L.A. council seeks speed limit for skateboarders

The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to seek a speed limit for skateboarders and penalize them for failing to follow a range of traffic rules, from stopping at stop signs to yielding to pedestrians.

On a 12 to 0 vote, the council instructed City Atty. Carmen Trutanich to draft an ordinance that would prohibit “unsafe” skateboard activity and limit riders to a speed of 25 mph.

The proposal was initiated by Councilman Joe Buscaino, who described it as a response to the death of two skateboarders over the last year. Buscaino, the council’s newest member, said he wants to end downhill skateboard “bombing” — the practice of riding at high speeds, sometimes while weaving in and out of traffic — in his harbor district.

PHOTOS: Skateboarders in San Pedro

Buscaino is also seeking to give police the power to confiscate skateboards to ensure that violators don’t conceal their traffic citations from their parents.

“We’re looking at ... [having] the officers impound the skateboards after the citation is given, so that the parents can go to the police station and recover the skateboard,” he said.

The proposal drew praise from Diana Nave, president of the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council, who said skateboarders in her community have been “weaving in and out of traffic, or they have come out of nowhere because they’re moving so rapidly.”

Mike Horelick, owner of Santa Monica-based Tunnel Skateboards, said it was reasonable to expect skateboarders to stop at stop signs. But he voiced doubts about a uniform speed limit, pointing out that bicycles don’t have to adhere to one.

“Skateboarders can’t tell exactly how fast they’re going,” he added. “If you’re driving, you look at the speedometer. But if you’re a skateboarder, you’re looking at the road in front of you.”