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PTC to review street skateboarding

Increased speed and poor attitudes have led to a call for banning the sport on steep streets.

July 09, 2010|By Barbara Diamond, coastlinepilot@latimes.com
  • Laguna downhillers Ben Hryn, Hunter Schwirtz, Avery Crowl, Chance Gaul, Ethan Agnew, front to back, shoot down Oak St. in a "draft train" on recent skate session.
Laguna downhillers Ben Hryn, Hunter Schwirtz, Avery… (Don Leach, Daily…)

A group of Laguna Beach residents wants to put the brakes on skateboarding on Laguna's precipitous downhill streets.

The proposal will be on the Parking, Traffic and Transportation Committee's July 22 agenda. Previous attempts to restrict street skateboarding have been divisive. This latest attempt appears to be no different, with e-mails pouring into the committee and websites providing petitions.

"In my years on the PTC, this is by far the most controversial issue we have had before us," said Curt Bartsch, committee chair. "It's all over the place."

The committee, which usually meets in the Susi Q Community Room, is trying to arrange for more spacious accommodations in anticipation of the large crowd.

"We will accommodate them the best we can," Bartsch said.

Everyone will have an opportunity to speak, he said.

"I hope to present a petition signed by youngsters supporting skateboarding, which is now an international sport and we were the leaders here in Laguna," said Bruce Hopping, a fervent supporter of skateboarding and a resident of Laguna since 1950.

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However, another longtime resident, Alan Bernstein, thinks the time has come to control and limit skateboarding.

Bernstein submitted a petition to the PTC, which prompted the formation of a sub-committee and the July 22 hearing. The petition asks the committee to recommend to the City Council a speed limit of 10 mph and permitted locations restricted to hills with a 3% grade or less.

Skateboarders have rallied to fight the proposed restrictions, using technology as their weapon.

Keep Skateboarding Legal in Laguna Beach, a Facebook group, is urging skaters to contact the PTC and to attend the hearing on July 22. Another group, Friends of Safe Skateboarding, has posted an online petition opposing Bernstein's proposals, claiming they would make skateboarding illegal on most Laguna Beach streets whether for transportation or recreation.

Bernstein said skateboarders have brought his plea for restrictions on themselves.

"I have lived on Morningside Drive for 27 years," Bernstein said. "People like to live in Laguna Beach because we are fairly tolerant — it's mostly live and let live."

Even when he was almost hit by some skateboarders being towed and was allegedly verbally abused for calling them on it, he let it pass.

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