People on downhill skateboards travel as fast as bicycles and should be regulated as cyclists are regulated, says the Parking, Traffic and Circulation (PTC) Committee after study and public hearings. The chief of police added a suggestion of a ban on the three steepest streets. According to process, these proposals were then presented to the City Council for an ordinance approval.
The majority of the City Council rejected the proposals and instead suggests a ban on all sloped streets, which is most of Laguna Beach. This is in alignment with the residents who have coined themselves SNAG, Skateboarders Neighborhood Action Group. SNAG did not feel the PTC committee and sub-committee (12 people, staff and volunteer) completed this proposal to their liking. They want people on skateboards off the majority of the streets.
SNAG has increased the number of calls to the police department about people on skateboards in the street, is distributing mass letters rallying for an email blast to the City Clerk and is posting political-type signs on the hills. SNAG allegedly claims they will not stop this pursuit until they get what they want. They report hundreds of people on downhill skateboards on the streets. Hundreds? I pass a few now and then. The only thing I ever see hundreds of people doing on the streets are the cyclist clubs and I see them often! I wait for them. I slow down for them. I’m annoyed by them. But I recognize that they have a right to the road. I don’t own it.
People on downhill skateboards travel in groups of three or four and they make a few runs down the hills. Saturdays and Sundays and summer days are probably busier. Sometimes they are a bit noisy because they are young, they are outside and they are having fun. They yell, “All’s clear!” or “Not yet!” or “On your left!” But let’s face it, it’s not like we have chairlifts taking people to the top of Park Avenue and Bluebird.
If City Council adopts this ban SNAG is demanding, the police department is going to be expected to handle daily phone calls from the same three or four dozen people, demanding they chase after kids, teens and young adults who are on downhill skateboards. Sort of like cops and robbers. Except for the robbers part, because actually they’re the kids in the high school band, on the honor roll, in Junior Lifeguards, they’re advanced musicians, one just left for the Army Academy, they are sponsored athletes, businessmen and teachers. One of them is a surgeon! Oddly, we’ll trust him with our life with a scalpel in his hand but we don’t trust him with his own life on a downhill skateboard. Really?
What’s going on in Laguna Beach? Laguna needs defined safety rules for people on downhill skateboards. That’s for sure. We all agree with that. But do we really need all of this?
Vicki High, Laguna Beach