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Sounding Off: Skateboard ban not fair to responsible riders

February 10, 2011|By Darren Madrigal

Editor's note: The following was addressed to Laguna Beach Mayor Toni Iseman.

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Dear Mayor,

I just read the outcome of last Tuesday's meeting on "speedboarding," and I am very concerned that more of my rights are being taken from me. First it was the ban on fishing off our coast (which tore my heart out), and now a ban on skateboarding?

I understand that there are a few idiots who are reckless on their skateboards, but to punish all of us is unfair. The goal here is to reach a compromise that works for everybody.

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First, I wanted you to know that there are many different types skateboarding. There is carve boarding, street skating, freestyle, street surfing, tandem skating, street luge, cruise boarding, and of course speedboarding. Each discipline requires a special board made specifically for that sport (which is crucial to the definition of the proposed ban).

Second, I live on Wykoff and Bluebird Canyon. As a taxpaying resident (who voted for you), I absolutely love skateboarding down Bluebird Canyon from my home. I do it responsibly and it's my favorite means of transportation. It's a privilege to live in such a place where I can experience the joy of riding down a hill on a skateboard ending up on the beach. It's one of the many things that makes Laguna Beach so cool. The thought of not being able to jump on my skateboard and ride down the hill I live on is insanity! I have the same rights as the bikers, joggers and walkers who live here do.

This ban reeks of authoritarianism.

Third, the roots of this problem ultimately came from the City Council's inability to approve a skate park for our town. If we had a skate park here, the kids would have a place to go. Much of the skateboarders' focus would be in "street style" instead of "speed-boarding." My guess is that we wouldn't be in this mess if we had a local skate park. Laguna Beach needs a skate park.

Finally, skateboarding is just as healthy as a riding a bike, and the rules that govern both (today) are fair. I understand the concerns of the residents and in some cases they are justified. What we need is a solution that allows skateboarders to enjoy the freedom of going down a hill, as I have done for the past 35 years, and to do so in a safe and responsible manner.

DARREN MADRIGAL lives in Laguna Beach.

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