As in most other American cities, skateboarding as a means of transportation in San Diego, California is illegal.
And considering that the city has been a skateboarding hub virtually since the advent of the sport, it?s rather ironic that the history of city legislation toward the sport has been so conservative since the beginning.
City Councilman Byron Wear–who served as deputy mayor of San Diego from 1998 to 1999–was one of the key city-hall figures fighting to have the Washington Street Skatepark destroyed when it was first built a few years ago. Since then the park was approved and skaters went through a rollercoaster of procedures to gain all of the correct permits for the park. Today, the park is under construction and is expected to be open by late summer.
Since his initial standoff with the Washington Street skaters, Wear’s take on skateboarding has changed, and the city councilman will again be running for mayor of San Diego later on this year.
Fortunately for San Diego skateboarders, Wear, who also serves as chairman of San Diego’s Land Use And Housing Committee, now supports the rapidly growing sport. The committee met on May 29 to discuss, among other things, the motion to decriminalize skateboarding as a valid means of transportation in San Diego.
Wear pointed out the growth in numbers of users of scooters and skateboards, that they represent positive and environmentally friendly transportation alternatives to cars and are compatible with existing modes of public transportation, such as buses and trains.
Wear explained that what he wanted to see out of the meeting beyond council dialogue was directive for the city manager to investigate alternative forms of transportation and pending state legislation as it pertains to the city’s planning strategy regarding transportation.
He further used the example of Portland, Oregon to illustrate a city where skates and skateboards are fully legal forms of transportation. “We have circulated, to the benefit of council members, Portland, Oregon’s policy on skates and skateboards,” said Wear. “The public information officer there, in the transportation department, states that the skates and skateboard laws have been successful and have been overseen by the public, and that there have not been any accidents between skates or vehicles since it (the law) was enacted on December 27, 2000–and Portland’s a pretty good-sized city.”
Portland law requires the use of helmets.
Currently, section 84.12 (a) of the City of San Diego Municipal Code states: “It is unlawful for any person riding on roller skates or by means of coaster, skateboard, toy vehicle, or similar device, to go upon an open roadway in the City of San Diego, or upon the sidewalk or public plaza in any business district, or upon any inclined surface area of any City-owned or privately owned parkade … ”
Also present at the meeting were councilmembers Scott Peters, who is the committee’s vice chairman; Brian Maienschein; Donna Frye; and George Stevens.
Wear aided in establishing San Diego’s first-ever city-sponsored skateboard park and field expansion at Robb Field in Ocean Beach (a.k.a. Ocean Beach Skatepark).
Wear represents the Cortez Hill, East Village, Mission Beach, Mission Hills, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Park West, and Point Loma areas of San Diego, in addition to major portions of downtown San Diego, La Jolla/Mt. Soledad, and Middletown.
The Land Use And Housing Committee’s area of responsibility is broad ranging from affordable housing for San Diego residents to transportation planning, transit services, and disposition of certain public lands.
For dates of future meetings or more information, contact the Land Use And Housing Committee Consultant Kirk Mather at: (619) 533-3920. Or email: [email protected]