Salba is notorious for sniffing out good pools. He’s been known to fly with a pilot friend of his and map out different neighborhoods around Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. From the air, pools – their size and shape – are clearly visible. But there are plenty of other ways to locate them, so if you’re out pool hunting and don’t have an airplane at your disposal, look for the following clues:
• “For Sale” sign in front yard of house with “Pool” advertised.
• Homes for sale with H.U.D. signs in front. The federal Housing and Urban Development agency requires that pools at vacant homes it sells be drained.
• Water running down a curb from the backyard.
• Palm trees and high fences in backyard (some fences have colored fiberglass extensions).
• A pool filter/pump in the sideyard.
• Old motels with “Pool” sign in front.
• High schools (most drain their pools periodically).
New homes and those in nice neighborhoods are more closely watched, and their owners are more likely to press charges if you’re caught trespassing. Steve says it’s a good idea to check out the area before entering the property. “I always do a drive around the block, check out the neighborhood once or twice before we go in,” he says. “That’s just my style.”
It’s a good rule of thumb to always be stealth. If you have to drain the pool, try to determine if it’s worth the trouble before you do the work. If you can see through the water that the transition’s bad, don’t waste your time. “It’s hard to tell sometimes in clear water – the refraction makes it look a lot better than it actually is,” says Steve. “So the best way to judge is to take a long pole and run it down the wall. The more curvature you feel, the better the pool is. If you feel the curvature actually go to flat-bottom before you go up the other side, then you know it’s killer.”
Another way to gauge a pool is to identify its maker. Steve says the company that made the pool and the era when it was built are key factors in determining if it might be worth draining. “There are so many people who make pools, but certain brands are better than others,” he says. “If you see a Paddock symbol, you know it’s gonna be killer because Paddock’s are always good. They made them back in the late 40s, 50s, and 60s. They were made in big houses and mansions – upper-class shit. There was a pool called Johnny Rocket’s, a Roman-end pool – square with a round face wall. It was so good, and it was a Paddock, too. It was at Richard Nixon’s house on Second and Van Ness when he was a senator.
“Blue Havens are always good, Swans and Sunsets are pretty good, and Masters are a gold mine. Anthony’s are usually pretty shitty because they were made in the 70s, and they’re usually pretty tight. The 40s through the 60s are the main eras.”
Once a pool is empty and ready to ride, determine if it’s in a populated area where someone might detect you and call the police. In this case, Salba’s Fifteen Minute Rule can keep you out of jail: “Usually it takes five minutes for the people to realize you’re there, five minutes for them to call the cops, and five minutes for the cops to roll up. It generally works really well, too, as long as you adhere to it. Sometimes you’re all, ‘Yeah, this pool’s so good!’ And you break every known rule, and that’s when you get busted.”
If the owners are home, Salba suggests asking them if you can skate their pool, and maybe offer them something in return. “Permission’s always the best,” he says. “In this day and age, if you don’t ask, you don’t get anything. If they say no, you didn’t gain anything, and you didn’t lose anything. But if they say yeah – boom – you’re in.”