Volcom Skate Park Safety
AUDIO TAPES SHOW PROBLEM
Chairman Byron de Arakal pressed Manley for details of the the events, which apparently included the physical assaults on Park Rangers and on officers called to back them up during enforcement operations. Manley provided perspective via an audio tape of one encounter in which a late-30's skater - hiding behind a tree - explained to Manley (in civilian clothes) why he was hiding and the "code" that was used by skaters so they could scatter when police arrived. Officer Allen Rieckhof, who patrols that area of the city during the day, played another tape of a very recent profanity-laced encounter with a skater who had been cited and warned previously who ended up being arrested.
During his presentation Manley provided some statistics for police/park ranger activites at the skate park.
Action 2011 2012 2013 (thru 6/25)
Citations issues 19 31 69
Ave. Age 22.66 22.16 19.26
Costa Mesa Residents? 36% 40% 29%
Non-CM Residents? 63% 60% 71%
Arrests Made 0 2 3 (4 counting Rieckhof's arrest)
Offences ranged from failure to use proper equipment to taking a swing at officers.
DISRESPECT AND DOG POOP
SCATTERING LIKE QUAIL
According to reports, it is not unusual to see 20 or more skaters run from the park - out the exit or over the 6 foot high fence - and scatter into the Mesa del Mar neighborhood when officers approach.
Manley told the commissioners that it's his goal to have the rangers and police staff be ambassadors to help with the lawful administration of the park, but that there is a cultural issue in play and, with the advent of cell phone video, there seems to be an intent to provoke confrontation to post on social media sites.
WHY DECLINING CALLS FOR SERVICE?
THE CHAIRMAN IS TICKED-OFF!
de Arakal had a real head of steam up on this issue. He's received many calls from residents about the safety aspects of the park recently. Older, much more aggressive, skaters make it very difficult for young skaters to navigate around the various elements of the park safely. Apparently there are many repeat offenders observed by rangers and officers. He told us he had visited the skate park a couple times recently and described it as "Probably what the Old West looked like a hundred years ago. It's just a free-for-all." He went on to say, "The bottom line for me is the law. It's pretty clear that if Costa Mesa is going to run a skate park, under the Health and Safety Code, we have to require that everybody wear a helmet and elbow and knee pads."
"WE'RE GONNA FIX THIS!"
He said that he's made a commitment that "we're going to fix this", and that it is probably going to take consultation with senior city officials (he referred to the 5th floor) and the police department to create a strategy to resolve the issue. He mentioned full time staffing, a fee to use the park as some options. He hoped to find some immediate relief for the police department and bring solutions back to the broader issue to the commission in July or August for consideration and presentation to the City Council shortly thereafter.
AN EXAMPLE OF THE PROBLEM
HERE is a YouTube video clip of one confrontation at the Volcom Skate Park that presents a disturbing, but actual, encounter that the park rangers had to deal with. WARNING: Bad language is used in this tape.
WATCH THE MEETING FOR YOURSELVES
I hope you'll watch the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, either on streaming video when it is finally available, or on the taped recording, to get the real flavor of what our officers face every day on this issue. It's a problem that needs to be solved, fast. NOTE: The streaming video clip of the meeting is now available HERE.