No helmet, no skateboard, Laguna Beach warns scofflaws
Skateboarding children and teens who don't wear a helmet in Laguna Beach could face stiff consequences if the city moves forward with a plan to confiscate skateboards.
This week, the City Council gave preliminary approval to the confiscation of skateboards for failure to wear a helmet. Parents of juveniles will have to go the police station with the children to get the skateboard released, in addition to paying a $25 fine. A juvenile counseling session is also required, the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot reported.
"It is easier to give $25 to a kid than to take time off from work to go to the police department," said Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger.
Confiscation was sponsored by Councilwomen Elizabeth Pearson and Toni Iseman.
"The point Toni and I are trying to make is that we are serious about kids wearing helmets," Pearson said. "Kids are still going down Park Avenue without helmets."
Police Chief Paul Workman said 30 citations have been issued within the last six months for helmet violations but he couldn't specify the offenders' ages.
Confiscated skateboards will be held for one week for the first violation and one month for subsequent violations.
However, the price of breaking the law is cheaper for local juveniles, whose violations are handled in Laguna Beach instead of the county courthouse, where the fine is $280, Workman said.
Longtime supporter of local skateboarders Chad Gibson said the proposed confiscation policy is discriminatory.
"I really want my life back, but you guys keep coming up with these wacky things," said Gibbs, one of two opponents of confiscation who spoke at the hearing.
"If you see two 13-year-olds coming down a hill, one on a skateboard and one on a bike and neither wearing helmet, you're going to take the skateboard, but not the bike?" he asked. "How do you justify that? I can't."
Kathryn Doe added, "Educate rather than confiscate."
"No one is looking forward to confiscating a skateboard and keeping track of it," Rollinger said. "But it is important for the community to understand how important this is and how we don't want anyone to get hurt."
A second hearing is required before the confiscation measure can be added to existing local law.
-- Barbara Diamond, Times Community News
Photo: Laguna Beach skateboarders roll down Oak Street in 2010. Credit: Don Leach / Times Community News