Jen Ezpeleta

Half decade long Redondo skatepark effort ends with council approving two

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Consultant Spohn Ranch’s rendering of the skate park Redondo’s city council approved last week for Parcel 10 on the pier, across from the International Boardwalk. Rendering courtesy of City of Redondo Beach

by Rachel Reeves

Professional skateboarder and father David Bernier began advocating for a Redondo Beach skate park in 2016. Last week, his efforts bore fruit when the Redondo Beach City Council authorized construction of two skate parks.

A $110,000 skatepark was approved for Parcel 10, a long vacant pad on the pier, across the International Boardwalk.

A smaller $30,000 park at Perry Park was also approved. The L.A. Kings Foundation is contributing $25,000 to both skateparks.

“Redondo needs a skatepark …. I’m glad to see us taking a step and finally, finally, finally finding something that could work,” Mayor Bill Brand said.

In 2017, councilmembers directed staff to investigate the feasibility of a skatepark in Dominguez Park. The following year, the city contracted for a $19,800 geotechnical evaluation, but ultimately decided the construction cost was prohibitive because the site was on top of a landfill. In August of 2019, the council contracted with Spohn Ranch for $7,500 to prepare a feasibility study of five sites.

At last week’s meeting, Spohn Ranch’s Vince Onel presented an evaluation of the sites based on: visibility, accessibility, design canvas, barriers, amenities and infrastructure including restrooms, and neighborhood impact.

Franklin Park scored highest, with 49 of 50 criteria met, but Parcel 10, which scored 48 of 50, is farther away from residents.

While Parcel 10’s oval shape was identified as a challenge, the square footage was considered sufficient.

“[What is] most appealing about this site is the vibrant atmosphere,” Onel said. “That’s what we like most about this site.”

The Harbor Commission voted 6 to 1 in favor of the location, but expressed concerns about safety and closing off the site to other uses. Vice Chair Jim Light said the park would invigorate the area but expressed concerns about dangers to pedestrians.

The council echoed the same concerns last week.

Bernier said, “99 percent of skateboarders would realize how much of a gift this is to the community, how hard people have worked to get this skatepark over several decades, and they would treat the surrounding environment and surrounding people with respect as they realize this could get taken away.” He said that to deal with the possibility of an unruly one percent, the project would include the installation of truncated domes around the skatepark, which are designed to deter skateboarding on sidewalks and streets.

The 45-year-old goes skateboarding with his nine-year-old, and said the older skateboarders “do a good job of policing our community.”

“If I’m down there and kids are not acting appropriately, they’re going to hear about it,” he said. “A park I did on the East Coast, we had a problem with graffiti and I called the city and asked them to shut it down for a month.” Following a meeting at a local skate shop, the problem never surfaced again.

The skatepark on the pier, he said, could be used for other purposes, including concerts and yoga. The concept features railings, two quarter-pipes, and a tabletop. The project will take 25 weeks to build. The council had previously approved $100,000 for the skatepark from Quimby funds, which are fees developers pay that go toward recreation.

One resident emailed the city ahead of last week’s meeting, expressing opposition to a skatepark because of the risk of accidents, “easy drug dealing,” “parent not responsible,” and noise. Another resident wrote: “I am opposed to building a skate park on the Octagon in the RB Pier. Not fair for one group to monopolize this area. Way too noisy for residents living in the units above that area.”

Onel said he and his team conducted a sound study that found there would be “no major noise impacts to residents.”

“The ambient noise levels of people hanging out at the pier, people on boats, the regular hum of activity at the pier would more than drown out any skateboarding noise,” Onel said.

Councilmember Todd Loewenstein said he was present for the sound tests, which involved skateboarders being as loud as they could on a quiet day. The noise measured 50 decibels.

“That’s about a quiet … conversation in a home … I feel a lot better after today that there’s not going to be a noise disruption,” he said. “I barely noticed it today. You had to listen very hard.”

An owner of The Slip Bar and Eatery called to say she worried about the removal of 15 tables that are used by International Boardwalk restaurant patrons.

“I don’t know how many people can use a skatepark at any moment, but definitely fewer than the number of people who are there when I’m open,” she said.

Bernier responded that the tables will be relocated. He added that there will be restrictions on skateboarding on concert and movie nights.

The pier skatepark will host skate camps and lessons. Bernier said he’s going to talk to the arts commission about making the park “something that pops and brings a splash of color to the pier.” ER

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