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Guest Column

The Good Fight

 

By Kimberly O’Brien-Young.

This week marks the end of a 60-day period where Laguna Beach’s City Council gave us (who is us? Parents of skateboarders? Supporters of skateboarding?) the task of trying to resolve ongoing complaints about skateboarders.

A year ago, the current skateboarding ordinance went into effect. Since then, hundreds of new skaters came into the sport. This is awesome for the local businesses that sell skateboard equipment, apparel, etc. It’s good news that kids are doing something athletic and exercising, getting out doors, away from video games and TV. The downside was that many of these new skaters are elementary and middle-school aged students, who entered a sport with many physical challenges to master, such as stopping proficiently, but also rules and ordinances that needed to be followed. Here is the tricky part.

For kids that have mastered how to navigate on their boards, Skyline Drive has always been a favorite. But Skyline suddenly had an influx of many more. They are passionate about their sport and were boisterous and loud. Some didn’t always pick up their litter and weren’t always considerate of neighbors. And most importantly, some failed to follow the new regulations that include wearing safety gear, riding upright and yielding to vehicles in intersections as well as a prohibition from riding on eight hilly streets.

The last factor happened primarily for two reasons. Most of these kids didn’t know about the regulations and importantly neither did their parents.

The information was available if you knew to ask for it. Last year, the police department put out a wonderful pamphlet that outlined everything critical and important. The department worked closely with me and two other moms for input and suggestions on the pamphlet. It included information to help educate the community on what was expected of them as well as the skaters. The only issue was knowing that it existed.

Over several months some of the neighbors on Skyline became annoyed and downright angry about these kids. Even though they were having good old-fashioned clean fun, it didn’t change the fact that they weren’t following the rules.

Everything culminated on Feb. 28 when police recommended the City Council also add Skyline Drive to the skateboard ban because of complaints from residents.

At least 20 adults and more than 20 kids addressed the council that evening. We pleaded for 60 days to turn the situation around and the council agreed. They also instructed officers start handing out tickets for infractions at the suggestion of parents present. We figured this is one way to get information to the parents of these kids. “Ticket, don’t ban,” we urged.

In the 55 days since, we have distributed pamphlets to school offices and organized a safety and instruction meeting in Bluebird Canyon Park attended by 70 skaters. Unfortunately only 10 parents were present. Jim Beres, of the police department, explained the ordinance and answered questions. It was seemingly successful.

Due to the low turnout of parents, we knew we had to find another way to get information to them. With the help of brands such as ABEC 11, Madrid, XS, Rayne, and ADX Apparel, we raised money to run an ad in the Indy reproducing information in the pamphlet. We were hoping that this would be seen by the parents of these young kids. We asked them in the ad to please review it with their skateboarder child. Hopefully they did.

Lastly, the police department has been handing out tickets left and right to the skateboarders that are not following the ordinance. My kid knows that if he gets a ticket or gets caught not following the city regulations he will lose his skateboard for a substantial amount of time! I am hoping that other parents in town will take the same approach.

We don’t know yet if we will be successful in our efforts. Skyline Drive may be banned. I can tell you though that we have fought the good fight. I am proud of our efforts. I thank everyone personally who worked with us to try and save yet another street in town from being banned. Ultimately it will come down to the kids. I hope they were listening.

Kimberly O’Brien-Young is the mother of three sons and married to Ben Young, with whom she owns ADX Apparel Inc.

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