Roller-skating desperadoes in Palos Verdes Estates have lost their battle to become law-abiding citizens.
Council members, citing safety and liability concerns, on Tuesday tabled indefinitely a proposed ordinance that would have lifted a 9-year-old ban on roller-skating in the city, which has no sidewalks. About 50 people, many of them children, turned out for the council meeting in support of lifting the ban, which also applies to roller-blading and skateboarding.
"No way can I approve an ordinance that says it's OK for children of any age to roller-skate in the street," Councilwoman Ruth Gralow said. The ordinance was also opposed by the Police Department.
The proposed ordinance would have allowed both roller-skating and roller-blading on city streets that are flat or do not decline more than three feet every 100 feet. Skateboarding would still have been outlawed.
The impetus to change the law came from Mayor James Nyman, who says he, his wife and their two children have been unknowingly violating the law for some time because they were unaware it existed.
"We roller-skate at about 2 1/2 m.p.h., and we stay by the side of the road, and it's fun, it's a family thing," said Nyman, who was elected to the council two years ago.
Nyman said he learned he was violating a city law when he received a telephone call from a 45-year-old resident who had received a $25 ticket from police for roller-skating. Prodded by his children and members of the Cub Scout troop he leads, he set about to change the law.
At the Tuesday meeting, council members were presented with petitions signed by about 150 children and at least 20 parents in favor of changing the law. One parent, Marryl Cahill, told council members that roller-skating on city streets is not uncommon. "It's been going on for eons," she said.
Cahill, in an interview, said the city has not had any problems with roller-skaters or bladers being involved in accidents, and that the two sports should be regulated much the same way bicyclists are.
"I am beginning to feel they are imposing on my civil liberties, my rights to use city streets," she said.
Nyman said he believes roller-skating and blading is safer than riding a bicycle in the city. "The fact of the matter is there is not one recorded incident...of roller-skater meets car," he said.
And even though Nyman is aware that police rarely cite offenders of the existing law, he said he questions whether it is right to have a law that isn't consistently upheld.
Nyman said he will continue to try to "find a way to muddle through this" and find a solution that all council members will feel comfortable with. As for his own children, they summed up the whole situation in a very few words, Nyman said.
"[They] said, 'Dad, this is stupid.' "