City officials said they hope other Orange County cities will follow in their footsteps and build public skateboard facilities in city parks.
No other city in Orange County has public areas exclusively for skateboarders. Anaheim and Irvine once had public skateboard arenas, but they were closed after residents complained of noise and graffiti.
"Hopefully, if we set the example, other cities will follow and create public areas for people to skateboard," said Ron Hagan, Huntington Beach's director of community services.
The City Council voted 6 to 1 Monday night to approve spending start-up money for the skateboard rinks, despite protests by some residents who said skateboarders would ruin parks and surrounding neighborhoods. The city is planning to build skateboard facilities in Edison and Murdy community parks, and the council approved spending $23,190 of the $77,000 cost.
Councilwoman Linda Moulton-Patterson, a recent appointee to the California Coastal Commission, cast the only opposing vote.
"I have a problem with these being in parks," she said. "Our surveys show people want low-activity parks."
Councilman Jim Silva said he had some misgivings about the skateboard areas but voted for them anyway. He warned skateboarders in the audience, however, that the city would shut the facilities down if problems arose.
Some Huntington Beach residents, including Irvine Police Officer Bob Kluck, told the council Monday night that they think skateboard areas will create crime problems. "I live near Edison Park, and I don't want one (a skateboard facility) near me," Kluck said.
Kluck said Irvine police had problems with the skateboard park in that city.
But supporters of the proposed skateboard facilities also testified before the council. "Skating is a big pastime of Huntington Beach, sort of like surfing," Andrew Chin, 20, said. "If you give us a park, we'll take care of it."