Should skateboarding be banned downtown?

Councilman says skateboarders have damaged property in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville city councilman has proposed legislation to ban skateboarding downtown.

The area is essentially a concrete jungle with built-in ramps and curbs for tricks.

But City Councilman Bill Gulliford, who's behind the legislation, said there have been complaints about the skateboarders, and he wants the city to institute a fine they would have to pay if they're caught skateboarding downtown on public property.

“I’ve been approached at times by people who feel at risk by some of the skateboarders downtown,” Gulliford said. “They approach police officers, and police officers say there’s nothing on the books that they can enforce.”

Some of the skateboarders said they enjoy riding downtown, but they sense they aren't welcome.

“It’s really great compared to the suburbs. It’s a great place,” Ethan Freel said. “I was riding (at one place) for about five minutes, and the security guard didn’t like me in there, so I had to go unfortunately.”

Gulliford said some churches as well as City Hall have been damaged by skateboarders. If the legislation passes as written, the skateboarders would be fined if caught downtown.

“There’s a small fine. I can’t remember exactly, but on their first offense, second offense, third offense. I can’t remember what they are, but I don’t care about fining people. I just want good conduct down there,” Gulliford said. “Maybe that would make people think before doing stupid things.”

Some skateboarders said they weren’t happy to hear about the proposal.

“We're not bad people; we're not mean,” Julian Newman said.

Gulliford said there will be a public hearing on the issue, likely at the next council meeting, before there’s any vote.

As the legislation is currently written, the law would apply to the whole city, but Gulliford said the wording just needs to be cleaned up. He said the ordinance is meant to specifically cover downtown.

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