Downtown Skate Ban Proposal – Aug 12, 2016 UPDATE

After 3 lively public input meetings on the “proposed” expansion of traffic laws restricting skateboarding in Downtown El Paso, the proposed language has been tempered significantly.

Here’s the REVISED proposed ordinance amending Title 12 Section 12.80.030.

A City Council meeting/public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Tuesday, August 23, 2016 according to Dionne Mack, the City’s Quality of Life Managing Director who spearheaded the ordinance expansion after observing downtown property damage and one alarming incident involving a skater’s near collision with an elderly woman after airing off the stage at the newly renovated San Jacinto Plaza.  Apparently, there was also at least one complaint from an “unnamed” downtown business owner.

2016 08 09 public meeting armijo library - svarzbein

Public meeting – Aug 9, 2016

The local skateboard community was out in force for the first public input meeting at the Armijo Public Library. El Paso’s District 1 City Representative Peter Svarzbein also showed up to listen to constituents’ concerns and snap a rad selfie. Photo courtesy: Peter Svarzbein.

In short, the “revised” ordinance language:

  1. includes the original law banning skateboarding “in the roadways” (where cars drive) throughout the city
  2. includes the original law banning skateboarding at Arts Festival Plaza & Civic Center Plaza
  3. deletes any reference to expanding the ban to specifically include the Downtown Management District, San Jacinto Plaza and within 20 feet of sidewalk cafes
  4. prohibits riding on surfaces not intended for pedestrian or vehicular traffic citywide (ledges, rails, stairs, etc.)
  5. allows riding for transportation citywide, but riders must yield to pedestrians
  6. will define what type of misdemeanor for those lawbreakers who get busted

The revised ordinance expansion now focuses squarely on protecting pedestrian traffic and limiting property damage while allowing skaters to enjoy downtown for transportation purposes.

Props to Ms. Mack for respectfully considering the concerns off all the skateboarders, roller skaters, bicyclists and other citizens who chimed in on the matter. And thanks to all those who participated in the public meetings.

EPSA maintains the best solution for safely including skateboarding in downtown revitalization efforts is to create designated skate areas for aggressive riders to grind and do their thing – basically, give them a better alternative to the illegal spot. All the hubbub has prompted us to scout areas for potential new skate spots and dots in the downtown area.

Read more on the initial proposal to restrict skateboarding in downtown El Paso.

2016 08 09 san jacinto plaza corner

San Jacinto Plaza

Revisions to the Title 12 traffic ordinance proposal do not specifically ban skating at the newly remodeled San Jacinto Plaza.  However…skating on surfaces not intended for pedestrian or vehicular traffic would be off-limits citywide.

2016 08 09 ballpark corner steps

Baseball stadium damage

Minor property damage on the 2-stair bordering the Chihuahua’s downtown ballpark. Skating for transportation here would be okay. Grinding on the ledges & edges – not okay.

2016 08 09 ansons11 planters

Anson 11

Upscale restaurant Anson 11 has already taken pro-active measures to deter street skaters from riding the planters bordering their sidewalk cafe area. These are definitely some of the prettiest retro-fitted skate stoppers we’ve ever seen!

 

2016 08 09 anson 11 scuplture

Anson 11 sculpture

Artsy skate stoppers were also retro-fitted nicely on the circled sculpture in front of Anson 11.

2016 08 09 artwalk bridge

Durango Street bridge

Open public downtown spaces are rare and tight, but a lot of skaters have been eye-balling this shady area under the Durango Street bridge for a possible designated skate spot or smaller skate dot. Doing it safely “by design” to protect pedestrians and other traffic from shooting boards would be the real trick.