Businesses Seek to Curb Free-Wheeling Youths at Plaza : Safety: Council may ban bikes and skates from center’s sidewalks, saying they threaten pedestrians.


At the request of safety-conscious business owners, the Ventura City Council on Monday will consider banning skateboards, bicycles, roller and in-line skates from sidewalks in the Victoria Plaza Shopping Center.

Owners of the shopping center, located at the southeast corner of Telegraph Road and Victoria Avenue in east Ventura, say their customers’ safety is being compromised by skateboarding youths who recklessly roll down pedestrian walkways.

They have asked the City Council to invoke a provision of city law that allows council members to prohibit skateboarding, bicycling and roller-skating in private shopping centers.

The council has exercised that authority only once, banning bicycling and skateboarding in the Borchard Shopping Center in 1992.


“This is private property, and we are being asked to preserve private property rights,” Councilman Jack Tingstrom said. “I hate to make a law that covers everybody for the few. But they won’t police themselves, so this is what happens.”

Although the shopping center has signs posted that ban skating, they are not enforceable by Ventura police until the city takes action by resolution, city officials said.

“It has been posted for some time, [but] the skateboarders ignore it,” said Lt. Brad Talbot, who shops at the plaza. “I have witnessed the skateboarders in that area. I have watched them pay no heed to the pedestrian traffic.”

The shopping center owners’ request comes just one week before the council is scheduled to consider building a skateboard park in downtown Ventura--a facility city officials hope will give local youths a place to spin their wheels so they will stay off private property and other public areas.

A member of the city’s skateboard committee, Tingstrom said business owners need to be more understanding of the needs of youths in the community.

“You have got to give them someplace to go,” he said.

But at the same time, Tingstrom added, youths need to be more courteous. The councilman’s 84-year-old mother was run down and injured by a reckless skater three years ago in the Victoria Plaza Shopping Center.

“She stepped out of Sav-On and Bam! Down she went,” he said. “That is what is happening. . . . These are not the good kids that want to have a skate park.”

According to Sav-On employees, customers complain “about every other day” about the free-wheeling youths.

But not everyone in the shopping center agrees that skateboarders and bicyclists are the problem.

“I haven’t received any complaints,” said Steve Lewis, assistant manager of Vons.

Lewis said motorists speeding through the parking lot create more of a safety risk than kids on bikes and skateboards.

“I’d like to have speed bumps in this parking lot more than banning the skateboarders,” he said. “I am more concerned about somebody getting hit by a car.”