Friday, June 28, 2013

Volcom Skate Park Safety

Last night the Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission met for a regularly-scheduled meeting at City Hall and, although several items were on the agenda, this entry is going to focus on only one - the recent public safety issues at the Volcom Skatepark of Costa Mesa.

Costa Mesa Police Department Lieutenant Mark Manley provided an informative, and unsettling, report to the commission about recent events at the skatepark.  The crux of the problem seems to be that adult skaters ignore the safety rules that require a helmet plus elbow and kneepads and are skating haphazardly, causing safety problems for younger skaters with whom they share the facility.

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.

As an example of the prevailing attitude in the park now, Manley reported that, following a routine patrol of the park recently, one of the rangers found dog poop placed in the door handle of the police cruiser.

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.

Chairman de Arakal read from a report he had that described a significant decline in calls for service and citations issued since 2008 and asked Manley about it.  His reply was that, with reduced resources today other calls take priority.  He told de Arakal that he has 4 park rangers and 2 are dedicated to enforcement actions at Lions Park.  The remaining two are left to cover the other 29 parks in the city, including the Volcom Skate Park.  Rangers apparently make two passes at the skate park each day on average.

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."

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.

To give you an idea of what this is all about, 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.

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.

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Anonymous shut it down said...

Pour cement and shut it down. That or get tough and start arresting and citing. No manpower and not worth lawsuit to do latter. Shut it!

6/28/2013 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Feliz Academy said...

This sounds like a job for "Sheriff Mensy!"

Skate bump skate bump skate bump..

6/28/2013 02:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Billy Folsom said...

The problem can be solved very quickly and easily. Change the code, don't require safety gear. I have skated to there many times with all that stuff in a back pack, put it on then skated home with it in my back pack. Smaller government works, right?

6/28/2013 02:20:00 PM  
Anonymous I hate skater punks said...

Having a law enforcement background, I am not at all surprised by the actions of the skater punk. He's lucky he wasn't dealing with a heavy handed agency with zero tolerance for being cussed at and resisting the way he was.

The problem is that he has a typical OC attitude of feeling entitled and a severe disrespect for authority. It stems from parents not willing to give their kids a beat down when they're acting up and saying please when they want their kids to do something.

The civilian park rangers did a fantastic job with the punk. A lot of self control was demonstrated. The taser would have been very effective after the first F You.

I do not see this department being heavy handed and I do not see these punks giving up.

The solution, I fear, is to simply have the developers we have on council call in a favor and have cement poured on the skate park and shut it down.

I believe some condos would be great where the skate park sits. Are you listening Riggy?

That or if they're serious about enforcement is to conduct a sweep with 5 or 6 armed police reserves on a given day and keep hammering away at these punks. But as a reserve, are you willing to go through a lawsuit the instant you have to go hands on?

6/28/2013 02:25:00 PM  
Anonymous New Normal said...

Great job Byron. Thanks for making the point and seeking a fix. Do not let these arm chair nobodies tell you otherwise.

People like you have been absent on commissions and committees.

This Billy guy has a point. but still does not address the kids trippin

6/28/2013 03:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Get Rid of the Skate Park said...

Did you see the comments on the end of the YouTube video? These morons (being kind) are clueless. "I Hate Skater Punks" is absolutely correct. He was never taught respect, and thinks he can verbally abuse without consequences. Not one of the posters on YouTube got it right. The reason he was "subdued" and probably arrested, wasn't because of skating gear, it was because he disobeyed a direct command to get down. Huge mistake.

6/28/2013 03:16:00 PM  
Anonymous CM Pessimist said...

Since the majority of the offenders were not Costa Mesans, is it possible to have some of the Park and Rec employees man the skatepark during its hours of operation? These employees could charge any non-residents a fee to skate there. They would also be able to ensure the skaters are wearing their safety equipment. Any trouble makers would be barred from entering. If the trouble makers persist, then a call for service could be generated for CMPD. Hopefully, with a short response time!

6/28/2013 03:17:00 PM  
Anonymous another screen name said...

Sad to see this blog hi-jacked by the same idiot with multiple screen names. Those of you who are convinced that Fitz is behind it are WAY OFF!

What happened to Riggy's neighbor Phil that used to post here?

What happened to the the sad little man from Joann street with the thorn in his side?

It's quite amusing to watch someone as out of touch as Byron comment on subjects such as skateboarding.

I also feel we need more lights at Fairview park, after all, it's where the Estancia Football players like to drink their alcohol on the weekends and do burnouts in their mustangs! Sad but ohh so true!

6/28/2013 04:24:00 PM  
Anonymous DirtyMarty said...

The kids are trippin? Is the sidewalk cracked? Ohh wait! you must be one of those old angry people who like to use hip words. My bad!

6/28/2013 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Quick!, somebody tell "New Normal" who Billy

6/28/2013 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Re:another screen name
I didn't realize that Chairman is now posting anti-councildude posts as well as his multitude of pro-councildudes posts. It's his half baked attempt to discredit the opposition to Riggy and Co.
It doesn't surprise me at all.
He even posted a comment using my username- another half baked attempt.
Wow- now we can add fraud to his long list of talents.
This is the Chairman of our CM PC.
Chairman,your handlers must be so proud of you, not to mention all the CM Planning Commissioners who ( were told to) elect you as their Chairman.
You reflect their values and code of conduct very well.

6/28/2013 05:31:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

This is a darn shame!
Our kids were so happy to get a skatepark.
We need more adult supervision there.
A CMPD officer( officers if needed) should patrol the area on a regular basis.
If the punks know a CM Police officer will be by, they will be less inclined to start trouble.

6/28/2013 05:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Grom Mom said...

As a concerned parent, I've actually called CMPD Dispatch over the years to come clear out the park "violators" whenever they smoked pot or cigarettes at the picnic table. Also, most twenty-somethings rarely bring, let alone, wear the required protective gear. So it's a great way to filter out the large crowds, as well as provide a more positive environment for all the younger children aspiring to be a "pro skater" when they grow up.

The most effective police technique ever utilized at Volcom was when the well-coordinated CMPD "Sweeps" caught ALL OF THEM off guard (i.e. brought the paddy wagon, and the officers successfully blocked all the Arlington & Mesa Del Mar exits).

The few "Big Bowl" riders whom always wear their gear were shocked at how all the others had no chance to escape, and they were all talking about it for weeks! The park was a ghost town for days after those successful "sweeps" mainly b/c they were all scared of being arrested for any & every "park violation" possible! One very unfortunate guy that had a bench warrant was caught, as well as some unlucky parole violators too!

Also, I remember when a CMPD officer would patrol, and reward all the kids wearing their gear a Free Slurpee card. My son really loved going to 7-Eleven after skating. And I think that was a real "cool" way to encourage the younger kids to always wear their helmet & pads.

6/28/2013 05:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Lets form some more committees said...

New normal, you know de Arakal? But not Billy? I suggest you get with the program!

6/28/2013 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Nicole Shine said...

For you Register subscribers out there, I reported this problem last month:
At that time, several parents said they felt intimidated there and didn't want to go on the record for fear of word getting out.

6/28/2013 09:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Riggy can shut it down in a week said...


Either call your pals and fill in area with concrete and shut it down or contact your pals at G4 security and get a security armed security guard down there please.

Its not worth the potential lawsuits from officers being baited by these Aholes with cameras. Nor is it worth the work comp payments to our cops and rangers getting hurt.

Shut it down and lets take care of real problems like parolees all over our city.

Bill Volcom for the cost of this attractive nuisance. You got rid of garcias recycling for attracting bums turning in cans for cash. You can sure get rid a skate park that attract pot smoking cop fighting punks!

Unleash the wrath of riggy and SHUT IT DOWN!

6/28/2013 09:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Sk8 Don't Hate said...

"Youth Against Establishment" is Volcom's "company motto", (see their website for more info). Apparently, their marketing plan worked, as it has truly influenced their "Core" Brand consumers: the "Extended Adolescent" twenty-something acting like a disrespectful JACKA$$! Just sponsor a FREE Sk8 Park to guarantee the movement...

Also, OCC is right down the street, so a lot of their students typically can skate at Volcom before, during, after & in-between their classes. So that's why the age has been hovering b/w 19-22 yrs old, and why so many non-residents are ticketed. Also, the fwy access to park is awesome, you can be there for a quick sesh in minutes from any OC city or beyond.

The good news: Huntington Beach's FREE Vans Skate Park and Skate Shop Garage will be dwarf Volcom in size & innovative skate elements. So this could ease the crowded conditions & blatant wanton violations of park rules at Volcom, b/c they'll require their sk8r's to wear helmets & pads too. The best part, if you don't own or bother to wear a helmet & full pads the onsite skate shop offers all the sk8 gear to comply! Hmmm, maybe the CM Tennis Shop should expand to carry helmets & pads for rent/buy along with icy cold Red Bull and sk8 wax!

The bad news: Vans is currently under construction with a tentative late August 2013 "grand opening" date. Which will be right around the time OCC starts it's Fall 2013 Session. What a vicious cycle...

6/28/2013 10:38:00 PM  
Anonymous more rules thats the easy way out said...

Instead of creating more rules and stricter enforcement let's try posting a sign that reminds the community that this park is a gift to us and should be enjoyed all, let's enjoy this gift and exercise patience at times. We can even use our 150k per year pr guy to help get the word out to the park users.

6/28/2013 11:20:00 PM  
Anonymous RU outta UR Volcom mind? said...

The City Staff worked so hard to make Volcom Skate Park be the premiere FREE Skate Spot for everyone to to have a safer place to ride. So if you want to keep it open, just wear your lid, pads, and don't cuss & chain smoke while enjoying the privilege to skate at the park. Otherwise, just endure all the stop-rocks while skatin' on all our crappy CM streets.

6/29/2013 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous giving 'em fitz said...

someone hooted a nerve alf? (ask Gericault for explanation).

6/29/2013 11:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Mensy Loves Reserve Officers said...

Just post a reserve officer there at intermittent times and let these punk a-holes try and figure out when they're there and not there.

6/29/2013 12:39:00 PM  

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