Rolling Hills OKs first PV skate park

After a nearly three-year effort to find a location, backers of a skateboard park on the Peninsula achieved a milestone this month when Rolling Hills Estates gave it the thumbs up.

The city council unanimously agreed to offer land at Ernie Howlett Park on Hawthorne Boulevard to construct a roughly 10,000 square-foot skate park. The sprawling city park already includes equestrian trails, a baseball and soccer field, and basketball and tennis courts.

The project will be put out to bid through the city, but raising the actual funding – an estimated $250,000 – will be up to the non-profit Skatepark PV.

“I am overwhelmingly happy, I’m just so pleased,” said Ellen November, who founded the group. November got the idea for a skate park on the Peninsula after seeing skateboarders at a local mall getting shooed away by police.

Local skateboard pro Kenny Anderson plans to spearhead the design of the park’s concrete section of ramps and rails, which promises to be on the easy to moderate side, November said.

Rolling Hills Estates Mayor Suzy Seamans said the skate park will suit the city well.

“There was no opposition because people have seen that it works and how good it is for the kids,” said Seamans who also serves as the non-profit’s treasurer. “I hope it’s busy all the time. I’m sure that it will be.”

Seamans said she recently took her grandson on a tour of Los Angeles-area skate parks and saw how healthy it can be for children.

“The worst time of the day for kids is right after school. If they get into trouble that’s when they’ll get into trouble,” Seamans said. “We’re hoping they will get to the park and skate and have an outlet after school. It’s good to get out and move a little bit.”

In choosing Ernie Howlett Park, Seamans said the location has worked well over the past three years as host to a weekly skateboard camp during the summers.

Instructors for PCH Skate Camps haul out portable ramps in the parking lot that can then fit into a trailer at the end of the day.

“The whole goal of the camp is to teach them to skate safely,” said Jack Tingley, founder of BeachSports, which runs surfing camps as well as the skateboard camps at Ernie Howlett and American Martyrs School in Manhattan Beach.

“They also learn new tricks and learn how to improve those tricks without injuring themselves,” Tingley said. “Our job is to teach them to do this correctly. And then they’ll go on and be safe.”

While Tingley’s camps have never reported a serious injury, his company still requires liability insurance, which is not the case when it comes to the city’s new skate park. A California Health and Safety Code specifically exempts cities from skate park liability in the event of injury.

In approving a skate park Rolling Hills Estates joins a growing number of Southern California cities embracing the childhood pastime that for a long time was scorned by authorities.

Rancho Palos Verdes also considered a location for a skate park before Rolling Hills made its decision. Palos Verdes Estates has a law against skateboarding on city streets.

For Skatepark PV next comes fundraising, which November is confident she can accomplish. The city of Rolling Hills Estates expects to put the project up for bid in the following months with cement actually getting poured sometime next year. ER



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