Skateboarding at the Library
May 11, 2017
A few weeks ago, a skateboard rider flew off the concrete border in front of the Law Library steps and almost hit a patron who had just stepped out of the building. As I was yelling (at these skaters to watch out for my patrons and demanded for the third time that they leave), I remembered my broken tooth.
See, when I was 13 years old, I remember when my brother got his new orange (plastic), skateboard, One day I hopped on my brother’s new orange plastic skateboard and zoomed off across the street to the cul-de-sac that faced our house and headed for "the curve." Suddenly, I hit a tiny pebble which stopped the skateboard in its tracks, threw me to the ground, broke my right front tooth. Screaming a scream only a 13-year old could muster, I ran to the house into the arms of my Mother. Boy did breaking that tooth hurt!
Now what does breaking my tooth have to do with skate boarders flying off the concrete borders and stairs in front of the Riverside County Law Library doors? Well, I wondered if those skaters could be held liable if they hit someone. Being a dutiful legal researcher myself, I promptly started to research the city and county codes and ordinances of the city and county of Riverside to find out.
I assumed that, thanks to ordinances enacted by a municipality such as the city of Riverside, skateboarders were not allowed to skate on the stairs and plant borders in front of government buildings and could be cited. However, the law is not as clear as I expected it to be in regards to this matter.
In the Riverside Municipal Code under Title 9, Peace, Safety and Morals, in the Chapter on Offences, Section 9.04.290 entitled “Bicycles, Skateboards, etc.,” it states that
...it is unlawful for any person to ride upon any bicycle, scooter, roller skate or skates, skateboard, or other similar contrivance upon any sidewalk within any business district within the City, or upon the Main Street Mall bordered by Sixth Street on the north and Tenth Street on the south.
Based on this, Skateboarders should be cited for skateboarding into the entire downtown business area or at least prevented from doing so. So, should they even come near the law library, they can be cited. Or can they? Since the Riverside "County" Law Library is a "County" facility and considered a "Special District" by the County, would this override the City Municipal Code? Well, what does the County Ordinance 792 say? First it says we need to have a sign that designates the area as prohibited to skateboard riders and secondly it defines whether the skateboard riders are a nuisance, to wit:
No person shall use a skateboard, rollerblades or any similar device outside of a designated no skateboard, rollerblading or similar activity area in a manner which creates a nuisance. For the purpose of this chapter "nuisance" is defined as any activity which: Threatens injury to any person or property, public or private, creates an obstruction or presents a hazard to the free and unrestricted use of public or private property by pedestrians or motorists; or generates loud or unreasonable noise.
Wow, seems like a slam dunk, here. So, when skateboarders are zooming around in front of the doors of the law library, they are, most probably, creating a “nuisance.” So, next step, is to get a sign designating the prohibition of such. When that happens (and I suspect it will shortly), persons won't have to watch out for flying skateboarders, skateboards, or my tooth.
EDITOR'S UPDATE: Since the initial posting of this article, three signs have been hung around the outside of the law library informing would-be scofflaws that skateboarding and all such activities are against the law and that participants of said activities can (and will) be cited. So, kudos Willa and thank you for the great write-up.
Willa is a Library Assistant at our Victor Miceli Law Library.