San Juan Capistrano moves forward with plans for skate park

London Mesa of Torrance at the Vans Off the Wall Skatepark in Huntington Beach.
London Mesa of Torrance gets some air at the Vans Off the Wall Skatepark in Huntington Beach.
(Raul Roa)
BY BEN BRAZILSTAFF WRITER 
APRIL 6, 2022 5:31 PM PT

For more than a decade, skate enthuisiasts in San Juan Capistrano have been waiting for the city to build its own skate park.

Their patience paid off Tuesday night when the City Council unanimously chose to move forward with a plan to convert part of former farmlands into a 42,575-square-foot public skate park facility. The city now joins several others in Orange County that have their own skate parks, including Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Fullerton and Lake Forest.

The decision came following dozens of comments in favor of the project. A few came from members of the San Juan Capistrano Skate Park Coalition, which was formed to help raise funds and lobby for its creation.

Matisse Reischl, senior analyst in the city manager’s department, said at the meeting that staff has identified about $3.2 million to be budgeted toward the skate park, though the city is anticipating needing additional funds to complete construction. The city expects to begin construction in July and finish the park by December or January.

Councilman Sergio Farias discussed how skateboarders can get ticketed for skating outside of a designated park.

“If we don’t build this park, unfortunately there is nowhere for these kids and older skaters to practice this Olympic sport,” he said. “I think it’s important for the youth of our city to build this.”

The San Juan Capistrano skate park saga began in 2007, when a skate park was chosen as a priority for the community as part of a recreation needs assessment by the city. It took about 10 years for the city to attain a conceptual design for an initial skate park, but the location that was chosen was not ideal. The city went back to the drawing board, and the Kinoshita farm property was chosen as the site.

More than a year ago, the city selected Grindline Skateparks to prepare the design plans and estimate the construction costs. The company worked with a council subcommittee comprised of Mayor Derek Reeve and Councilman Troy Bourne. The completed design includes about a 20,000-square-foot skating area, along with a playground and trail that leads to Camino Del Avion and the city’s nearby sports fields. The city is currently leasing part of the farm property to the Ecology Center, which runs a commercial and educational farm on the 28-acre property.

On Tuesday, the council chose to amend the Kinoshita Farm Specific Plan and rezone the location to allow for the skate park’s development on the site.

Mo Henderson, a resident and coalition member, spoke in favor of the skate park and the skateboarding community.

“I just really wanted to let you know how skateboarding has been a huge part in our community and what it could do for our community,” Henderson said to the council. “I’ve seen the skateboarding community grow in a lot of different ways over the years to where it’s mainly very positive. It’s now an Olympic sport. It’s grown to be a wonderful community of like-minded people who love to give back.”

Many parents showed up to speak about the need for a skate park for their children.

Bill Martin, who lives a few blocks from the proposed site, was in favor of the skate park and said that his four grandsons all skateboarded when they were younger.

“It’s been a wonder to watch the different levels of skill and that sort of thing,” he said. “Some moved on to other things, but skateboarding was a good thing for all the boys … This endeavor, I think it’ll be a wonderful thing for the community, and I’ll spend time going over there to watch.”

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