but she feels compelled to provide immediate relief for neighbors.
Yale said that after the school expanded four or five years ago, it did not accommodate for additional parking and that is when the problems began.
“When they did their addition, they didn’t plan very well,” Yale said.
But as a resident, who attended all the meetings with the district and the city, he said he is pleased with the solution.
“The high school is trying to be a good neighbor,” Stafford said. “The high school is not just hiding its head in the sand and saying it is not our problem.”
Many students, however, are frustrated with the solution.
“It’s pathetic,” said Matt VanHorn, a senior. “They need to do something about the parking. There isn’t enough at all.”
The school district, which has improvement plans for the high school, has been given three years by the city to solve the parking problem. Then the “no parking” signs come down.
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