Before an impassioned crowd, the Scotts Valley Parks and Recreation Commission agreed unanimously Jan. 19 to recommend that the council change city law that bans scooters from the park. The council will take up the discussion next week.
When the skate park was built in 2004, scooters were much less popular and were not considered as a regular use for the park. That has changed, and people on scooters at times outnumber skaters in the park.
“We have grown as a community, and our needs have changed,” said Wendy Brannen, a longtime member of the commission. “We have to make do with the facilities we have.”
The existing city ordinance outlaws the use of scooters in the park. During the Christmas vacation, the park was crowded with scooter riders and skaters, causing some near accidents. Scotts Valley Police cleared the park of scooter riders several times while enforcing the ordinance. No citations have been issued.
The City Council will have a hearing on the topic Wednesday. Two public hearings are required before the council can change an ordinance.
“Scooter riders and skaters should understand that what happened on (January) 19th is not the final step,” said Recreation Director Conrad Sudduth. “If they care either way, they need to show up again at the City Council meeting.”
Many young skaters and scooter riders spoke at the January parks commission meeting. Some were in favor of allowing scooters in, while others were not.
“It was quite impressive of the kids,” Sudduth said.
One idea raised at the meeting was to set aside certain hours for scooter riders. The problem, according to parks staff, is that if a city staff member supervised the park to enforce such a policy, the city would become liable for injuries, according to state law.
Brannen noted that the parks commission is an advisory board and makes recommendations to the council. It does not have the power to change city laws.
She compared the conflict with when ski parks first allowed snowboarders on the slopes along with downhill skiers and when yoga was introduced during Jazzercise’s heyday.
“It’s all about usage and how to accommodate them,” Brannen said. “To say multiuse isn’t possible as far as etiquette goes is narrow-minded.”
Councilman Jim Reed has stated that he is in favor of allowing scooters in the park. He asked that the item be placed before the council.
The Highlands Park skate park in Ben Lomond, which is run by Santa Cruz County Parks and Recreation, is already open to scooter riders.