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Skateboard ban may not happen

Committee recommends not to bar hillside skating, but suggests that minors wear reflective helmets.

September 30, 2010|By Barbara Diamond, coastlinepilot@latimes.com
  • Downhill skater Hunter Schwirtz rolls down Oak St. on a recent skate session.
Downhill skater Hunter Schwirtz rolls down Oak St. on… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

Skateboarders may have won a significant victory Sept. 23.

The Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee eliminated from a proposed ordinance a ban on skateboarding on steep hillside streets such as Park Avenue. The committee's recommendations will be reviewed by the city attorney and the Police Department before going to the City Council for a final decision.

The council is tentatively scheduled to decide on the issue Nov. 16, said Jim Beres, civilian supervisor for the Police Department. If the council approves the ban, the Police Department will enforce it, he said.

In May, Laguna resident John Bernstein requested that the committee ban "speed-boarding," saying it is dangerous when skaters ride downhill at 50 to 60 mph. A PTC subcommittee formed to review his proposal; it also examined, ordinances in other communities, public comment at the May meeting, and comments from the well-attended meeting held July 22 at Thurston Middle School.

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About 90 people attended the September meeting, where the committee made its recommendations. Of the 23 people who spoke, one favored the ban.

Bernstein did not attend the meeting because he was out of the country, said city administrative analyst Liz Vasquez-Avila, staff liaison to the committee.

"The committee voted unanimously to remove the ban from the prohibited operations section of the subcommittee's report," Vasquez-Avila said.

Omitted from the proposed ordinance was the prohibition of skateboarding on Park Avenue between Alta Laguna and Donna Drive; Nyes Place between Balboa Drive and Pacific Coast Highway; Summit Drive between Baja and Bluebird Canyon drives; and Temple Hills Drive between Alta Laguna and Thalia Street.

Under the proposed ordinance, the city may periodically grant a permit that would allow an approved organization to skate at otherwise prohibited locations.

The subcommittee considered input from residents seeking full and partial bans; restrictions on skateboarders; and input from skateboarders, parents of skateboarders and other interested parties.

A very small minority of skateboarders pose a threat to the safety of themselves, residents, businesses, drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, the report stated.

Based on public testimony, many residents and skateboarders are amenable to restrictions in Laguna Beach that are consistent with precepts of safety and non-intrusive skateboarding. The subcommittee found that skateboarding is part of the city's culture. It benefits physical fitness.

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