Slight change to skate park rules, enforcement looms

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council recently made a subtle change to its rules at local skate parks, and city officials signaled that enforcement and ticketing could be on the horizon.

The city unanimously voted on updating a section of the code that requires skateboarders to wear property safety gear when at the city’s skate parks, including the brand new facility at the Encinitas Community Park off of Santa Fe Avenue.

The new language makes it more direct that riders must be wearing all of the safety gear, which includes helmets, elbow pads and knee pads. The previous iteration of the code was somewhat ambiguous, according to a city report.

But it was what public safety officials said afterward that will likely catch the attention of the skateboarding community: law enforcement will likely start enforcing these rules after giving skateboarders ample warning.

“There could be enforcement, depending on how big the traffic is,” said Sgt. Rich George, who oversees the local Sheriff’s Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, program. “These really are not the folks we chase, and they aren’t on our radar for any reasons. This is why we are going out and warning them ahead of time.”

George said he doesn’t believe the ticketing will be an issue as long as skateboarders police themselves and wear the required equipment.

City officials also said the enforcement is not going to be a referendum on the type of safety equipment a skateboarder chooses to wear, as long as it appears to meet safety standards.

Thomas Barker, who has been a longtime advocate for skateboarders and spearheaded the push for the recently opened skate park, said he understood why the city needed to change the ordinance, but hoped that it would not result in open season on skateboarders and excessive ticketing.

“The park has been extremely successful, almost to the point where its success is its biggest enemy because it is so busy,” Barker said. “(The agenda item) freaked people out that there would be helmet tickets coming, and I would advise against that because it is not necessarily done in other communities.”

Mark Muir, speaking to Barker, said any future enforcement would be about ensuring users’ safety.

“It is not about changing the culture, it is about making it safe for individuals who participate in the city at large,” Muir said.

George said he believed the skate boarders would continue their current tradition of self-policing.

“If they police themselves, we don’t have a problem,” George said.

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