NEWPORT-MESA -- Skateboarders may be persona non grata in much of
Newport Beach, but one school board trustee says she wouldn't mind seeing
a skateboard park on a school campus.
Newport-Mesa Unified School District Trustee Martha Fluor said she was
disappointed with the restrictions imposed by Newport Beach this week
that curtails skateboarding in city parks and on any paved surface with a
6% grade or steeper.
"The city in their infinite wisdom decided it was attracting the wrong
element," Fluor said. "I have a problem with [Mayor Tod Ridgeway]
characterizing [skateboarders] as undesirable."
Fluor said putting the squeeze on skateboarders creates safety hazards
because they then lack options on where to go.
"Now they'll drive these kids onto the schools and onto the streets,
which certainly is a safety issue, especially since there are a lot of
streets in Newport Beach that don't have sidewalks," she said.
So Fluor is inviting members of the community to bring the issue of
building a skateboard park on a school campus to the board once again.
But her invitation is not winning unanimous support from even her
Trustee Wendy Leece said the district would incur too many risks by
welcoming skateboarders onto its campuses.
"I think it's more of a city domain," Leece said. "[Newport Beach and
Costa Mesa] need to take ownership and responsibility. It's a recreation
and they can have the responsibilities of any injuries."
Supt. Robert Barbot said while the district is not in the business of
running skateboard parks, he is amenable to discussing a collaboration
with any city that is interested.
"Just like we partner with the [after-school] recreation programs,
we're willing to have that discussion," Barbot said.
Schools in Huntington Beach and Laguna Hills have skate parks on
campus. A dozen cities in Orange County have skate parks.
Skateboarding is not currently allowed on Newport-Mesa school
campuses, but that hasn't deterred the skaters from doing their ollies,
kick flips and front-side grinds at sites like Andersen School, Fluor
In the past, residents from both Newport Beach and Costa Mesa have
proposed the idea, she said. Fluor would need the support of two of her
colleagues to get the item on the agenda.
Fluor's 18-year-old son Andrew, a skateboarding aficionado, said he
agrees that schools should be open to skateboarders.
"Definitely," Andrew said. "You can talk to your friends who
skateboard. Why not allow skating at schools?"
Last February, the Costa Mesa City Council nixed a skateboard park for
its city. Instead, the city has a portable park that is moved around the
* Deirdre Newman covers education. She may be reached at (949)
574-4221 or by e-mail at o7 email@example.com .