St. Pete council member wants to repeal skateboard ban - FOX 13 News

St. Pete council member wants to repeal skateboard ban

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In January of 1992, skateboards were officially banned from downtown St. Petersburg.

In January of 2014, city councilman Karl Nurse wants the prohibition repealed.

So what is different 22 years later?

"Part of what's happened is who rides a board has changed," Nurse told FOX 13 News, pointing out downtown now has two growing college campuses. "We're trying to create a downtown that attracts young people…no skateboarding sort of communicates you're not welcome."

USF St. Petersburg student Will Harris agrees.

"The attitude's changed a lot," Harris said. "I'd say at least 80 to 90 percent of us just use it to get from point A to point B, and so it's just an alternative mode of transportation."

Boards such as his are much longer and heavier than traditional skateboards.

"There's about a good two foot of difference," campus Senate president Franklin Alves noted. "You can't really do any types of tricks on them, like rails or anything, this is more for like riding around and a means of transportation."

Last year, Alves started a longboard club, which now has roughly 100 members.

The 1992 prohibition was a response to significant property damage. Skaters would "jump" much shorter skateboards against walls and onto stair railings, stairs and benches, sometimes permanently chipping marble or gouging brass and leaving black wheel marks. Councilman Nurse envisions simply repealing the prohibition.

"You don't really need to add anything else because business owners have the right to ban whatever they want to ban on their own property and if people destroy property, that's already against the law," Nurse said.

Alves would accept a more detailed ordinance that might regulate skateboards "...just by size, like anything shorter than 36 inches would be not allowed."

Thursday, the city council agreed to discuss the possibilities in a committee setting. Until the current ordinance is changed, skateboards are prohibited in an area bounded by Fifth Avenues North and South, from Tampa Bay to 16th Street.

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