Res­i­dents v skaters

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By DANIELLE STREET

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.’’

Pho­tos: DANIELLE STREET

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

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