Bomb a hill, go to jail?
New L.A. city Councilman Joe Buscaino is proposing to outlaw high-speed skateboarding down steep hills following the tragic deaths of a couple teen skaters in his Harbor-area district.
But perhaps the most controversial aspect of his proposal:
The law would require helmets on skateboarders younger than 18.
Buscaino tells the Weekly the legislation was prompted by …
… The recent tragic deaths of a few young people in my district who lost their lives skateboarding. I'm not here to ban skateboarding. I want to stop reckless skateboarding.
His people also told us that the councilman was inspired by Rob Dyrdek, who was recently honored at a City Council meeting for his foundation's construction of public skateparks throughout L.A.
The pro skater told Buscaino that young riders should be required to wear helmets, according to Buscaino's office. The councilman, a former cop, also says police officials in the Harbor area asked him to do something about the downhill “bombing.”
Still, you have to wonder if this proposal is overkill. There are already state laws that cops can use to cite reckless skaters; and California law already apparently requires underage skaters to put helmets on. Buscaino:
This has been an issue for many many months, and we're getting a lot of complaints from the community.
Last month 15-year-old Caleb Daniel Simpson of Palmdale died skateboarding in the 1500 block of West 14th Street in San Pedro. That raised concern in the area. Leslie Jones, co-owner of San Pedro's Omelette and Waffle Shop, told the Daily Breeze:
They've been skating everywhere, on 25th Street, Leland, Alma, Western, Point Fermin. I notice the younger kids are all wearing helmets. But the older ones don't.
In November 14-year-old Michael Borojevich, ID'd by the Breeze as a San Pedro High School freshman, died skating near Western Avenue and 25th Street.
The proposal would amend a law that already covers bicyclists. It says that those under 18 need to wear helmets and obey all traffic laws. Those rules would now cover skaters. (And, to be fair, the deal would involve citations, not jail time).
The councilman has sent his proposal to the City Attorney's office for its review. It could be weeks and even months before it sees a City Council vote.
Skateboarders have been bombing hills since they first pried the wheels off roller skates and nailed them to wood planks.
The so-called bombing of Bicknell Hill in Santa Monica in the 1970s arguably helped to put the now-film-famous Dogtown and Z-Boys skate crew and its surf-style riding on the map.
Now skaters will have to pause at stop signs.