Bombing the hills becoming a bygone pastime
After hearing nearly three hours of requests to stop a ban against skateboarding on steep streets in Laguna Beach, the City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to move ahead with prohibiting downhill skateboarding on eight blocks with grades of five percent or higher.
The council’s action gives preliminary approval to requiring that skateboarders go no faster than 25 mph, ride on the right side of the road without traversing over the center line, obey all stop signs, remain upright while skateboarding and refrain from skateboarding at night.
“I don’t know where this came from that we want to ban skateboarding,” said councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson. “We want to ban it on the most dangerous streets.” When the council initially discussed the issue last month, four streets were singled out as off-limits for skateboarding: Alta Vista Way, Summit Drive, a section of Morningside Drive and Bluebird Canyon Drive between Morningside Drive and Cress Street. Additional banned streets now being considered are the Third Street hill, the upper end of Diamond Street, Crestview and Temple Hills Drives. The entire length of Nyes Place was left open to skateboarders who follow the new road rules.
The council is also considering two roads as designated downhill skateboard runs: the police firearms range access road behind the Festival of Arts grounds and an access road off of Quivera Street in Arch Beach Heights. Shooing skaters off the firing range road, said Laguna Police Employees Assn. president Larry Bammer, creates a problem. “It’s closed for police access only for training,” he told the council. “We routinely go up there to sight-in our rifles.” Bammer said his association opposes using the firing range road for downhill skateboarding, citing potential hazards as well as its short length, the expense of a needed fence and noise concerns to Pageant of the Masters performances below.
The proposed downhill skateboarding restrictions are “discriminatory,” according to Noah Hunt, 16, a skateboarder who asked the council to consider facts rather than the emotional issues. “They’re not banning streets for bicyclists.” More than 1,000 residents, according to proponents at the meeting, signed a petition circulated last weekend supporting open streets for skateboarding.
The council is expected to pass the skateboard street ban ordinance at its April 5 meeting with laws going into effect 30 days later with a review six months later. First warnings will be issued with fines increasing from $25 to $50 to $100 for each additional offense.
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