Council approves skateboard confiscation

Laguna Beach parents will find the consequences more time consuming if they don't make sure their skateboarding children wear helmets.

The City Council on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to the confiscation of skateboards for failure to wear a helmet, but the parents of juveniles will have to go the police station with the children to get the skateboard released, in addition to paying a $25 fine. A juvenile counseling session is also required.

"It is easier to give $25 to a kid than to take time off from work to go to the police department," said Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger.

Confiscation was sponsored by Councilwomen Elizabeth Pearson and Toni Iseman.

"The point Toni and I are trying to make is that we are serious about kids wearing helmets," Pearson said. "Kids are still going down Park Avenue without helmets."

Police Chief Paul Workman said 30 citations have been issued within the past six months for helmet violations but he couldn't specify the offenders' ages.

Confiscated skateboards will be held for one week for the first violation, and one month for subsequent violations.

However, the price of breaking the law is cheaper for local juveniles, whose violations are handled here instead of the county court house, where the fine is $280, Workman said.

Long-time supporter of local skateboarders Chad Gibson said the proposed confiscation is discriminatory.

"I really want my life back, but you guys keep coming up with these wacky things," said Gibbs, one of two opponents of confiscation who spoke at the hearing.

"If you see two 13year-olds coming down a hill, one on a skateboard and one on a bike and neither wearing helmet, you're going to take the skateboard, but not the bike?" he asked. "How do you justify that? I can't."

Kathryn Doe added, "Educate rather than confiscate."

"No one is looking forward to confiscating a skateboard and keeping track of it," Rollinger said. "But it is important for the community to understand how important this is and how we don't want anyone to get hurt."

Iseman opined that most parents probably think their children are wearing helmets and would want to know if they are not.

"Parents will know because they have to pay a fine," said Councilman Kelly Boyd, the lone vote against confiscation.

A second hearing is required to add confiscation to existing local law.

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