Trouble in Tahoe

Jan. 12, 2010, 12:05 a.m.

Courtesy of Anthony Goto
Courtesy of Anthony Goto

Three groups evicted from houses during ski trips

Three student groups – Trancos Hall, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Kappa Sigma – were evicted from housing in South Lake Tahoe during last weekend’s ski trips when police discovered they had exceeded occupancy.

More than 50 freshmen and staff members from Trancos Hall crammed into a house meant for just 16 people, according to resident Libby Burch ’13. They were evicted Saturday morning.

“It wasn’t because we were loud – we were really careful not to annoy the neighbors,” she said, explaining that residents stayed inside after 10 p.m. on Friday despite the lure of the hot tub. “This neighborhood is just really uppity about that kind of thing.”

Burch said neighbors called the cops the next morning when they saw a suspicious number of students lining up to take a shuttle to the slopes. Trancos resident Alex Hertz ’13 offered a different account: that the police were tipped off about the illegal number of occupants by the driver of the bus that brought the students to Tahoe.

Burch was waiting in line when three police SUVs arrived. One law enforcement officer told the group they had to be out of the house within the hour, but the homeowner gave them until later that afternoon.

Trancos ski trip planner William Greenbaum ’13 defended the decision to overstuff. “There are many reasons ranging from tradition to cost to try to keep the entire group in a single house,” he said. “There is a lot of precedent of stuffing entire dorms into 10-plus person houses.”

Members of sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma and fraternity Kappa Sigma were on a joint ski trip that was cut short at 7 a.m. Saturday for similar reasons.

A Greek leader familiar with the situation told The Daily the group was caught because the number of cars in the driveway tipped off neighbors that occupancy exceeded the amount specified in the contract. The Greek leader estimated that both organizations brought around 25 members each.

The group knew not to put up a fight, said another Greek leader, who had heard of Stanford students being evicted from Tahoe houses in years past.

Students said the evictions were not that much of an inconvenience.

“We hit the slopes for the day, then went home Saturday night,” Burch said. “It was kind of nice to come back a day early and work all day Sunday.

“Still, it was traumatic,” she continued. “Who would have thought this would happen?”

“Our dorm is awful at planning stuff, so this is pretty typical,” Hertz added.

Most members of Kappa Sigma and Kappa Kappa Gamma went home shortly following their eviction, Greek leaders said, but a few stayed to ski and find lodging for Saturday night.

Hertz said the weekend’s evictions are unlikely to influence future ski trip planning. “I think that when dorms overbook this badly, it’s so ridiculous that no one could seriously learn from it,” he said.

Greenbaum disagreed. “I think Lake Tahoe, specifically Heavenly Mountain, is getting much more strict about occupancy laws,” he said. “The sheriff department is certainly aware of the problem, and it is no secret when Stanford has its ski trips. So, I think groups will have to be more conscious of this issue in the future.”

Burch suggested that planners be more straightforward with homeowners, instead of waiting for the police to get involved. “People will be a little more wary,” she said. “[Student planners] can just ask, ‘Are you going to evict us?’”

Greek leaders and Burch agreed that a lot of people will still take the risk, mostly because it is a money-saving move.

“The cost of renting a place to accommodate 50-plus people is way too expensive,” Burch said. “We’re college kids – we can’t just throw that kind of money down.”

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