Skate Park Set to Open, But Leave the Vape at Home

After a decade of hoping, planning and negotiating, Malibu finally has a skate park to call its own—there’s just one caveat. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health order closing skate facilities must be lifted before any ollies or kickflips can happen.

It was a decade ago that Papa Jack’s—Malibu’s only skate park—was ripped up in order to make way for the Whole Foods at the Park shopping center, leaving local children and adults with no place to skate in Malibu.

After much wrangling over location and funding, city council finally approved a plan in February to build a $300,000 temporary skate park adjacent to Malibu Bluffs Park at what’s known as the Crummer property (now called the Case property). A permanent skate park is still in the works, though, east of the site. A parking lot will eventually be built where the temporary site is now located.

Once approved, it only took four months to transform the lot into a much-needed recreation area for Malibu’s many skaters who, for a decade, were forced to drive out of town in order to participate in one of the country’s most popular youth activities.

The skate park is expected to be open imminently as county health guidelines are relaxing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Inside, you’ll find 12,000 square feet of high-grade asphalt that will eventually be used as the parking lot for the permanent facility. 

“Asphalt is not a preferred surface for skaters,” Jesse Bobbett, Malibu Community Services director, said. “They’d much rather use concrete, but when the permanent park is completed we can use that asphalt as a parking area. We get double use out of that money.”

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Bobbett said crews rushed to get the skate park open even during pandemic shutdowns and that it was a “bummer” that county health orders won’t allow it yet.

The continued closure did provide time for city staff to amend the city’s smoking ordinances to include a ban on smoking (and using e-cigarettes, also called vaping) in public parks, including the new temporary and future permanent skate park, and other areas. On Monday, June 22, during a virtual city council meeting, council members voted unanimously to ban smoking and vaping in an extended list of locations, including the temporary skate park.

The skate park is fenced in, but that hasn’t stopped a few rogue skaters from jumping the fence to get in. 

“It’s been a very challenging week for our staff,” Bobbett said on Friday, in reference to the scofflaws. Only a small group of dedicated parents and skater advocates who were involved for years were invited to try out the new equipment. 

The park includes a mini-bowl, rails and a quarter pipe. 

“We designed it to be used for beginners up to advanced skill levels,” Bobbett detailed. “We have different sections. There’s two types of skate parks—a transition type style course and a street style course. This has elements of both.”

“One of our selling points with [city] council was that when the permanent skate park is done we hope we can get 20 percent of the cost of the equipment back if we sell it. It is very high-grade. It’s X Games quality. It’s that good.”

Once opened, the skate park’s hours will be 8 a.m. to sunset.

A design process for the permanent skate park is ongoing.

As for the smoking ban, the original smoking prohibitions that went into effect in 2004 blocked smoking on Malibu’s beaches, making Malibu one of the earliest cities to ban smoking on the shore. The extension will formally “prohibit smoking in city parks and open spaces,” which previous versions of the ban did not.

“Additionally, the MMC [Malibu Municipal Code] does not address vaping and the use of electronic smoking devices in areas where smoking is prohibited, including outdoor dining areas, public right of way, the Malibu Pier, beaches, public events, and meetings of the city council, commissions, boards, or committees,” a staff report from the meeting stated. 

The new regulation is expected to be formally adopted at the next council meeting on July 13. 

Emily Sawicki contributed to this report.

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