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SkateboardDirectory.com News:
San Francisco Skateboarding Task Force Planned
(Posted 9/13/2002)

San Francisco * To Create Skateboarding Task Force

BY J.K. DINEEN

Of The San Francisco Examiner Staff

Hardcore street skateboarders around here don't have much to do with City Hall, except when they're grinding their metal trucks * against its illustrious steps.

But Tuesday afternoon professional skateboarder Nikhil Thayer *, 26, was speaking at a press conference on City Hall's steps, making an impassioned plea for better venues and less harassment from cops.

After the proclamation, veteran skater Jymi Shores approached Thayer to congratulate him.

"You wrote like a whole speech, dude," said Shores, who works for the Recreation and Parks Department.

"I know, dude. That's what I, like, thought I was supposed to do. I'd get like an A-plus in school for this," said Thayer, holding a crumpled sheet of paper.

"That's cool, man," Shores said. "That's some positive (expletive)."

The political awakening of The City's skateboarding community officially arrived Tuesday when Rec and Parks voted unanimously to recommend the formation of a 15-member Skateboarding Task Force.

Supervisor Gavin Newsom, who organized the press conference before the hearing, sponsored the measure. The matter will move on to the full Board of Supervisors next week.

The clean-cut Newsom appears to be an unlikely ally of the counter-culture sport, but he said he hopes the task force "will provide a more positive atmosphere for all citizens to pursue this sport."

About 35 skateboarders attended the hearing and checked their boards at the door. They sat through two hours of discussion on other matters before the Skateboard Task Force was whisked through.

It was groundbreaking, according to Kent Uyehara, who owns the FTC Skateboarding shop in the Haight.

"Skateboarders in general are unfamiliar with the political system and very, very wary of it," said Uyehara.

San Francisco emerged as the skateboard mecca during the 1980s when rugged street skating replaced swimming pool and ramp skating as the style of choice. The old Union Square and the old Embarcadero were seen around the country in the city-based Thrasher magazine * and in skating videos.

But the subsequent redesign of those public places -- as well as increased complaints from police and business owners -- led to a paucity of places for skateboarders.

"It's increasingly difficult to be a professional skateboarder here due to the crackdown," said Thayer. "We have to travel to other Bay Area cities to do our job."

What skateboarders said they want is a good skate park. It should be full of the sort of blocks, benches, ledges and steps that fill public spaces. They also want to be able to use their skateboards to get around town on the street, just as bikers and bladers do, without getting $75 tickets from police.

Pier 7 and Third and Army remain popular skating hangouts, but skating is illegal there and police rounds require frequent scattering. The skate park The City did build -- in Crocker-Amazon Park, on Geneva Avenue -- is widely derided by thrashers, who prefer to risk arrest, or, skateboard confiscation, in the new Union Square.

One sixth-grade skateboarder who attended the hearing said he needed a good skate park to stay out of trouble, and, more importantly, to stay cool.

"If I didn't skate, I'd probably be a nerd playing video games somewhere," said 11-year-old Joe Lee.

This article was originally titled "Thrasher rising" and was found at http://www.examiner.com/news/default.jsp? story=n.skateboard.0821w

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