Trustee suggests school as a place to skate

Deirdre Newman

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

colleagues.

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

said.

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

city.

* Deirdre Newman covers education. She may be reached at (949)

574-4221 or by e-mail at o7 deirdre.newman@latimes.comf7 .

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