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Mothering Heights

GROMS Be Gone

By Christine Fugate

 

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 [email protected]

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Comments (21)

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  1. Neighborly Heights says:

    Oh for heaven sake. This town is so spoiled because the kids don’t ride bicycles on the streets around here. This is a town where children live. Drivers are so accustomed to not having to share the road with kids out on their bicycles that they have developed this unnecessary cranky, entitled attitude and have become so ‘bothered’ when young boys behave badly. Shocker! Just slow down and watch out for skateboarders. And get over yourself. I’ve lived in this town and have been driving these streets for 30 years, I have no ‘groms’ of my own and absolutely no interest in skateboarding. But I certainly can understand why the kids love to skate these streets. Pay attention and tolerate it. There are several hundred kids in this town, as well as several hundred adults who own a blasted skateboard. For Pete’s sake, stop whining. Now go play your cello and relax.

  2. Vicki High says:

    The boy was obviously behaving badly, but I’m sure if kids could use bicycles in this town, there would be incidents such as this happening with kids on bikes as well. Unfortunately, kids cannot ride bicycles in this town so you don’t see that. Can you ride a bike up to Thurston? Or to Moulton Meadows Park? Or to Alta Laguna Park. I think not. The kids use skateboards around here because it’s either that or walk. So do many adults. There are several hundred kids in this town who ride skateboards. A percentage of them are going to behave badly. That’s unfortunate for the rest. I think we can say the same thing about pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. So how about if we all just be on the lookout for them and drive with deliberate awareness because they’re out there…on the streets, because this is where they live. If one of them acts badly, the way adolescent boys tend to do sometimes, as they have since the beginning of time, file a report and try to get them ticketed. Let’s be tolerant, here. It’s their town too. I support the skateboarders right to skate the streets.

  3. Chad Gibbs says:

    Yes! And while we’re at it, keep Coast Hwy. closed on Sat. and Sunday mornings for the rainbow logo’d spandex wearing lane hogging throngs of cyclists who end up in the morgue or police blotter way more than skateboarders. Go to a PTC meeting and see who is really causing all the accidents. Probably your accountant or your lawyer on Saturday morning. Obviously they get a “Bye” in everyone’s eyes. “Groms be Gone”, go in your rooms and play video games, die from obesity and take up some nice drug habits out of pure boredom…
    Drive with awareness. This whole issue has made me a better driver for all the people using the roadways, including all the impatient speeding parents of Laguna Beach… 3 times on Catalina this week I had to slow down for a dogwalker with a 20 foot leash gabbing to a neighbor. GASP! It ruined my whole day…

  4. Mervyn Jones says:

    Perhaps you should move to Laguna Woods, no kids to bother you at all. Or perhaps you’re not old enough? You sure sound like you are! Oh my god a kid could get hurt!!!! That would be a first! Kid’s get hurt, I got hurt, my kid’s got hurt, it’s part of growing up and it’s a way to discover you’re limits and boundaries. Please stop mothering other peoples children and concentrate on your own parenting skills, which seem to be lacking in any common sense.

  5. Chad Gibbs says:

    The first sentence is a deal breaker… “Rushing around” is how you describe your poor judgment behind the wheel. By “rushing around” you threaten all residents on our roads. I wont hit a skateboarder or any other of the many obstacles on our roadways, simply by not “rushing around”. Skateboarders are not the problem, you are…

  6. Michael Spencer Taylor says:

    Ha Ha Ha enough why do you News papers ever post this crap! Mountain Bikers Teed Speeders walkers cars all do the same! Lets do a article about them!

  7. Kristin Fast says:

    “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.”

    Perhaps you could post your schedule in your next column and we will all stay off the roads during those distracted driving hours.

  8. Jeff Tyler says:

    Twenty years from now people will look back at Laguna Beach and laugh. We are a joke…. Aside from everything else we’ve tried to ban: (tiki torches, backyard bbq’s, sandcastles, fishing, dog’s on the beach, etc)
    We’ve now banned skateboarding, and now were even bashing it in the press. I’m old enough to remember how snowboarding was first received,,, it was looked down upon, scoffed at, even suppressed. Surfers, a generation before that were considered “hoods” and “dead-beats”. Now both of these sports are mainstream, olympic events and as part of the american fabric as anything else.

    Instead of banning something or bashing it, learn about it. Study it. Maybe even try it. You might like and you might even burn a few calories.

  9. Mark Golter says:

    Groms will never “be gone”, that is the way God has designed life. Every generation will raise another as we are fruitful and multiply the human race. I am one happy parent of a Skateboarder who is growing up like I did, stoked to skate the hills of Laguna with his friends. As adults our responsibility is not to dismiss or condemn kids, but to show them a better way. A nicer theme to this story would be “Groms be taught” as the City has now legalized skateboarding with new safety requirements everyone should be aware of.

    We all need to be supported & educated – not dismissed or wished away!

  10. LC says:

    People like Jeff, don’t pay taxes in Laguna Beach. That’s why they whine about not being able to skateboard.

    For the rest of us, who pay property taxes, who commute in and out of Laguna and who don’t want to have to worry about running over some rambunctious tween, whose parents were to lazy to drive him to any of the 10983215098321098 other sports available to affluent parents, we say ban skateboarding, and ticket the parents who can’t control their children.

    People like Jeff are the same people that put that notion of us paying for a skatepark up. As if somehow we need to coddle children rather than direct them.

    Note how all of these posts look like they were written by high-schoolers?

    I mean look at this crap “Obviously they get a “Bye” in everyone’s eyes. “Groms be Gone”, go in your rooms and play video games, die from obesity and take up some nice drug habits out of pure boredom…”

    Only a child’s man would equate not being able to do their favorite activity with drug abuse.

  11. Marianne says:

    It’s all fun and games until some kid gets maimed or killed, or causes a major traffic accident.

    Instead of burying our heads in the sand, how about coming up with a solution? This problem is not going away by itself.

    The posters who say kids will be kids are right, and that’s why grown-ups have a responsibility to protect them.

    Skateboarders need to be classified as either pedestrians or people driving a vehicle, with the corresponding rights and burdens.

    Since we don’t let pedestrians routinely walk down the street in the middle of traffic, let’s treat skateboarders as a special type of vehicle driver. They could get licensed, and wear a number on their shirt when skateboarding. That would increase safety and accountability. People are more likely to follow rules when they know they can be easily identified when they break them.

    There could also be a minimum age, and some kind of reflective clothing requirement beginning at dusk. A dedicated skate park wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

    Nobody wants kids to not have fun, and nobody wants them to get hurt. There’s a happy medium in there somewhere.

  12. Neighborly Heights says:

    To LC: Most of your comment is simply a series of Ad Hominems.

  13. Mothering Heights says:

    Chad & Friends-We are on the same side so there is no reason to make accusations about me. I don’t want anything banned My kids bicycle, scooter and skateboard.

    I am concerned about the safety of the children who skateboard on streets like Thalia, Park and Bluebird Canyon, not the ones who skate on the side of the street with their helmets on their heads.

    What do you propose as a solution for the children who don’t wear their helmets, skate in front of oncoming traffic, and talk on their cellphones while skating on the street?

    Christine

  14. Jake says:

    To LC,

    First of all, I’m in high school and am a sponsored downhill skateboarder. We choose to skateboard, not because our parents are too lazy, but because its an amazing feeling. Personally, I suck at sports. Baseball, soccer, golf, tennis, and 99% of other sports are not my go to for fun. My parents are not lazy, and if suddenly I picked up some interest in mountain climbing, they would drive me there. Second of all, how is making a skatepark coddling us? A skatepark would take a bunch of kids off of the streets, which is obviously your main concern as you don’t want to worry about us rambunctious “tweens.” I believe Jeff has a valid point, in 20 years people WILL be laughing at us. People ARE laughing at us. We’re here to stay, and if you have a problem with us, nobody is making you live here, and there are plenty of communities where skateboarding and other free time activities are not allowed.

  15. Chad Gibbs says:

    Ticket non-compliant skaters. Work with the city to provide an alternate outlet. Perhaps a private donation or working with the Tony Hawk foundation!? I have been working with city officials to get some things done. Is anyone else? Ivan not oblivious that the climate has changed and there are a lot more and younger kids on the road, than when we first lobbied to keep the streets open. I have begged the police to monitor problem spots and ticket the riders you speak of. We need to work as a community on this issue that really does not have a black and white solution. Choose “Board over Bored” and drive with awareness in the meantime.
    L.C. Sorry my degree is in business marketing and not English Lit.

  16. Vicki High says:

    I think we all want what’s best for this town. We have to deal with the reality of this issue. Many people, parents, and adults who recognize a need for freedom rights for skateboarding in general have put a lot of personal time into meeting with city officials to develop ways to keep skateboarding as safe as possible. City Government is doing the best they can to understand and implement was best for the community at large.

    A general request for ‘Groms to be Gone’ is not what it will take to prevent a tragic incident from happening. The Groms are not going to be gone. They live here. There are lots of them. What it will take is a paradigm shift in the way our community views skateboarding. Like it or not, the sport has advanced a few notches.

    Most pedestrians follow pedestrian safety rules and guidelines and are therefore safe while crossing Coast Hwy. However, there are always going those irreverent few who don’t have the patience or discipline to go to a marked crosswalk. So with that in mind, drivers around here must be alert and prepared for some kook to cross the street in front of them along Coast Hwy, sometimes dragging a kid along with them. Tell me you haven’t had to slow down to let some risk-taking ‘person’ cross the road in front of you at a ridiculously dangerous spot as they throw you the little ‘wave of thanks’ as though you’ve condoned their idiot behavior while you sit behind the wheel shaking your head. Tell me you haven’t seen a bicyclist or a group of bicyclists behaving badly on the roads around here; or had some clueless person whip open their car door and step out of their car obliviously into the street right in front of you as you’re going 35 mph on Coast Hwy. We must be paying attention. As drivers, we simply must.

    We have the perfect streets for skateboarding and we have perfectly imperfect terrain for riding bicycles. Like it or not, we are obligated to drive in this town with complete awareness, knowing that skateboarders are about. We must expect those few who don’t follow reasonable safety guidelines, which are the same few which would ignore any and all bans anyway which wouldn’t change our need to drive with awareness.

    Basically what you have expressed here is a gripe against another form of people behaving badly.

    No matter what rules for skateboarding you put into place, we must recognize our responsibility as drivers to share the road and expect to see people riding around on skateboards, because there are a lot of people around here using them on the very roads we are driving. Some more recklessly than others, like it or not.

    Kids get injured while playing backyard football without equipment. Not smart, but it happens. They get injured on the football field during organized games WITH equipment. Kids get injured playing soccer, surfing, body boarding, skim boarding, climbing trees, crossing the street, running, playing tag, swinging, riding dirt bikes, skiing, sled riding, and so on and so forth. They’re learning the laws of risk and physics – often the hard way. We as adults are more accountable to what we know. And we KNOW there are young, inexperienced kids around here on skateboards, sometimes taking ridiculous risks.

    I wish our town would do the best thing for these kids, which is to enforce the rules they’ve put into place with tickets, have safety meetings with the police department once in a while, AND add road-side caution signs on the bigger hills that read ‘watch for skateboarders’.

    So please, everybody, drive carefully. Don’t use your phone while driving. Don’t rush around during your after school errands on the back streets. Watch for skateboarders, dog walkers, joggers and bicyclists as we drive. Expect stupid behavior once in a while, and take on an attitude of tolerance. We all live together. This is an open community and until we install gates and guards, lets recognize the unshared passions of others.

  17. Chad Gibbs says:

    Ivan = I am (darn I-phone auto spell) LOL. Let’s stay on point and keep the name calling at bay. That serves no purpose.

  18. Jeff Tyler says:

    Hey LC, i’ll bet I pay more in taxes than you make all year, and I don’t hide behind an intitial (LC) I use my real name like a man.,,, and besides, you missed the scope of this article and my letter. it’s about banning and bashing sports and activites.

  19. Kristin Fast says:

    Vicki –

    You hit the nail right on the head… “We must be paying attention. As drivers, we simply must.”

    Perfectly put, thank you!

  20. Diana Moore says:

    Vicki…you are right, I agree with you too! Now please give me a call at 440 346 5061. Its your old buddy trying to get hold of you to say hello!!

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