Corrupters of Youth

Skateboarding recently reached another milestone. Although there was but scant acknowledgment, it should be noted that we are continuing on our path to global domination. As muted as our recent celebration was, there will come a time when those who reflect will realize, “Yeah, when did the global domination first begin? Wasn’t that around ’99?”

It was in 1999, in early November in fact, after several postponements and venue changes, that the California Coastal Commission met in Santa Monica, California and voted unanimously to approve the development and construction of a public skateboard park in Santa Barbara. “It really is quite an accomplishment,” explains Greg Hart, the Santa Barbara city council member who has helped to spearhead local support for a public skatepark. “The development of any recreational park, especially one that focuses on youth-oriented programs should be at the core of what the coastal commission is interested in. After all, that’s what the commission was established to do, to protect the coast and provide for public facilities and public access. Still, when it came to skateboarding, there was some doubt.”

Although Hart was unable to attend the commission’s hearing, he reports the commissioners specifically mentioned that skateparks are an ideal development for coastal communities. There was only one complaint filed against the skatepark, presented by attorneys representing the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Festival. Its members display and sell their creations each Sunday along the beachfront where the proposed skatepark will be built. Evidently, the Coastal Commission members were not swayed by the artists’ complaints about traffic and over-crowded parking. “They see the skatepark as an ideal development for the city,” says Hart.

What this means for skateboarding is that yet another California legislative group has soundly and profoundly endorsed the sport of skateboarding. The precedent has been set, the way has been paved¿all California coastal communities can have beachside-public skateparks in their future.

Oceanside, San Clemente, Imperial Beach to Crescent Bay, listen up: Put your skatepark down on the boardwalk just off the sand. Front and center. Don’t tuck your skatepark behind or around other locations.

Showcase your commitment to the youth of your community. Put it out there for all to see! The California Coastal Commission is ready to approve your seaside skatepark!

Although the non-coastal community of Dayton, Ohio might not immediately recognize the benefit from this recent California governmental agency’s decision, the effect is blowing across the continent just like that afternoon prevailing wind coming off the Pacific. More and more cities are recognizing the youth in their communities, and they’re actually responding to the suggestions and ideas and information presented to them¿kids want skateparks.

Of course, what this decision means for Santa Barbara will be the construction of a beachside skatepark smack dab in the middle of one the busiest parts of the city. City-central. Wherever you live, imagine the center of your town or city. Think “busiest intersection,” or “most congested area,” and that’s where this park will be built. Tourists, locals, commercial traffic, visitors, business travelers, night-on-the-towners¿this is it. This skatepark will be one of the most visible elements in the entire city. It’s estimated that 50,000 people a day (pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, boaters) pass this park’s location. One of the most beautiful stretches of beach in the world will, by next summer, include a beautiful public skatepark.

Thus, IASC’s plan of global domination continues¿skateboarding will rule the world! Well, although that’s not really our interest, it was the suggestion twelve years ago when Santa Barbara skateboarders first ventured before the city council with the suggestion of a public skatepark.. “Don’t trust these people,” declared Jarrell Jackmann. “They’re out to corrupt the youth of Santa Barbara!” His finger pointed in my direction as he made this claim, so I glanced around to see if maybe someone had stepped up alongside. No, it was just me. It must have been my scheme. Was there a plot? Was it my plot? How did he know? The entire city council was looking at me, as were those watching the televised cable broadcast. There I was, representing evil and fellow corrupters of youth, for all the world to see, and all I could think was, “Who is this *&%$#@! pointing his finger at me?”

At the time Jackmann represented the Historic Trust, a local private group dedicated to preserving the historical buildings of Santa Barbara, which was a city before the United States was a country). He was appearing before the council to voice his support for an ordinance that would expand the area of the city where skateboarding would be banned. I was there (representing evil, as I was) because some of us had found out about the proposed new ordinance, and we were anxious to suggest that if the city was going to ban skateboarding in some areas, then how about arranging for other areas where skateboarding would be allowed. It seemed logical to us, but we didn’t know what we were doing. Jackmann did, however. He knew the ins and outs of speaking to the council, how to address the mayor, how to address the council members. He was good. He taught us a lot.

He was also very emotional. I think he teared up during an explanation of how skateboarders were destroying one of the city’s oldest buildings. As he explained it, there was an adobe, built by Spanish soldiers, with walls that were so old they sloped away from the sidewalk. It was all true. This little adobe was quite simply a favorite wallride element for Jake Bradley, Brandon Chapman, and other local skaters. Jackmann almost openly wept as he described “the marks and gouges left by the heathens intent upon destroying our fair city.” He was good, but when he pointed at me … I don’t think he recognized the significance of what he was doing, because my grandmother always said it was impolite to point at people, and if someone ever did, well, that meant it was time to launch The Global Domination Plan.

She’s the same grandmother who wouldn’t let us skateboard in front of her house; our steel-wheeled creations made too much noise. That’s how the plan first developed. She told us, “Get out of here!” She yelled at us, “Go away with those things! You’re driving me nuts!” That was it, the humble beginnings of Global Domination. My grandmother’s plan was clear, we were supposed to skate into the world and drive other people nuts. The corruption of youth, worldwide, began right there on the sidewalks of Missouri Street in Pacific Beach, California.

So, thanks to my grandmother, that finger-pointing moment twelve years ago actually connects to our current successes. My rage died down. There is no spite, now. I knew our voice would be heard. We recognized the injustice. Slowly, step-by-step, our voice began to be heard. Our plan didn’t include experts, nor hired guns. Just skateboarders. Just kids and information and desire, and a tenacious will derived from the challenges of the sport itself. Motivated and self-initiated, skateboarders realized they had to take care of themselves … it was part of the plan-independence. That’s what my grandmother really was saying, “Go out there and take care of yourselves, and stop bothering other people!”

So, as it turns out, Jackmann’s finger pointing is part of the plan, too. My grandmother must have known. Because, although we aren’t really out to corrupt the youth of America, nor of the world, we are helping city after city¿like Santa Barbara¿answer the demands of local youth who continue to demonstrate that skateboarding is not a fad, but one of the most popular and most exciting sports available.