Author Archive

Yesterday the skate community showed up to City Council chambers and testified to the value of SeaSk8 to our community. We called out that there is no clear budget identified for the replacement park, and that it’s problematically conflated with a maintenance building and an obliquely defined set of “public amenities” in the current MOU. We pointed out that in the past, finding a site has taken up to three years for previous incarnations of this very park, and that gap in service amounts to certain death for the community that relies on this skatepark for everything from skateboarding, to self-esteem, personal growth, mental health, and physical fitness. We also highlighted that this is the fourth SeaSk8 which, in itself, begs questions about why Seattle Center is so allergic to permanence when it comes to skateparks.

Despite all that, Seattle City Council Committee on Civic Arenas approved the MOU and moved it to be approved by the full council on December 4th. They did this without even acknowledging the comments that were made by skatepark advocates, or that they registered our complaints at all. Committee chair Juarez was even dismissive, by making a statement about how non-binding the MOU was, and that there will be changes made down the road. Councilmember Juarez clearly has no understanding of what this community has been through. King 5 seems to be on board with the effort to dismiss skaters by characterizing 10 skatepark advocates in a group of 40 speakers as “a handful“. Is this what Seattle Center Executive Director Robert Nellams meant back in 2010 when he told the City Council that he thought skaters in Seattle were getting a “raw deal”?

Unsurprisingly, The Stranger comes to the rescue with the first (and currently only) piece focused on the fate of SeaSk8 and fairly represents the issues being raised by the skate community.

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Tomorrow there will be a meeting of the Committee on Civic Arenas to discuss the Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Seattle and the Oak View Group, who plans to redevelop Key Arena at the expense of Seattle skateboarders.

Please consider showing up to provide your personal commentary on this issue. Comments will be limited and it’s important to arrive early to sign up (1 hr is playing it safe).

It’s unclear how aware the committee is of the negative impacts the current plan will have on the skate community. Please help us make sure that they understand the issues and that more effort by the City Council is required to do the right thing for skaters.

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Here we go again…

Word recently came in via our friends at Skate Like a Girl that not-even-ten-years-old-yet Seaskate #4 will be demolished as part of the future Key Arena upgrades by the Oak View Group (OVG).  In addition, the Skate Like a Girl headquarters office in the Blue Spruce building adjacent to Seaskate will also be demolished.  Why you ask? Well…in order to build a parking lot of course!

The Seattle Center told SLAG in a surprise meeting that Seaskate will not be relocated at the Seattle Center. They have offered SLAG an office on the Seattle Center campus, but the exact location or details have not been confirmed. The City of Seattle and the OVG are currently negotiating the terms of the Key Arena upgrades in a document called a Memorandum of Understanding (Agreement) that must be finalized by December 5th and is well on it’s way to meet that deadline.

Seattle-area skatepark advocates have reviewed the draft agreement and identified only a single clause regarding the Seaskate replacement.  This clause identifies a $1.5M total replacement budget for Seaskate, a maintenance facility for Seattle Center maintenance staff, and “other public amenities” impacted by the renovations. As we know from previous experience, this amount is wholly inadequate (The current incarnation of SeaSk8 cost over $3m). We also know that without a designated site for the replacement park, skateboarders are at risk of being marginalized once again to the outskirts of town and losing the only skatepark in Seattle’s urban core, not to mention the potential years of downtime that can straight up destroy a skatepark’s community.

In case you need a refresher course on what’s gone on with the last few versions of the Seattle Center skatepark, you can find some history here, here, and on this very website here. But this is just the last 10 years of history. This skatepark has been rebuilt FOUR TIMES, and there is a whole other generation of skaters and advocates that carried the torch for the first 10 years of it’s 20 year legacy.

So what can you do?

Write an email to these people telling them that they need to do the right thing and either leave the skatepark alone, or get crackin’ on a new site and budget that aren’t insulting and inadequate:

sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov
Robert.nellams@seattle.gov
john.merner@seattle.gov
tim.burgess@seattle.gov
jesus.aguirre@seattle.gov
bruce.harrell@seattle.gov
Debora.Juarez@seattle.gov

There will also be a meeting at 10:30am on November 16th at City Council chambers, where you can let your voice be heard and speak directly to the Committee on Civic Arenas who have the power to amend the MOU to include the right provisions. Demand that your city government protect skateboarders from being bulldozed by Tim Liewicki, Live Nation, and all the other big business interests that want to convert your public spaces into places they can charge you a premium to access!

UPDATE: This post originally stated that the group of musicians who sent a letter to the city were supporting the OVG plan, but they got back to me and they and clarified that in fact they were supporting Chris Hansen’s plan that does not impact the skatepark.

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innoskate_poster_BANNER_versionThere is a really great event happening at MOHAI this Saturday that will show how skateboarding and innovation have always been intertwined. There are some really cool topics for discussion and many reflections of the rich skateboarding culture that’s been thriving in the Northwest since skateboarding’s invention. Personally I am excited about the history of skateboarding trick demo with Peha, Kristin,  Ryan, and Metal Mark at 2:30pm! Check out the full schedule here. See you there.

 

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Photo courtesy of Seattle Parks

Photo courtesy of Seattle Parks

Well what do you know…

What will certainly be the last levy-funded skatepark for some time, now that Seattle has opted for a Parks District approach to funding, Hubbard Homestead is finally underway almost 9 years after we had the first meeting about it. I’m not going to go into the whole story right now, because it almost doesn’t matter. New Line/Vanderzalm is supervising and Sahli is building what may be the last full blown-skatespot to be built in Seattle for a while. Completion date is in October, so hang tight.

If you need a refresh on the design, you can pull it up here.

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ciagliadyrdek

This one was so good it brought me out of advocacy semi-retirement! In Seattle, we just gave them the job and allowed them to sidestep the process, but this just shows what kind of people you deal with when you get into bed with Rob Dyrdek and Joe Ciaglia/California Skateparks:

Joe Ciaglia, a big player in the small world of skate park construction, has agreed to pay $65,000 to resolve allegations that he attempted to rig the bidding on an L.A. skate park project in October 2010.

It all worked out OK, and the park is probably Seattle’s busiest. But that’s after countless hours of community involvement, tons of calling of the BS by SPAC and other advocates, and construction by a trusted local builder.

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Do you want lights at the Greenlake skatepark?

The best chance of making this a reality is to attend a meeting next Tuesday, September 4 at the Greenlake Branch Library at 6:30pm.

This Seattle Parks sponsored meeting is to discuss the adjacent funded ball field and tennis court lighting upgrades.  These upgrades do not include or provide funding for the skatepark.  However, due to the direct adjacency of these upgrades, existing infrastructure, and organized skatepark user group, this is a great meeting to attend and advocate (politely since this is not even a skatepark meeting) on behalf of lights for the skatepark.  In the past, there has been opposition to anything related to the skatepark by a small group of nearby residents so Seattle Parks staff need to hear overwhelming support for future lighting improvements if it will ever happen.  Please help us provide this overwhelming support by attending the meeting and making some simple statements on behalf of lighting upgrades.  A broader demographic of support will be more effective so parents and kids are urged to speak.  Space may be limited for public comment so arrive early (meeting starts at 6:30pm) and sign up for comments.

Below are some potentially useful points to make during your public comment that would result from lighting the skatepark:

·         Synergy with surrounding lighted sports facilities (softball and soccer fields have lights closer to homes so skatepark lighting would be masked by these lighting sources)

·         Facilitate year-round skatepark use

·         Power is already installed on site

·         Other skatepark projects and/or organized funding campaigns may fund it

·         An advocacy group already exists

·         Provide increased support for skate camps and programming

·         Graffiti deterrence

·         It’s the equitable thing to do

·         Estimated 20,000 skatepark users currently only have one skatepark available with lighting

·         Increased use will promote greater community building and self policing of the skatepark

·         Upgraded light poles for ball field could be designed to support additional lighting banks for skatepark

Hope to see you (and your kids!) at the meeting.

Ryan Barth

Chairperson, Seattle Parks and Recreation Skate Park Advisory Committee

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Photo credit: Obviously fake blog.

My feelings about how Rob Dyrdek and California Skateparks operate, and how that’s played out on the Roxhill project, are well documented here.  I won’t bore you by going back over it again.  But it appears that someone that has a grudge against these guys is making their opinions known by creating fake blogs intended to slander them.

Now I’m just tossing out hypotheticals here, but let’s see… we’ve got “Celebsleaze” which contains over 50% Dyrdek/Ciaglia content, and then some other crap copied directly from other websites to make it look (to only a total moron) that it’s a legit source.  See for yourself.  Here’s the Celebsleaze post for some unknown TV dude who got a DUI, and here’s the post on the Comcast site they stole it from.  I mean…even lazy obfuscation is still obfuscation.  For posterity, here are some of the other fake blogs they created, this time going for more of a “Church Charity”” vibe:  Interfaith Charity Connection, and Family Charity Watch.  I highly recommend checking it all out as some of the editorial work is downright hilarious.

But who could possibly want to defame these guys so much that they would set up three fake blogs and spend time making up stuff like this?  Well, it’s hard to say for sure, but we do know that Aaron Spohn of questionably competent skatepark firm Spohn Ranch is currently suing them in court.  The only reason any of this is interesting beyond a few chuckles is because Spohn is suing them for fraud, which would make setting up these slanderous websites somewhat ironic.  Congrats Aaron, now I am not sure who is more insidious, corrupt, and untrustworthy, but I still hope you win!  The truth is that Spohn’s suit has merit.  We’re seeing the proof right in our own backyard on the Roxhill project.

To top things off, today I received this comment on the Roxhill thread from “Alice”.  Because, you all know Alice has been really out there following what’s going on with the Seattle skatepark scene, when not ripping it up at Marginal. Alice really has her rap down pat as it reads like it was copied directly from the Celebsleaze play book.  Hmmm….

But no one is above board here because back when we were writing about how we genuinely felt about California Skateparks and Rob Dyrdek buying their way into the Seattle skatepark system, they were posting fake comments on my website too.  It seems as though these two California companies are bringing their special brand of cloak and dagger drama to Seattle,  the results of which will be in the ground at Roxhill.

Imagine what these people could accomplish if they just spent all of this wasted time building and designing great skateparks instead…

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From this video it almost looks like the park is one rail and a death box, but it’s clear that everyone had a great time at the official grand re-opening of Jefferson park.  If you haven’t sampled Seattle’s newest skatepark because you want to wait for the hype to die down, the coast is now clear.

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Skate for Change describes themselves as “a local group of skaters committed to giving back to the low-income & homeless in Seattle”, but in my view they are way more than that.  They are taking a proactive approach to community outreach and doing positive work in the community while doing something they love.  They also have created an open framework for skaters to make a difference.

The Seattle crew was inspired by an effort that started in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Check out this video for the complete story. If this video doesn’t move you, check your pulse…you’re probably dead.

Get involved with Skate For Change.  You’ll create change in your community, but you’ll also evolve yourself. You won’t regret it.

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