The Laguna Beach City Council on Tuesday gave police officers the authority to confiscate the skateboards of anyone caught riding around town without a helmet.
*CLICK THE PDF FILE IN THE BOX ON THE RIGHT TO READ THE PROPOSED HELMET ORDINANCE -->
And anyone means anyone—not merely those under age 18. People younger than 18, though, will need to be accompanied to the police station by a parent when the confiscation period ends, if they ever want to see their board again.
Skateboards will be kept at the station for one week after a first violation, and for 30 days every violation afterward. A $25 fine will also be imposed.
The new ordinance will become official on or about Dec. 13, or 30 days after the law has a second reading at the council’s Nov. 13 meeting. Next June, the council will receive a progress report on the law’s effectiveness.
Sponsored by council members Elizabeth Pearson and Toni Iseman, the ordinance has its detractors, particularly council member Kelly Boyd, who voted against the proposal.
“Let’s say you pull a young man over and he’s not wearing his helmet,” asked Boyd on Tuesday, directing his query at LBPD Chief Paul Workman. “That officer has to get the information on the young man, has to confiscate his board, has to take it down to the police station, has to enter it … how much time are we taking away from that police officer by confiscating a skateboard from this child?”
Workman said that checking each skateboard into the department’s computer system “would probably take about 30 minutes of staff time,” and said that over a six-month period, about 30 citations had been issued to helmetless skaters.
(Assuming my math is correct, that’s 30 hours over a one-year period which the LBPD would be spending just to check in skateboards.)
“Kids are still going down Park Avenue without helmets,” said Pearson Tuesday. “The point that Toni and I were trying to make here is that we’re serious about this. Maybe it will make it more painful if we take their skateboard away for a week.”
“This is about safety and avoiding a tragedy,” said Iseman. “Skateboarders are hard to see. Some don’t stand up when they skate, they come shooting out of driveways.”
“My hope is that [the law] will encourage children to wear their helmets,” said Mayor Jane Egly, who also voted for the law. “I just can’t imagine some little kid falling or being hit and their brains all over the street.”
Lone dissenter Boyd wasn’t having it.
“I really have a hard time with confiscating somebody’s skateboard,” said Boyd. “I see kids all the time not wearing helmets, and I think it’s foolish for them not to be wearing them, but the time it’s going to take for police officers … we’re asking the police to literally become babysitters.”
“I’m all for helmets and all for ticketing,” local skateboarding advocate Chad Gibbs told the council. “What I’m not for is segregating against skateboarding. Say there are two kids riding down a mountain road, one on a bike, one on a skateboard, each not wearing a helmet. You take the skateboard, but you don’t take the bicycle? How can you justify that? Please don’t pass this law unless it applies to everybody, it’s just not right.”
The ordinance passed, 4-1.
Note: As stated above, confiscations will apply to everyone, no matter what age. Previous stories on Patch—this one and this one—said that confiscations would only apply to those under 18. We regret the error.