LANCASTER – For now, the Lancaster City Council is holding off on a proposal to ban skateboarding and roller skating on The BLVD.
“I want to redraft this,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris, at a packed council meeting Tuesday.
The decision came after passionate testimony from more than a dozen residents both for and against a proposed ordinance and resolution that would have made it illegal to skateboard or roller skate on Lancaster Boulevard, between Sierra Highway and 10th Street West, as well as the surrounding side streets. (see the proposed “no skateboarding/ roller skating areas here“).
The City Attorney’s Office drafted the ordinance in response to complaints from residents that skateboarders posed dangers to pedestrians and drivers on The BLVD.
“Few things make me as crazy as getting out of my car and having a skateboarder whiz by me, no idea where he’s going, and I have to jump for my life,” said Diann Moskowitz.
Tenants of the Arbor Artist Lofts said skateboarders had disrupted their quality of life. They said the skateboarders were using the lofts’ parking area as a skate park and said the neighboring Pharmacy Boardshop had become a mecca for noisy skateboarders.
“I’ve had skateboarders living outside my window,” said Piper Coolidge. “I’ve had them throwing rocks at my sliding glass door.”
The ban was met with resistant by a contingent of skateboard supporters who attended Tuesday’s council meeting solely to oppose the ordinance.
Sharon Murray said skateboarding was a positive outlet for her son and many other local youths.
“If they don’t skateboard, they’re gonna do other things, and those things probably aren’t gonna be good things,” Murray said.
“These kids don’t have cars or drivers’ licenses…” said Nathan Morris of Pharmacy Boardshop. “It’s just a logical form of transportation for these kids.”
John Tietjen said his son rode a skateboard down The BLVD to get to school.
“By saying ‘no, you can’t go down Lancaster Boulevard,’ he’s got to go two or three blocks into areas that are less populated and crime could happen,” Tietjen said.
Also speaking against the ban were skaters, who felt they were being unfairly lumped in with the skateboarders.
“I get to my job by my skates,” said Muriah Chenoweth. “I need to go down the boulevard because not all the sidewalks are easy for me to actually skate on… [the ban] affects myself and also my derby team.”
“You have security, if they see somebody doing something that’s unsafe or inappropriate, they could be ticketed and asked to leave,” said avid skater Steven Blum. “I think that would be a better idea than a ban, where you ban everybody, especially the rollarskater who doesn’t seem to be causing any issues at all.”
The council listened to nearly an hour of testimony. Many speakers were granted more than the allotted three minutes speaking time to allow for interaction with the mayor and council members.
“What I am hearing is that there are concerns by the loft residents and they’re very valid concerns…” said Housing Authority Chair Kitty Kit Yee Szeto. “I’m hearing skateboarders need to use The Blvd to go to school or travel… if there is some way we can amend the ordinance or somehow redraft it to have restrictions on time and when it can be used, when the kids can use The BLVD to skateboard and when they can’t, I think that’s a good compromise for everybody.”
Parris instructed the city manager to set up a meeting between all parties that would be affected by a proposed skateboarding ban, including the sheriff’s deputy responsible for policing The BLVD, a Pharmacy Boardshop representative, a representative from the artists’ lofts and other stakeholders.
“Let’s figure out an ordinance that everybody can live with within the next 30 days,” said Parris, adding that he would insist all skateboarders wear helmets.
“Also, on Farmers’ Market days, don’t bring your skateboards,” Parris said. “It’s not gonna happen.”