A proposal to build a skate park in Rancho Palos Verdes got one step closer to reality on Tuesday, when the city council unanimously voted to include one in its long term vision for parks throughout the city.
Supporters of the idea — including RPV native and professional surfer Alex Gray — turned out in numbers hoping to convince the council that the need for a skate park on the Hill outweighs any concerns they may have with the project.
But because the area in Upper Point Vicente Park envisioned for the skate park has not been zoned for such activity, the city will need to update plans in order to give the project the green light. An update of the 25-year-old Parks Master Plan is already slated to come before the council early next year.
There’s also fundraising. The nonprofit organization Skatepark PV will need to show the city that it can raise the estimated $650,000 to $750,000 needed to construct the 15,000-square-foot facility, which will be privately operated. The group pledged to raise funds for a skate park at Ernie Howlett Park in Rolling Hills Estates until plans fell through last year when soil tests revealed the ground was unsuitable to build on.
Plans for the “multiuse skate-able plaza” at Upper Point Vicente Park include a stage and seating area, making it useable for public events. The skate park would also have a restroom facility, 19 parking spaces, picnic tables and a drinking fountain.
Supporters were ecstatic about the council’s decision on Tuesday.
“We want to work with you,” said Gray, who started skateboarding as a child before he took up surfing. “Let’s create something positive for our youth.”
He and Skatepark PV Vice President Jim Parker exchanged looks of surprise after the vote.
“This is a huge step forward,” said Alex Gray’s mother, Laurie Gray. “They’re kind of setting a precedent and they want to show that they advocate for our youth.”
Councilwoman Susan Brooks, who previously expressed concerns about the project and questioned why skateboarders couldn’t just go to the soon-to-open Peck Park Skate Park in San Pedro, admittedly had a change of heart.
“When you guys came to us initially, I was very hesitant,” she said. “But it’s just one of those sports that’s not going away. The fact is we need a safe place for these kids to actually skateboard.”
Although the council ultimately voted in favor of the project, the night was not without debate over
concerns, both old and new. In addition to potential liability issues and the proposed location next to the Civic Center, it was pointed out that the city already has an arrangement with Terranea Resort to use the area in Upper Point Vicente Park for overflow employee parking — usually on the weekends — at the cost of $411 per day.
Some council members also didn’t want to rule out any other potential locations in the city, but staff said the proposed site is realistically its only option, and that a more isolated maintenance yard area on the other side of the park might be another viable spot.
“If it takes a year, or a year and a half to get a skate park here that’s going to last 20 or 30 years, and it’s going to be good a be testimonial to this community, then so be it,” Brooks said.