Skateboarders are particularly adept at getting back up after a hard slam. Case in point: 48 hours after the County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 last week in favor of banning skateboarding on dangerous sections of Gibraltar, North San Marcos, and Painted Cave roads, a group of area downhillers launched a petition and letter-writing effort to change supervisorial minds.
Petitioners contend that those roads are, in fact, relatively safe because they’re sparsely populated and carry very little traffic. This ban, they explain, will push downhillers onto busier, more dangerous roads. Supervisor Steve Lavagnino — the vote’s lone dissenter — agreed with the downhillers’ proposed alternative to an outright ban. “I think it’s much more a matter of signage,” Lavagnino told The Santa Barbara Independent, adding that cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and skateboarders all need to be reminded to safely share the roads, especially steep ones with blind corners.
But the key issue, according to ban-friendly supervisors, is to protect public coffers from litigation if a downhiller collides with a car, for example, and sues the county. However, in the last three years, “the county has not faced any skateboard-based litigation involving roadways,” according to County Counsel Michael Ghizzoni. As of Wednesday morning, petitioners had gathered more than 1,000 signatures. The board revisits the issue on July 21.