After the conflict between the city and local skateboarders this summer, the Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department is partnering with the Goleta Skateboarding Movement to host a meeting about the future of the Skater’s Point skateboard park.
Parks & Recreation Director Nancy Rapp said Goleta Skateboarding Movement organizers reached out to her after the three-day park closure and were concerned about how skateboarders were being portrayed, and they want to improve the image and relationship with city staff and other local residents.
A few park users threw water balloons at arts vendors and pedestrians along the waterfront June 30 and the city tried to close the park for three days to make a statement. The “unruly behavior” and drug use also involved skaters hurling insults at the responding staff from the Parks & Recreation Department, the city says.
Skateboarders cut the chains lining the park multiple times, kicked through wooden barriers blocking the entrances and ripped down the closure fliers, until Rapp decided to open the park, along Cabrillo Boulevard near Stearns Wharf, a day early and allow use on the Fourth of July.
Police Chief Cam Sanchez told the City Council on Tuesday that he wants the park to be kept safe and clean, and his beat coordinators will be playing a big role in that. His department frequently responded to the park during the closure and later asked the public to help identify the young men cutting the chains and kicking in the barriers, which was documented in some local media.
This all came while organizations are pushing to build more skate parks on the South Coast.
The Goleta Skateboarding Movement is trying to design and build new skate parks for the Goleta Valley and has been throwing benefit concerts to support the cause. A skate plaza is already included in plans for Goleta’s Old Town park at Hollister and Kellogg avenues, and the Carpinteria Skate Foundation has been pushing for a “skategarden” with a skate park and community garden at the Fifth Street lot the city bought from Union Pacific last year.
City staff and the Goleta Skateboarding Movement will be hosting Speak Up for Skateboarding, a public discussion, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14 at Skater’s Point. It’s sponsored by local skate shops Powell Peralta, Surf Country, Arbor and Movement Boardshop.
“The stakeholder group is very concerned about how they can add leadership back into the users of our skate facility, so incidents like what happened don’t happen again in the future,” Rapp said.
City staff members will listen and answer questions, and Rapp said she hopes the meeting will open up the conversation and take the park’s future in a positive direction.