Skateboards, like vehicles, are loud, obnoxious, potentially dangerous and damaging. And while there are more than 5.2 million vehicles in the Los Angeles area, a county code prohibits skateboarding.
Skateboarders can be ticketed under Title 15 of the Los Angeles County code, under Vehicles and Traffic, Chapter 15.54. The ordinance states, “No person shall ride on or propel any skateboard on any county road, street, highway, lane or alley which has a grade in excess of three percent?(or) of ten miles per hour.”
There are more than 600,000 cars sold annually in California and thousands of car accidents and fatalities each year. In 2005 there were 6,420,000 car accidents in the US.
In a previous interview with A.S. Senator Igor Kagan, Kagan stated that the main issue with skaters on campus is the potential liability CSUN could face if an injury were to occur.
In Manhattan Beach, city officials decided to amend the L.A. municipal code to include luge and destructive skateboarding because of the death of an 11-year-old boy. In June 2001, the boy was riding a skateboard on his back when a motorist hit and killed him. The subsequent city council discussion minutes stated that most skateboarder fatalities involve a motor vehicle.
In the same meeting, the minutes state that one skater a week dies outside of a skate park. Car crashes cause 115 deaths a day in the U.S.
Many proponents of the skateboarding ordinance mention the accessibility of skate parks as a viable option. Skate parks are scattered throughout the San Fernando Valley, but employee Mo Satarzadeh of Pedlow Skate Park in Encino said the differences between skate parks and street skating are enormous.
“It’s a night and day difference,” Satarzadeh said. “And plus street skating is really the heart of skateboarding.”
CSUN junior Jose Gonzalez spoke of the adrenaline that follows a trick and said it is not the same feeling as riding in a skate park.
“People that do tricks get a completely different feeling – it’s such an intense rush,” Gonzalez said.
Satarzadeh has been skating for more than 10 years and said there is a lack of understanding from non-skaters. Even though skateboarding is extremely popular with its place at the X-Games and the recognizable Tony Hawk, he says people just consider skating “an act of vandalism and trespassing.”
“They think we’re just punk kids up to no good, but it’s our way of expressing ourselves – an art form – like creating any type of art,” Satarzadeh said.
Gonzalez does not have a driver’s license and takes the bus to school. By the time he gets to campus and finishes class, skateboarding is a welcome release. While at CSUN, he has received two tickets with fines of $150 each. Gonzalez was frustrated by the fact that the ticket was for noise when the construction on campus is, in his opinion, more of a disturbance.
“I’ve gotten two tickets for ‘trick’ skateboarding, I have to go to court and since I don’t have money I’ll probably be stuck doing community service. But all that isn’t going to stop me from doing what I love,” he said.
Gonzalez, an art major, also likened skateboarding to creative expression, saying, “I paint tricks with my feet.”
Satarzadeh had some reasons for why skateboarding is prohibited in so many places.
“They can’t control skateboarding because it has no rules or guidelines and people are afraid of what they can’t control,” he said.
In spite of tickets, citations, arrests, and other conflicts with the law, skateboarders don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
“Everyone can basically kiss our ass,” Satarzadeh said.
A new generation of skaters are already being trained for CSUN’s sidewalks and benches. Gonzalez currently works at an after-school skateboarding program for children at Thomas Edison Middle School, where he assists students with homework and kick-flips.
As for CSUN skaters, it is unlikely that they will one day have an on-campus park to call their own.
As part of the Envision 2035 master plan, the University Student Union has looked at plans for a state-of-the-art fitness center. The question is whether or not there would be room for a designated skate park.
Alisa Langford, USU marketing and public relations strategist, said there has been no formal skate area or park planning, but that CSUN Operation Services had explored the idea.
Parking and Transportation Services and Department of Public Safety Capt. Alfredo Fernandez said, “You won’t see a police officer stop a person using a skateboard to get from class to class. The only thing we ask skateboarders is to safely do it, be courteous to students walking ? don’t hurt yourself, don’t hurt anybody else.”
“We’re not hurting anyone,” Satarzadeh said. “It’s like picking on vegetarians.”
Rafael Cornejo contributed to this article.