Senator Helps Skateparks

Sole Technology and Giant Distribution bestowed gifts of thanks to California District 38 Senator Bill Morrow in San Juan Capistrano for his authoring of legislation SB 994 ensuring the proliferation of public skateparks in California.

Legislation AB 1296 passed five years ago making the construction of public city-owned skateparks possible by listing skateboarding as a hazardous recreational activity and freeing cities of liability, but it was set to expire on December 31, 2002 due to a sunset clause so legislators could test its effectiveness.

“Even with all my scuffs and bruises, my experiences with skateboarding have always been positive, so the last thing I wanted anyone to do was outlaw skateboarding,” said Morrow, who introduced new legislation SB 994 to permanently release liability, and with the help of the skateboard industry, it passed.

Sole Technology (represented by PR representative Timothy Nickloff, Division Manager/Team Promotions Of Etnies Beau Brown, VP Of Marketing Don Brown, and Teams Associate Brandy Lozano) presented Morrow-whose district is South Orange County and North San Diego County-with a bronzed shoe displaying the Senator’s initials and an icon of California affixed to it. PS Stix Manufacturing and Giant Distribution’s Paul Schmidt bestowed one of Giant’s “Support SB 994” decks on the Senator. Jim Gray of ABC Board Supply and The Skatepark Coalition was also in attendance.

Sole Technology launched the Etnies BBQ Tour last summer to inform skaters how to get involved with helping pass the law. Giant sent its “Support SB 994” boards to shops to be displayed along with informational flyers. The Skatepark Coalition also raised awareness with flyers and e-mails.

Schmidt has been involved in supporting passing such legislation since 1997 with the original bill (AB 1296). He and Brian Schaeffer (SkatePark of Tampa owner) rallied the skateboard industry then as they did this year, currently making use of the convenience of e-mail, flooding the Senator with support.

The Senator was honored and awestruck at recieving the bronzed shoe and promised to display it prominently in his office. He told tales of his first skateboard, “Taking the wheels off roller skates and hammering them into two-by-fours,” and of his admiration of the lifestyle.

Morrow described the years of work this bill has taken and the snowball effect that eventually saw it through, thanks to skateboard companies and skateboarders themselves. “I remember dumping on the committee tables in the Senate over three- or four-thousand letters that we had gotten from skateboarders in this state,” he said. “That made quite an impression.”

On paper, these public skateparks will still require pads, and the enforcement could be as strict as skatepark monitors rapping on knees to check for kneepads under pants and police officers entering the parks to fine padless skaters.

On a related note, another bill, SB 1994, has recently passed as well. This law “requires that persons under eighteen years of age wear a helmet while operating in-line or roller skates, a non-motorized scooter, or skateboard.” This bill was not attached to SB 994 and was not supported by any skate companies. It seemingly slipped under the radar, and now underage skaters are subject to fines anywhere they skate without a helmet. SB 1994 was suggested to Congress from the student council of an elementary school in response to a serious injury suffered by one of the students while riding a scooter.