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Unsafe skateboarding will draw fines of $250 under new L.A. law

August 7, 2012 |  1:31 pm

Downhill skateboarders skate down 14th St. in San Pedro in May.

This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.

Los Angeles skateboarders can still make those high-stakes downhill runs known as "bombing" -- they’ll just have to do it upright instead of prone, while also obeying speed limits and yielding to oncoming traffic, thanks to a new city ordinance passed Tuesday.

The City Council voted to impose various regulations and penalties on “unsafe” skateboarding. Boarders must ride upright, maintain speeds that will not cause harm to themselves or to others and obey all traffic signs. Using vehicles to tow skateboarders will also be prohibited, and speeds while crossing intersections will be limited to 10 mph. Citations will be $250, though authorities say they will issue warnings first.

Capt. Nancy Lauer of the Harbor division of the Los Angeles Police Department said the ordinance provides important specificity to officers trying to prevent dangerous skateboarding.

“We’ve not found existing law to be effective,” Lauer said.

Councilman Joe Buscaino proposed the ordinance to stop the practice of “bombing” in his own district, where he said two skateboarders have died in the past year.

Pioneered by Southern California skateboarders, "bombing" is now featured in several competitions across the nation and was once included in the Summer X Games. The high-speed runs take place on hills, canyon roads, parking structures and anywhere a skateboard can build momentum. In a 90-degree crouch with their hands clasped behind their back, downhill skateboarders can reach speeds of 40 to 50 mph.

Residents of hilly neighborhoods say the downhill skateboarders are a menace, appearing suddenly at busy intersections and endangering people and property.

Regionally, Burbank, Glendale, Santa Barbara and San Diego have laws regulating skateboards on public roadways and sidewalks. Los Angeles County prohibits skateboards on roads with grades of more than 3% and enforces a 10 mph speed limit. Malibu, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach have also instituted restrictions on the practice.

[For the Record, 4:25 p.m. Aug. 7: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that citations would begin at $100 and go to $500 for a third violation. Actually, the citations are $250 each.]

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-- Frank Shyong at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo:  Skateboarders skate down 14th Street in San Pedro in May. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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