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Malibu aims to ban speedboarding

The extreme hobby, in which riders zoom down steep public roads on a skateboard, is gaining popularity in Malibu's winding canyon areas, and officials say they can't risk a lawsuit.

February 24, 2009|Sam Quinones

The beachfront city of Malibu voted Monday to outlaw a form of youthful daredevilry known as speedboarding -- an extreme hobby that has grown increasingly popular here.

Speedboarders don protective helmets, knee and elbow pads, and sometimes even sleek bodysuits before hopping onto long skateboards and rocketing down steep public streets and canyon roads at speeds greater than 40 mph.

Enthusiasts swear by speedboarding's addictive adrenaline rush. But some municipal governments have concerns over more mundane issues: mangled limbs, scrambled brains and expensive litigation.

Malibu, with its many winding canyon roads, voted to prohibit skateboarding on some of its most twisted streets and passes.

"The intent is not to ban skateboarding in the city of Malibu," said Reva Feldman, the town's administrative services director. "The intent is to protect the public and also the city."

The city will post signs prohibiting skateboarding on 10 public streets, Feldman said. Violators would be fined between $25 and $100.

The ban has its roots in the Orange County town of Mission Viejo, said Jonathan Shull, chief executive of the state Joint Powers Insurance Authority, a self-insurance pool of 122 public agencies that includes 97 cities.

In 2004, a 17-year-old boy skating down a Mission Viejo street hit "an alleged defect in the street and took a tumble. In a bicycle he would have rolled right over it," Shull said.

The boy suffered a brain injury and his family filed suit, alleging municipal negligence and asking for money to help care for him for the rest of his life.

Under state liability law, a city might have to pay the full settlement if a jury finds it was even 1% liable for the injury, according to Shull.

Maintaining "the street to protect every skateboard wheel is too great a duty," Shull said.

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sam.quinones@latimes.com

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