Curves thrown at speedboarding

City Council votes to draft an ordinance that would include banning the sport on parts of three steep streets. Overall ban has no traction.

February 03, 2011|By Barbara Diamond,
  • Members of the community of all ages pack Laguna Beach City Council chambers for the skateboard meeting.
Members of the community of all ages pack Laguna Beach… (Faye Chapman, Coastline…)

Speedboarders may be banned by a future ordinance from some of Laguna's steepest streets, but their sport did not hit a dead end Tuesday.

The City Council voted for skateboarding regulations and to ban skateboarding on portions of Summit and Bluebird Canyon drives, and Alta Vista Boulevard.

The council also approved Councilman Kelly Boyd's offer to head a committee to consider whether, when, on what streets — including the three banned — and under what conditions speedboarding should be allowed, rather than the more restrictive ban proposed by a group of residents.

"Nothing is going to stop these kids. We need a conclusion so both sides can get what they want," said Arthur Wexell, who has grown up speedboarding.

Boyd said he will put together a discussion group that includes professional speedboarder Mark Goulter and Oak Street skateboarding guru Chad Gibbs, as well as two Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee members and two speedboarding opponents.


"We will to try to hammer out some of this stuff and come back to the council with a recommendation," Boyd said, adding that a leader of the opponents' group, Alan Bernstein, has agreed to join the group.

Mayor Toni Iseman called it combat duty, in recognition of the entrenched positions taken by supporters and opponents.

"Our job is public safety first and everything else comes in second," Iseman said.

Sixty-five speakers aired their views during the nearly three-hour hearing. Thirty-eight speakers opposed any ban, although many supported regulations and fines for violators of existing helmet and other laws.

Citing numerous accidents, members of Speedboarders Neighborhood Action Group are the drivers of the proposed ban on downhill speedskating. They claim that speedboarders often have no control over their direction and cannot, or do not, stop at intersections — the cause of near misses, if not reported accidents.

The group wants the sport outlawed on 10 city streets, including Third Street, Park and Balboa avenues, Rancho Laguna Road and Bluebird Canyon, Summit and Skyline drives.

Skateboarders reposted that they are skilled athletes and pose no danger to themselves or others.

"If we are skating on Park Avenue, we know what we are doing," boarder Kody Noble said.

"You are looking down on a sport because of a few bad apples," boarder Noah Hunt said. "How can you ban skateboarding without banning bicycles?"

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