South OC skaters and residents have been asking local government officials to build a skatepark in San Juan Capistrano for over a decade.

Their push could soon mean a new skatepark – giving skaters a place to bust out aerial 360s, lip tricks, hand grabs and plants, grinds and boardslides. 

Tonight, the San Juan Capistrano City Council is considering rezoning the 28-acre piece of land to build the city’s first public skatepark. 

In areas without skateparks nearby, skaters can often be seen hopping fences to places like schools, churches and other large buildings so they can perform boardslides, grinds and other tricks on tables, planters and handrails that could be done at a skatepark. 

Some residents say having a park to skateboard in will be much safer than street boarding. 

“It’s mainly for all the kids I see skating in the neighborhood all day after they come back from school having the time of their lives,” Emmanuel Mejia, a San Juan Capistrano resident, wrote in a comment to city officials. “It would be great for them to have an environment to do so safely since the skating usually happens in the streets which can be very dangerous. I fully support this skatepark and think it would impact the youth positively.”

San Juan Capistrano residents — including the San Juan Capistrano Skatepark Coalition — have expressed interest in a city skateboard park since 2007, when a skatepark was listed as a community priority during a citywide recreational needs assessment.

The park will be built on city-owned farmland at 32681 Alipaz St., between the ecology center and San Juan Sports Park. The entire park project has a budget of around $3.2 million. Seattle-based company Grindline Skateparks, Inc. will design the new skateboard park.

Under a prior agreement, the City of Dana Point is slated to contribute $25,000 annually to the maintenance costs of the skatepark in the anticipated use by Dana Point residents.

Without a skatepark in the city, skaters have been forced to take to the streets and other areas where skateboarding may be prohibited, risking legal trouble like citations.

“I’ve been waiting for over seven years for this skatepark,” 17-year-old San Juan Capistrano resident Daniel Palaez wrote in a comment to city officials. “When I was 10, my neighbor told me about a skatepark potentially being built. I was super excited and I told a bunch of my friends about it. We all wanted to learn how to skate so we can go to the skatepark. 

“We all learned and time went on and as we got older we forgot about it, but now that we’re a lot closer to having it built we are willing to fight for that skatepark. Our generation would love to have a skatepark and it would prevent us from having to trespass or get hurt skating somewhere dangerous.”

The proposed project would include a 20,000 square foot all-wheel skatepark area with obstacles designed for various skill levels, along with a playground structure, restroom building, seating, landscaping, drinking fountain, trail and pedestrian access to the adjacent sports park fields, according to the staff report.

A digital rendering of what the skatepark could look like shows two bowls, handrails, a long quarter pipe, stairs, and concrete blocks for boardslides and grinds – all obstacles essential to performing skateboard tricks. 

Pending city council approval, staff anticipates returning to the council for award of a

construction contract in June 2022. Construction is anticipated to begin in July 2022, with the estimated project completion in winter 2022.

There are at least 30 skateparks in Orange County, with most cities sporting at least one public skatepark. 

Angelina Hicks is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact her at ahicks@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @angelinahicks13.

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