First, let me say that I have no horse in this race: I do not skateboard; I do not have children; I do not live on any of the hill streets.
Last night (March 22) I watched the City Council meeting on television. There were a couple of dozen people who spoke against the proposed ban on skateboarding, and six or seven who spoke in favor.
The council listened patiently, and, when the public discussion was over, appeared to have the attitude “Where were we before we were interrupted?” and went right into doing whatever they had decided at their last meeting (except for adding more streets on which to ban skateboarding).
I am astonished to see how much time is being spent on trying to restrict this activity, instead of seizing an unbelievable and unique opportunity.
Laguna Beach is arguably the birthplace of skateboarding and should be bragging about being “America’s Skateboarding Capital.”
I am struck by the long list of current and former world champions who reside in Laguna. If we had just one world tennis champ, the whole city would be abuzz with it, and kids would be playing tennis everywhere.
Think what could be done if skateboarding is approached as a positive, and not as a nuisance to a minority of residents.
I have some suggestions:
1. Create Skateboarding Saturdays (or Sundays), with open skating in the morning to one and all. Designated streets could be closed to traffic on a rotating basis.
2. There are probably many local businesses that would step up and sponsor monthly events (races, demonstrations, clinics). XS Energy Drinks, Hobie and Hurley come to mind, but I have not spoken to them, nor do I know them, for that matter.
3. Create the atmosphere to host a National Championship here in the Home of Skating. There are many volunteers who would help put such an event together, as well as national and local sponsors.
4. For those who keep expressing concern for the safety of skaters, be proactive and create a Skateboard Watch group. Go out and watch your kids skate, encourage them, let them know when they are not being safe. Put signs up in front of your house to the effect that cars should slow down, it is a skate friendly zone.
5. Treasure and make a fuss over our champions. They are doing amazing things.
Major cities often close down streets (sometimes whole downtowns) for marathons, car races, bicycle rides, street festivals, etc. Surely in a community as creative as ours we could close down some streets once in a while to celebrate what is uniquely ours.
Tom Williams, Laguna Beach