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NEWPORT BEACH : Skateboarders Angry About Proposed Ban

Newport Beach Councilwoman Ruthelyn Plummer knows that her proposal to ban skateboards from the oceanfront boardwalk during the summer and on weekends is a controversial one.

“I’ve already had one phone call threatening me,” Plummer said last week. “The caller sounded young. He said: ‘You’ll be continuing to hear from me.’ ”

Although city leaders did back away from a similar ban last year, Plummer said she is tired of the constant complaints she has gotten over the years about reckless skateboarders.

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“These skateboards go out of control and run into people,” said Plummer, who represents the West Newport area. “They’re irresponsible. They don’t go in a straight line; they weave and go in and out.”

Plummer favors a summer and weekend ban, which would allow children on the Balboa Peninsula to still ride their skateboards to school. She has asked City Manager Kevin J. Murphy to study other cities’ skateboard codes--such as the all-wheel ban in Huntington Beach and Monterey--and report back to the council.

In addition, Plummer said she will also ask a city committee studying crowding problems on the boardwalk to consider her proposal, which would not encompass a ban on in-line skates.

Skateboards are already banned from the McFadden Square area by Newport Pier. The city adopted the ban last year because merchants and residents complained that skateboarders were using planters and benches as ramps and damaging the property.

With skateboard venues decreasing throughout Orange County, avid boarders say Plummer’s latest proposal is unfair and wrongly singles them out.

“This is pretty typically narrow-minded,” said Jim Gray, a 29-year-old Costa Mesa resident and business owner who still enjoys skateboarding. “From what I’ve seen on the peninsula, there are more accidents involving bicycles than anything else.”

Added Trevor Page, 21, of Huntington Beach: “Soon there will be no strollers allowed down there.”

Gray said the city should provide skateboard parks or other designated areas for boarders who are banned from streets and pathways. The city of Huntington Beach, for instance, has plans to build some small skateboard parks there, thanks to lobbying by local skateboarders.

But Gray criticized local governments for generally neglecting to fund projects for young people.

“Bike riders have bike lanes,” he noted. “But what about our youth? I think it’s unfortunate.”


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