ASUC’s Cal Lodge set to lose $27,000 for 2011-12 fiscal year

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Cal Lodge, a  property near Lake Tahoe owned by the ASUC, will sustain yet another financial loss for the 2011–2012 fiscal year.

Reported losses so far for the current fiscal year, which began July 1, 2011, have already reached $18,337, according to Marilyn Stager, interim director of the ASUC Auxiliary. Stager spoke about the lodge at the ASUC Senate meeting last Wednesday, when she said the loss could be partially attributed to yearly operational expenses.

“Unfortunately, we are on track to lose the $27,000 we’ve budgeted (for the lodge),” Stager said, referring to the expected total loss for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Additionally, Stager said there are not enough bookings at the lodge to account for its high expenses. The Cal Lodge online reservations calendar currently shows seven days booked at the lodge in March and zero reservations booked for April and May.

Student Action Senator Justin Sayarath said an insurance claim for total repairs and renovations has been submitted, but it may not cover the entire cost, which would require the senate to foot a large portion of the bill.

Major repairs are in order, according to Sayarath, who said renovations are prioritized that would improve safety, such as strengthening the lodge roof’s infrastructure to keep it from bowing during the winter months when it is weighed down by snow.

For years, the senate has struggled to increase traffic to the lodge in order to cover its operating costs. Due to continued financial losses and low use, the senate has even considered selling the property in the past.

“What we want to do this year is either make this service better, fix it up, make it safer, provide more service or sell it and move on to another service,” Sayarath said.

Despite the lodge’s high cost, the senate also has several reasons not to sell the property, which was built in in the 1930s by students from the campus forestry department. CalSERVE Senator Andrew Albright said the lodge provides a valuable service for students and that it is one of the only assets held by the ASUC.

“It’s something the campus cannot touch at all,” Albright said. “We have the deed, we own the land, we own the lodge.”

Dan Borge, manager of the lodge, said he believes the facility is a priceless asset for UC Berkeley and said it is used primarily by campus student groups, as well as groups from other universities and community colleges. He also said that business this winter has done well considering the lack of snowfall in the area.

“All the ski resorts are losing millions of dollars,” he said. “Cal Lodge was maybe 4, maybe 5 percent down — that is huge.”

The number of groups using the lodge is currently too low to make it financially sustainable, Albright said.

“I think that’s due partly to a lack of knowledge that it exists and poor marketing,” he added. “There could be more publicity.”