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Skateboards Barred From a Favorite Spot

Skateboarders can kick-flip and curb-grind no more at downtown Ventura’s California Street Mini Park, one of the city’s most popular sidewalk-surfing spots.

Friday afternoon, municipal workers erected signs prohibiting the use of “wheeled apparatus or skating apparatus such as skateboards, roller skates, in-line skates and snakeboards.”

The action came after the Downtown Ventura Assn. board unanimously voted May 8 to request enforcement of a ban that had for a long time been imposed only loosely.

“We’ve had calls from business owners, we’ve had calls from general citizens who’ve tried to use the facility and complain about being hit or nearly being hit by flying skateboards,” said Bill Byerts, city parks manager.

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The clattering of wheels is a familiar sound when up to 30 skateboarders congregate on Friday nights and at other peak times at the park, which boasts well-worn, rounded walls and curbs blackened with skateboard wax.

Kris Pustina, owner of the downtown restaurant Franky’s Place and an association board member, said business owners don’t want to be regarded as killjoys. But the dangers of skateboarding downtown were aptly illustrated when an errant skateboard smashed a large plate-glass window at her eatery late last year, she said.

“I know these are good kids,” she said, “they just don’t have a place to ride. But that doesn’t mean the place to ride is in the park or on the streets of downtown where people are shopping.”

The city plans to build a skateboard park, but difficulty finding a site has delayed efforts, Byerts said. The City Council is scheduled to hear site recommendations in July.

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Until then, skateboarders will have to go elsewhere or risk citations or confiscation of their boards.

Minutes after the signs went up, Ojai residents Derek Ulrich, 14, and Seth McBeath, 14, arrived on their skateboards.

“I guess we’ll go somewhere else,” Derek said, lamenting the loss of the prime spot. “I’ve seen a lot of pro skateboarding videos, and they have this place in it.”


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