Speakers’ Corner

Kimberly O’Brian-Young

New Law Discriminates Against Skateboarders

I have been asking myself why the Laguna Beach City Council has decided that they are more qualified to govern the local skateboarders then our already existing state laws.

The state of California’s vehicle code section 21212 reads: “(a) person under 18 years of age shall not operate a bicycle, a non-motorized scooter, or a skateboard, nor shall they wear in-line or roller skates, nor ride upon a bicycle, a non-motorized scooter, or a skateboard as a passenger, upon a street, bikeway, as defined in Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public bicycle path or trail unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet.”

This seems pretty thorough and specific. It also seems quite fair, and a smart and wise law.

As I have queried the recently added Laguna Beach helmet ordinance, I wonder when the first lawsuit will happen. It will either stem from some adult over 18, who is following state law but whose board is confiscated because they were not wearing a helmet or more likely the first lawsuit will happen based purely on the obvious discrimination that has occurred. This new Laguna Beach helmet ordinance doesn’t include cyclists, scooter riders or roller skaters as the state law does, but just skateboarders. Apparently if others decide not to wear a helmet, they face a possible ticket and nominal fine but no one takes their bike, roller skates or scooters!

City Council members have been quoted as saying that the new city ordinance is because “the safety of the kids is what matters!” I guess the “safety” of the other kids on bicycles, scooters, etc., isn’t a priority?

What we have here folks is pure and plain discrimination at its finest! There is no sugar coating this new regulation under the guise of safety. Simply put, just as the last 20 months have shown, this City Council and the members of the SNAG community have singled out the skateboarders again and again, ostracizing them repeatedly.

My 13 year old came to me after Skyline Drive was banned and said, “I’m quitting skating mom. I am tired of feeling like a criminal. Something I love has been turned into something ugly in this town! I’m sick and tired of drivers on the road flipping me off as they drive by me, when I am doing nothing wrong!” My son Sam is an honor roll student at the middle school, as are most of his skateboarder friends. No wonder he has walked away from his passion for skateboarding.

Had this new Laguna Beach ordinance included all of those individuals who by state law are required to wear a helmet, then I would have bought the safety angle. That not being the case, it leaves no doubt that skateboarders are being discriminated against.

When the first lawsuit happens I won’t be surprised. The city will get exactly what they deserve for enacting a prejudicial ordinance.

I give kudos to Councilman Kelly Boyd, the only sane member on the board who openly and loudly opposed this new law.

Laguna Beach resident Kimberly O’Brien-Young is the mother of two boys. 

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