Mailbag: Should skateboarders be licensed?

Speedboarding is dangerous for the boarders, but that is their problem — let kids of all ages have fun.

It is also unfair to motorists and cyclists who pay to use the streets and must obtain licenses and insurance for the privilege. If the community believes that somehow speedboarding is an individual's right, then establish a system that requires the boarders to buy licenses and obtain insurance policies that would absolve persons involved in their crashes of any financial or legal obligations and pay for the damages caused by the boarders.

It is hard to believe that Park Avenue is not included in the ban being discussed.

Carlos McAfee

Laguna Beach


Keep the skateboarders safe

I am writing this letter in support of the ban on skateboarding down our city's steepest streets. I am not a "skateboard Nazi" as one man labeled those of us who are in support of the ban, and I am not ready to move to Laguna Woods either. On the contrary ... my 6-year-old is developing a love to skateboard, and my nephew comes from up north to visit us and brings his skateboard to hit the various skateboard parks in the area. I would absolutely love it if a skate park could be built in Laguna. I think it would be great if we could shut down a hill once in a while for downhill skateboard contests. What I don't want is for a kid who feels invincible to have his life ended or drastically altered due to a skateboard accident, nor do I want a driver to live with the incredible guilt of having hit a skateboarder. I have been surprised by skateboarders speeding down Bluebird Canyon Drive and Nyes Place, as have my neighbors and friends. Yes, there have been near misses.

Hopefully this can all be worked out without name calling. We all want the best for our kids.

Mauri Olsen

Laguna Beach


Skateboard ban proponents 'beyond annoying'

It was beyond annoying to come home and find a piece of skewed propaganda taped to my mailbox this past week from Speedboarders Neighborhood Action Group (SNAG). This is the second time that they have done this. I called the postal inspector and had an in-depth phone call after I found the printed rubbish. He said that what SNAG has done is illegal. He told me he would contact the local United States Postal Service office here in our town and the Police Department and assured me they would be told to stop. That was Thursday. On Friday SNAG blanketed Summit and Arch Beach Heights, and on Saturday they vandalized Skyline Drive with their drivel.

How dare you decide to shove in my face your nutty opinion. Ban skateboarding! Are you kidding me? Kids have been skating here for more than 40 years without incident. I don't take into consideration accidents that have occurred due to no helmet. A foolish choice made by a particular individual. For heaven's sake, if some kid went onto a football field to play the game with no helmet and he was injured would we be banning football, too?

Glenn Beck doesn't appeal to me because he over-dramatizes and blows out of proportion many issues. At least he is smart enough to know that he better not show up at my house and try shoving his opinion down my throat. Who the heck do you SNAG people think you are? Well guess what, there are 36,000 people who live in this town, and we outnumber you by far. What adult, with an education, living in a community like Laguna Beach would assume it was OK to inflict upon their neighbors their skewed point of view. Stay away from my house, don't touch my mailbox again, and keep your close-minded, selfish and self-serving opinion to yourself.

Kimberly Young

Laguna Beach


Grateful for firefighters

As most of the world seems to know — the world being defined, of course, as Laguna Beach — there was a fire at our home on Thalia Street on March 11. It could have been worse, so much worse, but the house was saved, and the fire was confined to a storage room on the lower level, by the swift response and swift work of the Laguna Beach Fire Department.

Words cannot express our gratitude (Yeah … believe it or not) not only to the Fire Department, most of who worked silently, efficiently and namelessly, and especially to Deputy Chief Jeff LaTendresse — who happened to be driving by, saw the smoke and came banging on our door to get us out of the house; Division Chief Dan Medrano, who supervised the extinguishment of the fire; and Investigator Capt. Chris Kent.

It was not only about putting out the fire, but calming us (we were pretty shook up), explaining things to us, sometimes over and over until we got them, and staying with us as long as we needed, long after their firefighting duties were done. Others from the city were there, Chuck Hooten from the Building Department, John Thompson, from Animal Control, who was totally concerned with our cats, and sounded like he wanted to place them with Child Services if we couldn't move back in, the guy from the gas company and the one from the water district, names we don't remember, like all of those silent, efficient guys putting out the fire, but all of whom worked long and hard to save our house and help us get back into it. I don't think we pay them for that.

Our neighbors were also fantastic, particularly John McDonnell from next door at 522 Thalia, who was right behind Jeff on the way to the door to alert us, and Jeannie Poshek, at 611 Thalia, who lost her own home in a devastating fire a few years ago, and who stayed with us, brought us into her home, and offered us anything we needed (like a bathroom, which is an absolute priority when you are awakened from a sound sleep at 7 in the morning), and the many others who helped by doing everything from calling 911 to making sure we were alright and our needs were taken care of.

We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate — to have our home, to have survived unscathed (except for some relatively minor bruises incurred wrestling to escape the grasp of Jeff LaTendresse to go back and put on our pants), to have our home with only slight damage — all of that, from the essential good fortune of being lucky enough to live in Laguna Beach. To the department, to those individuals, to the entire city, we thank you.

Let me add a "commercial" on behalf of the Fire Department, and an almost hard-learned lesson ourselves. Last week was the change to daylight saving time, which is also the time designated to test and change the batteries in your fire detectors, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Look yourselves in the eye and ask yourselves when the last time was you did this. We got lucky, and Jeff was driving by, but after the fire, Chris Kent tested our smoke detectors on the lower floor, and none of them was working. We may not be so lucky again, and you may not be the first time, so change your smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detectors, hardwire them if possible. The lives you save may be yours and your families'.

Gene and Judy Gratz

Laguna Beach


The issue of speedboarding on dangerous public streets in Laguna Beach is relevant to the health, safety and welfare of all who live, work or come within our city limits. I live on Oro Street in Arch Beach Heights. Oro Street intersects with Del Mar Avenue at the top. Traveling down Oro there is about a 20% grade.

Oro at the bottom bends to the right onto Capistrano Avenue. It is a blind spot for travelers in either direction. I try to be very cautious when I come down Capistrano and veer left onto Oro or when I come down Oro and veer right onto Capistrano.

Over the years I have witnessed skateboarders coming down Oro at a high rate of speed. I am always concerned that one day there is going to be a serious accident. I think that it is only prudent to ban speedboarding on this block. I would hate for someone either on a skateboard or a pedestrian taking a leisurely walk to suffer a serious injury or fatality.

While speedboarders usually participate at their own risk, the city is engaging in proper action by addressing the issue. The legislative intent behind the enforcement of the California vehicle code with respect to the legal use of public roads is for the health, safety and welfare of those who travel on them.

It was never the intent of the Legislature to use public streets in Laguna Beach, that pose a danger, for participation in a sporting activity. Usually participating in a sport on a public street like bike racing or speedboarding require the pulling of proper permits and the closing of certain roads for the sporting event.

It is my belief that only those streets that pose a danger, for the purpose of safety, should be banned. I believe that Oro with its blind spot as alluded to above is such a street.

Eddie Hegel

Laguna Beach


Temple Hills Drive not safe for speedboarding

Speedboarding on Temple Hills Drive is not only dangerous for the skateboarders themselves, but for those of us who live on that street and backing out of driveways not being able to see them coming around a curve. Truly dangerous at the speed at which they go down the hill.

Gary R. Hawley

Laguna Beach


I am a longtime resident on Dorn Court at Temple Hills Drive in Top of the World. I strongly support the ban on speedboarding. Speedboarding threatens the safety and wellbeing of both the speedboarder and the drivers in my neighborhood and we must put a stop to it.

Sharon R. Davison

Laguna Beach


Favoring a citywide skateboard ban

Editor's note: The following was addressed to the City Council.

About one year ago, my wife and I were in the front of our home doing yard work. As we often do, we heard the sound of a high-speed skateboarder coming down our street, which has a significant decline. As we watched the young man approach, his board stopped abruptly, and he continued forward. He struck the asphalt with tremendous force, striking his head and left shoulder on the pavement. After he struck, he slid about 15 feet farther down the roadway.

My wife and I ran to the young man, who was with another skateboarder. As we made contact, the young man, identified as Anthony, was dazed and confused. He did not know what had happened or who he was. Over time and through the help of his co-rider, we were able to contact his mother, a neighbor. While comforting Anthony, it was obvious he had a fractured left collarbone because the break was visible, and a laceration to the rear of this head. My wife called 911 and the medics, along with a police officer, arrived. Anthony was taken to the hospital via ambulance. Anthony, who was younger than 18, was not wearing a helmet.

Anthony is one example of a skateboarder having a collision near our home. The speed at which these riders travel down our street is unsafe. Sometimes the riders' lie down on the boards, making if difficult for motorists to see them, especially for someone backing out of a driveway.

The California vehicle code provides for a local jurisdiction to draft and adopt an ordinance prohibiting certain types of activity, such as skateboarding. I urge all of you to adopt such a citywide ordinance to protect the skateboarders, residents and parked vehicles. If the skateboarders are not allowed to ride in the city, they will find other venues to enjoy their activity. In the meantime, I urge the Police Department to take a strong stance with juvenile riders who are not wearing required equipment and issue traffic citations.

As a retired traffic bureau commander for an Orange County city, I have seen tragedy strike in a flash. If something is not done by you, the same will happen here. Knowing that there was something you could have done and didn't, will be difficult to explain to someone's parents.

Karl and Donna Schuler

Laguna Beach


I found a flier taped to my mailbox from SNAG, which urged me to contact all of you regarding the ban on skateboarding.

However, I must disagree with SNAG's position. It is true that after the initial ban on other streets, I have seen more skateboarders on my street, Nyes Place. My experience with these skateboarders is as follows:

1. They have been very careful when going down the hill.

2. They have been very courteous.

3. They have shown incredible control.

4. They are amazing to watch.

In conclusion, the skateboarders really don't seem to be bothering anybody.

I urge all the decision makers to live and let live.

Mark Razin

Laguna Beach


As a resident of Top of the World, I am very concerned about the presence of speedboarders in our neighborhood. On many occasions, I have come around the corner to Zell Drive after going up the hill on Temple Hills Drive, only to be shocked to find a young person, hidden by the parked cars on the street flying around the corner heading downhill. I am very concerned that one day I might not be able to stop in time and might injure that youngster, or worse. It is not safe to be participating in this activity on a steep and well trafficked street like Temple Hills, and all of the feeder streets, like Zell, even if we drivers are only going 25 miles per hour.

I support a ban on speedboarding in my neighborhood.

Jada Robitaille

Laguna Beach


I support the potential ban on speed boarding on Temple Hills Drive. I live on Temple Hills, and have seen on many occasions speedboarders flying down the hill at any time of day or night (even lying down on their boards). They cross back and forth over the lanes, even around bends. What happens to them is their problem, but I don't want the responsibility of hitting them, them having an accident on or at my property, or the risk that while walking my dog that he may become startled at the noise and lunge, nor do I want my tax dollars to be used to pay for a suit brought to the city for some reason from a speedboarder!

Let's be reasonable.

John Benecke

Laguna Beach


Speedboarders in jeopardy in her area

Somebody is going to be killed if speedboarding continues on our street, Manzanita Drive off La Vista/Skyline drives and Park Avenue.

We have three blind corners, one of which sits at the Annneliese School, where congestion involves small children and their parents picking them up and dropping them off at several different times of the day; Laguna Beach High School's tennis courts and pool access, where congestion includes kids and adults for every pool-related and tennis-related activity occur, as well as parking; and the corner of Skyline and La Vista, where the speedboarders exit Skyline at amazingly reckless speeds and continue down and around the corners mentioned above.

These corners are so blind that cars traveling at speeds of 5 to 10 mph have difficulty adjusting to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

Every time I hear the screeching of their wheels rounding our corner at God knows what speed I hold my breath fearing the worst. It hasn't happened yet, but I swear to you, if they continue their sport along this stretch of road one of them will become a hood ornament on some unfortunate driver's car.

Please ban speedboarding before this happens — not after.

Liz Virtue

Laguna Beach


While I support, in principal, the American ideals of freedom of expression and freedom to pursue one's happiness, as a resident of the Park Avenue, Temple Hills and Skyline drives neighborhood, I support a speedboarding ban on those streets. Both while driving and while going for a run, I've encountered speedboarders who are marginally out of control. I define "marginally out of control" as travelling, probably 30 to 40 miles an hour and being carried, by momentum, into lanes of oncoming traffic. Fortunately, in the cases I witnessed, there were no cars coming in the on-coming lanes, and as a result no accident nor injury. However, I would suggest, were the practice to continue, it would only be a matter of time. My concern is for the speedboarders themselves, but also for pedestrians or drivers of vehicles that may be involved in mishaps, whose lives would be indefinitely affected.

With the understanding that a ban on certain streets would effectively increase the concentration of speedboarders on the remaining, un-banned streets, I would support a ban in all steep, Laguna Beach streets.

Ulrike Zugelder

Laguna Beach


I am writing to ask you to prohibit speedboarding on Park Avenue. I live near the top of Park and I have been scared many times while driving up Park by speedboarders flying past my car. I am sure that if people are allowed to speedboard on Park it will only be a matter of a short time before there will be a horrific crash resulting in severe injury and/or death.

If a speedboarder crashes into my car while I am driving up Park, then, setting aside for the moment the risk of serious injury and death that speedboarder voluntarily assumes, I and my passengers will involuntarily suffer severe emotional injury and I don't want to be forced to take that risk every time I drive home.

Whenever I see a speedboarder on Park, I try to pull over and stop while the speedboarder passes, because I have no doubt that if a speedboarder smashes into my car I will be sued by the injured speedboarder or his or her grieving family, and it will be much easier for me to defend myself in such a frivolous lawsuit if the collision occurs while my car is stopped. Hopefully I will not be rear-ended by the car behind me when I pull over! I should not have to feel like I need to stop my car while driving on a public road to accommodate a thrill seeker.

The safety problems with speedboarding on Park are exacerbated by the fact that speedboarders are physically unable to stop or even slow down at the stop sign at Park and Wendt Terrace. Additionally, speedboarders are unable to avoid drifting into oncoming traffic at the curve in Park just past that stop sign.

Please prohibit speedboarding on Park.

Bill Steel

Laguna Beach


I just wanted to share my thoughts of speedboarding as a homeowner on Summit Drive. Personally I have no problem with speedboarding as a sport, but on public streets it does create unnecessary risks for speedboarders and drivers. As a cyclist I am responsible to abide by traffic laws, and ride in the shoulder or designated bike lanes where possible. This clearly is not respected the same way with speedboarders and I have personally witnessed a number of near misses or an out of control board careen down the street posing a risk for oncoming traffic.

Perhaps an alternative would be to allow speedboarding on some of the paved fire access trails where there is no traffic to contend with and there is still considerable elevation climbs, which speedboarders enjoy.

I am in favor of a speedboarding ban on public streets.

Michael McKinzie

Laguna Beach

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World