Residents v skaters
FRUSTRATED residents want skaters booted out of parts of the inner city.
Dick Ayres and Tim Coffey from the Auckland CBD Residents Group have submitted a proposal to the Waitemata Local Board outlining concerns about skaters using inner-city spots that have not been specifically designed for skateboarding.
Troublesome areas include Aotea Square, Lorne St and St Patrick’s Square, which sits off Wyndham St downtown.
‘‘St Patrick’s hasn’t been designed for skateboards. It’s a place for sitting and relaxing. That’s an area you can go to be contemplative,’’ Mr Ayres says.
‘‘It’s a place where you want to go and have lunch or read a book, not have toerags skating around.’’
Mr Coffey says residents feel they have paid for city upgrades that are being damaged by skateboarding.
‘‘Here in the CBD all the upgrades you see on the street are principally funded by a targeted rate that’s only paid for by the residents and commercial ratepayers. Only 20 per cent of the cost is charged to general ratepayers.’’
The men say skaters using public places not designed for it are a source of conflict.
‘‘If you are sitting there in the square and someone on a skateboard comes whizzing through and nearly hits you it’s quite confrontational,’’ Mr Coffey says.
Their proposal to the Waitemata Local Board suggests the council funds research into what motivates skaters and then develops an action plan to ‘‘modify inappropriate skateboarder behaviour’’.
The document also suggests some possible solutions that include forming a group of passive protesters who donate time to sitting in a position to impede skateboarding public
in space. Another idea is to develop a mobile app that will summon people to a nonskateboarding site for a flash mob.
‘‘I sat down one night and thought outside the box,’’ Mr Ayers says. ‘‘I’m pretty realistic and I know people won’t do it but three of us did it informally the other day and it worked,’’ Mr Ayers says.
Board member Pippa Coom says it wants to support residents in finding a solution but also make sure skaters still have a place.
‘‘I think it’s great they are looking at it and coming up with some creative solutions. Often there’s a knee-jerk reaction to ban skateboarding which is quite difficult to do.’’
One council solution to unruly behaviour was the Skate Ambassadors trial which was held over the July school holidays. The twoweek exercise saw veteran skateboarders head out to popular city spots and teach some street etiquette to promote respectful cohabitation.
Mr Coffey believes the trial is too much like ‘‘ wrapping them in cotton wool’’ and didn’t provide any results.
But skate ambassador Chey Ataria says feedback from the council was positive.
‘‘The kids were pretty stoked to know there was a spot for them to go. It probably prevented a few people from getting hurt,’’ he says.
‘‘If there was funding for it I think before too long the residents would start seeing the positive effects.’’
Mr Ataria says research into skater motivations would be a waste of money and programmes like Skate Ambassadors have a more positive effect than passive protesting.
‘‘If a bunch of adults come and sit down on a ledge where some kids are skating then they are going to get annoyed and say something, creating more conflict.
‘‘It’s like baiting them,’’ he says.
‘‘Skateboarding is an outlet. This is more positive than what some kids would otherwise be doing.’’
Rankled residents: Tim Coffey, left, and Dick Ayres from Auckland CBD Residents Group represent inner-city dwellers who are fed up with skaters.
Skate ambassador: Chey Ataria from Skaters United Voice advocacy