Mailbag: It's unfair to pick on the skateboarders

A kid broke his leg. He was writhing in pain. A host of other kids are suffering injuries they will carry with them for a lifetime. Yet, the public actually pays good money to watch these kids do this to each other.

Coaches teach and beg the kids to "stick" the kids on the other side and "hit" them with all their might. The elderly limp to games to watch the young beat on each other and relive how they acquired all their aches and pains. "Non-negligent" parents pay for equipment, lessons and travel to send their children to battle to knock each other silly, putting their newly formed bones and recently developed bodies at risk.

Limbs bent backwards, helmet to helmet contact jamming their necks, squaring off to risk spinal injury and concussions with every whistle blow. When the kid is wheeled off on the stretcher, the crowd cheers. Appreciating the kid for "laying it all on the line" for the sake of what? Winning? Surviving? Doing what is accepted, although inherently dangerous?

A kid broke his leg skateboarding. Writhing in pain he lay there a martyr. An inconvenience to the public, for doing nothing more than what every kid in this town has done for 40 years. No sympathy, no cheers from the crowd, he lay there vilified and criminalized for doing only what his father and grandfather before him did. Only they did it with inferior equipment and no safety gear. The ire was never there before, only until recently. A flame has been lit, and now skateboarding, despite being statistically (see PTC findings) fractionally less involved in accidents than cyclists or pedestrians, is going to go extinct in this town.

A cyclist lay on Coast Highway. Blood pouring from his ears. His body broken and twisted in metal. I guess nobody seems to care or worry about you. Kind of like skiers when snowboarders got their start. You are the "norm" and are accepted in society, although, statistically, your activity is way more dangerous. Hell, everybody had a bike growing up.

SNAG, take the PTC's advice and go fight drunk drivers, child molesters, drug dealers. Statistically these are proven child killers. So are obesity, suicide, drug abuse, teen pregnancy and teen alcoholism (things that kids turn to when they are bored). I choose board over bored any day.

Chad Gibbs

Laguna Beach

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Track should be open during school hours

I am writing to express my strong displeasure with the recent decision to lock the tax-paying neighbors out of the enclosed high school track during school hours. We, the taxpayers, voted to fund the construction of our beautiful track, partially based on the fact that it would be a shared facility that could be used by all.

The attitude of the current administration is based upon their misplaced concern over the security issues created by having an open track. This is a valid concern in some communities but is very far from the truth in Laguna Beach. If anything the fact that the track is used by many in the community offers more eyes and ears to watch for any wrong doing that may take place. Without question, it is a much safer environment due to the fact that there are almost always several adult users present.

I have no knowledge of any problems that have taken place during the school hours in the past. This is a clear example of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" and should not be allowed. If there is to be a lockout possibly it should be aimed at the narrow-minded bureaucrats that have the spare time to make issues such as this become a priority. They should be focusing on the education of our kids and not attempting to prevent problems that are happening elsewhere in totally different communities. Laguna Beach is a special place and we need to work hard to keep it that way, not to reduce it to the level of some other crime-ridden neighborhoods.

This new policy needs to be eliminated so we can keep Laguna Beach special and not start the downward spiral to being "just another place on the map."

Roger Cayce

Seattle

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I have lived in Laguna for 19 years. The funds for the new track were raised from the community with the understanding that we would be able to share the facilities. I have been running there for years, often during school hours, along with many other people, often seniors.

There have never been any safety or security problems that I am know about. This public lockout is contrary to the community spirit we have here in Laguna.

Eva Segovia

Laguna Beach

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Anti-skateboard group acts 'cowardly'

Thank you to Pam Estes and the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach for living in the solution. Their introduction of a "semi-portable skate park" will go a long way toward ensuring that Laguna Beach kids get a chance to hone their skateboarding skills in a safe and friendly environment. We are fortunate to have such an organization in our town.

As for SNAG ... well, my fellow hill-dwelling cowards wouldn't know a solution if it slapped them in the face. This SUV-driving, bicycle-cursing class of Laguna residents reminds me how much has changed during the 20 years I've been a Laguna resident. Don't they have homes in Newport Coast or Irvine for these control freaks? I'm sure SNAG will go after cyclists and mothers with prams next.

The ultimate indication that SNAG is a bunch of whiny armchair activists came with the distribution of the SNAG Manifesto to our mailboxes in my Bluebird Canyon neighborhood. Did SNAG members get off their prodigious butts to distribute the fliers? No. They hired day laborers to wander the hills, taping their missives to our mailboxes. Better off in a planned community. Leave the skateboarders alone.

Brian Seveland

Laguna Beach

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Design Board needs alternate member

Last October, the City Council decided to scrap the alternate position for the Design Review Board in favor of a full-member five-person panel. At the time, I testified that this was a bad idea and predicted that it would lead to significant inconvenience for applicants as it would lead to short-handed boards and costly delays.

The worst case scenario hit sooner than I thought. It came at the Feb. 24 meeting, which had to be canceled for lack of a quorum. Three of the five board members were no-shows and only one of them, Ken Sadler, gave plenty of notice. (Ilse Lenchow gave four days notice and the board lost its quorum when Robin Zurschmiede decided at the last minute that winter vacation was more important than the 13 projects up for review.)

Of course, the DRB had to reschedule all 13 projects, and renoticing cost the city $1,000. In addition, three applicants flying in from New York, Arizona, and Northern California also bore additional costs associated with their air travel rearrangements, while all 13 applicants will now suffer delays of two to four weeks.

On top of this, the next two DRB meetings will be packed. They will have 18 items each, which is four over the maximum typically allowed. Lately, a 13- to 14-item agenda has been taking 5 to 6 hours; and with an 18-item agenda, deliberations will likely go deep well past midnight, causing significant stress to both staff and applicants as well as board members.

This situation is further complicated by a disturbing trend: some board members are failing to adequately prepare for the hearings, perhaps because of the heavy work load. As a result, hearings take far more time because unprepared board members ask more questions than necessary.

Here's the bigger picture: As the economy picks up and more projects are scheduled, this situation will only get worse. In the last month alone, the City Council had to overturn two DRB rejections because of poor quality decision-making.

My recommendation is that the City Council immediately return to a system with an alternate. This extra hand helps when: (1) a board member is sick or takes a vacation; and (2) when a board member has a conflict of interest.

Having an alternate also helps to spread the workload. In fact, before the position was scrapped, the alternate typically heard at least one or two projects per hearing even when the full board was in. That system worked well for many years and the council should immediately reinstate it. And by the way, cutting the alternate didn't save the city a dime. In fact, it's costing them money because the DRB is running less efficiently.

I also strongly recommend that the DRB go back to its regular three meetings per month schedule rather than its twice a month schedule now. Returning to this schedule would mean fewer items per night, less stress on staff and board members, and a better review process for applicants and neighbors.

Peter Navarro

Laguna Beach

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