Bad Behavior by Park Opponents



On Thursday, May 10 a ‘neighborhood’ meeting was held at Moulton Meadows Park. The meeting was called because Mayor Kelly Boyd, and Councilmen Steve Dicterow have been working tirelessly for months to finally get a skate park built here in Laguna Beach for our youth.

They were able to get the renowned Tony Hawk Foundation to consult for free and even be willing to attend the meeting in order to present information, answer questions, and give suggestions for problem solving the certain cons of the Moulton Meadows site.

As a proponent of a skate park being built here in Laguna Beach, and someone who lives a block from Moulton Meadows, I, my husband and our three sons attended the meeting. I was looking forward to the discourse, the sharing of ideas. I was ready to listen and actually hear what the opposition’s position was. As much as I personally would love a skate park at Moulton Meadows, I understood that it might not be an ideal spot. I expected that a healthful debate and discussion would ensue.

Unfortunately what occurred was despicable and shameful. I still can’t believe what my children were witness to. From the first rage-filled speaker that approached the microphone and the subsequent 20 plus more…the tirade was truly out of control. The issues raised were not just the possible parking issue, possible impact on the environment, or litter (which I expected, and was concerned for myself), a lot of focus was around the stereotype of the skateboarder themselves. The “profiling” of the skateboard youth was steeped with comments about the “certain” drug usage, the cigarette smoking, the unlawful activity, the fights that could break out. “We don’t want that kind here in our neighborhood!”

That ‘kind’ was standing right there. About 30 kids showed up, all skaters. All were members of our community. All good kids! I know every one of them personally. They stood by as they were discussed like they were invisible. When the Tony Hawk Foundation tried to intercede they were heckled and told “You don’t know what you’re talking about! You’re no expert!” The entire meeting was a travesty, and not because ultimately it was decided that the location of Moulton Meadows was no longer an option. But because the youth present had to bear witness to arguably some of the worse behavior I have ever seen by adults.

Kimberly OBrien-Young, Laguna Beach

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  1. This reads like the ‘Me’ Generation now hold mortgages in Arch Beach Heights. Perhaps those attendees they never learned community cooperation is bound together by more than the entitlement of ‘Me’. In the 60’s and 70’s I witnessed community cooperation in Laguna Beach to solve the same social issues we face today, like motorcycle noise, skateboarding, fire safety, public smoking, fast cars, a high-school dress code. We held public meetings in TOW elementary classrooms or the high-school auditorium to introduce the issues, get consensus, propose solutions on-the-spot and get-the-job-done. It worked. Imagine all of this was possible before the Internet, smart phones, pagers, email, blogs and comments like this one.

  2. Also, while we’re at it, my guess is that they’re more accurately stereotyping unattended teens rather than skateboarders.

  3. @Va NOPE! They actually and repeatedly used the term skateboarders, not teens in general. I had only 400 words to try and convey what occurred in my letter to the editor. I could have written 1000! Quite literally it was an out of control MOB. The Tony Hawk foundation, when they first stepped to the microphone said…”In 539 cities that we have built skate parks this is the first time we have faced a mob!”
    @ Les if the ‘Me generation’ is the younger families, (not sure if that’s what you meant?) It was the opposite, 85% of the individuals who stepped to the microphone to yell and scream opposition was over the age of having children still at home. More likely grandchildren. They were primarily of the senior category. I said (when I stepped to the mic), as I pointed to the shell shocked kids and teens that stood with their helmets and boards off to the side…”This is who you are afraid of!!” Someone in the crowd screamed “get off the stage” (I was the first adult to step to the mic who was a proponent of a skate park. This was after 20-30 opposition speakers had come to the mic.) I wasn’t allowed, as they had been , to say how I felt or why. A few kids tried to speak and were boo’d. The behavior was disgusting!!
    The opposition had maybe 3 or 4 speakers who spoke with decorum, asked well though out questions, and behaved as you would expect an adult to act. The rest was like a lynch mob mentality. (Incidentally the very good questions that those 3 or 4 people asked never were answered. No why? When the Tony Hawk Foundation ‘attempted’ to answer these queries, they were boo’d, and someone shouted we don’t care what you have to say!)
    The worse part about the entire debacle was Steve Dicterow, whom I voted for, rewarded the despicable behavior on the spot, by giving them what they wanted. He announced right then and there that no skate park would be built at Moulton meadows! There was no fairness, there was no ‘conversation’ there was no batting around the pros and cons, or how issues of the site could be problem solved! Nothing! Done.
    Our kids who witnessed this sham of a ‘neighborhood’ meeting will be the ones to suffer…but who cares there ‘just’ skateboarders…


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