Screengrab of a hot nose manual from neighbor's reference video on YouTube.

The Summit and John skatedot, which is the first official skatedot put into a park by Seattle Parks, is already drawing fire and the park hasn’t even been finished.

Forwarded emails from Seattle Parks detail some unfortunate behavior:

They (Seattle police) have been over here quite a few times and have in fact taken one boarder away in cuffs.  Or better yet come over in the morning and view the garbage and vomit that the skaters have left by the skate dot.

I don’t know how this person knows that the barf was from skaters, or why it’s a problem if someone gets sick in the park. Regardless, the skateboarders involved in that skatedot worked pretty hard to get it built, and believe it or not, some considerable funds went into building it. Even simple structures cost a fortune to build within the Seattle city bureaucracy. There were also a lot of meetings attended and politicking behind the scenes by the SPAC to get this done. If skaters on the Hill make this spot unsuccessful because they turn it into an urban nightmare for the people who live around it, there simply won’t be any more built elsewhere. Essentially, they’ll blow it for everyone.

But some of the emails suggest that skaters are being used as proxies for everything that sucks about living in the city:

Drunk people walking home from the bar, cars honking their horns, or people arguing on the street come with living in the neighborhood but this ramp is preventable and should be removed. I can accept being awoken by a car alarm going off at night but I refuse to accept being awoken by skateboards playing in the park- like tonight.

That last sentence is a pretty good example of how an unfair bias against skateboarders creeps it’s way into outcry around skateparks. For some reason drunks and car alarms are acceptable, but skateboarding noise isn’t. I think there’s a pretty transparent message here that skaters aren’t welcome in this person’s version of their neighborhood. What this person is failing to understand is that they can call the cops to come and deal with the skate noise, but they are S.O.L. with all of those other errant noise sources.  Sound studies have shown that skateboarding noise is actually much lower and less frequent than overhead air traffic, ambient street traffic, and other human originated urban noise.

Other comments in the emails forwarded to us include fears about property values going down, undesirable activity, and garbage.  Sound familiar?

What’s really unfortunate, and this is true at Lower Woodland as well, is that Seattle Parks and Seattle Police really need to work hand-in-hand to help regulate behavior in Seattle Parks. A little enforcement would go a long way toward keeping the noise down after park hours, help with behavior issues, etc….but the police never really seem to stay on top of this stuff when it comes to skateparks.

It seems like a really good opportunity for the SPD to do some community outreach with the young people that they like to lock up so much once they get older. Maybe a few more boots on the ground in skateparks would help them develop better relationships with these kids and foster some basic respect in the community.

Right now it seems like a couple of neighbors immediately across the street are responding to the increase in isolated noise by throwing everything they’ve got at the skateboarders, who seem to be the same three guys. The videos I was sent have titles like “tagging” and “railing” but neither video shows anything improper being done. The railing video shows a skater pretending to tailslide the railing by walking along side the rail and putting his board on it with his hands. I think the “tagger” is tying his shoelace:

Tagger or shoe-wearer? You decide!

While Johnny saves for a fingerboard, he resorts to using the real thing.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. We certainly want to build more integrated skatedots into city parks, and what happens here will definitely inform how Seattle Parks makes decisions in the future. Pretty soon it will be raining all the time, the noise will die down, and these neighbors will have to find something else to write the City Council about.

One Response to “Capitol Hill skatedot is already under fire, and it’s not even done yet.”
  1. Brend Starr says:

    I probably will always be remembered as the “vomit comment lady’, so be it. I think the parks deparment is doing both the neighborhood and the boarders a dis-service by not creating a venue for us to communicate with each other. Perhaps they like conflict without resolution.

    However, I would like to go on record to say that I do not believe that skateboarding is a crime, nor am I advocating for the destruction of skate parks. But a skate park in a residential neighborhood, really? All we are asking (sound familiar?) is regulation and hours. While we really enjoy watching you, your relentess noise is not music to our ears, in fact it is really, making us angry. Skateboarders can leave and go home to what peace and quiet your neighborhood gives you. Do you play skate board “music” thoughout the night? Probaby not. We have it whether we want it or not.

    Surely there must be some way for us to reach a decision that benefits us both. In fact I enjoy the antics of the skateboarders – even when they are really silly. John plus summit is the skaters opportunity to show that skate features can really work in neighborhood parks. If you can make this “feature ” work here you will have a very stong voice for other opportunities.

Leave a Reply