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Don’t Flip-Flop on Skateboarding Rules

Editor,

Re:  “Skateboarding Rules Wipeout,” Nov. 5

It is very welcoming to read the clear and informed comments of Police Chief Paul Workman regarding the authorization of skateboarding bans on certain streets by California Vehicle Code Section 21967.

Many hillside streets in Laguna Beach have no sidewalks. Children walking to their school bus stops, adults, joggers, dog walkers, and moms with strollers, etc., must all share these roads with vehicles.

Skateboarders have neither brakes nor proper steering means. Skateboarders “stop” their vehicles by executing a 90-degree turn to slide to a stop across both traffic lanes. Speeding down twisting hillside streets and around “blind” curves at 30 to 50 miles per hour (44-73 feet per second), they are in danger of colliding with vehicles backing out of driveways, pedestrian traffic, and even city buses.

The parking and transportation subcommittee that convened to address this problem proposed a draft plan that prohibited skateboarding along Park Avenue, Temple Hills Drive, Summit Drive and Nyes Place. This draft was discussed at a public meeting at Thurston School.

At a second meeting at TOW school a month later, the subcommittee “considered input from residents seeking full and partial bans as well as restrictions on skateboarders, and input from skateboarders, parents of skateboarders and other interested parties…[and] investigated measures implemented in other communities,” and did a complete flip-flop, eliminating the restrictions on all four streets.

The reality is that skateboard accidents do occur, and that numerous lawsuits against cities have resulted, at least one imposing a judgment of over $1 million. These payments raised city insurance premiums and are paid for by taxpayer dollars. Cities involved have included Mission Viejo, Huntington Beach and Malibu.

Laguna Beach needs to avoid these problems, and it deserves better than having the parking and transportation subcommittee making their flip-flop recommendations in their notion that “[a] very small minority of skateboarders pose [sic] a threat to the welfare and safety of themselves, residents, businesses, drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.”

Skateboarders should be banned from Park Avenue, Temple Hills Drive, Summit Drive, Nyes Place, and the narrow, twisting city bus route comprising Bluebird Canyon Road, Morningside Drive, and Rancho Laguna Road. Laguna Beach should join Los Angeles County, Malibu, Newport Beach, Burbank and many other communities in enacting these restrictions.

Manfred E. Wolff,

Laguna Beach

 

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