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Official crackdown on downhill skateboarders

July 25, 2010 | 12:51 pm


For downhill skateboarders, the feeling of tucking your hands behind your back and bombing down one of Laguna Beach's steep canyon roads is euphoric: the pressure of G-force as you bank turns, the wind on your face and the blur of asphalt rushing below.

But those who live along the curving hillside roads complain of heart-stopping confrontations and fear something serious could happen if steps aren't taken to curtail the mostly teenage skateboarders who hitch rides up the hillside and scream down the road as fast as possible. Some estimate the skaters can travel in excess of 50 mph.

A group of residents on one of the city's favored downhill spots, a winding, narrow road flanked by houses with ocean views, is asking the city to ban skateboarding on most hills and enact a 10 mph speed limit. It would effectively outlaw downhill skateboarding — also known as speedboarding — in one of the places the daredevil sport first emerged.

Several cities, including Malibu and Newport Beach, already have laws restricting the practice. But in Laguna — an independent-minded city that seems to tolerate extremes — the idea of government interference in a board sport is, for many, unthinkable.

Read the full story on downhill skateboarding here.

--Tony Barboza

Photo: Ethan Agnew, center, and Dane Maison, both 15, barrel down a hill in Laguna Beach. The daredevil hobby of speedboarding -- skateboarding downhill with hands clasped behind the back -- is gaining popularity. Credit: John W. Adkisson / Los Angeles Times