Skateboard enthusiast threatened by potential ban

Lee Eisler

The birthplace of downhill skateboarding is considering a ban on eight of the city’s steepest, windiest streets, spearheaded by a group of residents.

The group of Laguna Beach residents, led by Alan Bernstein, 62, oppose skateboarding down their hills and are trying to push for the city to place a ban to stop the sport.

Bernstein lives on Bluebird Canyon Drive and says that skateboarders zip by his home at high speeds. Between him and other Bluebird Canyon residents hundreds of near misses, brutal crashes and broken bones have been witnessed.

Drivers have reported close calls, having to swerve to avoid oncoming skaters. Many who have called the police to report these incidents found out that the skateboarders were doing nothing wrong according to the police officers.

Many feel as though it would be a liability issue, using the example of a woman who sued the city of Mission Viejo for brain damage her son suffered after a fall. He was not wearing a helmet.

Skateboarding in Laguna Beach has been around since 1957 and many consider it to be the birthplace of downhill skateboarding. With crews like the “Tuk ‘N’ Roller’s” bombing the streets in 1959 to the history of Oak Street going all the way back into the ‘70s when the Oak St. Surf Shop began selling nylon wheels.

In the ‘80s the popularity of the sport grew exponentially and someone cruising down the street with a surfboard under one arm was quite a common sight. Now it is more common to see riders traveling down roads at speeds averaging 40 mph sporting stylish helmets and specialized gloves with plastic attached.

As of right now skateboarders are considered pedestrians. Getting caught will bring you a pedestrian in the roadway citation.

After already holding several meetings pertaining to the issue, Laguna Beach city council met again March 29 to discuss the ban.

Interested people stood in line and respectively waited their turn to speak. Many spoke for the ban and many spoke against it. Both sides were very passionate for their cause.

After several hours the city council voted to ban skateboarding on eight of Laguna Beach’s most dangerous roads.

New regulations are also to be put in place. These include requiring skateboarders to stop at stop signs, limiting speeds to under 25 mph or the speed limit if it’s lower, yielding to traffic and keeping to their lane.

The idea of creating a road to the water tower designed for downhill skateboarders was discussed as a possible alternative for boarders to use.

As the sport’s popularity is growing, so is support for having no ban on streets. Younger kids are gaining their parents support in helping to practice the sport safely.

People opposed to the ban argued that they should have similar rights as joggers and bikers who are often seen traveling down these roads with no helmet.

The ban for the eight roads will be reviewed April 5. If it is finalized, the law will be put in place 30 days later. The council will then review the issue again in six months time.

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