Action during the recent Vans Triple Crown of Skateboarding was interrupted for a few moments to allow for a simple ceremony acknowledging the efforts of skateboarders in effectively changing California’s laws that have ultimately resulted in the creation of thousands of public skateparks throughout the United States.
Although the ceremony went unnoticed by the media, skateboarders might be interested because it directly involves them. They’re the ones being thanked and acknowledged by the legislators of California.
Member Resolution 1946, dated September 24, 2002, commends the International Association of Skateboard Companies on the role it’s played in promoting skateboarding and “encourages people from throughout the state to enjoy this exciting sport.”
That’s incredible. Not so much that the state’s legislature acknowledging IASC, nor that the resolution actually suggests people grab their skate and enjoy themselves, but incredible for what skateboarding has accomplished.If you’ve been involved with skateboarding over the past five to ten years you may have been active in helping to bring about the legislative change in California, and if so, this resolution is acknowledging your effort. You may have written letters; you may have made phone calls; you may have sent faxes, collected signatures or sent postcards; and more recently, you may have sent e-mails. If so, this resolution acknowledges your effort. Beginning in 1995 and continuing throughout 1996, IASC directed a campaign to support new legislation intending to add skateboarding to the infamous Hazardous Recreational Activities list, which would essentially eliminate the possibility of liability lawsuits against local and state agencies in California. Although the earliest attempts failed, we persisted.
Skateboarding persisted, and fortunately so did then-Assemblyman Bill Morrow. Morrow actually believed public skateparks would be a good thing for those in his district (Oceanside)-and throughout the rest of California. So when his first bill was rejected by the senate’s judiciary committee, we met in Sacramento and developed new strategies, which included a letter-writing campaign that generated more than 75,000 pieces of mail sent to California legislators.
The result is now history-skateboarding history and legislative history. IASC member companies helped spread the word by sponsoring magazine ads popularizing the letter-writing campaign; skateboard retailers took the initiative for point-of-purchase displays directing their customers to send letters, postcards, and/or to sign petitions of support. Importantly, skateboarders by the tens of thousands believed enough to actually do it-they actually sent letters and the postcards.
Thousands were mailed directly to the legislators, whereas thousands of others were delivered during judiciary and procedural committee meetings-I know because I carried them into the capitol building myself. One guy, one longboard, a backpack, and three mailbags stuffed with skaters’ letters and cards. That’s what this resolution acknowledges-the effort of a group of citizens believing enough in their “cause” to do something about it.
It’s the stuff of a Frank Capra classic, which is why I didn’t have to pay for excess baggage when I flew to Sacramento-the guy at the United Airlines ticket counter became part of the effort, too. After I explained what the letters were, he said, “Hey, this is like that Jimmy Stewart movie, right? What was it called? Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.” Indeed. The little guy against the system.
January 2003 the newest legislation goes into effect in California-public skateparks are assured for another five years-but in 2008 State Senator Bill Morrow won’t be elligible to run again for Senate due to California legislature-term limits. In 1995, our letter-writing campaign to support AB 1296 was just that-real letters on paper with stamps. Over the past two years, IASC’s efforts supporting SB 9944 concentrated on sending e-mail. Our world changes. In September 2001 letters became a problem and were undeliverable for a time. Our future will include the necessity of “renewing” this legislation. Five years from now, a new generation of letters will be necessary to help convince a new generation of legislators that a new generation of skateboarders is ready for the next generation of skateparks.
Congratulations to all of you able to participate in this lengthy and successful process. You’re part of the resolution commending skateboarding, and I look forward to working with you in the future to assure the ongoing growth and development of skateboarding.
By the Honorable Bill Morrow, 38th Senatorial District;Relative to Commending theInternational Association of Skateboard Companies
Whereas, Skateboards originated with ingenuity, and in the early days skateboards were a plank of wood with roller skates attached; and
Whereas, In the late 1950s the design as we know today was born at a California surf shop, and skateboarding was known as “sidewalk surfing”; and
Whereas, The first skateboard competition was held in Hermosa, California, with 100 people in attendance; and
Whereas, In 1965 skateboarding was featured on the cover of Life magazine, and the following year a movie entitled Skater Dater was nominated for an Academy Award; and
Whereas, the first patent for skateboard design was issued in 1971, and polyurethane wheels were invented in 1973 for skateboarding, which revolutionized the sport; and
Whereas, In the late 1970s there were more than 40-million skateboards in America, and in 1981 Thrasher magazine was born to provide information to the hardcore skater; and
Whereas, By the late 1980s numerous contests were held in the United States and eventually, throughout the world, and in 1995 skateboarding gained exposure at the ESPN 2 Extreme Games; and
Whereas, Since 1997 the hard work of Jim Fitzpatrick and the International Association of Skateboard Companies brought the idea of legislation to Senator Bill Morrow to allow cities limited liability so skateparks could be built; and
Whereas, In 1997 skateparks were added to a list of hazardous recreational activities for which public entities and public employees enjoy qualified immunity from liability, and this allowed over 100 public skateparks to be built in California; and
Whereas, Skateboarding adds millions of dollars to the California economy through manufacturing, clothing, tourism, and media; and
Whereas, Statistics put skateboarding as America’s sixth largest participatory sport with more than six-million skateboards; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by Senator Bill Morrow, That he commends the International Association of Skateboard Companies on the role it has played in promoting the sport of skateboarding, and encourages people from throughout the state to enjoy this exciting sport.
Member Resolution No. 1946Dated this 24th day of September, 2002
Honorable Bill Morrow38th Senatorial District
Santa Barbara Montessori School