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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 2:49 pm | Fair 65º


Activity Grinds to a Halt at Skateboard Park After Closure

Unruly behavior over the weekend prompts Santa Barbara officials to close Skater's Point till Friday

Undeterred by closure signs or chains placed as obstacles, skaters zip around Skater’s Point Tuesday afternoon, several hours after the Santa Barbara skate park was closed due to unruly behavior over the weekend. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

Reacting to unruly behavior over the weekend at Skater’s Point on the Santa Barbara waterfront, city officials have shut down the skateboard park until Friday.

Officials with the city Parks and Recreation Department said they took the action after some skaters at the park spent Sunday throwing water balloons at cars on Cabrillo Boulevard and passersby during the weekly Arts and Crafts Show, and became confrontational with city staff.

Skater’s Point will be closed through Thursday to all users, except for scheduled programs such as skate camp, Parks and Recreation Director Nancy Rapp said.

It was closed at noon Tuesday and she had to head down to the park personally around 3:30 p.m.

“We keep having destruction of public property over there,” Rapp said. “Any signs we put up or anything else keeps getting destroyed.”

It was her decision to close the park, which she hopes will get everyone’s attention.

“It’s just really unfortunate that the actions of a few have an impact for so many users,” Rapp said. “It’s a very popular facility, and we recognize that and want it to be available for the community to use, but people have to behave appropriately.”

It’s not the first time the park has been closed, and her staff wants it to be reopened with people “making decisions to behave appropriately,” she said.

“I field calls from frustrated parents and people in the community all the time about concerns over behaviors of some of the skateboarders at the skate park. We’ve long worked with the police department on some of the issues related to drug use and drug dealing there so that’s something of a continual challenge.

“We just need people to use the facility in a responsible way.”

Skaters showed up throughout the day Tuesday to find the entrances boarded up, chains set down along the course and a park ranger watching to make sure no one hopped the fence.

Police officers were making regular visits as part of their patrols.

Park users were disappointed and angry, with some threatening to jump the fence as soon as any visible city staff left.

By late afternoon, that’s exactly what was happening, and the closure order seemed fairly ineffective.

Shortly after 5 p.m., more than a dozen young men zipped around the park, seemingly using the chains set around the course as nothing more than additional obstacles for their jumps and tricks.

Lookouts were posted, and if a patrol car drove by on nearby Cabrillo Boulevard, an alert would be shouted and the skaters would scamper quickly out of the park.

Many of the skaters go to the park every day, especially during summer, and blamed the “stupid kids” who had been throwing water balloons over the weekend.

Passersby were surprised to see it closed as well, since it is such a hub of activity during the summer months.

“It’s too bad,” one bicyclist said while passing. “It’s another example of a few ruining it for the rest.”

A family passing by stopped to look at the empty park as well, and guessed that if kids were throwing water balloons at people on Stearns Wharf, the wharf would not have been closed down. 

There have been increasingly inappropriate behaviors by some of the skate park users – including marijuana use – which reached a peak Sunday, police said.

Parks staff and rangers responded to the calls about water balloons and open use of marijuana, Sgt. Riley Harwood said.

Skate park users were confrontational and didn’t comply with orders to stop and leave – they started throwing balloons and threats at park staff.

A skateboarder sits and ponders the vacant Skater’s Point in Santa Barbara Tuesday after city officials shut down the skateboard park due to unruly behavior over the weekend. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

“What really caused the problem was the confrontational and aggressive behavior toward the staff and rangers,” he said.

Police were called and the behavior stopped, after which the park staff closed down the park for an hour. As a result of this, Rapp decided to close the park for most of this week.

Harwood isn’t aware of any individuals being cited in any way for Sunday’s events, but said anyone who goes into the park while it’s closed will be cited by police, who drive by the area as part of their regular patrols.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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