OCEANSIDE — Business owners, downtown residents and community police met for the monthly MainStreet Oceanside Morning Meeting Aug. 6 to discuss downtown issues, including skateboard traffic.
Rick Wright, MainStreet Oceanside executive director, said business owners he talked with said skateboarders are having a negative impact on downtown businesses.
Several business owners and residents agreed with him in part.
Some said recreational skateboarders cause a nuisance when they skate on business property.
Others said they are uncomfortable sharing the sidewalk with fast moving skateboard traffic.
“The only thing that scares me is hearing that click down the sidewalk,” Mary Ann Thiem, Oceanside resident, said. “They’re passing an inch past me. I’m too old to fall down on the sidewalk.”
Speakers added that skateboarding is part of the Southern California lifestyle. It is a popular recreational sport and common mode of transportation.
Skateboarding laws are decided by each city.
Most cities address recreational skateboarding by posting signs where it is not allowed, but cities seldom have rules that govern skateboarding as a mode of transportation.
This seems to be the case in Oceanside.
Wright said Oceanside has a blanket law that does not allow skateboarding in commercial districts including the downtown area.
“They are not allowed to skateboard at the amphitheater, pier and downtown area,” Wright said.
He added there are no signs outside downtown shops stating skateboarding is illegal.
Wright said this presented a quandary when a tourist, who was unaware of the law, was fined for skateboarding downtown.
Several speakers said they disagree with the current $300 fine charged to skateboarders and suggested education on safe skating practices is needed.
Another short sight is that the city does not address skateboarding for transportation.
Several business owners said their employees travel to work by skateboard and that they see an increase in skateboarding for transportation in the future. Some noted that it is not just kids who are skateboarding. They said the age of local skateboarders ranges from teens to 40-year-olds and beyond.
Business owner John Daley suggested that skateboarders follow the same rules as bicyclists.
Wright said in an e-mail following the meeting that he was asked by the city manager if MainStreet Oceanside members had a problem with skateboarders downtown and that he would transmit the information he gathered talking with downtown stakeholders to the city manager.
Oceanside has made concerted efforts to accommodate recreational skateboarders with a citywide skate park system that began in 2001. Presently there are two concrete city skate parks at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and Melba Bishop Park and two neighborhood skate areas at John Landes Park and Libby Lake Park.
Eileen Turk, Parks and Recreation division manager, said a third concrete skate park on Alex Road and Foussat Road is under construction and additional skate spots around the city are planned for the future. Updates to the skate parks at John Landes Park and Libby Lake Park are also planned.
MainStreet Oceanside is a nonprofit 501c that works to promote and revitalize the downtown area. It has more than 100 business members and runs the weekly Farmers Market, evening Sunset Market and Beach Services. MainStreet Oceanside is located at 701 Mission