Richard RiouxPauline HartePatti RasmussenTim WhyteLeon Worden

NOTE: This is a two-part series on the pros and cons of a skateboarding park in the City of Santa Clarita. After reading the "con" side, be sure to keep scrolling down for the "pro" side of the argument.

Skateboard park not necessarily a great idea

Pauline Harte · October 14, 1997

I'm not all that convinced a skateboard park will work.

Rounding up all of Santa Clarita's skateboarding scalawags and herding them into a skateboard park certainly sounds good and would definitely put great big smiles on a whole lot of faces. But I wonder if a skateboard park is going to be the answer we are all looking for to end the Great Skateboard War once and for all.

First, we have the problem of protective gear. I don't see to many parking lot skaters wearing protective gear.

Actually, I've never seen a single skateboarder outfitted properly. Of course, those two or three perfect skateboarders who ALWAYS wear their helmets and knee and elbow pads will undoubtedly correct me via "Tell It to the Signal" in their own distinctly enthusiastic albeit somewhat illiterate and ill-mannered fashion.

But let's face it. These kids and their parents are not going to be really thrilled about incurring an expense to protect body parts that they've never bothered protecting before.

Now, we also must realize that the foul-mouthed, somewhat brain-dead brats who have been clogging "Tell It to the Signal" with their ribald repartee are probably not hampered by an over-abundance of parental supervision. They admittedly skate where they want and when they want, in the wee hours of the morning.

Skateboard parks are not open in the wee hours of the morning. Also, rules and restrictions enforced by the skateboard park will probably be considered a major bother to these road warriors who have never before had limitations get in the way of their shenanigans. The way I see it, they aren't going to take too kindly to a skateboard park's behavior modification suggestions.

Now we come to Mom and Dad. My apologies to all of those responsible parents who always take the time to supervise their sainted prodigy at 2 a.m. from the sidelines of a parking lot or those intimate, private property gatherings that are everyone's favorite. I know YOU parents would NEVER consider contacting a blood-sucking personal injury slimeball to protect the rights of your aforementioned sainted prodigy to skate anywhere he damned well pleases. I'm just a little worried that Assembly Bill 1296 won't protect us from the lawsuits of all those OTHER parents who always seem able to make lousy parenting pay for them. I'm afraid that AB 1296 might have a weak back door that could somehow be jimmied open just a tad by that aforementioned blood-sucking personal injury slimeball.

Say little sainted Fauntleroy takes a spill and snaps a femur. How long will it take before we are treated to an Oscar-winning performance by Fauntleroy's sniveling, money-grubbing parents who are going to claim (while dabbing tear-stained cheeks with worn, damp hankies) that it was just not made clear enough to them (dab, dab) just EXACTLY how dangerous skateboarding REALLY is (dab) and that the required protective gear gave them a false sense of security, blah, blah, blah (dab, dab, dab).

Just how far can that back door be forced open?

But in spite of all my misgivings and my displeasure at substantially rewarding the subhuman behavior of a bunch of ill-mannered punks, I think I just may go along with the idea of this park, after all. This might be a good way to exert pressure on the parking lot brats to clean up their acts. Skateboarding hoodlums will be more visible, more clearly defined simply by their absence from the skateboarding park they vociferously whined about needing so desperately.

Once that park goes in, there will be zero tolerance for the unlawful antics of skateboarders who shun the structured environment of the park they demanded.

This kind of reminds me of that old ditty, "Be careful about what you ask for. You just might get it."

Most skateboarders aren't hoodlums

Pauline Harte · October 21, 1997

Last week this column dealt (rather harshly, I will admit) with the obnoxious skateboarders who seem to think that their ill-mannered behavior and threatening calls to "Tell It to the Signal" should be rewarded with a skateboard park.

In all fairness, I must address the other side of this issue, and that is that there are a lot of well-behaved skateboarders who DO deserve a place to skate.

As of this writing, (Thursday, October 16th), I have not yet been treated to any scathing "reviews" of my last column, but there is a call-in to "Tell It to the Signal" that deserves attention. Here it is:

"I am calling in response to all of the negative articles about skateboarders in your paper. On behalf of my son and his friends, he is a straight-A student and most of his friends are. His friends are great kids. There is no place for them to really go in town to practice what they really enjoy. Your paper is really taking a negative view on it. The minority is always the one who always gets the coverage. I am sure there are much more kids like my son than there are like the ones who have been calling in to 'Tell It to the Signal.' I just hope that you send somebody out to get the view of these kids."

You're right on the mark, caller. And your son sounds like any one of a number of kids whom I know personally. But, like you said, there is a minority of skateboarders that is giving ALL skateboarders a bad reputation. And by addressing only this minority, occasionally some of us forget that a good word needs to be put in about the majority of skateboarders who are really good kids.

All the skateboarders I know are responsible, nice kids who work hard to get good grades. They go to church and are members of the church's youth group. And like my own daughter, most of their free time is spent on homework and related studies in order to begin school next fall in the universities of their dreams. And they are all involved in activities targeted at making this world a better place. It is kids like these who truly represent the majority of kids in the Santa Clarita Valley, and a lot of these kids are responsible skateboarders.

I attended the skateboard and in-line skating meeting on Tuesday, October 14th, and was very impressed with what I saw. I saw a roomful of exceptionally well-behaved and well-informed kids politely taking part in an open discussion with the architects from Moss and Associates.

Well done, kids. Your maturity and cooperation at this meeting has proven that most of the skateboarders and skaters in this valley are, indeed, a great bunch of kids who definitely deserve a park to skate in.

But it is a sad fact of life that the "bad" always spoils things for the "good" ... and this is the reason we must ALL come down hard and ugly on the minority of skateboarding hoodlums who get all the attention and ruin things for everyone.

We Santa Clarita parents are very proud of our family-oriented valley. But we sometimes forget that where there are families there are going to be basketball players, football players, soccer players, baseball players, skateboarders and skaters. Let's not lose sight of the fact that skateboarding and skating are sports like any other sport.

Granted, we don't see too many marauding little-leaguers or roving bands of looting soccer players terrorizing parking lots. But we must learn how to deal with skateboarding thugs without blaming the entire sport of skateboarding for the crimes of these parking lot miscreants.

Goodness should always be rewarded, and this valley is blessed with a lot of good kids and responsible parents. The kids I saw at Tuesday's meeting deserve a park. The kids I know deserve a park.

Hoodlums will always be hoodlums with or without a skateboard, and the presence of a skateboard should not automatically define a kid as an ill-mannered bum.

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