The Beaches, Parks and Recreation Commission will consider recommending the inclusion of scooters in the list of equipment allowed at the Ralph's Skate Park.
Tuesday, the commission opened the subject for discussion. A number of residents argued for the inclusion of Razors and scooters at the park.
“I’ve seen it work,” said Mary Ann Iglesias, a mother of four boys who all use the park. With her were her sons John and Peter Iglesias who also stepped up to speak out for their sport.
Ralph’s Skate Court was opened in 2000 for skateboarders because at the time scooters were not popular enough to merit concern. In 2008 when BMX bikes rose in popularity, Beaches, Parks and Recreation commissioners looked into permitting the bikes in the park, but the park’s architect warned against bikes for the damage they would cause.
Ultimately bikes were forbidden.
A short while later, in-line skates were permitted for the similarity in wheel structure to skateboards.
Iglesias said she wondered at first if it would be safe, but found the park users respected the rules for using it.
“It’s an amazing situation," she said. "Everybody knows the rules and if you don’t know the rules, you learn them within ten minutes.”
Skaters -- both on boards and in-line -- respect the scooters' space and vice versa.
Another mother of skaters, Tracey Irish, shared a similar sentiment. She said she spoke with a policeman who “hated busting the kids and knew that once he left, they’d go right back on their scooters.”
Residents lobbying for scooter use in the park pointed out that kids were getting fined for riding scooters, but drug and alcohol use around the park seemed to go unpunished.
The parks staffers department cited two main concerns with the inclusion of scooters: liability and damage.
Commissioner Dagmar Foy said she thought the concrete would sustain damage from scooters, but Recreation Manager Pam Passow said further research is needed to say for sure.
Peter Iglesias spoke to the liability concern. Because scooters have
two points of contact, the rider’s hands and feet, the scooter is less likely to fly from its rider and hit another child than a skateboard is, he said.
Passow worried about the broader effects of allowing scooters in San Clemente’s skate park. Because other Orange County cities such as Laguna Hills and Costa Mesa have skate parks that exclude scooters as well, an inclusion of them in San Clemente could mean an influx of scooter kids from surrounding cities so great that Ralph’s Skate Court could be all but turned into a Scooter Court.
For now, Passow suggested the commissioners research the implications of including scooters by reaching out to the public through in-person interviews and social media sites like Facebook, and then contacting administrators of another park that was the first in the state to allow scooters.