GROMS Be Gone
By Christine Fugate
4 p.m. Carpool time and I’m rushing from one place to another. Cello, homework club and back to the house to change clothes for ballet.
En route to the Susi Q Center, I’m waiting to take a left from Temple Terrace onto Thalia Street when I see three young skateboarders standing on the left side of the street. They see me. As I turn left, the smallest one hops on his board and races over to cut me off. I screech to a halt as he brushes my left headlight with his hand and weaves over to the right. His friends stand at the edge of the road laughing.
“You’re crazy,” they scream at their friend.
I put down my window, much to the horror of my tweenager passengers. “Mom, what are you doing?”
“Hey boys.” I say, leaning out my window. “Does your friend have the right of way?”
They look at me quizzically. Was I being funny or just another American idiot?
“Yes, he does,” the taller one replied, smiling. I smirk back and then roll my eyes. I’ve about had enough of this skateboarder street domination.
I take a right at Catalina where I encounter yet another GROM (a Polish acronym coopted to mean surfer or downhill skater). This one is on a cell phone, holding his helmet. Now that’s intelligent.
At home, I’m relieved that no one got hurt but annoyed at the skateboard cutoff. “Seriously, it’s time for the GROMS to be gone,” I tell my husband.
“But that’s one of the things that Laguna Beach is famous for—skateboarders and surfers,” he says.
You know what? Maybe he’s right.
Maybe the city is going about this whole situation the wrong way. Instead of limiting street access, why don’t we just close down all the streets in Laguna Beach to automobiles from 4 to 7 p.m. and turn it over to the skateboarders? Essential roadways like Coast Highway and canyon roads would be open, but that’s it. We can park our cars at the village entrance or Mission Hospital. Sure it will be an inconvenience to us drivers and maybe annoy a tourist or 20, but we need to get our priorities straight.
The GROMS need the space they deserve to practice their jumps, break speed records and work on getting sponsors for their pro careers. People will travel from far and wide to see the Laguna Skateboarding Village.
That would be so much better than saying, “No, you can’t skateboard all over Laguna. No, you can’t dictate the speed of traffic when you want to get a rush.”
We couldn’t say that because we are the generation of “yes” parents. “Yes, you can skate without a helmet, on your cell phone and in front of cars. Whatever you want, honey, even if it jeopardizes your life and those who are driving to a job, the grocery store and ballet lessons.”
Seriously though, the issue here is the safety of our youth. It gives me the willies to think about the possible tragedies that could occur as the sun goes down, our vision de-compensates and we don’t see the boy crouched low on his skateboard.
The City of Laguna Beach manages thousands of tourists a season, houses and feeds the homeless and has rebuilt two canyons. Can’t we pave a few hills at Alta Laguna Park or Moulton Meadows and create a skateboard park for our youth? Or make parental supervision mandatory, like the dad who rides the moped in front of his kid skating down Park Avenue?
Mayor Egly and the City Council need to stop giving road authority to children who are too young to drive and place extreme limits on what is allowed. Otherwise, Laguna Beach is going to become famous for a tragedy that will in no way be worth the rush and the risk.
Christine can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org