Official working to flip Belmont's skating law

Not only may teens soon be able to skateboard across Belmont without having to contend with police, they may be receiving a new concrete park where they can perform kickflips legally.

It has been illegal to skateboard in public areas of Belmont such as sidewalks and streets for decades. Now, Belmont Councilmember Christine Wozniak is spearheading an effort to legalize skateboarding in the city and add a $500,000-plus skate park as part of the plan.

Wozniak said her 14-year-old son and many other Belmont youths travel to other cities with parks to avoid breaking the law. Skate parks exist in Millbrae, Redwood City, Pacifica and within San Mateo parks.

“They deserve a local place to skate,” Wozniak said. “The farther away from home they go, the less I think parents like it.”

Wozniak brought up the topic in a public forum for the first time at Tuesday’s council meeting. She said an unnamed member of the Police Department has been exploring the issue.

Police Capt. Dan DeSmidt confirmed his department is working with Wozniak and city officials on possibly repealing the skateboarding ban. He said the ordinance is not something his officers regularly rely upon and that it is enforced only on a complaint basis.

As far as punishment for offenders, DeSmidt said officers rarely take action unless there is some sort of vandalism or other crime associated with the skateboarding.

Millbrae recently took over operation of its skate park behind Mills High School and made it free. Attendance has boomed since its November opening, with three to four dozen skaters during the week and more than 100 each Saturday and Sunday, Recreation Superintendent Mike Wride said.

“The kids showed that if you build it, they would come,” Wride said.

Still, during a time when funding for new nonessential projects is hard to come by, Wozniak admitted finding the money to build the park would be one of the largest challenges.

It may be that a smaller, portable park will have to be built to the tune of roughly $25,000. She said she hopes residents would kick in donations and that the park would attract skateboarding businesses to boost the city’s economy.

Another cost-saving option would be to build on a plot of land the city already owns. Locations such as the Barrett Community Center or a piece of land near the Belmont Sports Complex are possibilities, Wozniak said.

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

Local cities with skate parks

  • Millbrae
  • Redwood City
  • Pacifica
  • San Mateo (inside other parks)

Source: Millbrae Recreation Department

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