While skateboarding isn’t nearly as prevalent at Cal Poly as it is at other, less hilly California colleges, there are a select few who prefer boards to bikes.
However, California State University students are subject to a no-skateboarding policy that forbids riding boards on the Cal Poly campus; the city of San Luis Obispo also frowns upon skateboarding.
University of California campuses have a policy where skateboarding is allowed (though “trickboarding” is prevented, meaning students will be cited if they’re spotted doing maneuvers that involve their wheels leaving the ground). However, Cal Poly students are given tickets, though not as regularly as it might seem.
Thirty-five of the 51 skateboarding tickets issued over the last year were given in October and November, due largely to an influx of freshmen who hadn’t become accustomed to the university’s prohibition on skating. The winter months saw only 12 tickets issued, which can be partially attributed to rainy weather.
Out in the city, 26 of the 31 tickets issued were in the downtown area, where many skaters were cited not for doing tricks, but for riding down the sidewalk. Skateboarding is prohibited in the downtown core at all times, which is defined as the rectangle bordered by Palm, Santa Rosa, Pacific and Nipomo streets. The paramount concern for the safety of pedestrians was the main reason for such a policy.
“The main reason it’s illegal downtown is because of all the pedestrian traffic,” said Capt. Dan Blanke of the San Luis Obispo Police Department. “We’ve had people injured because a skateboarder ran into them, which is obviously much more serious than chipped bricks or concrete.”
Skaters in San Luis Obispo have expressed understanding that skateboarding is an activity that must be regulated just like any other, but also are frustrated that the city itself has so few spots to skate.
“I’ve gotten a ticket for skating at Poly, but it was something that I was half-expecting,” said Travis Genito, a resident of San Luis Obispo and a Central Coast native. “It just gets to you that in every spot there is to skate – be it the high school, anything downtown, or the parking lot by Bali’s – it’s illegal. Especially with the skate park in the state of disrepair that it is, where are we supposed to ride?”
The city is taking steps to remedy this problem, with the latest fiscal budget approving funds for the San Luis Obispo skate park to be renovated with a completely new style, along the lines of the concrete park in Los Osos.
Officials are hopeful that building such an attraction for skaters will help alleviate the seemingly stifling environment in which skaters are forced to ride.
“Skaters came out en masse when we were allocating funds for the new budget, asking for a new park,” said Betsy Kiser, Parks and Recreation director for the city of San Luis Obispo. “We did a needs assessment and are going to develop an in-ground, concrete skate park, which will be the premier park in the city. Especially with the park now having homemade, deteriorating ramps, this new park should be much more enticing.”
And while this new park will inevitably be more popular than the current one, the funds for the renovation won’t be allocated until the 2009-2010 budget, and construction will commence the year after.
Until then, skaters are left to skate the same spots that have been popular for years, perpetually looking over their shoulders to see if police are nearby.