The Laguna Beach City Council voted Tuesday night to draw up an ordinance that would allow police to confiscate the skateboards of youths caught riding without a helmet.
As proposed prior to Tuesday's vote, the provision included a confiscation clause if people under 18 were guilty of violating any skateboard ordinance, including the slew of laws that have been passed since April 2011. This would have meant that skateboards could be taken away from youths if they were caught riding on banned streets, breaking speed limits, riding at night, or performing "acrobatic" maneuvers or sitting or lying on a skateboard.
After some discussion, the council ultimately decided to only apply the confiscation rule to skaters who were found to be riding without a helmet.
"Our goal is saving lives and the safety of these kids," said council member Toni Iseman, who is sponsoring the ordinance along with council member Elizabeth Pearson. "If they don’t have a helmet, then they shouldn’t be riding a skateboard."
If a skater has their board confiscated, the penalty, as proposed, would be a one-week impounding of their skateboard for a first violation, extending to a month for a second offense. Fines of at least $25 would also be attached. After the penalty period is over, when the offender comes to spring their board from skateboard jail and they happen to be under 18, they'll need to have a parent accompany them.
"It's nuts for these kids to be riding around without a helmet on," said Pearson. "I saw some yesterday going down Temple Hills."
Though the planned law will for now only be applied to the helmetless, Iseman said she "wouldn’t have a problem expanding it" to include the other provisions as well, as long as there would be enforcement.
Voting in the minority was council member Kelly Boyd.
"If you confiscate somebody's board, he goes back to his garage and picks out one of the other 40 he has in his garage, and he goes back out and starts skateboarding again," said Boyd. "I think [Laguna Beach Police] Chief [Paul] Workman will tell you his police officers have a lot more important things to do than run around and grab skateboards from kids."
Workman said that out of 82 skateboard-oriented tickets written since February 1, 60 of them were due to riders skating without helmets.
Gadfly Bruce Hopping echoed Boyd's sentiments.
"We've got better things to do with the police department than chasing 10-year-olds," Hopping declared. "Keep Laguna Beach free from the war on skateboarders!"
The item passed the council on a 4-1 vote. City staff will next draw up the ordinance, which will then need to go through an approval vote.