SAN DIEGO — BMX bike riders, in-line skaters, scooter riders and others may soon get the chance to play in more skate parks around California.
A law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday changes a policy that discouraged skate parks from opening their gates to anyone except skateboarders. Now San Diego County is revising skate park rules and is considering allowing more sports at its two skate parks.
The legislation’s author, Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, said in-line skaters, cyclists and others have a growing interest in using the jumps, ramps and curbs at skate parks. Government-run skate parks, however, ban these types of activities because of a wrinkle in state law that makes it tougher to defend a lawsuit by an injured in-line skater or cyclist compared to an injured skateboarder.
His legislation reduces parks’ liability for people on wheels other than skateboards. When the law takes effect on Jan. 1, park operators will be only as liable for injuries suffered by other people on wheels as they are for skateboarders.
“I would imagine if you asked 100 people, most of them would think that this is already law and this is not a big deal. But as far as protecting cities and counties from lawsuits, this is a big reform,” Jones said.
The change in state law comes from a push by county officials last spring after Supervisor Dianne Jacob said only skateboarders could use the new Lakeside Skate Park. Others turned to facilities that weren’t designed for their sports.
“The use of these areas for recreation has resulted in damage to public and private structures and placed children at risk for injury because there was no place for the Lakeside youth to skate and ride safely,” she said.
Jacob, with the unanimous support of the Board of Supervisors, pushed the state to change the law to limit government’s responsibility if someone is hurt at skate parks.
Besides the Lakeside facility, the county also operates a skate park in Julian at Jess Martin Park.
All users, no matter what they’re riding, are still required to wear helmets and knee and elbow pads.
Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk also backed the new law, and in a letter to state lawmakers he wrote that “youth of all wheeled persuasions” should be allowed to enjoy the parks with their skateboarding friends.
“As I know first-hand, the more time you can spend at the skatepark, and the more friendships you can forge there, the richer and more rounded the experience will be,” he wrote.
His foundation has helped fund 560 skateboard parks across the country, including 68 in California.
Hawk, thorough his skateboarding prowess, X-Games victories, video game empire, movie appearances, merchandise and community foundation is one of the most well-known skateboarders in the history of the sport. He’s from Vista.