Yorba Linda City Council has unanimously voted to ban skateboarding and loitering on city-owned facilities, raising concerns from local skateboarders.
Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Youth Media program, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Digital Editor Sonya Quick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to a city staff report, current municipal codes prohibit skateboarding and loitering only in particular areas of the city. Orange County Sheriff’s Department personnel and city staff felt the updated language of the new ordinance would bolster the current codes.
The ordinance, which got final approval from the City Council March 3, makes skateboarding and loitering unlawful in the Town Center parking lot, and other city-owned facilities or parking lots. Additionally, this includes any sidewalk adjacent to the areas.
Mayor Beth Haney voiced her reasons for voting in favor of the new law and the importance of public safety when the council gave preliminary approval to the ordinance in February.
“I personally support outdoor sports, but there are parameters that help keep the public and athletes safe. Parking structures have many hazards for skateboarders that can also create a dangerous environment for pedestrians and motorists. Skate parks are developed for skateboarding and offer the safest environment for these athletes. Public safety is our number one concern in Yorba Linda, hence the ordinance,” said Haney.
Local skateboarders bemoaned the lack of skateparks in Yorba Linda. The nearest skateparks are in neighboring Placentia, Anaheim and Brea.
“The best thing would be to build skateparks in Yorba Linda. They don’t have to be big or gnarly, just a little ditch with a couple of humps in it. That’s all it takes,” said Cody Sense, a 25-year-old skateboarder interviewed recently at Logan Wells Memorial Skatepark in Anaheim. “Give us a place to skate and we’ll skate there. Plus, Yorba Linda is the perfect place to have one. The only one near is the Logan Wells Memorial Park and it’s not even that big. If you want to stop one thing, then give us something in place of it.”
Colin Gens, 22, an employee of the action sports equipment company DC Shoes, based in Huntington Beach, had a different take.
“I totally get why you wouldn’t want skating in public areas for safety reasons. You don’t want little kids getting hurt when they’re walking to the library or someone walking by getting hit by a skateboard,” said Gens, who was also at Logan Wells Memorial Skatepark. “But at the same time, if it’s a public area, there should be other people expressing what they want to do. And if it’s skateboarding, then you should be allowed to do that. Except in a safe way, like with supervision and security, or a separate section to skate without people walking nearby.”
Despite penalties for violations of the new law, some skateboarders did not feel the ordinance would prevent them from skating on city-owned property.
“Pretty much anywhere you go, people are going to skate until they get kicked out. I mean, that’s just how it is. And most of the time [skateboarders] just get a warning,” said Sense “If they’re complaining about people skating on their property then don’t make their property so damn skateable. Put more skate-stoppers on and we obviously won’t go there.”
A violation of the ordinance is an infraction, which is “not more than $100 for the first offense and $200 for the second offense within 12 months. [Infractions] are normally handled by a citation,” said Jeff Ruth, the city’s recreation superintendent.
“If there are signs or security around, I’ll respect that, and I’m sure my buddies will too. But if it’s an open area and nobody’s around to get hurt, then why not? I’ll skate there,” said Gens.
The ordinance goes into effect 30 days following its adoption.