On November 19, the bad news landed on all skate blogs from Southern California: the “Thanksgiving Day Massacre”, a contest previously scheduled to happen last November 21, at the Dennis “Polar Bear” Agnew Memorial Skatepark, in Venice Beach, was cancelled just two days before the contest.
According to a Press release on 11/19 by Geri Lewis, Executive Director of the Venice Surf and Skateboard Association (VSA), the “[City of L.A. Dept. of] Recreation and Parks dropped the ball and did not have permit issued”.
The motive behind that cancellation is that starting December 1st, the LAPD will, begin to enforce the helmet law – or, more precisely, the Section 115800 of the California Health and Safety Code that mandates helmet, knee- and elbow-pads.
AB 874, an amendment by Lori Saldaña (D-San Diego) that removes the knee- and elbow-pad requisites, but keeps the helmet requirement, passed the Assembly vote unanimously and moved to the Senate back in May.
According to the entry from T. Jefferson on VSA’s website on 11/30, Venice Skatepark supports momentarily the helmet obligation: “All VSA members met with IIth district City Councilman Bill Rosendahl recently to discuss the LAPD intent on enforcing the helmet ordinance starting Dec 1st. First of all I would like to say that council Rosendahl's office is genuinely concerned with the safety and welfare of the skaters. Specifically what was discussed is the language of the ordinance. The ordinance has been written specifically for skate-parks. The Venice skate plaza is deemed a "plaza"for this very purpose of circumventing the ordinance. The VSA is of the opinion that the LAPD interpretation of the state law is incorrect. Mr. Rosendahl has been in contact with the City attorney and the Pacific Division LAPD captain concerning the issue. VSA recommends at this time to bring your helmet to avoid a ticket. VSA will keep you advised of the situation and any developments. BTW the contest is on for Dec 19th "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people...They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of liberty."
Some say that a strong and reasonable argument is that the law is outdated: requiring pads (and consequently, penalizing offenders with hefty fines) discourages skateboarders from going to their local skate parks and forces them into skating on city streets and private properties, thus increasing the risk of injury and adding a criminal characteristic to the activity of skateboarding. However, all vert riders know that you can’t seriously skate with a high level in a bowl without at least knee-pads, so the only things that this law does it that it ratifies a “fait accompli” by the skaters themselves therefore this should be a non issue…
This recent photo of Jesse Martinez at Venice Skatepark on the left side (Photo Unknown) proves why knee pads and helmet are definitely a go-go!
Anyway, the contest has been rescheduled for December 19th 2009, almost one month after the original date.
Be there or be square.